Duh duh duh! Definitely a touchy subject but one that must be addressed. I believe this understanding is one of the keys to navigating an interracial relationship/American society as a whole. Firstly, as with most white people I’ve interacted with concerning this topic I had to break down that while you yourself may not feel privileged because “your family was poor” or “you’ve also experienced rough times”, at the end of the day when people see me vs when they see you, you’re already in a better position than I am. PERIOD!
When you are in an interracial relationship, your eyes are inevitably opened and you are finally able to see all of the implicit bias that you carry. Let’s be clear, yes everyone has implicit biases, but at this moment I’m specifically tackling privilege so you can go ahead and put away your torches and pitchforks.
As a person of color moving through society, I constantly question if I’m being to sensitive or if in fact I am the one at fault. Sadly this conditioning is something that has been ingrained in my being seemingly since birth. It’s as if it has been etched into our DNA to make sure we are as affable as possible [READ] code switch. Now, moving through life with a white partner, I have a new fresh set of eyes through which to gauge and interpret each situation. If I’m being honest, Gabe will sometimes notice before I do (Sidebar: We’ve also been conditioned to block out societal BS #selfpreservation).
During a specific learning experience, we ventured upstate take in the sites with a lovely hike 🎶INTO THE WOODS🎶. To our dismay, ALL of the parking lots were full. <s>I was secretly rejoicing that I had avoided a day of physical exertion</s> BUMMER! As a result, I assumed we’d have to cut our losses and head home but my counterpart had other plans.
We’ve come ALL this way so Gabe is determined to see this plan come to fruition. As we pull back up to the FULL parking lot, Gabe informs me that I should ask if there are any free spaces. SKRRRRRRT. If you are a person of color you know exactly what’s going through my head at this point, but for those of you who are not...let me fill you in. So at this point, we’ve both seen the numerous signs stating the lots are full CHECK. Why in the Lord’s name does this fool think our black as$@# are about to...💡DING. Here we have PRIVILEGE! He doesn’t have a black as$. Where I had been taught and shown that there is zero tolerance or lenience for the actions of people of color, this man freely did as he pleased when and wherever he pleased. Even asking a question that had clearly been answered multiple times over. 🤯
Naturally I voiced my opinions as to why I thought this was a terrible idea, but Gabe insisted. So here we are at the entrance with the attendant on MY side of the car meaning I’m the one who will have to do the talking (insert hardest eye roll of life here). Gabe’s final bit of advice before what I know will be a disaster? “Just flash that big smile”!
BLESSED BE! I do as instructed and am met with the craziest face that to me said “B@#$% who tf do you think you are?”. At this point all I can do is look over at G with the “didn’t I tell you face?”...you know the one. Now perhaps this would’ve worked had I not been in the car or maybe it wouldn’t have but the key here was that G was unfamiliar with the shame that comes with being black and reprimanded for not understanding and following the rules. Being that this was THE ULTIMATE a teachable moment, I broke down for Gabe what people expect and assume of black people off the bat and that sometimes my reasonings for my actions stem directly from expectations.
While this was one glaring instance, let me tell you they still continue to this day. The important thing however is that we do not let these moments pass us by. Understanding privilege, even if only in the situation at hand, is a win and tomorrow is always another day to broaden the scope.