reappropriate

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Yes, We're Together

You know what really annoys me about being in an interracial relationship? No, it's not the outright intolerance, the impossibility of getting colourstruck family members to accept your significant other, or even being thrown in with the IRs that think our "beautiful brown babies" will signal the end of racism because they will "have no race". No. What irritates me are the shopkeepers and the secretaries. The people whose job it is to greet you and address small problems you might have, who automatically assume that when your Black boyfriend walks through the door behind you, that you can't possibly be together. How often have I walked in first, prepared to ask a question about where the paperwork needs to go or just pay for my burger and fries when the cashier stops what he is doing, turns to electroman with a half-quizzical, half-apprehensive stare and demands, "can I help you?" Something about seeing an Asian girl followed by a Black man seems to trigger alarm bells: we can't possibly be acquaintainces, friends, or even -- dare I say it? -- lovers. No, electroman must be a stalker, another student or customer who has dumbly invaded the private exchange between salesperson and sales recipient by stepping up too soon. He knows not how to follow the rules, they consider him deserving of the rude treatment reserved for the out-of-place. I'm sick of informing them that we're together. Yes, we're together. Sometimes, I pre-emptively tell the cashier, "we're together" -- and yet, when I do that, it sounds like I'm insecure, publicizing the status of my relationship to a person who didn't ask and doesn't care. Saying it like that: we're together, as if we shouldn't be. As if it were justified to think that we don't look like we're together. As if the fact that we've been unerringly "together" for seven years isn't at all relevant. I'm tired of having to validate my relationship everytime we want to pay for groceries together. Part of it seems to be the threatening stereotype of Black men -- unfailingly, it never happens the other way around; when the Black man is followed a second or two later by the Asian girl, the cashiers rarely turn to him and ask if we're together. Are they too afraid of him, or does the sight of an Asian girl following a Black man fail to challenge their worldview of Asian women as weak and subservient to masculinity? I'm as politically-minded as the next person, but sometimes I just want to pay for my fucking pizza in peace.

6 Comments:

Blogger Ragnell said...

(This post had the best ending line ever)

8/09/2006 12:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Adam said...

It's funny though. I live with an Asian female and a Caucasian male. Whenever we all go out to dinner, no matter the seating arrangment, the serving staff assumes I'm with my Asian female roommate. I'll order dessert, and the restaurant will bring 2 spoons or forks, not three.

Does this ever happen to you and electroman when going out with friends?

8/09/2006 10:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Carmen Van Kerckhove said...

LOL Jenn! Totally identify, this happens to me ALL time.

8/09/2006 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger Lee Herrick said...

amazing how monochromatic love can be in some people's eyes.

8/09/2006 03:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I laugh at the fact that I sometimes hear other Pilipinos say about me (in various dialects of Tagalog) "Why can't she date a nice white guy? He could take care of her. Not that dirty Mexican boy."

What's wrong with dating a man of color? O_O If anything, I want to deconstruct the stereotype that the "ideal" IR is always with a white man. I don't want people to be thinking that I'm perpetuating an Orientalist construct, or that I want a green card. I'm a fuckin' U.S. citizen for fuck's sake >_<

8/11/2006 04:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Gandalf Mantooth said...

Oh, just wait till you have kids (if you have kids). Older white women will bum rush you with "Oooh, when I saw y'all together with a baby I just knew that baby was going to be beeyouteefuuul." I mean, he is, but . . .

8/15/2006 01:12:00 PM  

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