An Interview with the Queen
This is one of my favorite pieces so far. I was able to interview my mom on her experiences in dating interracially, and now I get to share it with you all. It wasn't a very formal interview, either. I put on a recorder on the car ride home from our nail appointment. Hope you enjoy!
SH: What is your name?
EH: Elizabeth Haynes.
SH: Could you spell that for the record?
EH: Sure, Ms. Haynes. H-a-y-n-e-s.
SH: Why do you think you're so open to dating interracially?
EH: My parents were intercultural. My mom and dad are both white, but my mom is Scottish and German, and my dad was Cuban in the 60's. In the 60's being Cuban was like being Irish in colonial times. They dated during the Cuban missile crisis. My mother said to her dad, yknow, I've found someone and we've fallen in love, but i'm not sure you'll approve because he's not American. My grandpa told my mom, "As long as he's not one of them damn Cubans, I'll be fine!" *laughs* It's actually funny, I feel like the most normal white American there is, but when I was growing up, people ranked on us for our last name, Medina, and my dad's accent.
SH: When was your first interracial relationship?
EH: College. I was 18.
SH: What was their race?
EH: He was filipino, probably still is.
SH: Did you see a difference between dating interracially and dating within your race?
EH: Well... Yes. Yes i did. The good things about it were the food, man. I learned about filipino foods like pancit and lumpia. It's really good. Honestly, his dad was very warm. His mom was also very nice... but you could tell she was really hoping he would meet a nice filipino woman. She wasn't exactly loving me.
SH: Did you two face any sort of blatant discrimination or prejudice?
EH: It was in College Park, Maryland where we encountered a racist cop. We were dating, but unless you saw us walking down the street holding hands, the natural inclination was not to put us together.We worked together at a diner on Route 1, I was a waitress and he was a short order cook. This PG County cop comes in and he says "I want eggs and biscuits and gravy," and I go to put the order in and he goes, "No, by the time Ho Chin over there gets to my order, my lunch break is going to be over." I said, "What did you just say?" He just spoke to me slower, condescendingly, "I said, by the time HO CHIN over there gets to my order, it's going to be past my lunch hour." I said, "Ok," I was writing on my pad while he was talking. I flipped it over and said, "This is your badge number, ok? Ho Chin is my boyfriend. If you ever say something racist like that again, I'm going to report you for your comments." He looked at me like I was a bitch. Huffed and puffed... He would come back with friends and they'd look at me and laugh.
SH: How many interracial relationships have you been in?
SH: Can you describe your second one?
EH: There are stereotypes about dating a black man. They're players. They're well-endowed, to put it nicely. White women only like them because of that. Those are the stereotypes. Well, he fit the stereotype. Luckily, I dated interracially beforehand, so i knew that his race had nothing to do with his actions.
SH: Just to clarify, did he fit the stereotype because of his race, or because he was a dick?
EH: That's what i'm getting at. He was just a dick. I didn't attribute that to his skin color, nor did I hold it against your dad.
SH: When did you begin your last interracial relationship?
EH: I met your dad in my ortho residency. He dressed nicely. He carried himself well. We were friends, and we both were dating other people at the time. We graduated, and he did his residency and I was at Howard.
SH: When did you begin to experience prejudice in this relationship?
EH: We were driving to IKEA to get things for his apartment. It was the one in Potomac Mills mall, since the one in CP wasn't built yet. So... some Virginia boys pull up and see us together. We're in your dad's nice black Honda accord, and they're driving this POS ratty, burgundy car. They start revving their engine to get our attention, and then they hold up this cardboard sign that says, "KKK" on it. It was just them trying to make us feel bad.
SH: How different was this experience for you as you attended Howard University- an HBCU?
EH: My situation was a little reversed... There was a Jamaican teacher at Howard and she's asking people, "Oh you hear Haynes is dating Medina? I don't know why he won't date a nice Jamaican girl."
SH: That rings back to your first relationship, where his mother wished you were a nice Filipino woman.
SH: So at Howard, were any people rude to you outright?
EH: People called me a "white bitch," my designated racial epithet. Going to Howard, some people just felt that i shouldn't have been there...
SH: Any other experiences with prejudice?
EH: My grandfather. My poor grandfather; he didn't want my mom dating a Cuban, and when he found out I was dating a Jamaican he just said, "I just want you to be happy. This isn't how I grew up, this isn't what I believe in, but I just want you to be happy." How can I be mad at him? He disagreed with me, but wanted me to be happy.
SH: So, what's your overall attitude towards your experience in dating (and eventually marrying) interracially?
EH: On the whole, I'm lucky. Some people have fallen in love and their parents won't agree to it. That's difficult. You're not only defying society, but you're defying your family. That's hard. You don't have your family's support. My dad doted on you. Imagine if he was one of those people who said, "your child is dead to me!"-It can't be easy. No one in my family was rude or angry towards me. Everyone showed up to my wedding and was truly happy for me.
SH: How do you feel about the wider acceptance of interracial dating?
EH: Prejudice isn't magically over. You're with Carter, you probably get some prejudice, but nobody's chasing you with pitchforks or anything. We've come a long way. People used to get arrested and killed for what we now consider normal. For what your father and I do every day, which is love each other.
Being able to interview my mom was such a great experience. It opened my eyes to so many of the hardships she's gone through just by pursuing love. It made me so thankful to have her as my mother!