Story from Pop Culture. They say that love, by itself, is never enough to sustain a partnership. The older I get and the more interest my student loans accrue , the more true I find that adage to be. The willingness to stay together that comes from being in love is honestly only the tip of the iceberg. Relationships require a unique combination of personal skills like empathy, compromise, and communication.
And there are a ton of external forces — like death, money, parenthood, and personal identity — that can put a strain on how well two people work together. To top it off, there is an extreme misrepresentation of fairy-tale love across our media landscape, one that often ignores the ways race, class, and sexuality affect how partnership looks and works. People with marginalized identities are way less likely to see themselves depicted in those fairy tales.
This is why Black love is so celebrated in our community. These celebrity couples have been putting a Black spin on relationshipgoals. It was a different kind of connection. In some ways, a more honest form of communication. But going out with a white guy was a whole new cultural experience.
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So different to my Nigerian upbringing. Culturally, my home was Nigerian, it wasn't British. While I dated both black and white boys, I couldn't ignore the fact that I felt more comfortable with black boys. Dating them felt more familiar. It was like home. We had a shorthand. I didn't have to explain what okra or a plantain was or why they needed, out of respect, to call my mum Aunty. With the white English men I dated, I often felt sexually fetishised and often patronised.
With one serious boyfriend it bothered me that he called my mum "Christine", even when I specifically told him to call her Aunty. He wasn't respectful enough to adapt to that part of my culture. The same guy often put me down. One day he and I were at a pond, and I said: "Oh wow, look at that duck! I can't believe you haven't been taught that. There was an undercurrent to his words.
A superiority. That was a big moment for me. I met my fiance online, on a dating site. On my profile I had put an instruction to not contact me unless they had closely read my bio and understood my passions and hobbies. He sent me a message saying: "Would you like to go for a coffee sometime? I liked it. I want to meet you for a coffee. He wasn't going to woo me with a War and Peace-length love letter.
From our first date we got on. I thought: "Oh he's so handsome. We could talk so easily with each other. His colour didn't factor into my attraction.
But there is a huge difference between going out with a white Polish man and a white English man. When people think about interracial relationships, very rarely do they think of the nuance. Poland didn't have independence for more than a hundred years before Historically it's a country with people that know what it's like to be governed by outsiders.
In my experience, many of the white English guys and I say English because I haven't had experience around Welsh, Scottish or Irish men I knew didn't know their true history. They don't know about much about the transatlantic slave trade or colonisation. These parts of history aren't delved into in secondary schools. If they were, many people might have a better understanding of the minority experience.
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But what I've found with my fiance, and many Polish people I've met through him, is a deep understanding of being a minority and facing prejudice in this country. That way we can relate to each other.
My partner grew up under communism in a working class family, and that place of scarcity is something I can relate to as well. He's a migrant like me.
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He came here to build a life for himself. I wouldn't have that level of compatibility with a white English man. This doesn't mean I haven't experienced racism from Polish people. I was at the beach in Poland when a man called me the Polish version of the N-word. Luckily for me I'm not dating those people, I'm dating this person. Love is not colour blind.
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I worry for people in interracial relationships who say, "I don't see colour. Your kids will have to face it. It's exhausting having to explain your life and culture to someone who hasn't lived it. There's no shorthand. You often have to explain certain cultural ways before you can enjoy it. Interracial relationships aren't groundbreaking.
But interracial couples are popular on YouTube.
They call them "swirl" couples and they amass big followings by documenting their day-to-day lives. But it's lazy to say that these visible relationships are single-handedly changing the tapestry of our society. I often think they're a marketing ploy. I didn't want to do that with mine. I get a lot of trolls online.
As a black woman who has chosen to speak up about issues affecting black British women, I know I signed up for that. But I didn't sign up for my family and friends to be under attack.
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