EarthJeff: Swirling on Planet Earth Part IV, “The Look”

This has been an interesting experience; this Swirling thing.  Something that I have already discovered is the shocked or surprised look that people give at seeing a mixed couple.  Of course, that is a learned behavior.  Before I relate an example to back that up, I do want to say that I enjoy the looks that we get from people in public as we hold hands, as I have my arm around Bee, when I rub her shoulders or back, or when I kiss the back of her head.  One person out of every 10 gives an “Awww, isn’t that sweet?” look.  On the other hand, nine out of 10 just give “The Look” of shock, surprise, or disgust.  Of those who give “The Look”…. White women seem to look like, “Why is that Black woman stealing one of OUR men?”  White men give a racist, disgusted look like, “Why is that “N”-lover mixing the races?”  Black women express disapproving looks that seem to reflect the often-discussed, “Why is she selling out?”  Black men have a jealous, ugly sneer as if to say, “Why is he stealing one of OUR Sistas?

Doesn’t she remember about slavery hundreds of years ago?”

One day we got “The Look” when we stopped at a suburban gas station. I pulled up to the pump and gave Bee a quick kiss before I got out of the car.  The woman across the pump stared at us and gave us The Look.  I went in to pay, and when I got back in the car after pumping the gas, Bee was laughing up a storm!  When I asked her what was so funny, she said that the woman who gave us The Look actually backed her car up a couple of feet to get a better look at Bee to see if the White guy ACTUALLY kissed a Black woman – and that when she confirmed her suspicions she had a look on her face like she peed her pants.  To the White woman at the gas station, I say: Yes, the White guy DID actually kiss that Black woman.
As I stated, I LIKE getting The Look.  Please do not get me wrong – I am not interested in interracial relationships just to make some political statement.  There are many reasons why I prefer Black women, and “Political Statement” is not one of them.  However, I do like to be out there showing that color does not matter and that interracial relationships are normal.  I believe the more that we show Swirling as normal; the more people will accept it.  Slowly to be sure for some, yet the acceptance will come.  I have pictures of my kids and Bee’s kids hanging by my desk.  When my students ask who all the kids are and I say “My girlfriend’s kids” I always get an amazed, “Your girlfriend is Black????” I just shrug nonchalantly and reply “Sure, why not?”  Some of the kids see me out and around with Bee in public too, because she actually lives in the area of the public high school where I teach.

At any rate, I stated earlier that expressing shock, disapproval, or disgust of interracial relationships is a learned behavior.  For example, the other day Bee and I went into a clothing store because she had to purchase some pants for her son.  We were standing in line at the register behind a young Black couple who had a toddler in a stroller.  The man gave me the “You are stealing a Sista” look, and the woman gave Bee the “You are a sellout” look.  The cashier, who was black, kept giving us the Stink Face.  Meanwhile the toddler in the stroller waved at me, then Bee, and then started playing peek-a-boo with me and saying hi to Bee. It did not occur to the little girl that there was anything at all unusual about a mixed couple.  To that baby, we were all just people.  During the entire time we were in line, a second cashier kept coming out from the back, staring at us, leaving, come back to stare again… for a total of three times . . . Geez . . . .

Sometimes The Look does not occur in long and involved encounters.  There’s the time when two Black women in the store saw me kiss the back of Bee’s head – and one of the women dropped the item she was carrying.  Or, the time we stopped at a red light, and a White man in the car next to us glared at us when he noticed Bee scratching my head.  Of course, there was also the waitress who smiled sweetly when she saw Bee and I holding hands.  I much prefer the sweet looks!  I know that I always make a point to GIVE the sweet looks when I notice a mixed couple.  The more prevalent that interracial relationships become, though, the more accepted that they will be and the less we will all get The Look.