Being in an interracial relationship was never issue for my boyfriend and me. Then Trump became president, and as much as we like to pretend otherwise, our world drastically changed.
I met my boyfriend in 2016, a few months before Trump was elected president. For the importance of context, I will inform you that my boyfriend is Haitian-American - and although I have Hispanic roots - I classify as white. I never gave much thought to our differing races. It was never an issue for my boyfriend and me. But then Trump became president, and as much as we like to pretend otherwise, our world drastically changed.
But to be frankly honest, the world didn't necessarily change overnight. Racism has always been a common factor within our society. Peel back the saccharine veneer of "equality" and "justice" and you will likely find racism sleeping somberly. Trump being elected merely awoke it.
Perhaps it was ignorance on my part, but my boyfriend being Black and me being white just wasn't an issue. At least, not for us. When Trump was finally situated in office, the concept of racial harmony became nothing more than an afterthought. All you had to do was witness a Trump rally to understand that racial equality was nonexistent throughout his campaign and presidency.
Within the months leading up to Trump's inauguration, there was a sense of unease which settled throughout our country. My boyfriend and me predominately felt this within our gut on a daily basis. We were unsure what was going to happen, but we knew it wasn't good.
Flash forward four years, and the premonition of unease has become a daunting reality for America. Over the course of four years, we've witnessed our country undergo a harrowing transformation. We've witnessed police brutality like never before, transparent systematic racism, brutal attacks on reproductive rights, unjust immigration enforcement and so much more.
Our country has indeed drastically changed for the worse.
As Trump fights for a second term, navigating racial and political divides will be even more difficult.
I often think about how different our lives would've been had my boyfriend and me met during the height of the Jim Crow era. For one, interracial relationships didn't become legal until 1967, so dating one another would be out of the question. We wouldn't even be allowed to converse with one another in public without receiving criticism for it.
The thought of not being allowed to hold my boyfriend's hand in public, or attend a restaurant together, merely on the basis of our differing races sends chills throughout my body.
I'm very much aware of my boyfriend's cultural background, but when we're together, our differences evaporate. I love boyfriend's race and understand it is a huge part of who he is. I'm enraged when I hear people say "well, I don't see race." or "race is inconsequential to me."
Therein lies the problem.
Race shouldn't be inconsequential to anyone. Where someone comes from is very important and should be celebrated. However, when you undermine or overlook someone because of their race is when it turns into an issue. Apart from occasional stares, my boyfriend and me never encountered threatening racism as a couple. But we have friends who have and their accounts are heartbreaking.
Growing up, my mom made an effort to convey the importance of treating everyone with respect and equality. She made sure it was deeply rooted in my consciousness and unable to forget. In her mind, it was just as crucial as brushing your teeth every morning and night.
Maybe the reason for my mother's relentless advocating originated from personal experience. As a Hispanic girl growing up in the South throughout the 1950s, my mom understood a thing or two about being discriminated against because of your race. The fact that this kind of discrimination continues today is unfathomable. Then again, what do you expect from a president who evokes racism and bigotry at every turn of his presidency?
I'm very frightened for the future of our country. Even if Biden does get elected, Donald Trump has left a stain on this country that won't be easy to wash out. His nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court is testament of that. There's a sense of urgency during this election that's more predominate than its predecessor.
But to say we have to vote isn't enough.
The truth is, until we learn to overcome our differences and treat people with respect and dignity, we will never be able to evolve as a nation.