Overcoming Interracial Hurdles
Oniece is color-blind to the differences between her and her boyfriend of five months, Paul. That might be partly because she started falling for him before she knew he was white.
"Mutual friends of ours thought we'd have something in common and encouraged Paul to call me," she said. "He knew I was black, and I just assumed he was too." That impression was reinforced when she shared her frustration with a prejudicial remark that someone had made that day, and he totally agreed with her point of view.
Paul, who is also a student, set her straight about his background before meeting in person, but his news brought on another change for Oniece as she began to examine some of her own biases: "Paul is the least prejudiced person I know. Being with him has taught me to look deeper, past the outside stuff, and get to character."
They haven't faced opposition from their friends and family (Oniece's friends are all black, and Paul's are white, black and Latino.) However they have endured what Oneice calls "double takes" from passing pedestrians: "Paul will react by putting his arm around me or kissing me, like an announcement, 'Yes, this is my girlfriend.' ... I'm surprised no one has said anything distasteful, but if someone does Paul will react by saying something funny."
The most uncomfortable times for Oniece are when the couple visit Paul's parents, who live in an all-white neighborhood. "There was an incident recently where a black family tried to buy a home on that street and were denied. Paul and I receive a lot of glances there. But I remind myself how much I love Paul, and my upset vanishes."