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Dealing With Hostility: Three Black Women Tell Me Their Stories

Have you ever experienced hostility because of your relationship? Aside from stares and rude comments, have you or your significant other had to deal with abuse from family members? The three women I interviewed for this article have.
I met Carey while my friends & I were waiting in line at a movie theater.Carey, a 29-year old  stock broker and aspiring writer from Dallas said her family wasn't supportive of her decision to marry her fiance James three years ago.  She told me that her parents had the worst attitude about it. "I think I can best describe the experience by saying that my father flew into a rage when I told him and the rest of my family that  I was going to marry James. My mother actually slapped me and asked if I had any sense. My two sisters and my brother were all on my parents' side. The three of them threatened to disown me if I dared to marry 'that white boy'. You can't help who you fall in love with; love chooses you. I tried explaining that to what I thought was my enlightened family. I learned a lot about how they really feel about people who aren't black. I honestly thought my parents would be cool with it. They never spoke out against white people, unless they were responding to some racial issue. I was really eager for my dad to meet James because they love a lot of the same things, especially golf. I wanted the same thing for James and my brother; they both love to play basketball and the Mavericks, which was rare at that time. The worst part about it was I didn't give a damn about what they thought, and that scared me. Needless to say, I thanked my family for being honest with me, told them that I'd love them even if they disowned me, which all five of them and some other relatives did two days after James and I got married. I haven't looked back since, and I'm looking forward to spending the rest of my life with the man I love."
I asked Carey if any of her family attended her wedding. "My parents came, which was quite a shock to be honest with you, but they didn't stay for long. My father came to walk me down the aisle and told James to take good care of me. My mother came to take a picture of me in my wedding dress before the ceremony, but left when it was over. James and I were both hurt."
I then asked her how James' family handled the news. "Fine. I was suprised. Not suprised, shocked. He took me with him, which really made me nervous since I'd told my family first and had such a negative experience with them, and James wasn't with me. I honestly didn't know what to expect. I tried to stay in the car, but James wouldn't let me. He told me that we'd have to face his family eventually, and they were expecting him to bring me anyway. He put his arm around me and practically dragged me to the front door. His sister opened it and dragged me inside. James hadn't told me that his sister Julie had a black husband. He didn't tell me that his family had already discussed the fact that both he and Julie were both dating interracially and told both of them that it was perfectly okay. I had a warm welcoming, and I felt I should've expected one in the first place. Now, they're like a second family. I know that sounds weird, but I lost mine and gained my husband's."
Carey's story is bittersweet. She got to marry James, but her doing so came with a price. She and James have been married for over three years now, and Carey has spoken with her mother only once in the past year. Carey's relationship with her family became a casualty of her marriage because of her family's unwillingness to accept James.
I met Michele at the university I attend. I was listening to my anatomy instructor drone on and on about the male reproductive system and how it affects the male lifespan when someone fell down the steps beside my chair and landed behind me. After I helped her into the seat next to me, we started talking instead of listening, and found out that we have a few things in common. For example, we're the same age (19), and we both work on websites during our free time. I got around to telling her about my boyfriend and how it's sometimes difficult for me to be around my family without them mentioning how white he is and why I shouldn't be with him. Michele told me that she's been experiencing the same thing with her family. They say they're not racist, but in short, actions speak louder than words.
Michele made the grave mistake of taking her boyfriend Chris to meet her parents and siblings one weekend. "I had spoken with both of my parents about Chris several times earlier that week, and they both told me that they would like to meet him. I didn't detect any bitterness or resentment over the phone, so naturally I thought it was perfectly okay to take Chris to meet my family. Big mistake. My brother, who was 17 at the time, was waiting outside our house when Chris and I got there. I thought this was a little weird considering the circumstances, but Chris didn't. Once we had gotten inside, I thought everything was fine. My overbearing father was asking all of the normal questions: What's your major?, What are you going to do after you graduate?, What do your parents do?, etc. Chris told them that his family had strong ties to the Republican party. Then my parents flipped without warning.  My mother kept repeating things like, "He doesn't love you," "All he wants is sex," He won't love your children," and other stupid things like that. It's not like we were getting married! All I wanted was to date him, and maybe a little more if the relationship progressed. My father repeated the same things and threatening Chris if he dared to touch me. I decided it was high-time for me and Chris to leave, so we did. On our way down the front steps, my brother tripped Chris and spit on him. Chris didn't retaliate, and we left without saying anything. We broke up about two days later." I didn't get much of a conclusion because Michele stopped talking about her failed romance and ignored me completely. I guess I shouldn't have asked her if she'd ever been in an interracial relationship.
Carey, a woman I spoke with earlier, said she was shocked to hear about Michele's experience. She said she understood that Michele's parents' views were antiquated, but she could not understand Michele's brother's actions. Some members of  Carey's family have met James, and although they each shared the same opinion about interracial relationships, they did not act on impulse and attempt to harm James or Carey.
The last woman I spoke with had a more positive story to tell. Ashley, also a student at my university, said her parents were very supportive of her decision to date interracially.
"I met Eric during freshman orientation last year, and we really hit off. I knew I didn't want to hide my relationship from my parents, so I called my mother when things were beginning to heat up. She said that she supported my decision although she didn't understand it, and told me to bring Eric home with me that weekend. I have to admit, my father wasn't exactly thrilled about me dating Eric at first, but after he talked with Eric in his office, he said he was okay with it and was glad that I'd chosen Eric and not some "gangsta-thug who wore his pants around his ankles." Eric's parents were equally supportive, so we didn't have to worry about what our families thought. We're still together, and my parents think that's just great."
I told Ashley about Michele's experience, and she wasn't at all suprised to hear that. "I actually anticipated that kind of behavior from my family. Although it's apalling, I'm not suprised that her family reacted so badly." However, Ashley's friends did reacted badly when they heard the news. But she's no longer friends with those people and didn't offer anything about her experience with them, so I didn't ask.
I hope this article helped some couples. Ashley and Carey both want readers who may be in situations like theirs to know that they are not alone.
In Next Month's Issue Of Balance Everything:
Going Back To School: A Guide For College Students

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