For a long time now, I’ve been searching for the right spouse. But it hasn’t been easy. My biggest concern as a mixed woman is if internalized racism informs my choices. There’s no denying that we’ve all internalized racism to a certain extent, but it’s a concern for me because I’ve always been interested in interracial marriages. Of course Deen comes first, but being in an interracial marriage does appeal to me.
Whenever I’ve mentioned this to people close to me, I’ve had comments like, “Why would a man from X culture want to marry you when he could marry someone from his own culture who’s got straight, sleek hair, light skin and knows how to be a woman?” I’ve also heard things like, “There’s no way that a man from X culture would marry a black woman without seeing her as his servant or without being made to feel inferior. Trust me, he’s going to do a lot less for you than he would for someone from his own culture.” Or I hear this often as well, “If you marry X, he’ll take away your children and you’ll never see them again. His culture is known for abusing woman and you’ll have to live in his country someday.”
I sometimes respond to these comments by reminding them that the potential and I were both raised in the same country (America) and might have a lot more in common than someone from “back home.” I also tell them that when I’m looking for someone, I look for someone who appreciates and loves me for who I am. That means my curly hair, dark skin and everything else.
Another thing that I think about is if marriage has become my goal rather than a means/something that happens when God says it’s time. I think how I feel about my desire to get married is pretty much summarized by this article and specifically, this statement by sister Kameelah Rashad:
“Growing up — because I didn’t know my father — I thought, well once I get married, I want to be married for the rest of my life. And part of that was internalizing messages about black families. That fathers are absent and, you know, we don’t stay married or we don’t get married and things like that. So I think that had become part of my fantasy – that when I got married, I would stay married for the rest of my life.”
Like Sr. Kameelah, not letting my experiences of watching other people close to me in destructive/abusive marriages define my view of marriage and not letting these views inform my choices has been really difficult.
While I was in graduate school, I spent a lot of time trying to become the woman I thought I needed to be in order to become “a great wife.” I wanted to do everything I could to avoid getting divorced and to avoid finding myself in an abusive marriage or with someone I didn’t care for (and who didn’t care for me). Alhamdulilah, I did learn a lot and benefited from this time in my life, but at the same time, I let my desire to get married control my life. I didn’t want “real” jobs because I thought that any moment, a brother would walk in and that I would drop everything and live happily ever after. I tried to save for marriage and spent a lot of time trying to be the woman I thought I needed to be. Like I said, there was nothing wrong with this, but I feel like I lost a lot of opportunities by focusing so much on marriage. And I know that this has a lot to do with the things I’ve seen and heard.
I also think about what it means to constantly have to worry about internalized racism. Does it really make me “self-hating” or a stereotypical mixed or nonmixed person who might have a complex relationship with her blackness? Does this complexity always have to be negative?
Anyway, I’ve got a lot more to say about marriage, inshaAllah.