I Thought I Understood Racism. Then I Married a Black Man.
On our third date, the man who would become my husband told me, “You get it.”
The “it” he was referring to was racism. At the time, I was flattered to have a Black person acknowledge my wokeness. But I’ve since realized that three dates in, I didn’t really get racism at all.
Of course, even after 17 years, I don’t fully “get it” and never will. When I venture out in the world, I still do so in white skin. But I now feel racism in my bones, just about as deeply as I can feel misogyny — and I see both reflected in my bank account, too.
Over the course of the last decade and a half, I’ve:
- Bailed my husband out of jail with the last $200 I had in my bank account and hired a lawyer to fight a fabricated felony charge against him. He was facing 20 years in prison, and the whole ordeal cost us $11,000.
- Filed a police report against my stepson’s (white) grandfather, who threatened to put my husband’s “black ass” in jail if I pursued a restraining order against his daughter. (“I know some guys,” he told me.)
- Emotionally and financially supported my husband when he: a) couldn’t find a job after finishing EMT school because of the number of times he’d been pulled over, b) was fired by three different white bosses, and c) was failed by a white woman in his graduate fieldwork placement. I’ve written emails calling the white people in charge out on their racism, helped him pursue a lawsuit against one of them, held his hand through bouts of anxiety and depression, and had to find ways to make up for tens of thousands dollars in lost wages.
- Found a basement apartment on AirBnb so our family could lay low for a few days when we thought white supremacists might be plotting an attack on our home.
- Bought my husband Mace (just last month) because the security guards at the building where he works as a hand therapist were following him after dark in the parking lot.
And those are just the first five things that come to mind.