Oregon: The interracial couple capital of the nation

I went to a meetup this past weekend of an African-American literature book club I am a part of. I joined last year, but being pregnant and then having a new baby prevented me from going to my first meetup. I love meeting all kinds of people, but it is nice to meet other black women that live in Oregon because there aren’t that many of us here.

The ladies in this group are very friendly and I enjoyed it. What’s interesting is that of all the blacks I meet, there is about a 75-80 percent chance they will be in an interracial relationship or IR. And, true to form, almost half of us in the group have non-black partners.

I love hearing about the experiences of other IR couples. One woman and her white husband had major problems with family on both sides either not speaking to them ever again or being actively (or passively) hostile. They even had a scary run-in at a roadside diner some years ago that involved waiting over an hour for a meal and then having to pay for the nonexistent meal to avoid further trouble. Yikes, right? And of course the nasty looks from people who view you as a race traitor. Fun!

Then there is the reaction to mixed-race babies. Grandparents being upset or puzzled because baby is not dark/light enough or hospital staff not believing it’s your kid because they look white (this really happened to one of the ladies in the group in CA).

The story of my DH and I seems fairly boring in comparison; our families have given us zero trouble with our pairing and if anyone has a problem, they have kept it to themselves. We had one experience of this older white lady, while we were living in Philadelphia, clutching her purse frantically when we were standing near her in a department store. The jury is still out on whether it was a race thing or if she was just a generally nervous person that clutched her purse when any human was too close for her comfort.

One thing we all have the same experience on is noticing the total lack of care for who dates/marries who here in Oregon. There are a ton of IR couples here. DH and I never had anyone give us the side-eye while out as a couple or with our children.

It’s also refreshing to meet other black women like myself that have non-black spouses, which flies in the face of the myth that there are not that many black women in IR relationships. Or another tired one is that we are forever lamenting over the dearth of available black men.

But there are a lot of us that are open to whoever we connect best with, regardless of race. And that was me. But even before I married DH, I never felt resentful when I saw a black man with a white woman, you know, Jill Scott style, having my “spirit wince.” I think Whoopi Goldberg brought up a great point in this clip from The View last year that discussed Jill’s remarks: Whoopi said that for herself, she has always gone with whoever showed an interest in her.

Whoopi went on to state (and I am summing up, these are not her exact words) a sad, but real truth: a lot of black women were made fun of and looked down on (particularly during the horrid teen years) in our community for being too dark-skinned, having hair that is too nappy, a nose that is too wide, lips that are too big…the list goes on…basically¬†being too black.

But the funny thing is that there are a lot of non-black men that think these physical attributes are beautiful. Some black men? Not so much (and if you are not one of these men, I am not talking about you). Like Whoopi said, you go with who shows as much interest in you as you do in them…sounds rather reasonable to me.