Interracial Relationships: The art of Forgetting/Remembering our Colors

The first time we stood in front of a mirror I didn’t believe our reflection. We stood naked. He wrapped his arms around me, resting his head on my shoulder. He watched me watch us. I began to notice just how different we were. On a regular day I identify as a woman. But in that mirror, I was night leaning its back on the sun. His hair like silk waved and curled in the morning sun-rays shining through the window. My mane coiled and locked in last night’s heat and sweat. He was sculpted golden and strong. I was brown and shaped like a mother. His chest was made in the gym. My breasts were designed by my son, who depended on them for life a few years prior. His soul was bustling city. My soul was meadow and rivers. I asked him if we “looked right” to him. He told me he thought so. No hesitation. He seemed confused that I’d even thought to ask. This was the first time I noticed that he and I were different colors. We were shaded differently on countless levels. What was looking back at me in the mirror? Was this balance? Wasn’t balance supposed to be a good thing? I didn’t know what to make of it…because what I wanted to receive as balance in our reflection came off like a smack in the ass on a crowded bus in a town I had never been to. Just like that. The man who spent the whole night talking to me about the dance between galaxies, speaking my soul’s language and shit, was now someone I couldn’t remember connecting with. The man I spent the whole night prior with on the docks at the harbor became foreign land. Was I a product of mental conditioning? Yes…yes I was. 

Regardless of my conditioned ass thinking patterns I decided to go forward with him. I would step outside of my comfort zone. I would step outside of what was expected of me when it came to my personal process of choosing a mate. I would make up my own mind about him. As we continued to date I began learning him. The more we established our connection the less I even noticed our colors. It got to a point where the only time I remembered that we were different colors was when I began learning about his culture. El Salvador was a place I hadn’t been, but there were traces of this place in his parents who grew up there. There were traces of this place in the home they created for him and his brothers. I began to make connections between his particular shade, his morals, and his values. In doing so, I became more aware of my own patterns and connections. Shit was beautiful. It was like watching flowers blossom…flowers that tasted like papusas and looked like bringing Christmas in overnight like New Year’s.

Thing’s didn’t get weird until I took an interest in our histories. One day amidst heavy conversation he mentioned that his darker skinned Latin American friend hated his skin color. It hurt to hear. I was certainly darker than this friend…were there people who still thought I was ugly for that alone? Why does he hate it? Like hate? I began looking up the histories of Latin America. In my research, I learned that Latin American’s reference the darker skin as a sign of past poverty. Having darker skin meant that there were more slaves mixing in your ancestry, slaves didn’t work for anything. Having lighter skin meant that there was a heavier presence of Spaniards in your ancestry, and they of course had the power and the control. The fact that the event’s of the 1500’s were affecting the way young Latin Americans felt about themselves in 2013 was crazy to me…fascinating even. I continued looking into it.

The morning after Christmas I woke up in a hotel room. I glanced over at him, untangling himself from the sheets. After contemplating the possibility of me going to hell for last night’s acts, I decided to skip the guilt and browse Google on my cell. This particular morning I decided to search slave rebellions in colonial El Salvador. I stumbled across a shitty tid bit in history. Apparently, the slaves were causing so many issues to Spanish slave owners with rebellions and such, they decided to get them all together and kill them. When I read that, it sort of hurt. You know, being a descendant of slaves myself. I turned to face him and read aloud what I had read. He didn’t say much. I said, “They must have been really strong, since the Spaniards had to strait up try to eliminate them…especially when slaves kept their pockets fat”. He turned to me and said “Maybe they were just annoyed with all of the rebellions and just got fed up and decided it wasn’t worth it.” I said “that could be true, but they must have been posed some type of threat to them”. He replied, “That doesn’t necessarily mean that they were strong.” I began getting a bit confused and a little hurt. “If the slaves threw rebellions that had no momentum and didn’t ultimately do anything or get anyone’s attention, why would Spaniards feel compelled to kill them, especially when slaves served as their free labor? They were keeping their pockets fat.” This wasn’t making sense to me. He simply replied “It probably had nothing to do with strength at all, maybe they were just annoying as fuck”…When it hit me that this was becoming an argument. I turned around in the bed. I remember not wanting him to touch me.

He sat up in bed and insisted that we talk this shit through. Something had gone very wrong, very quickly. He grabbed my hand and started a string of apologies. He explained to me that these comments stemmed from a negative attitude his father had with other “darker skinned” Latin American nationalities. He explained that his father always referenced them as being full of themselves, and they said they carried themselves as if they were better than others. He told me that he thinks some of that subconsciously stuck with him. He apologized for coming off as “oppressive”. We spoke in detail about the issue until I could look at him and see the person I had been learning about for all those months.

Now when we stand in the mirror…I feel aware. I feel aware of who he is, and who I am. I am aware of who we are to each other. When I stand in front of him in the mirror, and when his arms wrap around me, I find something different in our reflection. There is a sense of freedom staring back at me. There is evidence that my love is strong enough to undo history’s imperfect ideologies. There is freedom in the acceptance of one another, freedom in our desire to listen and understand. There is freedom in our ability to fuck up and want to mend our wrongs. There is freedom in the fact that “we are”. We are us, past who we were conditioned to be. We are us, past how we were conditioned to think. There is power lingering in our reflections. There is beauty in the contrast. It’s funny. Our human asses…our mere human asses…we could fucking change the world. I am in love with the love that forces us to practice the art of forgetting and remembering our colors. Times continue to change…sometimes cycles repeat. But we continue to move forward in love. And that’s a fucking super power.

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