'Everyday Racism' founders explore interracial relationships in 'The Mixed Race Experience' book – Mashable
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Content warning: the following article contains descriptions of racist abuse.
In May 2020, Natalie Evans witnessed two white men racially abusing a Black ticket conductor on a train.
The conductor had told the two men they needed to buy a ticket before they boarded the train. Their response? Asking the man, who was just doing his job, if he “has a fucking passport to get into this country,” before exclaiming “I’ve got two mixed raced children and this guy thinks I’m racist.
Natalie confronted the man, asking him: “Are you listening to what you said there? It’s racist, exactly what you said. Just because you have two mixed race children? Poor them, actually.”
The video went viral on social media — and it was at this moment that Everyday Racism, an antiracist platform on Instagram, was founded. On this platform — which has over 200K followers — sisters Natalie and Naomi Evans share stories from BIPOC, along with educational posts on how to be antiracist.
Their book The Mixed Race Experience is a continuation of the work they do on the Everyday Racism platform. It delves into what it’s like growing up mixed race, tackling topics like handling racism in your own family, navigating mixed race microaggressions, understanding colourism, having mixed hair, raising mixed race children, and responding to egregious questions like: “But where are you really from”.
The Mixed Race Experience also explores interracial relationships, and the challenges faced when in a relationship with white partners who are naive about the reality of racism and who perpetrate microaggressions. You can read an extract below of The Mixed Race Experience, which is out now (£14.99) and published by Square Peg.
Naomi: I am married to a white man who is of English and Irish heritage. On our first date, I was pretty vocal about the political party I voted for in order to gauge whether we were aligned in how we felt. It was at the height of UKIP’s popularity in our hometown (an independent party which had strong anti-EU and anti-immigration policies and lots of racist members). For me, if he signified any preference to a party like that it would have been game over and saved me from any further wasted dates. He didn’t say anything that set off alarm bells and we got married in 2013. Over our ten-year relationship things have come up along the way that have demonstrated his naivety to how racism operates. Thankfully, we have always been able to talk things through, but there are times when he himself will admit he has become defensive. In June 2020 we were watching a news report which featured Patrick Hutchinson, the personal trainer and author of Everyone Versus Racism, who rose to prominence after he was photographed carrying an injured white counter-protestor to safety in a BLM march.
This was a deeply difficult time in our household. There was fierce criticism of the BLM movement from the government, in the media and even from some people we knew. I didn’t have to explain it to my husband; he was in full support and that summer we’d marched together with our children and 4,000 others in our hometown. He was also reading Layla F. Saad’s Me and White Supremacy, after our ongoing discussions about learning more on the subject. When Hutchinson started to speak in the TV interview, the words “He’s really well spoken” fell out of my husband’s mouth. I turned and looked at him. He could tell by my face I wasn’t happy.
“What do you mean?” I asked. “He’s really well spoken,” he repeated. “Would you have said that if he was white?” “Oh, don’t try and make it into something,” he said.
I was so angry. The rage inside me boiled up. Not only did I have to listen to debates about whether racism was as bad as people were saying and face the vitriol on social media, but I was also now getting defensive responses from my husband. I felt alone, betrayed and tearful. The next day, we sat down, and I explained why what he said was problematic and how his response had been even worse. It was frustrating having to explain to my husband, the person I am closest to, that our unconscious bias will show up, even with the best intentions. We are in a place where we can talk things out together, but we also have to accept this won’t be the last time issues like this will arise. Any relationship requires space to be able to listen to each other. There is no way we would survive if we didn’t.
1. Get comfortable with difficult conversations. Do not avoid talking about race. It may be uncomfortable but staying silent won’t solve anything and will also lead to far more difficult issues further down the road. Just like any relationship, being honest and open is essential.
2. Be prepared that your relationship may be met with resistance and pushback from others. For example, you may live in a diverse or metropolitan area but when you travel elsewhere, others may not be accepting of you or your partner.
3. Discuss how you would like the other person to respond when you know you are coming up against difficult situations. For example, a family gathering with a racist relative. It’s important you work as a team.
4. In a new relationship, ask questions that acknowledge racism is not something that can be brushed under the carpet.
5. Talk with your partner about their dating history and openly ask questions you wish to know more about.
6. If your partner is new to talking about racism, do not expect them to become an expert overnight. The important thing is they are committed to listening, growing and changing in the areas they need to. If you experience gaslighting behaviour from your partner, or they try to engage you in debate on your lived experience, you need to question if you are in a safe and healthy relationship.
7. Do not make assumptions about your partner because of their race. Remember racial groups are not a monolith.
8. Keep in mind we are all guilty of stereotyping and hold our own implicit biases.
9. Make connections with other people who can support you. There will be times when you may need advice from an interracial couple who have been through the things you have, or even seek counselling. There is no shame in getting help and it’s important to normalise being honest about struggles.
10. You may feel an increased sense of wanting to assert your heritage and culture. It’s natural to want to ensure your identity is not erased when you share your life with someone who is different to you. Talk about what’s important to you or other ways in which you feel you are preserving, recognising and being connected to your culture and heritage.
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