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eddie murphy can still get it tho.
I reaaaaaally debated whether I would write this post. First of all, my writing is pretty rusty these days. By now, you should know that this newsletter is written by a woman with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (I feel fancy when I use her full legal name). I can’t just “sit down to write,” honey. Oh no no no. There is an arduous process that’s happening behind the scenes before anything gets down on the page. Now I’m hyper-focused on describing my writing process, so please bare with me.
First - an idea for a newsletter post randomly pops into my mind… usually while I’m in the shower, or changing Wes’s diaper. Do I write the idea down so I can easily revisit it later? Nope! I just let it kind of bounce around my jumbled brain for a few weeks, and take a bunch of screen shots of instagram content that is loosely connected to whatever idea I have. I never revisit the screenshots. I currently have 1,878 of them living in my icloud photo storage. I will never get around to cleaning it out.
Then - everything needs to be absolutely perfect for me to find the time + space + energy to write… for 12 minutes. There’s a slight chill in the air? Forget it, lost my flow. I’m a little parched? Welp, there goes the day. You just texted me? I’ll try again next week.
Finally, usually around 1:30 am, when my body’s like let’s not and my mind is like let’s dance, I write.
All of this is to say: You’re Welcome.
Well. Back to “You People.” For those of you who haven’t seen the Netflix movie, I promise I won’t give away too many spoilers. The story is very typical of any good ol’ fashion interracial Romeo & Juliet plotline. White person meets Black person. Cue rap music with a pop chorus. They fall in love in their little interracial dreamscape, where racial differences exist, but they’re like, cute n’ simple. Mac n’ cheese. Bert n’ Ernie. Chips n’ Dip. Then… they step out into the *real world.* They meet each other’s families. They get exposed to each other’s cultures. Nothing gels. Everyone is awkward. Conflict emerges. Somehow only then does the couple realize - wait… this shit is kind of hard? Our people don’t generally like each other. Our mismatched melanin makes others confused and cringe. Is our love strong enough to withstand the judgements? And then in the end they dance a metaphorical interracial horah with white and black people holding hands, just as MLK intended (lol… sorry to do you like that, Reverend King) and then they make beautiful beige babies and everyone is happy again!
Did I miss anything?
I’m not sure about you, but I am EXHAUSTED by this plotline. It’s honestly just… soooo corny! But then, maybe being in an interracial relationship is inherently so corny. We’re no longer being repped by real ones like Mildred and Richard Loving. It’s now just a bunch of Meghans and Harrys. Is this really the best we can do?!
And also, I’m just over constantly analyzing the ways my racial identities are confusing, offensive, incongruent and somehow both tragic and hilarious at the same time. For a while, I thought it was my burden as a racially mixed person to really *go there* at all times, to dig deep, to uncover the ways that I carry both colonizer and colonized within myself, ya know? And let me tell you - I went HARD in the paint for a while. BY MYSELF, mind you. Do you think my Black and White parental figures were spending tireless hours questioning what the fuck they were thinking procreating and bringing me into this world? Noooooo! Sure, I had approximately 1.5 other mixed friends to process these unique woes with, but we mostly just ended up in circles and became more depressed. Did my white friends spend years unpacking every wedding they’ve ever had where their drunk Aunt touched my hair? Hell nah! Did my Black friends use up multiple $200 therapy sessions questioning if it was appropriate for them to say, “'I’m so glad you’re not one of those biracial girls”? Negative. Did my white husband consecutively read, “The Color of Water,” and then “Black, White and Jewish,” and then, “Caucasia,” and then just a casual, “That Middle World: Race, Performance and the Politics of Passing”? He! Sure! Did! Not! And believe it or not, I’m really not trying to put my people on blast. I’m just trying to make the point that for three decades, everywhere I went, I second guessed my interactions with others because I was the product (ew) of an interracial relationship. Did that white woman touch my shoulder because she was being nice, or because she wanted to feel the way my mocha latte caramel arms felt in her frothy white fingers? Did that Black man ask me “Where are you from?” because he was just trying to make small talk/maybe hit on me a little, or because he was ready to challenge my claim to Blackness the moment I *went* there? I’ve thought of it all, sweetie! And I guess that’s why I was left feeling disappointed after watching You People. It’s not that I didn’t find myself LOLing at some of the jokes. White and Black people attempting to coexist IS laughable, at times. And yes, white Jewish men really do appear to feel like they were never circumcised when they bring a Black woman home. And yet….. the jokes were just… pretty overdone. Exhausted. Flat.
I guess that was my biggest takeaway. I just left that movie feeling so drained. I’m tired of being the butt of the joke. Do you know how many times over the course of my 32.5 years on earth someone has said to me, “Wait. You’re JEWISH! WHAT???!???!!!!!? HEY JAKE, DID YOU KNOW JESSE’S JEWISH?” Or how many times someone makes a comment like, “Jesse Greenblatt. Pah! Not what I was expecting.” The first 1200 times I heard that joke, I really did find it endearing. But like… the joke is stale now. It’s 2023, sweetie. Is that really the best you’ve got? Sorry but You People was just Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner with better footwear. If we’re still attempting to engage in these conversations for the sake of progress, or even better, to laugh and escape how horrible the world is, I am demanding MORE. Ugh sorry but here we go - something, I don’t know, maybe beyond black or white thinking. It’s not either/or up in here. It’s both, and. I hate myself for saying this but c’est la vie. Here are some of the thoughts I have on a daily basis that I wish were reflected in You People:
Maybe the most unifying thing about White and Black people is that both groups are allergic to the idea of Jewish people of color existing. It’s just a thing that neither group can— or will, compute ever, I guess?
There should be a mandatory year-long course on the responsibility partners entering interracial relationships have to engage in conversations around race and racial trauma with their future mixed children.
Being in an interracial relationship is pretty complicated, but so is being in a human body that will decompose soon.
Being a Black, Mixed woman to a white-passing baby boy is uhhh kind of confusing and traumatic. Yikes!
People claim that they’re not obsessed with the concept of mixedness but like…… Idk, it kinda seems like maybe they are? A little?
No one is going to care about any of your traumas as much as you do. It’s just human nature.
Any white parent who ever tells their Black, mixed child that they don’t “see them as Black,” is not being sweet. They’re being violent.
White men must do better. Period.
White women must do better. Period.
We all must do better. Period. But All Lives do NOT matter. Period.
When in an interracial relationship, it is a non-negotiable that you find other people who are also in an interracial relationship to help you process/talk shit.
Believe it or not, not all interracial relationships have a white person involved. Wowwww.
All of the language we have to describe people who have one parent who is mixed and one who is not is just offensive. Part black? Quarter Black? A little sprinkle of Black? Eek!
Are we still using the one drop rule? No, but really, asking for a friend. Where have we landed on this one? And if we are using it, then if a child looks white but has black blood, what do we call them? Huh???
The children of people in an interracial relationship will have an existential identity crisis at some point in their lives, no matter how much you assure yourselves that “things are different now!”
Sometimes Black people really do judge other Black people for being in a relationship with a white person. And that’s okay. Having sexual relations with a white person is very triggering for most Black and Brown people.
White people really do feel cool having at least one but not more than four Black/Mixed people in their second tier friend circle.
Everyone loves to play the victim sometimes. Because spoiler alert: sometimes it’s fun to get the attention you’ve been starved of!
There is a fantasy that many mixed people have of what it would feel like to just be raised in a family unit where everyone’s skin tone was the same hue. We return to this fantasy often, especially when anyone brings up the term “the 2020 Racial Reckoning.”
Not talking about race or changing the subject when someone talks about race or pretending like you’re distracted when someone talks about race is gaslighting.
Your obvious discomfort with talking about race is painful for the person who had the courage to share their experience with you.
There are very few signs that we, as a society obsessed with binaries and control are moving in a positive direction with any of this. Sorrrrrrry!
It’s both exhausting constantly explaining your existence to someone, and also, it’s sometimes a little gratifying teaching a little dumb person something new.
And here’s my truth: while I would be lying if I said I didn’t get any gratification from allllll the conversations surrounding interracial relationships these days, I’m just not that impressed. You People can do better.
Welp! If you made it this far - I’m sorry. And thank you. And have a beautiful day!
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