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Race Wasn't An Issue To Him, Which Was An Issue To Me | With Lorraine Toussaint

2019-04-17 | 🔗

Interracial relationships come with their own complexities, and there are a lot of questions that come up. Questions like: How does your partner think about race? How do you talk about it? What works, and what doesn't? Kim McLarin writes about race and dating in her piece, which is read by Lorraine Toussaint ("The Village").

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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oh, the from the New York Times and WB. You are Boston. This is modern. The stories of love loss and redemption. I'm your host magnet Chakrabarti, the inter racial relationships come with their own complexities. I know because I happen to be in one so I There are a lot of questions that come up. Questions like how does your partner about race, how do you, talk about it, what works and what doesn't clear and writes about race and dating in her peace race wasn't an issue. to him, which wasn't to to me. it's red by Lorraine, Toussaint. She starting now in the shows, the village and into the badlands, and you might
also know her as v in Orange? Is the new black, his name was Jerry iceman late, forties funny and smart divorce. With two grown children, the social worker who had dedicated his professional life to working with troubled kids. He was also it's beyond asked the first to come around. He was The first man after my own divorce, to raise an eyebrow to take an interest after my ex not only moved out. but moved on funny and smart and dedicated to troubled kids is all admirable, but in truth
I would have said yes to a drink with a four foot gap tooth troll had one smiled in my direction and self confidence of a forty year old, divorced mother of two is a shaggy thing so the fact that Jerry was also white. I noted to file away for now. Why? What we it right out of the gate Yes, race had been an issue in my marriage, not the issue perhaps but an issue nonetheless, but I did not know was whether race arose as a problem, because I am blind and my access white or Because I am a person who grapples with race and he's not that my ex does not grappled with race. He would not dispute
he does not care to read, think or talk about it, and he wondered why I did my ex believed. I always went looking for raised, but I didn't race came looking for me and when it did. I would stand and call its name. when officials in our inner ring suburb talked about closing. our borders against a wave of non resident students sneaking into our schools. When white woman. At my gym reached up uninvited and- my locks like she was petting a dog when sick mother received one level of medical care and my axis six sister received another at such times, he tried to us stand my feelings, but he did not share them and even talking about It made him uncomfortable.
It's a dividing line as real as any in America. Those who grew with race and those who do not, but like most Dividing lines it's impossible to tell on which side a person stands by looking at them, or at least that's what I thought at the time. So I get ahead of myself with Jerry. Why? for landmines, when I may not make it past the way you slurps his beer, we met for drinks, spark wise, I felt from little, but we ended up talking and laughing easily for more than an hour, I told I was a writer. He told me his five favorite books. they had shaped his life. He tells We had gone to a seminary is a boy and eventually left the catholic church. I told I've been raised Pentecostal but metal. The method is a method a doubt we talked, our children. Travels
to a love of the blues and mutual dislike of the cold, and then he said he would like to read my books. He thought he would like them. I said he might not. How do you deal with it when people you know, don't like your work? He asked quoted a playwright whose name I Remember, who admitted in an interview that he told friends if events choice between being honest and being kind and talking about his work, they should choose be kind I value your opinion over my feelings, the playwright said: Jerry nodded most. People use honesty like a weapon like a switchblade. Guys that, like a bayonet, they stay the pure heart, but their agree, hurtful words and then, while you're bleeding on the floor, they hand you a band aid. I was only being honest, Honesty is overrated
agreed. So the following day I emailed his attraction. I tried to be both honest and kind, no spark. I wrote, but he was great good company. If he was looking for one. I was probably not going to be her, but if he simply sought intelligent dinner, companion ships them Friday evening I'd be more than game. To be a net. I thought, but about a knife, but still it hurt ouch, he replied and disappeared. By the time he resurfaced a few months later, I had but through too terrible blind dates, join an online dating service
carried on several Emil conversations that died actually talked on, the phone with a few men met three for drinks, backed away carefully from each then council. The service. A few of these men were black, the others white, and in no case did I find anything remotely resembling chemistry. In fact, So utterly lacking in connection with these encounters that aid me appreciated, knew how rare is connection, in the face of human Installation race seemed to retreat a little. So when Jerry called again, I decided to let the spark think coast, because at least he- and I could talk- My wounds are licked, Jerry said have dinner with me. Why not? I said
maybe in time the spark would come. We talked as for four hours then necked like Tina. Jews in a parking lot in the rain the next day, we emailed and text message each other. It was all so much fun. such a heady relief after the months of loneliness. But then on our third date, things changed. First, he was late. and I was irritated. Earlier. I'd had a frustrating discussion with several white undergraduates in my literature of slavery, class. All semester, I had struggled to teach them to think critically about race and slavery and history have them challenge their assumptions. they insisted, for example
the racial divisions were as old as time. the myth of a african inferiority preceded slavery, not as I suggested the other way around, and they argued The racial genetics were more than skin, deep, whether I wanted to believe it or not how else to account for the way black athletes dominate most professional sports. That evening, when I shared my frustrations with Jerry he wondered if the students didn't have a point. what about all those kenyan marathon runners, he asked. Isn't it possible this sum genetic reason for that is it's. Blacks are just better off It's than whites a perfectly innocent question. get something small and painful flickered inside my chest. Logically, if one except a genetic
physical superiority of blacks. One must also accept the possibility of intellectual. Superiority in wines did. I consider that notion did he. Check it out of hand consciously believe it, and If I wanted these things out loud, would he, like my ex judge me better? Or oversensitive I'd mentioned an essay I'd. Given my students in which the Anti Racism advocate TIM Wise suggests, no one brought up in America can claim to be free of racist indoctrination that doing so only perpetuates the crow. What Y says is that we must recognize and confront the legacy of the past. I explained I don't everyone is racist. Jerry said maybe racialized, but that's not such a bad thing.
by now my hands were trembling, so I did not ask what he meant by that, The feeling that, even if he tried to explain, I would not understand. I engage with race, but not all people do I know several interracial couples in which both people swear race is never an issue. Almost never comes up at all. I believe them. but it amazes me: and I know one thing: I can never join that pack. My ex Did not grapple with race the first because he did not have to be a white man in America and later It frightened him this differ. It was a small but steady river that ran between us and the more try to ignore it, the more I Claude. banks and the more I Claude banks, the large and the river swelled until at last,
We were engulfed a black person who grapples with race cannot be with a white person who doesn't whether a black person who grapples with race can be with a black person who doesn't is different and unresolved question for me, but on the first point I'm solid. so when Jerry called and asked. If I would meet him for a drink, I agreed this time. I went only to tell him. we met at the bar with billions. He wanted to teach me to play, but I said we wouldn't have time. I can't see you again. I said he blinked with surprise why he said. Finally, I used my bayonet because you're white and it costs too much
for me to date, a white man. It caused me to be married to a white man for thirteen years. I can't do it again, hats ridiculous. He said after a minute, that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard, which proves my point. I said it's not Ridiculous, you can't be with any white man. No, I don't think I can. I may well face it because, after all, Jerry was a good man who worked with troubled kids and lived his life open to relationships with people of different races, and yet I could. be with him even unlike my ex he did seem, think to grapple with race.
But he was nearly fifty and his grappling apparently was just begin whereas mine started at five for nearly Fifty years he lived in America and yet I used him that race might even be an issue for us, and innocence in this and innocence. of being white and innocence I could neither share nor abide. It costs me too much. I repeated We were silent for a minute behind us, ball, clicked and people lie, and now Jerry said it's costing me.
That's Lorraine to sound reading Kim Mclaren's essay race wasn't an issue to him, which was issue to me: will catch up with him after the break. Before the work messages begin to pour in, let's gift ourselves a good morning, a good more as a moment to pause and ease into the day. It's a moan To run and chase the sunrise or gently settle into your routine. A good more is a moment to be present to find clarity. And be grounded for the day ahead. Good days, with good mornings and good mornings start with Yogi Tea, Yogi T tea, made to do more than just taste good
I love spelling bee my boyfriend and I often play spelling bee together by together I mean sitting next to each other playing individually and not cheating. Sometimes when I open up spelling bee- and I see, but you have completed a few words on your own, I feel a little betrayed. Sorry. It may have happened again today. I have one friend who I will send screenshots from spelling bee of inappropriate words that I always get nervous that I sent it to my parents or something like that when my dad was like the first time together and I was out- I think I got it- see it J, a c k, P, o t jack. We hit the jackpot, panicked, yeah, Elrond nice, I'm same as the sky. The digital puzzles editor for the New York Times. You can try spelling bee in all our games at n, one times, dot com, slash games, Kimi clearance.
say, came out back in two thousand and six and when it was published she She got a lot of angry messages just got characterizes she hates white people and. it's a very easy way to dismiss me and dismiss what I was saying. What I was sang. Was these issues our real. They continue to exist. This country continues to have issues white supremacy and racial injustice, and I cannot be with White man, who Uses to acknowledge that in any way, in twenty nineteen who continues to deny the reality of racial injustice. I think, is really problem, so I actually feel in some ways vindicated Kim's, one regret about the peace was Jerry's reaction to it. Jerry did read the and he was furious at first. He was furious, even though we did not use his last name. Of course, the into Jerry wasn't the point of that essay. Jerry is representative of a lot of people
this society, and that's what I was really writing about. I wasn't writing about him. I was writing about the unwillingness a large portion of, Eric and society to addressing issues head on and how I couldn't be in an intimate relationship with one of those people so but yeah was but you'll got over it, Kim is in a relationship now with a man she met three years ago and a year, half ago, they had a commitment ceremony believe in marriage anymore. So that's a separate issue, but yes, I'm I'm well. Partnered And, ironically, or not, ironically, he is, he is white and he's a white man and he's the love of my life. I call him the unicorn actually because he's a magical creature who nobody believes exist, but he does the acknowledges, his own white male privilege and he does not count or diminish my experience, which is what was happening with Jerry
great like so. If I have an experience of a minute department store and somebody follows me, the causes me a shoplifting, and I come home and tell him he doesn't say: oh, you were maddening and he says that really. When he starts cursing with me and then we hug and then we go on and have dinner at the end of it. It's like we don't have to talk about race because he ignored. How is the reality? It's like you, don't have to keep arguing the wetness of water. Unless one is denying that it is. And Kim says that for her acknowledging another person's reality is essential to intimacy. I'm a big fan James Baldwin. He is my spiritual guide, my guru and he really said the writer's job is to look right at the heart of things and to tell the truth about the way human beings are and what it means to be human in this world. In order to make the world a more human dwelling place and a more humane dwelling place, and that's really
trying to do, because we cannot make things better until we'd knowledge. The way things are: that's Kim Mclaren, she's, a profit sir in the department of writing, literature and publishing at Emerson College and the author of the new book womanish, a grown black woman speaks on love and life. We've got more after the break.
The I love spelling my boyfriend and I often play spelling bee together by together I mean sitting next to each other playing individually and not cheating. Sometimes when I open outgoing d- and I see that you have completed a few words on your own, I feel a little betrayed in theory. It may have happened again. The year I have one friend who I will send screenshots from spelling bee of inappropriate words that I always get nervous or assented to my parents, or something like that was my dad was like the first time together and help each other out. I forgot it said J, a c k, P, o t jack. We hit the jackpot panel yeah Elrond, nice, I'm same as the sky. The digital puzzles editor for the New York Times. You can try spelling bee and all our games at n, one times dot com, slash games.
Here's Daniel Jones editor of the modern love column for the New York Times. Kim's essay was published. Thirteen years ago at this point almost thirteen years ago, and what I really she ate about the way that she approached. This essay is her, races. Just it's such a third rail. kind of thing where, as soon as you start talking about race and being aware of race people, have here Add reactions and was always trouble, to me is that the nuance gets, sort of overrun by that Response and that hot take- and you know, just pushes aside all of the complication and all of the tours feelings and all of what people are trying to process and and just always on the side of like say it. You know, say it tell your story. It's going to
My criticism is going to invite empathy, but these things are better to put these personal stories out there and have them talked about and have that stuff brought to the surface. then to be silent about it and here's Lorraine, Toussaint modern love is one of the columns that my now husband, would Read to me in bed every week he would save it and cut it out and bring it home to read to me in bed and Well, that's how I came to know modern love. It Ritual with us and I'm black and my husband is white And talk about race all the time in our house. It never far away from. How
a thinking how we're talking how we perceive the world? So this is really did resonate with me for several different thanks again to Lorraine for reading this week's piece. You can see her now in embassies, the village and the AMC series into the badlands she's also in the upcoming films, fast cover and sprinter next week. Wanda wise. Who got home as our date was winding down, he joined us in the living room for a few minutes before leaving us alone to say the kind of goodbyes linger a little too long at the beginning of relationships that night I lay next to my fiance and told him about the woman. I was falling for Modern love is the production of the New York Times and W B you are Boston, NPR station, its prey, used to directed and edited by Caitlin O'Keefe
scoring and sound design by Matt read with help this week from Paul Vegas, Iris Adler, our executive producer, Daniel Jones, is the editor of modern love for the New York Times, an adviser to the show special, thanks to Samantha Henig on australian and melee. At thenewyorktimes here for the modern pod cast was conceived by LISA told it additional music courtesy of a p dot m. I make the body so you next week.
Transcript generated on 2022-04-16.