Racial Progress for the Biracial Couple

Last week I went to see "Selma" with a friend who is Black. After the emotional movie ended, he said, "Well, I think we've made some progress since then because I'm dating a White woman and no one has tried to kill me."

This isn't progress compared to 1966. I'm mixed and was born less than a decade after the march to Montgomery. As far as I know, no one tried to kill my dad during his short-lived marriage to my mom.

Decline in violence is a low bar for measuring progress. "No one tried to kill me" should be a given. Interracial couples being a norm shouldn't even be a measuring bar. What other people do with each other is, in the long run, unlikely to truly impact you. So, while some folks like to get heated about gay marriage or their trust-funded daughter running around with "the help," most of us really don't care.

What most people care about, on some level, is money and power. When other people have it and we don't, we get frustrated and sometimes hateful. When we have it, we work to keep it. Historically, this looks like preventing other people from getting it too.

Decades of people of color having an unimpaired path to money and power - in the voting booth, in our neighborhoods, in the work place - was a problem in 1966 and is still a problem today. I'll know we've made progress when all schools are funded so all children have access to a complete education and positive learning environment. I'll believe we've made progress when an election goes by without a single story of voting rights being blocked. We can all quietly enjoy the signs of progress when a Black person accomplishes something great and no one says, "She's the first African American widget inventor."

Being mixed is not big deal. Being in a biracial relationship is even less of a big deal. None of us Shackleton, exploring unknown seas and surviving without support for months.You're just two people doing something about as weird as wearing a shirt inside out.

The big deal, like Really Big Deal, is when any of us, no matter what color we are, actively do something to share our path to money, power, ease and happiness with other people. Tutor, volunteer for voter registration, donate to a worthy (by your estimation) cause, hold the door for someone who looks different from you. Being unafraid of bringing others with you as you rise, that's progress.

No comments:

Post a Comment