Friday, 24 June 2016

Loving a white (man) - part I

My partner and I have been together for a couple of years. Enough to know that we cohabit well together, and that we do love each other and for the most part want to build a life together.

He is an amazing human being, kind and compassionate. He is just the right amount of tender. He is open minded. Gifted. We even share the same political views.

But beneath the surface of our relationship I struggle with something.  He is a cis-het White Male. I capitalise white and male for a reason. Male and White dominated existence is the unfortunate reality of the world.  My partner, through no fault of his, is the product of hundreds of years of privilege and the world is created in a way that serves him. And while he may intellectually comprehend this (bless him), I struggle.

I struggle because he will never know what it's like to walk my path.
He will never know what it feels like to be belittled, reduced to a stereotype or seen as a sex object because of the colour of his skin or what is between his legs.
He will never understand the blood boiling rage that takes place due to an accumulation of microagressions from people we both know, and often people who are dear to him.
Every time someone in his family speaks about someone or something related to my race they make eye contact with me. He will never understand why this upsets me.
He will never understand why his racist friends make me feel murderous.
He will never understand rejection based on his sex or race.

All he sees, is that I am right, they are wrong, and that he is torn between the two because of joint allegiances.

All he sees are things in black and white. There is no deeper meaning. There is no sensitivity. There is no need for a double take when the world was created to be as you see it. You as a white male.

He thinks of this as an attack on him. He feels threatened because he says I hate white men. If I hated white men, I think, why would I be with you? He fails to see that Whiteness is an institution created to empower people like him. He tries to listen, but he does not hear.

My partner probably never thinks about the fact that we see no other black people where we live, that I am the only person of colour in our apartment block, that I "fit in" because I'm light skinned. It probably never crosses his mind that I grew up in a ghetto designed for people of my colour, where all I saw were people of my colour, and that that is my culture. And I miss that.

He probably has no curiosity about why it is I know so much about other cultures, or why I tie a scarf over my head at night.

I wonder if he thinks about the blood that runs through my veins, and that I was born of a woman who was born of a woman who was born of a woman who probably could not speak a word of english, had probably never seen the inside of a school, and had never had a man respect her a day in her life. And here I am unable to speak a word of her language.

I think about our children. I cry for them. Will they know what blood runs in their veins or will they inherit his privilege. I think about the little superstitious prayers I say when I lose something or walk under a ladder, or almost have an accident, or sneeze. And I wonder: will they ever be curious? How will they know these things if I don't share it with them? Why is the burden of this responsibility on me? Why is WHITENESS the default culture for mixed race babies?

Will my partner ever know, will he ever care, will he ever see, that he and I are not the same.
We never will be.
My love, we are not equal.
You were born with a silver spoon in your mouth.
I was born to give my life to make that spoon.
And still I carry this burden.

I say a superstitious prayer for your eyes to open, for your ears to hear, for your self to retreat and for you to understand.

I say Insha-allah.

1 comment:

  1. There are times when attempted empathy will just have to be enough. I love my hubs and white friends but they will NEVER get what I've experienced. Neither will my children. We have to learn to love and live aside from their blindness of seeing and feeling. They cannot help it. You don't want them to have those experiences anyway, right? So therefore they will never fully grasp and I wouldn't want them to either because it means they'd have had to feel the pain and I'd wish to spare them that.