He’s Black, I’m White
What We’ve Learned From Each Other About Stereotypes
My husband and I are opposites. He has dark skin; I have light. He has black hair; mine is blonde. He loves sports; I am an art nerd. He reads science fiction novels; I like Us Magazine (particularly when they show Ryan Gosling without his shirt on). The list goes on and on…
But you know that old saying — opposites attract, right? The minute we met, fireworks went off. I saw something in the way he walked. He saw the playfulness in my eyes. We were both immediately smitten.
Two years later — upon the consecration of our nuptials — our families had their reservations. For one thing, we were young — both of us still in university. For another, we were from different racial backgrounds. I remember my mother-in-law emphatically stating, “You’d better be ready. Our family is different from yours.”
So were they really that different?
Maybe in some ways, but it didn’t matter. We were determined to be together. Now, here we are — 20-plus years later with three almost grown children — and no one’s choked anyone in their sleep yet. Somehow, we’ve made it through.
In the very beginning, I expected we might have a hard time. I expected people to say things and whisper behind our backs. I expected us to fight — a lot. How could we not? Our marriage was going to be like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, wasn’t it?
With the exception of one man who wouldn’t rent us an apartment because he was a bigoted asshole, we’ve never encountered any other issues as a mixed couple. If people talk, I’ve never heard them. Or maybe I just don’t care to listen close enough.
But what about those stereotypes? Were they true? Well, if I’m being completely honest, sometimes my husband does fit into the stereotypes of his race. He’d probably say that I do as well.
For example, he can run pretty fast — faster than I can anyway, and he reminds me of this often. He’ll say, “Come on, I want to watch you run… just once… like to the end of the driveway and back… ha, ha, ha.” As you can see, he is also very sarcastic. In that, we are the same. Hey, I was in the 100-meter relay back in grade six, you bugger.
He likes chicken, though if you ask me, I’m more of a “poultry fanatic” than he is. Baked though, not fried. My husband would rather have a big, juicy steak. Which one of us is going to have a heart attack first, eh dear?
He’s stricter with the children — now, that is true. Why am I such a “sucker” (his words, not mine) when it comes to disciplining our offspring and our pets? Listen, having the cats on the counter is only problematic when you are making cookies or something equally as sticky, because then their fur somehow finds its way into the batter. Again, which one of us is going to have a heart attack sooner? My husband needs to chill.
He doesn’t like bugs. Stereotype or not, it’s pretty funny watching a large black man shaking in fear when a grasshopper “spears” past him on the path at the park. One of these days, I’m going to put a few crickets under his pillow. That’ll get him back for all the times he’s made fun of my “running” technique.
Also, he says that he’s the better dancer, but that’s debatable. For me, him making such a claim only proves that he’s also delusional. Now, watch out. When I do the running man, I take up a lot of space.
Of course, there are a few stereotypes that we totally disprove as well, like the fact that he’s a surgeon. Yeah, he’s smart as hell. And I can’t stand country music. Sorry, Keith Urban.
So what does all this mean? For us, it doesn’t mean much of anything, other than we aren’t clones of each other. And thank the tree in my backyard for that, otherwise there’d be two of us who don’t like to cook. Seriously, we both love sushi, but a person can only handle eating at Ken’s Japanese Restaurant so many nights per week.
The bottom line about our relationship? It’s hard. Why? Because all relationships are hard. Raising children is hard. Living is hard. When it matters, I think my husband and I strike a good balance. He knows how to turn on our new big screen television (and make it work with the Xbox), and I know how to spend up to $500 per week at the grocery store.
We’ve learned to be tolerant of each other’s differences, while at the same time recognizing that we are both part of a larger whole — the human race.
As C. JoyBell C. says, “We are all equal in the fact that we are all different.” So true. And like I always say, “And we all wear underpants too.” At least, most of us do.AfricanSisters