Doesn’t marrying someone of another ethnicity or culture prove you are racism-free? Wouldn’t it be obvious that a White man marrying a half-black woman like Halle Berry, for example, clearly be color-blind?
Halle Berry is now embroiled in one of the ugliest custody battles I have seen in a long time, and those two are just beginning. Charges of all kinds of vulgarities are being exchanged including the accusation that her once-husband, Gabriel Aubrey, hurled the “N-word” at her on more than one occasion. Huh? A guy married to a Mixed Black-White woman calling her that?
Gabriel denies doing so, though another woman who used to date him, says she always knew Aubrey to be “borderline racist” as she called him, noting her shock that he and Berry got together in the first place.
Who knows, maybe Berry is making this up to make him look unfit for the looming court battle. But one thing I learned in the last few weeks is that it is indeed entirely possible to be in an inter-ethnic relationship and still be prejudiced against the culture of one’s partner.
I did an interview with several couples for an article I was writing, Black-Latina couples here in L.A., about their experiences in terms of family and friends. It was particularly interesting that of all the couples, none had any issues except one Latina, who saw venom coming at her all the time for being in such a relationship. Though she got it from Hispanics now and again, for the most part she felt particularly uncomfortable around Blacks, feeling like they hated her. She particularly felt every Black woman she encountered was shooting visual daggers at her.
Considering the opposite experience she had, compared to the other Latinas, who felt nothing of the sort, I had to wonder, how could she see it so differently?
My conclusion, and that of my Latina wife, who also never experiences such problems and indeed a day before my interview with the young lady was surrounded by a sea of Blacks at a celebration in Los Angeles and felt great warmth from everyone, is that people carry into these relationships and situations their own outlooks and biases. As a result, often you see what you expect to see, and you project what is in you. If you are looking for prejudice you will often find it.
That doesn’t mean every case of bigotry is made up or imagined. Not at all because it does exist. But the degree to which it impacts you, in every single situation, as it did for this Latina, who couldn’t go anywhere and not see bigots staring at her, is also a factor of your own mindset. Not everybody is a racist. Not every look is because someone has a problem with your relationship.
One other couple said when they did get looks they assumed it was because people thought they were a cute couple. When the Latina with negative experiences got looks she assumed it was because they hated her.
Sometimes people simply project what’s in them. Actually I think that’s true most of the time. And it is clearly possible to carry that bias into even an inter-ethnic relationship. So it is possible to see your partner one way, but their culture another stereotypical way. I think that explains this Latina’s outlook as it may explain Aubrey’s relationship with Halle Berry. Their personal prejudices existed even as they saw their partner as “the exception.” A mindset that convinces yourself that while you don’t like the group, you like or love your partner, cannot hold up. The result is what happened with Aubrey and why this Latina can be married to a Black man and still seemingly have problems with Blacks in general.