Leslie BurkeComment

Some Splainin To Do: Part 1

Leslie BurkeComment
Some Splainin To Do: Part 1

I haven't dated a black man in a long time. I am expecting that trend to continue since this is my last boyfriend. If this doesn't work out, I'm going solo foreva (Cardi B voice). That said, our relationship overcomes many obstacles, not just his Frenchness but his whiteness. I am not his first woman of color - he dated an African Brazilian who didn't like dark people (go figure) - but since I am his longest relationship, even sustaining the length of his previous marriage, I got stuck with a lot of lessons. First up was explaining to him that I can sense racism even when he can't see it. 

There have been countless times we have entered high end stores and we split up to have a look at the men's and women's sections respectively. The sales associates naturally gravitate towards him - he is tall, thin and everything looks good on him. I, on the other hand, am short and brown and need a lot more assistance. In our relationship, I am definitely the shopaholic and often have to convince my man to buy things. Without fail however, he is always the one who is getting attention from sales associates. There are many times I approach a hostess station at a restaurant (since I enter first because my man is a gentleman) and am ignored but when he walks in behind me, instantly a greeting and an offer for a table. I am so used to this having lived in my skin my entire life. My love, on the other hand, who has worn his skin of power and access being both male and white did not see this behavior. I have shared with him the countless times I am made to feel invisible in the world and why I sometimes act more defensively because of that. It was a big lesson in a school we will be in together for a long while and I appreciate the student he has become. 

This dynamic will be even more interesting when we move to Europe. Sometimes a persons distaste for you can mask itself in a language barrier or a French word Berlitz failed to cover. The last time we traveled to France, my love did not leave my side. I was shielded from any negative feelings about our interracial relationship. I am excited and anxious about how that will change when we visit France in two weeks and I will spend my days alone roaming while he is at work. I hope this trip will prepare me for the realities of being a black expat in France I will face in the future.