Interracial relationships can be difficult and we do not vocalize it enough about it. The glorification of these relationships, the fetishisation of mixed-race babies and children are very problematic and detrimental. On one hand, we set up interracial relationships as a model to be followed, to supposedly eradicate all forms of racism. On the other hand, the fetishization of mixed-race babies and children insinuates diluting blackness is what can happen best to black people.
Interracial relationships became normalized in my social environment as most of my relatives are in interracial relationships and as my cousins are mixed-race. Although I was overexposed on interracial relationships, all I cared about was black love. It was natural for me to be with someone with the same skin tone as mine, I had a natural attraction. But I quickly realised I could forget about black love. Black men were often surprised at how I ‘articulate’, calm, skinny I was. They thought black women as a monolith, loud, ratchet, aggressive, bad-tempered, common stereotypes often associated with Afro-descent women in France, probably prevalent elsewhere in the world. The stereotypes held by these black men towards black women reveal the black self-hatred paradigm, impacting at many levels the Afro-descent communities. I could not blame them, I understood that what they were expressing was deeper, they were expressing discomfort and their inferiority complex. I felt hurt by the constant rejection. You also build your self-confidence through the look and desire of the other. I was reminded by black men I was not attractive enough. They showed their preferences towards light black women or non-black women. Out of spite or resignation, I considered interracial relationships.
As I grew being exposed to interracial relationships, I thought interracial relationships would not present challenges. I was wrong and not prepared. My first interracial relationship was part of my collection of abusive relationships. He was into African cultures (and into African women), believing he was more African than me, as he visited many African countries. I was not surprised by this behavior, I was very aware of the many toxic behaviors of non-black people thanks to my education. Not that I accepted such toxic behaviours, but given my awareness, I didn't expect anything else and generalized. I have also experienced these toxic behaviours in my other relationships, like blackface, fetishization, racists remarks. One thing I will always remember is when one of my ex-boyfriends told he was with me as he likes ‘black women’. But in my last relationship, I really understood that interracial relationships and intercultural one can be really difficult.
My blog changed me a lot and increased my resilience to toxic behaviours. I do not hesitate to give my opinion when something bothers or disturbs me. Even if we both experienced racism, we had a very different approach. I was very overwhelmed by the racist experiences I had in Berlin as I did not know how to react and respond. The context was very different
from what I was used in France. As he normalized racism, he could not see anymore the seriousness of it. It made our relationship and understanding each other a lot more complicated. It was very important for me to him to understand no matter what the type of racist act, it and should not be normalized. What I also wanted him to understand is how the white supremacist culture influences German society and contributes to racism in this country. In interracial relationships, racism belongs often of point of contention. By living in racialized structures, we go under racialization in distinctive ways and trying to understand the other’s experience is made more effortful. Interraciality was not the only issue we faced. Cultural differences impacted our relationship. He was very excited to introduce me to his parents after a few months ago whereas I never introduce him to my parents. In my Senegalese culture, we do no introduce ‘boyfriends’ or ‘girlfriends’, they do not exist, we just introduce our future life-partner. A discussion between us had particularly revealed our cultural differences. The conversation was about our hypothetical future children. We disagree on the names given and religious education, we disagreed on points where it seems we couldn’t do compromise.
As the relationship ended, I realized how I constantly go under dehumanizing experiences, how hard it is to be loved for who I am and to feel understood. Over disappointments and mistreatments, I lost believing in romantic love relationships.
Through my experiences, I do not want to discourage people, especially black ones, from being in interracial relationships and promoting monoracial ones. But I do think it’s very important to question ourselves, to take time to listen to ourselves and considering what do we really want in our lives.
Contributed by Aissa Sica