If you?ve read my article, So, You?re a White Man Who Wants to Date a Black Woman, and applied that knowledge, then you?ve nabbed yourself a Nubian Queen. Congratulations Chad, we?re amazing! You?re now knee deep in black girl magic. I want to help you maintain your ebony/ivory bliss; I didn?t carry you this far to leave you. I want your relationships with black women to work in the long term and in order for that to happen, you gotta get through the holidays.
The holidays are no easier for black people than they are for white people. And they?re certainly not easier for interracial couples.This series will give you the heads up on some of the nuances of black ? white holiday life. My man is white, we?ve been together for almost 7 years and have traversed a half a dozen holiday seasons together so I know from whence I speak. Settle in Chad, here are some tips and tricks to keep you and your woman boo?d up through the Winter fiesta season. We?ll start with the topic of her family.
Nuance #1: Only white man in the room
I don?t know how you two will determine which holidays to spend with which person?s family. In my relationship, my man and I spend Thanksgiving with his family and Christmas with my family. There?s no right or wrong way to do it, depends on what works for each couple. Whatever you do, I imagine that a portion of your holiday season will be spent with her family which means there?s a good chance that at some point you?ll be THE ONLY WHITE MAN IN THE ROOM.
?What does that mean?? You may ask. It literally means, standing in a room and no one else in the room with you is a white man. It means being in a room filled with people and the sea of faces and bodies have significantly more pigment and melanin than your own.
If you?ve never had this experience before, hold on to your flip flops Chad, it?ll knock your Teva?s off. I?m serious. My Chad had to clue me in on this because I didn?t even realize it was a thing, but apparently it is. Because of the racial make up in America, usually a white guy is never the ONLY white guy in any room. My man is in his 40?s and it had never happened to him, in America, until he started dating me. But if you?re visiting your lady?s family, it?s probably gonna happen to you and it may happen to you a lot.
There?s nothing wrong with the phenomenon, in my opinion. I actually think it?s great because you?ll get to have an experience that minorities have all the time. You?ll get to see what it feels like, in a small way, to be one of us. I think it?ll give you a lot of insight into the minority experience and your woman?s experience. You might feel scared, uncomfortable, shy, nervous, exposed, excited, bold, relieved, safe ? a myriad of feelings. Who knows? But it?s a thing and I wanted to give you a heads up about it so that it doesn?t catch you off guard.
My suggestion is that you use the experience as an opportunity to learn more about yourself. You may feel surprised or ashamed of what feelings come up, you may feel amused or delighted by them. I don?t believe there?s a ?wrong? feeling to feel. I don?t think it means that you?re a bad person or that the relationship is doomed if you feel uncomfortable. And your feelings may evolve over time. The first time it happens you may feel one way and then after it?s happened a few times you may feel a totally different way. And if you want to, you can share what feelings you notice with your black queen. It?s all about healing that racial divide. And part of the healing is opening up and sharing.
Nuance #2: Volume
This is a stereotype, but I think it?s often (but not always) true that black families are louder than white families. Is this always true? No. Is it possible that your white family is louder than her black family? Sure. I?m including this nuance because my black family is significantly louder than my man?s family so I wanted to give you a heads up if this is true in your situation.
There was a moment when my man was in my Aunt?s house when literally every person in the living room, all 18 of them, were speaking at one time at a volume of a 7 on a scale of 1?10. Then my mother somehow managed to eclipse everyone by raising her voice to a level 10 pitch, it was impressive. My mother was made for an Elizabethan Stage, actually a Roman Coliseum. Her vocal capacity is extraordinary ? but I digress. At first I was impressed by the volume and then I remembered that my Chad was not used to this. I quickly looked over at him and he was shell shocked and dazed.
So, what should you do about this? I don?t know dude. I don?t recommend ear plugs (that?d be rude and weird) but I do think knowing ahead of time that you may experience a new dimension in noise level will help you, even if only because you?ll be prepared for it. So that you don?t think to yourself ? ?What the hell is this?!? And instead think ? ?Oh yeah, I knew to expect this.?
Nuance #3: Cousin who? And Titles
Black families tend to be generous with familial titles. I have a lot of people that I call ?cousin? who are not actually blood relation. Cousin, Aunt and Uncle are labels that get thrown around to non biological people when they?re close with the family or have been around for a while. Don?t be surprised if you hear that someone is a cousin but that person isn?t the child of any of her Uncles or someone is an Aunt but she?s not actually anyone?s sister. This is normal. Make sure to address them with the title they?ve been introduced to you as.
And while we?re on the topic, when you address an adult older than you, you should give them a title, don?t just call them by their first name. Mr. and Mrs. are typically added to the front of a person?s name unless they explicitly tell you otherwise. Oh yeah, you may be called her ?friend.? Everyone knows this means love interest, boyfriend etc but until you get married (if marriage is your thing), you?ll often be introduced as her ?friend.? I don?t see it as an insult, my family has always done this with people?s boyfriends and girlfriends, regardless of age or race.
Nuance#4: Sleeping Arrangements & Respect
Black families tend to be more conservative with the sleeping arrangements. You and your boo (if you?re unmarried) may not be offered 1 bed to share. Of course it depends on how old you are, but it may not. Handle it however you choose, you can agree to sleep separately, stay in a hotel, or push back and insist that you be permitted to sleep together ? follow your heart Chad but I do not recommend that you insist on sleeping together in your woman?s parent?s house.
Being respectful of parents and elders is a thing with black people. In fact, it?s widely believed that white kids are not respectful to their parents. I understand you may think the way you talk to your parents is respectful but often times black people don?t see it that way. Black kids don?t usually yell at, raise our voice to or swear in front of our parents. And Black parents don?t usually do it in front of us either. I?ve actually never heard either of my parents swear in my entire life. My. Entire Life. My dad will say ?jack butt? instead of ?jackass.? I?m pretty sure it?s because he?s afraid my grandparents will appear out of nowhere and punish him for it. And he?s right.
My suggestion is to avoid swearing and anything that could be deemed sass or back talk. It?s also not a bad idea to sprinkle an occasional ?ma?am? or ?sir? into your sentences. Listen to how your girl talks to them and if she says it, mimic her usage. Not mandatory but, it?ll help grease the wheels.
Nuance #5: Nicknames
In my family, we use a lot of nicknames. I have some Uncles whose real government name I don?t even know because he?s been called by a nickname for so long. And the nicknames aren?t ?Jim? short for James or ?Bill? short for William, they?re ?Boo and them? short for Michael or ?Sly? short for Theodore. In other words, the nickname may be longer than the real name and may be totally unrelated to the actual name. The nickname may be a food that they like to eat, such as, ?Peas? or a sound they made once when they were 8 years old, like ?Quack? or ?Duck.? So just, get ready for that. Should you use that nickname too? Go with your gut. My man uses them but he also uses ?ma?am? and ?sir? in place of that if he?s not feeling it.
So those are the nuances to be on the look out for when you visit your Egyptian Queen?s family this winter. Stay tuned for the next holiday themed articles on this topic. Good luck Chad, I believe in you.