For those of you that do not know, I am a white woman in a romantic relationship with a Middle Eastern man, an Iranian, to be precise, Amin Sophiamehr. He is the sweetest, kindest, most loving man I have ever met.
After being with Amin for nearly two years, I have sadly witnessed him be subjected to several forms of discrimination as a brown man. Sometimes it was subtle and sometimes it was so overt that I had to bite my tongue from snapping at the ignorant persons in question.
I have seen him endure both racial and linguistic profiling, having certain services delayed or even denied when I know I would be able to easily obtain them as a white person. I will never full understand what it is like to live with that subtle, but still systematic prejudice, but as his partner I do witness it, not daily, but still on a habitual basis.
President-Elect Trump Has Opened the Floodgates.
Now that the idea of “President Trump” is going to become a reality, I cannot help but worry about how emboldened all the racists and bigots have become in this country. Gone are the days of simply dealing with the occasional racist receptionist. Gone are the days of the village idiot occasionally screaming obscenities from his car when he sees a white woman with a non-white man. Instead, I now legitimately fear for the safety of the man I love.
I know that Amin can defend himself physically, but I cannot stop myself from worrying. Even my father has expressed concern for him. Why should he have to put up with derogatory comments or physical attacks from absolute strangers or anyone else?
I know there are good people who voted for Trump, whether they did so out of economic desperation or simply because they wanted to bar Clinton from the White House, but I know the bad people who genuinely want Trump to follow through with his racist policies are not that far away.
Already a student from the University of Oklahoma was suspended because he was linked to the online “daily lynching” group that had the names of all the African-American freshman at the University of Pennsylvania. A little over a week ago OU president David Boren had to literally get up onto his soap box with a megaphone to counteract an anti-Black Lives Matter protest being held on campus.
No ethnic minority is safe from Trump, but Muslims and other Middle Easterners have been especially targeted during his campaign. He has labelled all of them as potential terrorists and has proposed the ban of an entire religious group from entering the country.
That was always my criticism of Trump.Even if you could sell me the argument that his obnoxious campaign strategy was purely to gain the support of the masses and that he would actually be normal and sane once in the Oval Office, that still would not change the fact that he has in his words and actions legitimized the most overt forms of racism, fascism, and sexism.
The reawakening of such hate cannot be undone. By having a presidential candidate behave in such a way, it has sent a message to all the racists and misogynists that they don’t have to be covert about their true feelings anymore. Trump has set us decades behind civil rights and all the other strides this country has made in promoting freedom and equality for all peoples regardless of their gender, race and/or sexual orientation.
As much as I want to blame all of this on Trump, I realize that the fact that it only took one racist politician shooting his mouth off to evoke this level of racial discord proves that the United States was already in deep trouble in terms of its lack of tolerance.
Where Does This Leave Interracial Couples?
This sort of hateful atmosphere has left those in interracial relationship rightly concerned. Just last August a Trump supporter attacked a black man and a white woman who were kissing in the middle of downtown Olympia, Washington. What was once a withering glare or a disapproving mutter under one’s breath now has the potential to escalate into a full-blown attack.
I’ve noticed myself adjusting my behavior since the election. I’m more vigilant about my surroundings when I’m with Amin. I find myself speaking less about my travels to the Middle East. I’m more careful about when and where I speak Arabic or Turkish, not wanting to be caught up in a verbal assault like the one in San Francisco where a middle-aged racist woman insulted a fellow passenger for speaking Assyrian on the phone.
I acknowledge that the tactics I am currently using are avoidant, and that I cannot continue hiding from the problem if I want to inspire change. Blogger Jocelyn Eikenburg, who is also in an interracial relationship, sums up what needs to be done quite well as we face this trying time.
“Here’s what I hope the Trump Presidency means for interracial couples. Let this election be your rallying cry to stand up for your beliefs. To champion and protect the rights of everyone, including people of color, immigrants, women, and the LGBT community. I know it’s a total cliché, but we really do have more power than we imagine. Believe in yourself and remember that your voice matters more than ever.”
I know I must stand up for my personal beliefs and convictions because I cannot sit back and watch the racist rhetoric of Trump become normalized in American social and political life. I cannot hold my tongue the next time someone makes a passive-aggressive jab at Amin or myself.
Whether through writing or other forms of activism, we need to keep reminding people that despite Trump’s victory, he still has a lot to answer for inciting hatred of this degree. We interracial couples are not going to slink into the shadows so that white supremacists are not offended by our existence. 1 in 12 marriages in this country are interracial. We’re not going anywhere and we will not tolerate living with the anxiety that we cannot go about our daily lives in peace.