In The Beginning
For as long as I can remember I have been intrigued by interracial relationships. When I was younger it was more common to see a black man with a white woman than the reverse. The only black female/white man couple I saw was on the Jeffersons, and Roxie Roker was the female component. Of course that was T.V., but it interested me. It caused me to wonder about the possibility of real life interracial relationships. I grew up in Marrero, Louisiana (acoss the river from New Orleans), and my family did not hold a positive view on interracial relationships. This was not so much a spoken rule, it was moreso implied.
My maternal grandmother was very fair and had wavy black hair. Her nose was long and straight. And I suppose as a young woman she could have "passed". However, she embraced her Black heritage fully. In a "Well, if I have to be Black, thank goodness I'm light skinned" kind of way. It was at her home that I first saw the possibility of interracial romance/relationship. I was taken by an old photograph that she kept among many on her dresser. This photo was not like the others. The person in this photo was not brown like the faces in the other frames. He was a handsome white man. I didn't understand why my grandmother would have this picture of a young white man mixed in with the others. When I questioned her about his identity she told me he was her father. "That's papa Joseph", she said. What!!!!! Your daddy was white? She said, he was half white, but his mother was light skinned too, so he looked completely white. This was unbelievable to me. My grandmother went on to explain that Papa Joseph hated the fact that his father was white, and he tried to marry the darkest woman he could find so his children would be dark. (His plan didn't work out so well, his kids were pretty light too.)
Later on my grandmother explained that Papa Joseph did not grow up with his white father, and the story was that his mother was raped by a white plantation owners son. However, the son saw that Papa Joseph and his mother were well taken care of. I always wanted to know more about their relationship. I wondered if my great-great grandfather was the product of a love affair or rape. Of course there were many instances of the latter, but that does not negate the possibility that these two people could have been in love. It was not uncommon for white men to have white families on one side of town and black families on the other side of town at that time in New Orleans. (Which is where Papa Joseph was born and raised.)
A Little Later
In high school one of my white classmates and I had a mutual crush on each other. We flirted around a bit, but we were afraid. Afraid of what our families reactions would be. Afraid of how hard it would be to go against out families wishes, and we had good reason. When I told my mother about him, she became very upset, and I remember her using a word I had never heard her use before. Despicable. I remember thinking that was funny because there was a cartoon characters who used to say, "That's despicable!" My mother was not the type of person to describe something as "despicable". Which leads me to believe that she was repeating what my grandmother may have said to her when describing what she thought were inappropriate relationships (her daughters with a white man or dark black man, but that's another story for another time). So, I didn't pursue the relationship with my white friend. But, I wondered what could have been. I remember liking him a lot more than some of the Black guys I went out with in high school. Any way, moving on.
Moving away from New Orleans, to Columbus Ohio was at first culture shock. I seemed to be the only Black person at work, in class, at the movies.....just every damned where. But, I adjusted. I made a few close white friends at work and began to examine some of my own prejudices. I was really curious about interracial dating, and went out with the first white guy that asked me on a date. It was horrible. Not because he was white......but because he was a selfish doo-doo head. But I did take something valuable away from that date. I had a new appreciation for men as individuals, white, black and otherwise.
I still have some weird fascination with interracial couples, and I'm not completely sure why. I'm in a loving and committed relationship with a Black man, and I wouldn't trade him for anyone (no matter the color). But, when I see a White mand looking lovingly into a Black woman's eyes I still wonder if Papa Joseph's daddy was in love with his mamma."