In the 1967 landmark civil rights case of Loving v. Virginia, the remaining anti-miscegenation laws were abolished by the Supreme Court of the United states. (Miscegenation refers to interracial relations like marriage, cohabitation and sex.) Almost 50 years later, partners of different racial backgrounds no longer have to fear legal persecution and can enjoy relative social freedom in the U.S. Yet while North America and the U.K. have progressed, there are still more issues than many of us realize facing interracial couples around the world, including these three common misconceptions:
1. Interracial Couples Only Include a White Person and a Black Person
It's typical for the media to center the conversation about interracial couples on black and white folks and between cisgendered straight people. And as much as this seems slightly baffling, the fact remains that other types of interracial relationships aren’t acknowledged as often. There’s also the case that many interracial couples and multiracial people are mistaken for a certain race or ethnicity that they don't identify with. In the end, we need to expand our mindset and open up the discussion about the wide spectrum of interracial couples out there.
2. Interracial Couples Are Treated The Same as Other Couples in Public
Along with other diverse relationships, interracial couples still face prejudice in public. Whether it's at a family function or while travelling abroad, racism has a way of inserting its misinformed and ugly head at the most inconvenient of times. The best way to deal with anything that comes up is to navigate each road block together with your partner. Have each other’s back. Tell each other when you are feeling misheard, invisible, judged by them or other people. Listen to their needs too and be in constant communication with each other.
3. Racism Doesn’t Exist in an Interracial Relationship
This one is tricky because many people assume that dating someone of a different race or ethnicity dismisses issues of race or makes race irrelevant. While we wish this could be true, the reality remains that there is still a need for candid discussions about race. In any relationship, you need to check in with yourself, and be respectful and understanding of your partner's experience. As writer Melissa Fabello explains, "Being honest about the ways in which race is complex—both inside and outside of your relationship—shows a willingness to engage with a part of your partner's identity and experience in a way that really holds them. Because whether you’re discussing current events with your partner or having a conversation about how race affects your relationship (and yes, it does), you have to be present."
As romantics, we want to believe that love can conquer all, but we know there's more to the story. Along with love, there needs to be a willingness to engage in discussions about the complexities of race, ethnicity and gender in relationships. As long as we can have these conversations together, our relationships will only stand to benefit.