I had a conversation with a colleague recently and we stumbled upon talking about our boyfriends — For the record, she’s White and in past conversations, she had mentioned the fact that her boyfriend is Hispanic. As I was speaking with her this time around, I realized that the more she talked about him, the more I couldn’t help but notice how she emphasized that he’s Hispanic, then positioned herself to almost know what it’s like to be Hispanic — simply because her boyfriend is.
Now, I’m not Hispanic and of course I could have been completely over-speculating, but it made me wonder how many other people who are in bi-racial relationships feel like they too can count themselves as part of whatever race their significant other is a part of. It even made me wonder if my own boyfriend thinks that way.
Being in a bi-racial relationship, I often try my best to explain my position towards a certain subject to my boyfriend. I often spend a decent amount of time validating reasons for why I feel the way I feel about certain things or why I have a certain viewpoint because of my race.
It’s because I want to try to help him understand the way that someone else who’s a minority might view things when it comes down to the matter of race. I want him to understand what it’s like to look at things through a different cultural lens — And I do believe that he gets it and that he tries. However, I also know that at the end of the day, he’ll never truly know because he’s not a minority.
You see, the topic of race has always been a sensitive one for me. As horrible as it might sound, I’ve always struggled with embracing and even accepting my heritage when I was growing up. I wanted so desperately to believe that race was irrelevant to who I am as a person. I wanted to remove it from the conversation. But as I got older, I realized that it is most certainly relevant to who I am and that it’s extremely significant towards my personal identity.
Growing up, regardless of the context, my ethnicity was always somehow brought up. It didn’t matter if it was in a positive light or a negative light or if it came from a good friend or a complete stranger — I couldn’t escape what people saw when they looked at me. It made it difficult to get around the topic. And so, I faced the music. It’s a part of me whether I like it or not.
It became even more apparent when it pertained to being in relationship because now, I was seen as a pair. I was now a Filipino woman dating a white guy. Eventually, it became more obvious to my boyfriend that this was something that I had struggled with on my own. That although we were a pair, I was bearing the bigger burden.
The truth is, dating a minority doesn’t make you any less white.
Dating someone from a different race doesn’t make you automatically feel what they feel. Simply being friends with someone of a different race doesn’t make you any closer to being an expert on knowing what it feels like.
Yes, it may hit a little closer to home, but it doesn’t truly allow you to fully grasp or understand the struggles or experiences that another person has had to go through in their life. It doesn’t because we can’t change what people see when they look at us.
We have to remember that at the end of the day, the only person who can speak to knowing what it’s like is the person whose skin they are in.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this article, read “Stop Associating Me with Asian Stereotypes”