I was hanging out with one of my friends and she was telling me about her relationship troubles. Everything else was fantastic except ONE thing that neither of them were willing to compromise on. In fact, that day we coined a handy-dandy phrase to for the phenomenon: “Fundamental Angst”.
While no relationship is perfect and there will be disagreements, fundamental angst encompasses those things about you that will likely never change. The foundations of you. Maybe you’re an atheist but your person of interest is deeply religious. Maybe you like staying where you are and your person of interest has wanderlust and wants to travel all the time. Maybe you want children and they don’t.
Maybe you’re a person of color and your partner just can’t understand why race is so important to you.
I know this is something of a hot take because we’re in the year 2019 and we’ve had a black president. We’re in a “post-racial” society and that should be enough, damn it!
Problem is, it’s not. It’s really, really not. We want so badly to be in the year 3000, but we’re still suffering from 1950’s problems.
Even on the tiniest level I know we’re fucked because white people won’t say the words “black people” out loud without lowering their voice and glancing around nervously like they just said the magical word to summon every weapon-wielding “thug” on the block.
Maybe not all, but enough. To me this one little thing is very telling of a much larger issue that we’re not willing to face as a society and until we do, I will not spend any more of my life trying to educate the uneducated. I just can’t do it. Especially if that person is my partner. I’ve already done my emotional due diligence.
Now, don’t get me wrong, if we’re good friends and you want to get into a race-based discussion with me I’ll be more than happy to go there with you.
As a partner, I need you to already be at that destination. If I come home and tell you that someone said something racially insensitive, I need you to hug me and let me vent because you get it. Being with someone should feel like coming home at the end of the day and I’m never going to feel completely at home if it involves gaslighting.
“Maybe you’re being sensitive.” “Maybe they didn’t mean it like that.” “Not everything is about race.”
When you listen, it shows that you give a damn about my feelings. As you should. You see a problem bothering me, you sit down and listen, and we go from there. If there’s nothing that can actively be done, showing that you’re the shoulder to cry on and the ear to listen is more than enough. You don’t have to do anything extra.
We may disagree on who’s doing the dishes or which is the best movie. We may have our differences and disagreements but, these things can be negotiated. However, I can’t force you to open your eyes and pay attention.
The best part is, I don’t have to because at this point in my life, I know I deserve better.
As people of color, we all do.
The world is a trifling place at times, but I encourage everyone out there to make your home your sanctuary including the people you let in.
It makes a world of difference.