I Thought I Understood Racism. Then I Married a Black Man.
White fragility and interracial coupling do not go hand in hand
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.