"Hello! I am a white lady and I recently started dating a really wonderful, intelligent, and kind mixed-race lady. I like her SO much but I've noticed that I have no idea how to talk about race/feel a little guarded around her because I'm so worried I'll say something offensive without realizing it. How can I be the best possible ally to her and learn to just fully be myself in this new relationship?"
- Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Kai Davis as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions.
Firstly, your primary goal is on point. You definitely want to be yourself in any interracial relationship, platonic or not. I can’t even begin to tell you how irksome it is when a white person tries too hard to relate. The human experience is enough to create connections and there’s never any need to erase identities, even your own.
Also, as a white person, the best thing you can do in conversations about race is to listen more than you talk. People of color are silenced too much in their every day lives. Avoid talking over your partner at all cost. That’s not to say that you should never speak on anything racial ever. You have to open yourself up to the possibility of being wrong. Let your partner know that she can check you if you ever say anything offensive. That’s the only way you’ll be able to learn and grow from it. I have several white friends who have said subtly racist comments and I’ve checked them on it. And the reason we are still friends is because they took a second, reflected, let me explain why what they said was wrong, apologized, and never made the same mistake again.
I think if anyone understands how a group of people can become poisoned with a hateful mindset, it’s people of color. We’ve watched our families and communities succumb to the racist ideas of the white worldview until the point where we see our people hate themselves. I personally, as a queer woman of color, had a lot of obstacles to overcome before I could begin to understand how power works in this world. You have obstacles too. The only difference is that you benefit from the power structure that you must learn to understand.
That brings me to my last point. You must read read read. You can’t rely on your partner to teach you because it’s very likely that any racial knowledge that she possesses wasn’t handed to her. There are plenty of resources on the internet, in libraries, and in films that can help you gain enough information to not be so nervous during discussions about race.
Everyone Is Gay has started a new project to help parents who have LGBTQ kids: Check out The Parents Project!