Love In The Time Of Trump: 3 Interracial Couples On How The Current Climate Affects Their Relationships
In 1967 the landmark Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia legalized interracial marriage in all 50 states. Fifty one years later, interracial relationships shouldn’t be a big deal but the current Commander-in-chief’s blatant racism and discrimination toward different races and social classes has shed light on the holes in America’s narrative of progressiveness. In fact, by many standards, race relations are regressing.
As a Black woman, the majority of people in my circle, including my boyfriend, are Black. And when it’s time to vent about the latest instance of police brutality or corporate mishap or any other matter concerning race, we tend to see things from the same viewpoint because we have a shared experience. But when it comes to my friends who have partners of a different race I’ve always wonder what it was like for them at home. Is there tension? Do they feel a need to pick sides? Does their partner understand?
I decided to talk to three interracial couples to get their feedback on interracial coupledom in the Trump era. Thee three couples are:
- Toya (Black woman) and Jason (white man): This couple lives in Galesburg, IL, and has been married for 10 years and has two children
- Dante (Black man) and Jenny (white woman): Married for 8 years, this Milwaukee, WI-based couple has two children.
- Ambrea (Black woman) and Scott (white man): This pair has been married 10 years, has one child and lives in Dallas, TX.
Are your family and friends supportive of your marriage?
Ambrea: My extended family accepted him but my mom had a little issue. She is from Milwaukee, WI, and worries about what others think. I’m her only daughter and she grew up during race riots and made it clear she didn’t want me to bring home a white boy. His mother lived with us for a while and we had some disagreements based on stereotypes she had in her head about Bpeople. She didn’t understand Black hair and me getting my hair done, eyebrows threaded, nails and toes done. The tension got so bad we left and moved to Phoenix to get some distance.
Scott: My mom is nice-nasty, a secret closet bigot which is weird because my family has everything in it but Asian. My extended family has a lot of bikers in it, but they love her and are very supportive of our marriage.
Toya & Jason: Both sides of the family have been supportive of our marriage.
Jenny: My family has, his hasn’t. His family doesn’t like me or my occupation.
Dante: I am not that close to my family and even though I have a brother and uncle who have dated outside their race, I think me marrying a white woman made it worse. They also don’t like that she is a social worker because as they say, “they don’t like the government in their business.”
Does the current racial climate cause tension in your relationship?
Ambrea: No, but we’re more mindful and pay more attention to what’s going on. For example, two cop cars pulled over a well known mentally disabled man in our neighborhood. Everyone knows that man does not bother anyone. All of a sudden it went from two cops to five cop cars for one man. I pulled over and recorded it because I was very nervous for this man. But here in Texas they do that. We have always gotten stares, people are confused seeing a Black woman with natural hair with a big white biker looking dude (laughs). But I decided I was going to look for love regardless of skin color. As Black women we have been conditioned to wait on Black men. I never dated Black men exclusively.
Scott: I pay more attention to my surroundings. I’ve noticed if a Black guy gets pulled over they use numerous cop cars, more than they would for a white guy. When we were in California no one really paid us any attention, it was a more diverse environment, but when we lived in Arizona we got tons of people staring at us.
Jason: Racial tension has changed. Trump has made it more acceptable to be racist and say racist, sexist and overall ignorant things. I have never heard the n-word so much at work in my life. It’s sad. I want to say something but I can’t because they’re clients and I don’t want to lose my job. They feel it’s OK to talk that way around me because I’m white. It’s hard for me to hold back but I have to.
Toya: We have not allowed that to affect our relationship. We choose to not to discuss politics with people. A lot of Jason’s friends are pro Trump. When they start bringing up politics I just stop them like, “Nope, we’re not doing that.” It’s easier to keep the peace that way.
Dante: It doesn’t affect our relationship more. We are on the same page, but we go about things differently. I try not to be political, but growing up bBack my experiences are different than hers.
Jenny: Our relationship is not affected. I had fears after Trump was elected but I was proud to see so many lawn signs in our neighborhood about unity. That eased me some.
Can you discuss politically differences calmly or do things get heated?
Scott: Sometimes it gets a little heated. We had a different upbringing — basically the same ideas but with different upbringing. We disagree on gun reform. I want rights to guns but can admit that Blacks will get shot before whites.
Ambrea: It depends; when it comes to police Scott is more anti-police than me. My uncle was chief of police. Scott was on the other side of the blue line. He has a different perspective. I know some cops personally and know a different side of them than how they are portrayed publicly. When it comes to politics, as a whole we are on the same side but certain issues like gun reform, police force…we vary on that and those discussions can get a little heated.
Jason: We can discuss politics with no problem because we are on the same page. We discuss race and politics everyday because we are socially aligned.
Toya: That’s something you should know about before you get married. How could you marry someone and not know their political affiliation?
Dante: We are all the same page fortunately. Our oldest daughter is very vocal like my wife, but I don’t go there with her (laughs). She is angry about injustices, politics, and human rights. I make sure to take her to community meetings and events so she can see there are things she can do to create change and not just be angry. I was brought up not to discuss politics and stuff so this is taking some getting used to.
Jenny: I come from a social welfare view. We have to talk about it to create change, it may be uncomfortable but it’s necessary.
How did you feel when Trump was elected?
Scott: I knew sh-t was hitting the fan. It felt like the world started spinning the other way.
Ambrea: We were Bernie supporters and only voted for Hillary because she was lesser of two evils. She did not work for our vote. We seriously had conversations about moving to Canada because he has dual citizenship.
Jason: I couldn’t believe it!
Toya: Jason is pretty smart and normally right about stuff. He promised me I had nothing to worry about and that Trump would not get elected. So I still hold this over his head! (laughs)
Dante: [Jenny] had a lot of fears right away. We saw how he handled himself and knew what was coming. Fear. A lot of fear.
Jenny: I bought first lady champagne because I just knew Hillary was going to win. We still have the champagne and no one can touch it because I’m saving it for our first lady president.
When you see a friend of your partner’s express a racist opinion in person or social media, what do you do? Do you expect your mate to stop being friends with them?
Ambrea: We have friends who are pro Trump. We had a friend that would make jokes about immigration.
Scott: I have friends that are pro Trump but they don’t post racist stuff, they post pro Trump stuff. I ignore 90% of what they post. I’ve known them for 25+ years so I can’t cut them off. I don’t hold people’s ignorance against them.
Ambrea: He has cousins that are pro Trump. He has a bunch of family that worked for a company that trump came to and promised jobs and they ended up losing their jobs.
Scott: I have family that are real deal good old boys and they are very pro Trump and they will support him no matter what.
Toya: I have blocked people on social media
Jason: Our friends have not said anything racist, but they have discussed being pro Trump. It makes us kinda not like them anymore.
Toya: It’s hard being friends with them after knowing they like Trump. How can you hear what Trump says and still like him? It’s not even republican or democrat it’s just normal and abnormal at this point.
Jenny: I’m not afraid to get into a discussion in person or online. People say you can’t get mad at them for having an opinion but that’s BS. Facts are still real. Dante hates it.
Dante: It’s a waste a time. Be locally active. For example there have been huge cuts in the arts in schools. I am really into the arts so I joined boards to fund the arts. She spends a lot of time arguing with people online.
Jenny: I’ve also had heated discussions with some of your friends. He has friends who have said very callous things about the police shootings and Black men. How can you be a Black man and be friends with people like that? They view you the same way.
Dante: To me, arguing with them is a waste of time; it’s not going to change their mind. Watching me succeed in life is a better example.
Jenny: You can succeed in life but you don’t have to bring them with you. They don’t deserve it.
Do you talk to your kids about what’s going on in the world. Have they experienced any racism at school?
Ambrea: Yes we talk to him. Our son looks very white so we explain to him that because of his looks he has a privilege darker people don’t get and he may need to help his other family/friends when he sees something unfair happening.
Toya: I have asked my boys [about their experience] and they said there were a couple of kids that walked around with the Make America Great Again hats, but those kids were in the minority.
Jason: The school is pretty diverse, so that’s good.
Dante: She has gone up to the school and called in to discuss topics that she disagreed with how they handled things. I do more to fight for diverse staff since the school has none.
Jenny: When the students were doing the walk out my oldest daughter said the school told the kids good religious people don’t protest. I called the principal and laid into him for 45 mins. That’s unacceptable. Our daughters know they can talk to me about anything.
What advice would you give to other interracial couples at this time?
Scott: One monkey doesn’t stop the show, they are going to keep pushing. Believe in yourself.
Ambrea: Have conversations and talk. Be prepared to hear things you don’t like and don’t want to hear. Listen and then respond. If you live in a segregated place, they are going to stare, so give them something to look at. Learn how to argue…
Scott: But finish it. Once it is done, its dead. Take time to understand where your partner is coming from so you can understand more.
Ambrea: Don’t get into an interracial relationship to break the norm, do it because you love the person. Don’t be a fetish to anyone. Make sure they are dating you because they love you and want to be with you.
Jason: Wait three years; too many people are upset. Realize your vote counts; there is no way he can get re-elected.
Toya: Don’t let the bad outweigh the good. Don’t let social media ruin your relationships. As long as you two are happy, don’t worry what others think.
Dante: Start a group (laughs).
Jenny: He’s making a joke about me. It’s not a formal club (laughs). One positive thing about social media is the representation. You can find anyone. Look for events and other couples like yourselves. If you don’t see one, start one. People will join.
Dante: I’m enriched in so many activities that usually have a lot of white people and no Black people and feel guilt that our kids don’t get enough Black culture. If you have children, make sure they have diverse mentors so they can see positive Black men and women.
Jenny: Our oldest worries about not Being black enough, the youngest thinks she white so we are constantly working to make sure they understand who they are versus how society sees them and see positive representations of themselves.
One thing I know as a Black woman is that people who act and think like Trump have always been around and, unfortunately, have more power than they should. Change will not happen until we have uncomfortable conversations and people who have privilege recognize it and use their privilege to get involved in some sort of activism to create some real change. People in interracial relationships have a first-hand look at the world their partner lives in. I hope they use that information to educate others and not stand back while this racist rhetoric continues to be normalized. We all have a responsibility to make people who think like Trump answer for continuing to incite this level of hatred in our country.