I remember the day my partner and I decided we were officially together just over 15 years ago, about five weeks after our very first date. We had both been in pretty toxic relationships prior to that (mine was more of a situationship, which is a topic for another day) and we were so relieved when we found each other that we moved fast, really fast. It just felt right, and he was the very first man I had ever invited to join me with a large group of friends right away. Thinking back, I remember how surprised people were to see me so smitten. About two months later, we moved in together and right after that, he added me to his bank account and we were mapping out our lives together, making plans to buy a house of our own. I always joked that the day that happened was our unofficial wedding date because we were really merging our lives together. This was my first very serious relationship and I jumped in, without hesitation.
As an only child and a self-proclaimed “daddy’s girl,” I knew I was going to have to “bring him home to meet my parents.” So, I decided that for my 27th birthday that year, I would have a small party in my parents’ yard and introduce him to my family. I was so nervous and overwhelmed for two reasons: (1) I had never really brought anyone home before like this and (2) my partner is Black. My dad had always raised me to be open and welcoming to everyone and never made any kind of statements about who he expected me to date, but for some reason, I felt compelled to tell him before I introduced him. His response was, “this is your decision, and I just hope life isn’t hard for you both.” It was somewhat of a relief that he did not really have an issue with the racial aspect, but I knew it could still be a “thing” for my extended family because up until then, everyone else was dating or married to someone Mexican or Mexican-American, with the exception of one or two family members who married Puerto Rican or White. When I talked to my mom about it, she could sense my nervousness and asked me why I let it get so serious. I remember thinking and responding, “I couldn’t help it! I love him!” To this day, I believe we cannot stop our heart from loving who it wants to love.
When it was time to meet his family, I was also very nervous. His mom was a very strong, firm and expressive woman. She was no-nonsense and yet she was always the first on the dance floor and an amazing cook. Would she welcome me? I have to say she truly did and I am so lucky to have had a mother-in-law that inspires me to this day, even after her passing three years ago. I remember attending my first Thanksgiving with his family and bringing a dessert—she made it a point to try it and she gave me a nice compliment—it was like music to my ears and I know it was her way of showing me acceptance. Over the years, she would remind me not to take any shit from anyone and to gain confidence in my mom role.
Fast forward to now. We have welcomed and are raising three beautiful mixed children together and I could not be happier about it. Sure, we have our rough days like any other couple and parents, but we function as a true team and our personalities intersect perfectly—we are raising some really amazing humans, if I do say so myself. And my parents and family LOVE him. And his family LOVES me. It’s honestly wonderful and while we acknowledge that our upbringings are very different, our values transcend our racial identities. So what’s the catch???
Here is my honest and true struggle when it comes to being in an interracial relationship. In this day and age, I am fully aware that anti-Blackness is still a major issue and very rampant in the Latine community. At the same time, I often see posts, videos and comments online that celebrate “Black Love” and I fully support this too—I follow sites that are dedicated to this theme and find it very beautiful and important. However, even more than I care about other Latines’ opinions about me being with a non-Latino, and specifically a Black man, I often worry about what Black people, especially women, think about him being with me, a non-Black woman. I know many other Latinas who are dating or married to Black men (and other races for that matter) and I am curious if they ever think about this too. Like I told my mom 15 years ago—I couldn’t stop myself from falling in love and I truly believe we are meant for each other. I know it shouldn’t matter what anyone else thinks or says about us, but if I’m being honest with myself, it does matter to me a little. Not enough to change anything about our relationship, but enough that it crosses my mind, maybe more than I want it to.
I also often contemplate how my children will experience the world as mixed-race individuals. I have made every effort to talk with them about race, ethnicity and identity since they were toddlers. I want them to be proud of being Black and Mexican-American (which in itself has dual identities). Thankfully we live in a large city that is very diverse, but anyone who is familiar with Chicago knows that it is still very segregated by neighborhood. That is still a challenge for us because my kids do not have enough opportunities to be around other Black children outside of family functions. While that is a systemic problem about our city, I feel compelled to combat this and it’s not easy! I am very interested to learn from other women in interracial relationships and their lived experiences. I can’t be the only one who is thinking like this…