chocolatevanillajpgSo here we sit past the 100 days of our first African American President. Status quo has certainly been shaken up by seeing the “White House” not have, umm, white residents. Perhaps the new name should be finally the “People‘s House“?

But I am digressing, at the elation of having a new order. The slave rightfully becoming the master. A black man now sleeps well in the master bedroom. What incredible images that raises. What does that do to the nation… and to each one of us in particular?

Living in Western North Carolina, yes, the bible belt… as part of a bi-racial couple, I think I can speak to that quite intimately and unfortunately, endlessly. (I truly think this topic would make a much better reality show than trading spouses, whew, talk about candid camera!)

When I first laid eyes on my man, with his deep gorgeous brown eyes and pull at my heart smile… I knew that I found home. What I did not know was how much the world would argue that point. For instance, a simple walk in the park became… did you bring your shield with you? The frosty stares made icicles appear in August, and that was the least of reactions. And, get this, people would actually cross to the other side to make sure they did not walk near us!

Once in a museum, a  white woman saw us coming up the steps. She was coming down the steps. She looked absolutely frightened to her core that she would have to pass us. We could see her looking frantically for another exit. When she finally realized there was not another way, she literally slid and flattened herself hard against the wall. I thought she was going to faint from horror. I had no way to make it easier for her.

I found myself on one of our walks, being irritated with Jamal. Children would pass and I would naturally go to engage them… he would actually pull me back. Whoa, what is going on here? Well, he explained, in a way that was so very matter of fact to him, black men can easily be accused of trying to molest children (let’s not forget… they still lynch black men). I thought someone put a dagger through my heart.

Once on a flight, I sat next to a black man who told me he was a pediatrician and, as a black male doctor, he had to be very careful. He could not just enjoy the “privilege” of casually interacting with children. So where I thought perhaps Jamal was paranoid, now I knew that his over-cautiousness, was indeed his black man rules of how to stay alive.

And we have the right to freedom of speech? For whom?

Besides the usual contempt of both black women and white men who are consistently angry with us, or even family members, there is the woven institutionalized racism of our country. For instance, we rarely go into together to a big “box” store… because we know we will get hassled. We once bought a TV together. After paying, we just naturally headed to the exit. All of a sudden we were surrounded by 4 people, asking for the receipt… assuming we had stolen the TV.

Where I can go into a store alone and not even use a bag for my purchase, if we are together, and don’t use a bag, we will get stopped by security. Guaranteed.

But the one incident that brought incredible pause happened at the school we worked at together. As we stepped out of the elevator, a policeman passed us, saw Jamal and pulled out his gun. Dead man walking you say? I cannot possibly fathom what everyday life is life for a black man.  And, I thought women had it hard. I hadn’t a clue.

The other aspect of bi-racially coupling is the isolation. Neither whites nor blacks want to claim you, so the idea of building a community is merely a lego land fantasy. ( I think we can become movie critics with the amount of movies we have watched!)

Living here in Asheville, North Carolina, the progressive jewel in the entire state, be careful. Bubba is lurking around every corner… and he has his eyes searching and his gun cocked for people just like us.

Life, not in the chocolate or vanilla lane is a heart stopping eye opener.

Ariel Harris

Ariel Harris

Ariel Harris, believer in the positive and intentional language, artist, writer, empowerer/tutor for 'at-risk' kids, shares life-joy with her soul mate Jamal (of ‘round midnite' fame, WCQS), has a bevy of three grown socially conscious extraordinary children plus two wonderful loving wedding additions, two granddaughters, and is awaiting heralding the time of great comfort for all. Ariel is available for comfort sessions and can be reached at [email protected]