Sunday, April 18, 2010

Grappling With the Blue-Eyed Devil Part Two of Three

Reading my journal entries from 1983 made me realize how much I have changed.  I am no longer the young woman who always wanted to know why things happened or why people did the things they did.  Now I want to know how to live and love in the best way for myself and the people in my life.

When I left off, I had a very attractive African American boyfriend from Detroit in the Marines with me in California.  When he received orders to Okinawa I was briefly lonely and bereft, then I started dating again.  I felt very happy to be on a base full of young men and I wanted to take full advantage of the situation.  I have always loved and appreciated men.
 
In the meanwhile Jake was still around still trying to get my attention by asking me questions to find out more about me.  Then he would try to engage me in conversation about any topic he thought I might be interested in. I finally accepted him as an sweet, eccentric young man who had a crush on me, and we became acquaintances.  I tried to set Jake up with one of my friends, but he said he was not interested.

A bunch of us young women and men Marines would get together in about a group of ten and go to dance clubs.  None of us were a part of a couple and we just wanted to go out and have some fun.   Jake was one of the young men who came along sometimes.  At one of the clubs he kept putting his hand on my knee , but strangely I never noticed him putting it there.  I would be annoyed and push his hand off, but then a half hour later it would be there again.  I  wanted him to stop, though in hindsight I don't think I was as angry and repulsed as I should have been by his uninvited touch.  He asked me to dance and I didn't want to, but he looked so hopeful I said yes.  That was the dance that changed my life.  When he took me in his arms it felt as if I had just met a dear old friend I had not seen in a very long time.  I did not want him to let me go.   After the dance I immediately left to think about what had just happened because I did not understand what I was feeling .

9 comments:

  1. I appreciate your honesty, J, as well as Jill S's. And I cannot imagine what it would be like to have to live with all that pain and damage inside, nor the way all these wrong ideas are reinforced by images and... everything around us.

    If I were black, I'm sure I'd be wincing, too, even though I might not want to on some levels. Old injuries have a way of coming back to nag one... and not-so-old ones, too.

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  2. I wish I could stop feeling this way because I truly believe everyone should be able to choose who they want in their lives, but I have not gotten there yet. Not long ago I saw this teenaged black boy and white girl couple. I was staring at them and thinking how sweet they looked together. They were holding hands and looking at each other all lovey-dovey. I forgot about wincing, but then they looked at me funny as if they were thinking, what are you looking at? And then I remembered. They probably have black women staring at them all the time.

    I really do not feel anymore damaged than any other group. This particular issue is one that women of African descent have to deal with and other groups have issues that they struggle and grapple with..

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  3. well, the fact that you see your own reactions and can look at them from a number of different angles is a good thing, I think.

    We all have issues; just slightly different ones.

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  4. I find many human physical attributes beautiful, but I feel resentment when my traits are disparaged for what I think are mostly political reasons. I love my husband's blue-green eyes because they are pretty, and I was made to enjoy pretty things. He loves the texture of my nappy hair and likes rubbing his face in it, but we are not supposed to appreciate one another because of slavery and colonization.

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  5. You know... I'm like you, in terms of finding all kinds of skin colors and hair colors/types and facial features and eye colors (etc. etc. etc.) beautiful.

    I guess for me, the difference is that I have never had messages blasting me (in both subtle and unsubtle ways) to think or act differently.

    So... stepping into somewhat perilous territory, I have to admit that I find a lot of dark-skinned men attractive. (Light-skinned men, too. ;-)) The same goes for seeing beauty and gracefulness in other women - and kids from everywhere.

    And that means that.... kinda politically speaking, I'm a bit sunk if I should happen to fall in love with a man whose skin is darker than mine, and whose hair isn't straight like mine (etc.). People are gonna look at me very funny, or with anger, or...

    Because of slavery and colonization, I guess I'm not supposed to think and feel the way I do. It's not that I want to take anything - or anyone - away from someone else. I don't. (Really, really don't.)

    Does that make sense to you?

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  6. btw, I don't mean to suggest that I've been immune to prejudice, or that I'm unprejudiced. We *all* are, to varying degrees.

    Maybe I was sheltered as a kid; I honestly don't know. But I do know that I never heard negative or unkind words about people - in my parents' home, at least - based on their race, religion, etc.

    I'm grateful to my folks for that (my mom especially).

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  7. Unfortunately, I have heard negative and very unkind words from family members and other people. It seems that my parents' generation have the most difficult time with accepting Jake and I as a couple. We have been told by some of them, "since we were taught as children that your type of marriage is wrong there's no way we can ever change our minds." My generation is more open in their thinking, but are concerned about the children. My son's generation really does not seem to have the issues with what has been called mixed couples as older people do. People used to stare at us twenty years ago, now we hardly get a second look.

    There must have been an increase in mating between couples from cultures whose skin colors are different from one another's, because I see a lot more light brown children now than I did in the past.

    You are very lucky to have had the parents that you did. You are blessed.

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  8. Unfortunately, I have heard negative and very unkind words from family members and other people. It seems that my parents' generation have the most difficult time with accepting Jake and I as a couple.

    I am so sorry for this, J - you've gone through a lot, though (sadly) I really am not surprised that your parents' generation (like mine) has such a tough time with things.

    My generation is more open in their thinking, but are concerned about the children.

    I hear you on this... and remember pretty vividly when my parents had their change of heart on the idea of my marrying someone who's not white (as in, African American - East Asian would have been perfectly fine with them, though probably *not* for that hypothetical man's parents!) It was at a time in the mid-80s when interracial couples were starting to become more visible - I guess because more people of all colors were breaking the rules (whatever their particular sets of rules happened to be). I know my mom was concerned mainly about what might happen to children (mine) if I married a black man... but she and my late dad both got to a point where they felt that they would be more than happy to have me marry a good man, regardless of his skin color. (not so sure about some of the religious aspects, though - that's a tough issue, regardless of background.)

    There must have been an increase in mating between couples from cultures whose skin colors are different from one another's, because I see a lot more light brown children now than I did in the past.

    Same here - this was especially true when I was living in the D.C. area, but even where I am now (rural central PA) this is more and more apparent. Many of the local kids seems to be the product of "intercultural" pairings - Anglos (local) and Latinos, mainly. (Which shows that even in this place, the population is changing - there are many, many Mexicans, Central Americans and Puerto Ricans living here now... people trying to get away from the cities in search of a decent place to raise kids, though I'm afraid some of them see this as the Promised Land as far as jobs go... and it really isn't.)

    Also, I used to work at a bookstore that was very close to I-395 and a couple of D.C.-area military bases. it seemed like there were quite a few "mixed" couples shopping in the mall where the store was located, as well as "mixed" families coming into the store. But there were still lots of prejudices and tensions... given the geographical area, no surprise, though painful and sad.


    You are very lucky to have had the parents that you did. You are blessed.


    Thanks - I sure think so, though it's hard for me to imagine having anyone else as parents, y'know? My dad traveled a *lot* (he was in the Merchant Marine), and my folks were definitely not typical of the area they came from, in many ways. I'm not why they were/are so ahead of their time in some ways, but they were - and are. (My mom's still with us; my dad's been gone for quite a while now.)

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  9. J - I don't mean to imply that everyone in my family is OK with the idea of interracial/mixed couples and marriages. They're not. But to be totally honest, the ones who likely would have raised the most Cain over it are gone now... and I have a feeling that the majority of the younger ones either don't care (because they don't really know me) or wouldn't be willing to take much time off (from their busy lives ;-))to harangue me and Mr. Hypothetical.

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