I'm unsure why my parents still have a hard time seeing me with a black man, when at age eight I had a 50 Cent poster and cried when Morris Chestnut got a girlfriend in a movie. They've had plenty of time to cope with the fact that their daughter isn't racist. They've even had the resources that could help face their own racism. It has recently been brought to my attention that when I start a new relationship my parents hover over pictures and say, "Hope has another black one". I am twenty-three years old. Most of my relationships have been with black men and if we are getting personal you should know none of these racist comments have been said to my face.
I write this article because of who I am. I am writing a book titled, He Should Have Complied, focusing on the racism that black men face in America. I am also the sole owner of Do Better By Us, LLC. I am a Latin woman, pursuing an undergrad in Education and starting my Master's program next Fall. This background information is important because it will help deconstruct three concepts, the first; that generational racism can be excused because it is all someone knows. The second notion being that what is said in a joking manner isn't really racist, that if we don't say the N-word, or if we have black friends or family members then we are not racist. Lastly, that when you help your daughter monetarily when she is starting a business whose target is to create advocates for equality it does not excuse nor does it hide your racism behind closed doors.
I want to disclose that my family has never been rude to anyone I have dated. In fact they have always been welcoming. They have opened their doors to anyone that I said made me happy. They do not condone the KKK and none of them voted for Trump. I say none because I have three parents due to divorce and my father is remarried. I want to also share that they are not aware that I know of their comments until I send this link once posted. I appreciate their love for me and their support when I am home but I want them to learn about loyalty and of their own racism.
I appreciate my mother's and my father's inquisitive conversations about my projects. My mother grew up in Texas. She is white, blond, with blue eyes and grew up in a low socio-economic area. Over the last few years, she went from All Lives Matter to Black Lives Matter. It is with my whole heart that I thank her for her growth. We had arguments that ended in tears, I sent her resources. She educated herself. Our last conversation consisted of why I will never date a white man. With horror in her face, she did not understand why. I explained that with my career, my passion for equality, and my personal experiences, I do not feel that a white man would be able to provide me with the emotional support and contribute to the degree of advocacy that I will need in a partner. She understood. In June, I had a radio show interview about my book and its purpose. My mother was who got me the gig, she was there, she shared the stream and she learned. I value her growth. What pains me still is that in the dating world, she does not require her potential partners to not be racist or bigoted. When dating a new man she will tell me the things said in conversation unknowing that half of this man's beliefs are racist. I see her growth but if she values equality as much as she says she does, then why date men who do not. It discredits all of my work, all of my students, all of my friends and my partners as well as my relationship with her. It shows me that racism is normal in her daily life. It has become so normalized that she does not even recognize that it is there. It shows me she values other characteristics in people more than she values equality and becoming an advocate.
As for my father, he purchased the entire inventory for the first launch of my business. He is who I call after a car accident or when I am sick. He always answers his phone and loves me more than I could explain to anyone. I know this and I appreciate all he has done. However, I am still unsure if he watched or listened to the radio show I did in June. I am unsure if he has read any of the material I send to him to educate himself on social issues. I am unsure why he does not value the statistics that I recite to him when we converse on social topics because if he valued my education and my voice then he would not ask for peoples' opinions on what I have told him when I leave the room. The statistics I have provided him are not opinion-based therefore should not be asked to be validated by an opinion of someone else. I see his thinking and I have witnessed his growth. Where his unknowing racism keeps him at fault, is not valuing facts given. It is allowing for the people in his home to discredit my education and deny white privilege. His racism is rooted in humor and in gossip. It is in his household that comments about my past or current partner have been made, "Hope has another black one." It is in his household that white women belittle my education by saying that I act as if I grew up so badly. They have somehow inferred that my advocacy for equality somehow reflects that I think I grew up poorly. It is in his household that these same women deny white privilege because they do not understand it. Yet, refuse to listen, read, or educate themselves on the topic. It is in his household, that they then call me and act as if they understand. My disappointment with my father is not that I cannot be patient with his education and become an advocate; it is with the lack of responsibility he takes of being an advocate for me and what is right. It is with the humor that he places on my heart. It is with the discredit of my education that I have spent countless hours on to share with him to teach and create. It is that upon reading this, he will surely defend the women still in his home before he tells them to read and listen. We are who we surround ourselves with, my father taught me that. He also taught me to always defend what is right and to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. His racism is silence.
Contrary to belief, interracial dating is still difficult in 2018. Comments like the one made inside my father's house are made all of the time. It is because of these comments and because of racism that I feel the need to tell the person I am dating to be careful every time he leaves home. He can’t come into the ER with me without getting side glances and uncomfortable looks from the white nurses and doctors. We cannot hold hands at the store or laugh too loudly without people staring uncomfortably. I can never truly understand how it feels to live in the conditions of racism that he does, so how can I properly comfort and support him. It is not hidden that his mother is worried for his safety being around a woman who is not black because of the history and pain white women have inflicted on black men. Because white women have lied on black men’s names getting them killed, fired, or criminalized. It is every day that I will have to prove my heart is genuine to make his mother feel safe that I will not put his life in jeopardy. I am not angry that she doesn’t trust me. I am not angry at any black mother who does not trust non-black people with their sons. Look at what people have done to their sons in the past and every day still.
I am angry that my family will not be invited to my wedding if they do not do better. I am angry that my bi-racial children will not be allowed around my parents unsupervised because their beliefs could cost my children their lives. It is with understanding the mothers of black men, that I have learned that a mother's love is not a bulletproof vest. That I cannot protect my children when I am not around. Educating my children on the racial climate of society can protect them when I cannot. I cannot allow them in environments that white privilege is denied because it will teach them that they can behave as other children can. When reality is, they can get killed for less. The racial climate of the United States in 2018 is unsafe for black men and black women. It is unsafe for interracial couples and it is unsafe to allow any type of racism or bigotry to thrive around you.
I write this for the men choosing to share their experiences with me for my book. I write for the advocates who will be the shift in their families. This project is bigger than any one of us as individuals. I share my experiences with my students, with the men I love, with my friends and with my family. Educate and empower those around you, use your voice and listen.