Everyone, from Paul McCartney, to Akon, to Gwen Stefani, found the time to sing about interracial love. They’ve all reached the same conclusion as Michael Jackson: “It don’t matter if you’re black or white.” But what if it does?When I was around five years old, I would come home with my hair in a hundred tiny braids, courtesy of my “brown friends,” much to my mother’s dismay. Every time, my mom shook her head and brushed out the braids while I cried.
I loved the way the barrettes clicked together when I shook my head, and hated that my friends’ hard work had been for nothing.
Whenever I asked why, Mom simply said, “We just don’t do that.”
Fast forward ten years. I developed a huge crush on the most gorgeous, charismatic, intelligent man that I had ever met. There was one problem, though: he happened to be black.
When I told a few family members and friends that I had a certain boy on my mind, all I got was, “Oh, the black one?”
“No, no, no!” I wanted to shout. “The smart one, the cute one!”
Why should I, or anyone else, have to qualify their friends, significant others, or family members with a racial designation?
The “we” and “they” that my family members and friends keep on mentioning can’t be named, seen, or spoken to.
Who decided that this anonymous body could dictate who I find myself attracted to? There is no “I” in “we” and I would much rather be my own person, separate from whatever race has tried to lay claim to me-and the boundaries and rules that go along with it.
But make no mistake; I know what I look like. I walk outside and sun reflects off my skin. I burn instantly. I have to be photographed in natural light, unless I want to look like a corpse.
I’m not trying to be someone I’m not, but whether it’s a great hairstyle or a fellow human being, I strive to engage completely with the world around me, and all the people in it.
I don’t choose my friends, crushes, study-buddies, or enemies based on what they look like, although I do-coincidentally-tend to surround myself with beautiful people of all colors. But if someone asks me to describe a friend of mine, I may talk about her beautiful eyes or infallible fairness, his blinding smile and willingness to help others, but race will never enter the conversation. It just doesn’t matter that much to me.
People are so much more than the sum, or the color, of their parts. Interracial lovin’-of all stripes-is about understanding other people, and developing relationships with them in spite of (perhaps even because of) the differences. If it takes challenging the status quo to bring about some cross-cultural (and cross-racial) understanding, then I am certainly up to the task.
Megan Branch is a junior English major at Fordham University from Jacksonville, Fla.