Why We Stare

I’VE DONE IT – been out somewhere and saw an interracial couple. What goes through the minds of us who stare? ‘They should be with their own kind’. ‘You want a white girl THAT BAD?’ ‘Somebody’s rebelling’. I’m happy to say I’ve never thought the first one. If you’re dating a human, then you’re with your own kind. I’ll worry when you start checking out pelicans.

But I have to own up to thinking the second one. I was a waitress and this couple sat at my table. The man was black, fit and gorgeous. The woman was white, mousy-haired, neither hideous nor cute. But was she bossing him around! I thought ‘Man, they just sat down. Continuing the argument from the car?’ As I took their order, I found myself staring from behind my note pad. When I say the guy was gorgeous, I mean GQ smokin’ hottie. Why was he married to this AV-ER-AGE white girl with a slightly shrill voice who didn’t mind emasculating him in public? Yes, I said ‘married’.

It’s not that the guy was being unfairly balled out, or that the woman hadn’t probably told him a thousand times to pay that light bill and now we gotta eat out because they cut off the power. It’s that she was so…average! And he was GQ smokin’ hottie! She was clearly CEO of the relationship, and I couldn’t help but think ‘You thought she was sooo sweet when you were dating, didn’t you? Not like those neck-rolling black girls.’

Now to the other end of the spectrum. I was sitting in a car with a friend of mine, a white guy. We’re waiting for another friend to come out of the store, and a young black man walks by. He gives me the dirtiest look, just stares me down. Then he cuts his eyes to my friend. I didn’t get it at first, then I wanted to jump out of the car and yell ‘I’m not with him! I haven’t betrayed the brothas!’

I wasn’t attracted to my friend, but I’m not anti-white guy. If I dated a non-black guy, would black guys be staring at me? I’d gotten a taste of what it’s like to be stared at for who I chose to be with. The passerby couldn’t know that a.) my friend was not my boyfriend and b.) I might have given him the time of day if he’d asked for it. At that moment I teleported back to that couple and apologized. ‘Love is love, man. You don’t owe me anything.’

And still I stare. I was at the airport and this couple walked by, a tall white guy and petite black girl. They had a baby. I stared. Other people stared. The couple didn’t look American, but I’m sure they got stared at wherever they came from. Were the white people thinking ‘the South must rise again’? Were the black people thinking ‘When he goes back to his wife, just come on home, girl’?

Maybe they thought what I did – ‘Here we are in this international airport, everyone scanning each other, wondering what language that group is speaking and why those Middle Eastern guys don’t have any women with them. In the thick of this fear are two people who said “You’re the one that I want, and I’ll be with you come what may.” We’re all so cynical, beating down our hopes in the face of facts. Some of us fought in wars, lost friends and family to violence, had our faith in humanity yanked from our psyche. But now our eyes report that yes, it can be done. Two people suited up and became living proof that we’re not crazy to hope.’

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