Unless you really know me, don’t assume you do based on what you think you see.
What I mean by that is this: My white husband does not define me.
Even after 22 years, our union is still often questioned. We still get stares. We still get asked if we are together in restaurants. And I still get comments about what it means to be the type of black woman who would marry a white man.
Here’s the thing: My husband’s race has nothing to do with the type of woman I am. True, even as a little girl I was more attracted to little white boys over black boys. But I never gave it much thought at all. I definitely never assumed that there was something wrong with me. I just knew that blue eyes did it for me.
Now, before you go there, trying to figure out the source of my “issues,” I came from a healthy, two-parent home. My mom and dad were very involved parents, who were married for almost 40 years before my mom passed on. They raised 10 kids.
The single most important thing in my house was to be proud of who you are. My parents strengthened us from within. They knew the outside world might have other ideas about who we were. So I was told how pretty I was from as early as I can recall, and I remember grinning at the statement. My dad used to sing songs to us seven girls (I eventually wrote a book about it, called Brown Girls Are Pretty Too).
He reinforced the notion that black was indeed beautiful from as early as I can remember. He was always reading books. If it had anything to do with Africa or African-American history, he knew about it. In other words, he made sure we knew from whom we came.
My first love was my daddy. I like to make that known. Some people readily assume that I have self-hate issues or issues with black men. I can assure you that I don’t. In addition to him, I had great black male role models: uncles, cousins, brothers. I have three brothers, all of whom married beautiful black women and have beautiful black kids.
I love being black. My choice to date and marry white did not erase that.
My mother taught us all about her family’s African roots, too. She knew the tribe, Fulani, and studied it. So, you see, my preference was not formed out of self-hate or lack of pride. It just was.
When it comes to myself, I can’t begin to tell you how much I love me some me! From my eyes to my lips to my brown skin, which, at age 43, shows no signs of aging.
I love being black. My choice to date and marry white did not erase that. In fact, my white husband may even enhance it. Because of me, he is more informed. He knows more about black history than most black people because I made sure he did. Most important, he knows that America is still two different places for blacks and whites.
Our three sons are well-adjusted young men of color. They’re black men who just happen to have a white father. And my husband understands and is OK with that. He knows that for all the love he feels for them, someday they will experience things as black men that he never will.
Despite all this, I still get the all-too-knowing look when people see me and think, “Oh, she came up … ”
The truth is, we “came up” together. I didn’t marry a white man to elevate my status. I didn’t marry white to produce beautiful children (my children would be beautiful regardless). I didn’t marry white to erase my blackness. I married a man whom I love very much—a man who watched me birth our three sons; a man who held me up, who mourned with me, when I lost both my parents; a man who is the epitome of what God says a man should be to his wife: a defender, a protector, a lover, a friend.
Sure, we’ve had our ups and downs; life has thrown us a few curves. But we weathered each and every storm together. And not once in our two decades together has he ever made me question who I am. I didn’t marry a white man to erase my blackness. I married a man who just happens to be white.