For 6 months, I lived with a white man with a black girlfriend. They cooked, traveled and slept together. She sautéed his favorite vegetables in a black cast iron pan and ran into his arms when he arrived home. They merrily drunk beer together, laughed over metal music, and exchanged acid trip stories. From the outside, it was thriving and passionate romance. It was a deep human connection of shared secrets and nights of warm touches. There was just one problem with this starry-eyed post-Jim Crow love affair: her boyfriend was in a white supremacist organization.
Interracial relationships are often socially glamorized as the relationship of the liberal. It is for those evolutionary individuals that have ascended race into colorblindness. But, on the contrary, interracial dating can enable racism. The “I can’t be racist, I have a black lover” excuse is used to validate racist behavior. What is the intersection between race and romance? Dating a black person for a year does not cure centuries of hate. It is possible to love on a black body without actually loving the black body. Our beliefs follow us into the bedroom. Black pussy can cure many things, but micro aggressions, white privilege and white supremacy are not one of them.
By Fire Angelou, AFROPUNK Contributor *
When we love, we open up the most sacred parts of ourselves. For black people, those spaces are often filled with stories of trauma, internalized racism and the struggle of self-love. It is not possible for anyone to love my body without joining the fight to protect it. The fetishization of the black woman regulates our body only to the erotic. Black bodies do not have to be seen as reasons for protest, for activism or for fighting. People do not wish to protect our bodies as much as they wish to penetrate them.
You are out with someone you love dearly at a local cafe. Someone attacks the person you love. You see that they are being brutally beaten and are in pain. What will you do? Will you stand by and watch the one you love be attacked? Or will you stand up and join the fight? Perhaps, you will say, “Oh, that is different! Of course, I would protect the one I love in physical altercations.” But, what is racial stress? Is that not a physical attack on the body from institutionalized racism? If we love our partners how do we fight against those that hate them?
Racial stress is often invisible. Therefore, the importance of healing racial stress — through activism and self-care — is invisible, too. Sometimes, cuddling is how a black person survives a bad night of depression. When we say #blacklivesmatter, it is often a eulogy chant. It is often reminding us about life after death. #Blacklivesmatter is how we talk about the dead, but what about the living? For us, love is not casual. It is a counterattack. It is how, against systematic oppression, we say: today, I will not die! Love enforces our living and living is a powerful political tool.
If we wish to date a member of an oppressed group, it is our duty to understand their pain. It is through their pain that they have learned how to live and love. If we chose to ignore their struggle, we will never understand their actions, their culture, their language and what makes them who they are. Being inside a black body does not mean you know what it is like to live inside one nor will you fight to keep the life inside of it.
Silence is an action. Love is, too.
* Fire Angelou is a truth-teller who flips fear into strength. She celebrates blackness, uses the personal as political and ain't got time for enablers of white surpremacy. She enjoys drumming, twerking and making black people smile. Follow her daily slaying @fireangelou or visit her blog at www.fireangelou.com