Image for post
Image for post
Brad Neathery/Unsplash

So, You Married a Racist

You may not have to stay miserably together or divorce

“This is a turning point. Even in my own marriage I am seeing racism that I don’t even think I knew existed to the degree that it is there. I think it is opening a lot of people’s eyes to the people around us who we thought we knew.”

“He insists he is ‘really not a racist,’ but these incidents are giving me an ugly view of him I didn’t see before. I believe he is a good person and is capable of changing this behavior. Can you give me some guidance on language I can use to help him do some self-reflection?”

“I think what you’re really asking is ‘How can I tell my husband that he’s a racist in a way that’s nice enough, and gentle enough, and accommodating enough, that he’ll agree with me?’ And I’m not sure I can do that. … If he had demonstrated even the mildest interest in self-reflection, I might have some suggestions for you, but he hasn’t. He does not want to reflect. You have a racist husband who wants to say racist things, because saying racist things gives him pleasure.”

“Instead of focusing on how my Blackness affected us, we started focusing on how his whiteness affected us. He continues to confront his racism and doing the work to change his thinking and his reactions. He is rewriting himself and learning that his perspective is fucked up and he needs to continually straighten that shit out. It is his job to shoulder the burden of his ancestors and their history of genocide, rape, theft, and destruction of other cultures as they falsely promoted their illusion of dominance. It’s his job to check the racism of his family and friends. This is his role he took by being with me. It’s not an easy battle for us. He knows when I talk about oppression he doesn’t have a seat at the table. He knows that my understanding of racism overrides his.”

“I told him in the beginning, ‘You cannot avoid talking about race, because you are now with a black woman. This is not something you can ignore anymore. If you don’t want it to be a part of your life, we should just break up, because it will always be part of our relationship. … He went into a little bit of denial, but a bigger part of him was like, ‘I want to be with you, so what do I have to do?’ We spent years learning how to communicate about it.”

“I spent a lot of time saying to my husband, ‘Hey, you’re going to have questions, you’re going to have concerns, and you’re going to worry about how you sound saying certain things. I am willing to give you the space to talk about that so that we can try to figure some of this out.’ … The only way you’re going to call yourself out on it is if you actually are honest about what it is. You see it, you say you it, you articulate what’s happening with you, and then, when you notice it happening, you stop yourself. It becomes easier over time.”

Written by

Award-winning journalist, coauthor of “The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels,” mom, changing the narrative about older women

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store