Someone please cue up Girl for Michelle Williams because it might be her turn to evaluate her relationship.
We’ve all seen the viral clips of Michelle and her fiance Chad Johnson talking through a recent disagreement that turned ugly when Chad got offended by a racial comment made by Michelle. The former Destiny’s Child singer informed her fiance that he doesn’t understand how Black people talk because he’s White. All I heard from her were facts, but Chad quipped with a low blow and questioned whether she’d taken her medication.
If you haven’t see it, take a look:
Watching the exchange brought me to one conclusion: If you can’t openly discuss race and racial inequality without getting defensive, then you have absolutely no business being in an interracial relationship. Being in an interracial relationship means that these topics will pop up from time to time. If you can’t handle those talks with sensitivity, compassion, maturity, and respect, then you are doing your partner a deep disservice.
When it comes to interracial relationships, trying to avoid the issue of race feels a lot like not fully accepting your partner for who they are. Discussions about race cannot be met with closed ears and an unwillingness to hear your partner’s concerns about the consequences of living in brown skin. Similarly, it must also be acknowledged that moments where the ethnic partner is thoroughly enjoying their culture are not anti-White.
Considering Michelle’s history of depression, it was an incredibly cheap shot to take. Chad back peddled at first when Michelle opened up about their latest fight. He swore that he’d never usually “go there” with her and swiftly attempted to deflect. Chad then spouted the Color Blind Coalition’s charter, stating that he does not care what color a person is as long as everyone’s feelings are respected. Finally, he tried to argue that she owed him an apology for hurting his feelings. Not once did he bother to apologize for his handling of the situation.
As we saw, Michelle basically outed Chad’s shortcomings in that department. Here’s the thing: Chad wants to marry a Black woman. Black people often talk about racial politics because it affects so much of our lives. Whether we’re talking about discrimination at work, voter suppression, and even police brutality–or whether we’re celebrating the culture and reminiscing about aspects of our community–race plays a huge role in the lives of non-White people. It would be nearly impossible for us to be in a relationship without ever speaking on racial matters (good or bad) because it underscores much of our experience.
For the non-ethnic partner to expect that a person of color always has to defer to their sense of comfort as a function of the relationship is incredibly selfish. It’s a way of using privilege against someone they claim to love, and it puts unreasonable conditions on the affections exchanged. In that situation, they’re not fit to be in an interracial relationship because the relationship is not equitable, and it’s likely to come at the expense of the brown person in the pairing.
Personally, I could not imagine having to tiptoe around certain aspects of my life in my own relationship. I’m married to a White man, and at no time have I ever felt the need to tone down my Blackness. At no time, have I ever felt like I couldn’t share my thoughts on racially charged matters because my husband would take it the wrong way. He sits down with me and we can talk it out, and it’s comforting to know that I have a partner who does not shy away from that.
When I want to revel in my culture, it’s not an issue for him because he can appreciate why that matters to me. I don’t have to explain it to him ad infinitum. If anything, he’s very supportive of those moments and encourages them for me. He loves me in my entirety. I sincerely wish the same for all Black girls in interracial relationships because someone who cannot navigate the reality of your experience as a woman of color is not fully invested in you.