Black People in Interracial Relationships Need Black Spaces, Too

Earlier this week, Alfonzo Ribiero mentioned that he is not embraced by Black people because his wife is white. And Black twitter responded.

There seems to be an ongoing debate as to whether or not you can be “pro-Black” and be in an interracial relationship. There are compelling arguments on both sides of coin. On one hand, the company you keep is a reflection of your values. But choosing to be romantically exclusive with, have children with and spend a majority of your time with someone who is not Black is a tell-tale sign of the fact that being heavily engaged in Black culture is not a priority for you. On the other hand, regardless of whom you spend your time with- you don’t stop being Black. You still walk the earth as a Black person and you are treated accordingly. I always raise the fact that a surprising amount of Black Panthers- the ultimate symbol of pro-Blackness in the United States, openly dated white women.

Then there are folks who don’t make it any easier on us. The folks who trash people of their race to justify seeking partnership outside of their race. The mere existence of these people is all the proof that folks need to write off everyone who dates/marries interracially as a self-hating sellout. This is an extremely hurtful narrative to both Black men and women who have non-Black partners because it diminishes their life-long experiences as a person from a marginalized identity. Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, we still shared the collective cultural and historical trauma as Black people- particularly African Americans. Something to note is that in the times i’ve been in predominately or all-White space is when i’m even more conscious of my Blackness and feel Blacker than ever.

Having a white partner doesn’t stop you from experiencing microaggressions- with or without them. Having a white partner doesn’t stop other Black people from seeing you as one of their own- especially without them. I think there is an exotification factor when it comes to people who dwell and socialize in homogenous environments. I’m not just talking about Black people in this regard. But people who live in ethnically, religiously, or cultural homogenous environments tend to think there is something inherently wrong with people who want to have a diverse experience. Perhaps they are lost or are rejecting an aspect of their identity that they would rather leave behind. And to be fair, humans are tribal and communal. Historically we trust no one but those closest to us. One might even go so far as to say that trusting someone outside of our people- especially if they’re white is a byproduct of colonization.

So if you still need to be around your own people and yearn for friendship within your racial community, then why date/marry outside your race? This is the million dollar question that varies from person to person. In my case, I have dated men from various different backgrounds. I’ve had a Black husband and a white husband. This one just happens to be white. I didn’t intentionally pick a white person to fall in love with. However to take things a bit deeper, the framework from which I approach race is intersectional. Therefore being with a Black man does not necessarily make me feel more connected with myself because I am a Black woman with a completely different set of challenges, trauma and a lifetime of experiences that only a Black woman can understand. Therefore being with a White man is by no means a reflection of how much I love or hate myself as a Black woman.He’s just there. We have similar interests, career outlooks and values and on top of the commitment, sensitivity, attentiveness and mutual respect it takes to make a marriage work- there’s not much more I could ask for in a Black man where race would be a factor. The other thing that people fail to realize is that once you’ve been with someone long enough and they make a conscious effort, they do understand you more than anyone else could- even people you grew up in the same house with. I think perhaps if more Black people embraced intersectionality then this concept is easier to understand.

That being said, do I need Black spaces? I certainly need Black women’s spaces. I need Black gender-inclusive spaces as well. I LOVE engaging in exclusively Black online forums where there is a level of anonymity and you can feel free to use AAVE and be fully understood. But a problem that often arises in Black spaces is the lack of trust- and all the aforementioned misconceptions that arise once the Black collective finds out my husband is white- even online. I’ve experienced hostility in online forums ranging from a petty comment to being threatened with rape- all because my husband is white. Again, I believe the violent, sexual aspect of the hatred it is intersectional and Black women get the worst of it since there is no “bedwench” equivalent for Black men in heterosexual relationships with white women. (Please correct me if i’m wrong.)

Now I have Black friends of ALL genders. But the Black collective space is generally untrusting of those in relationships with non-Black people and that’s ok. I extend grace to them because of that undeniable trauma we experience on a daily basis. I feel it, too. And in spite of what they believe, i’m there with them. And I wouldn’t feel right bringing my white husband into a space that is Black-exclusive. I wouldn’t- neither online nor in person. And unlike far too many white men who think they belong everywhere and don’t understand the need for Black spaces, he knows when to stay in his lane.

And while NOBODY asked or cared about the fact that Alfonzo Ribiero’s wife is white, I certainly understand the spirit in which his feelings of rejection are coming from. And he wouldn’t say that unless it hurt. Rejection from your own people hurts- especially when they frame your right to love who you want as a sign of rejecting them.

Here is the full quote:
“Being Black isn’t something that I try to be. It’s who I am,” he said.

Ribeiro was asked about a particular scene on an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air when he tried to pledge to a Black fraternity where he was met with skepticism. The writer, Jasmine Alyce, asked him if he’s ever encountered that feeling in real life.

“It still happens almost every day, unfortunately. I am in a mixed relationship,” Ribeiro responds. “And I get things and looks and comments constantly. And I find it very interesting because you see a lot of things on social media where people say things and people have positions and perspectives. And it’s not easy to make that choice, because you’re not at home in any home. I’m never going to be white and I’m never going to be fully supported in the Black house.”
Source: Black Enterprise

In conclusion, yes. All Black people need at least one Black friend to be Black with.



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Madame Von Kohnington

Madame Von Kohnington

Providing nuanced thought leadership on the topic of interracial relationships. WGS Scholar. Big 4 Consultant. Baroness of the Principality of Sealand.