Hi, I’m Dasha, author of the amazing book “Don’t Chase Love – Cut to the Chase”. I’m doing a series of articles on relationships and in the next couple of weeks I’ll give you an insight into mine. If I’m trying to teach vulnerability, it’s only fair to show how it’s done.
This is the fourth article out of seven. I’ll try to make this brief and amusing. Imagine someone sitting across me, with a microphone held to my face and grilling me:
Journalist: “I’m surprised we haven’t discussed this point earlier. But let’s dive into it. What’s it like to be married to a black man? Or should we say mixed raced? Would you say there is a difference?”
Me: “[pause]… You see, I wouldn’t even discuss this but it’s obvious, we must.
Yes, I would say at times there is a bit of a difference between someone mixed raced or black. Most of the time he is being treated as a black person, but…
He grew up in the poorest neighbourhood of Birmingham at first. Only later as a teenager he lived in Nuneaton where we are now.
In between he lived as a child for a while in Greece and Spain with his family.
The special racism he experienced being mixed-raced was here in the UK when he was younger, because white kids wouldn’t play with him and his sister, and black kids wouldn’t play with him and his sister either.
Greece was cool it seems, they simply love kids and embraced them quickly. He had very bad experiences in Spain though which is a shame because I love Spain.”
Journalist: “Who would have thought that neither group of kids would play with him or his sister. That’s bizarre.”
Me: “Tell me about it! I can’t claim I know what it’s like as a black person, I really don’t. The only experience I have is as a woman and being treated differently simply because I am a woman. Still, I don’t get micro-aggressions on the tube just for the colour of my skin.
Let’s put it like this – I have a very intelligent man, right? One, who knows his stuff and can hold any debate and win every debate. Yet I can imagine that if he was a white man, everyone would have listened to him much quicker, giving his arguments automatic authority just because he was white.
Sorry to say, but imagine a guy like Trump was black. Considering the idiotic things he is saying every day – do you really think that ANYONE would have taken him seriously for five seconds, let alone voted him for president?
Obama had to be ten times the man, the person, the husband and the politician than any other man, just to have a chance at leading the US. And you can imagine same goes for Michelle Obama.
Jean-Brunel is experiencing the same thing – only thanks to his endless energy and perseverance can he get a point across. Imagine how exhausting that is!
It’s just how we’ve been indoctrinated throughout centuries but honestly, it makes me furious. I keep asking, am I really the only one who sees him for HIM? How can that be, damn it.
It’s so strange to have to talk about black and white.
You know what? The instant someone calls me white, I feel… it feels wrong. It’s not a compliment, it feels like an accusation. I feel reduced. I’m not white. I’m Dasha. I’m a woman (it’s bad enough having to embrace the differences between men and women in our current society, another topic of course), I grew up in Slovenia and Germany, I’ve lived in the UK for 13 years.
So, who am I? Slovenian? I risked my life to get out of Slovenia. German? I appreciate Germans and I adopted their better qualities and respect them for being the only nation to apologise for their history. But no, I’m not German. European? European, sure, I can identify with that.
I’m Dasha. I’m a person who has helped many people in her life and will help many more. I’m someone who loves to learn, who cares about good and free education for all, I’m a philosopher and a gardener. I’m a photographer and a writer. I’m a survivor and a fighter. I’m a friend. I’m a wife. I’m a step-mom. And yes, I am a descendant of Slovenians and carry the burden of its history, Slovenian history as well as European.
When I first met my husband, this is what I saw: a wonderful person, enthusiastic, with an enormous energy, infectious laugh, with a thousand thoughts bouncing around the room. I saw someone kind, caring, fantastic.
Nothing else. No colour. Just someone very interesting and intriguing.“
Journalist: “Why do you think (some) people react very negatively to a mixed couple? Do you experience difficulties between the two of you because of race?”
Me: “If by race you mean culture, then of course.
Isn’t that the stumbling point within the dynamics of any couple? Getting together with someone from another country or simply just another religion from your own country, it will prove challenging because the question is, what values do you share? What is the understanding of everyday things like cleaning the house, going to work, how we communicate (yelling or being patient) and so on.
JB and I have grown up very similarly, even though thousands of miles apart. We grew up without religion, with lots of books, kids ostracising us, a broken family, ending up in abusive relationships… We both have the ability to overcome hardship and believe in the same values of honour, integrity, respect, transparency.
The only difficult bits culturally between us is where he’s British in the way of moaning about the weather where I just tease him and tell him to suck it up. Or when you’re trying to compliment him, he cringes and has a hard time accepting any positive attention. That’s so endearing.
On the other hand, he finds it strange that I always like company when eating and that I will keep him company when he’s eating, even when I’m not. It’s just something other cultures do. We find it rude in Slovenia to leave someone eat alone. Eating is a social thing and it has been proven that our bodies love the whole set up of a family sitting down for dinner, talking, laughing, eating. It’s healthy.
But that’s the extent of the cultural ‘difficulties’.
Then there is of course the issue of understanding how the dynamics between a man and a woman works best. In our case that’s less a cultural problem but more just a typical issue for a woman like me who had to fight all her life and became a control freak, but now suddenly she can actually let go and trust a man. It is still a bit of an every-day struggle for me to just relax into my femininity and enjoy his manliness, LOL.
And then there is the racial component which makes itself only noticeable in the way how some people look at us. But I mostly just focus on us when we’re outside and don’t even acknowledge anyone staring at us. On the contrary, if I do see someone looking, I just smile and greet, what else is there to do?”
Journalist: “How come you don’t care about the looks or roots of others?”
Me: “I don’t know… Maybe I’m naive. Maybe I’ve managed to keep some of that innocence that children have who don’t see gender, age or race.
I’ve certainly dated the whole rainbow of this world. LOL. What my experience has taught me, is, that people around the world have the intrinsic need to belong to a group of people and compare itself to another, claiming their group is better.
Take a village, any village, and ask them, which one is better. They won’t go saying ‘We’re all awesome!’ No, no, no. They will say ‘WE are the best! Those idiots over there don’t know what they’re doing half of the time.’ And the other village will say exactly the same. That’s… I don’t want to say it’s normal. We need a new level of normal, one that is based on our higher brain, not our lizard brain.
Having the need to look at each other competitively can be a driving force to improve. But trying to create the term ‘race’ and divide ourselves artificially purely because it could be to our financial advantage, that’s simply wrong.
We need to change the size of groups we’re looking at.
Instead of dividing ourselves on the base of ‘race’, how about we at last embrace the whole world, that would be ideal.
Sure, we have different cultures but didn’t we used to love diversity and were in awe of something new? When did we stop appreciating the differences and the diversity amongst us?
What’s the goal here? For all of us to be the same? How boring is that?!”
Journalist: “So how are you experiencing racism within your marriage? Does that happen?”
Me: “Oh, it does. It’s actually hilarious. My husband is getting abuse from black women because he married a white woman.“
Journalist: “Wait! Why? What are they saying?”
Me: “Oh, that he’s a traitor for marrying a white woman and not having chosen a black one. Actually, if we wanted to be accurate, by this logic he should have chosen a mixed raced one, lol.”
Journalist: “Wow. So how does he respond to that?”
Me: “That’s the hilarious part. The discussion online goes something like this: -Why did you marry a white woman? A black woman isn’t good enough, ha?!-Well, no black woman would want me when I was looking for a partner. Apparently all you girls care about is a BBD (Bigger Better Deal).-Hell yeah, I’ve got every right to have a successful man.-And I respect that. I respect that you are a strong and independent woman with your own career, but at the end of the day you still want a successful man to pay for all your stuff.-Of course, I deserved that.-I’m not saying you don’t deserve that, I’m saying you demand it.-Hell yeah because if I don’t demand it, I don’t get.
And so on, you get the idea. But when he was telling me that, I had to point out – I’m an independent woman and wish for a strong, successful man as well.
-Yes, but you don’t demand to have one nor do you demand for him to pay all your bills.”
Journalist: “That really is hilarious. So no matter what your husband does, he gets abuse from all sides, except from you. What about his friends?”
Me: “All his closer friends are white, have to mention it, just so you can picture it. And just last week it turned out that they are hugely annoyed by him ‘going on and on about racism’. They don’t get it, they don’t accept him and as his friends, I would have thought, they’d at least be loyal enough to still have his back.
They used to have these endless discussions all these years but lately it escalated. Not actually because he said something, but because he chose to remove himself from being exposed to racist jokes. What followed were very hurtful comments which someone like him, who is always there for his friends, really didn’t deserve. Things like that have consequences. It seems though, after the BLM protest he successfully organised last Sunday, on the 14th June, things are changing on that front.
I find it’s another thing if he has to debate politics with strangers, they don’t owe him loyalty as his friends. And yet, (and that’s the amazing thing about JB), even in politics he managed to show lots of people that one can have different opinions and still keep being civilised and keep the discussion going. Quite a few people see that and started to respect him for it, even the opposition.”
Journalist: “You said you grew up in Slovenia and Germany. Have you seen racism in those countries?”
Me: “Of course. But the earliest story is probably the one which shaped the way I don’t see race, just people.
Next door to us lived a lovely and very intelligent woman. Back in the day she met probably the only black visitor who ever came to Slovenia in the 60s or 70s. She fell in love and had two beautiful daughters with him. He left soon after, not sure what happened there, but she was left with the children alone.
I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for her daughters in school. I mean, I came from Germany to Slovenia when I was 7 and I got a lot of abuse just for that. You know how kids are… The girls were a few years older than me, so I never had the chance to hang out with them even though I always wished I could, I really liked them.
What was more visible (to me) is what the town did to their mother, our neighbour. They literally drove her crazy, ‘punishing’ her for daring to choose a man who was not a Slovenian. She was in a mental institution for quite a while, but once she got out, I got to know her better and I hated my town for the abuse she had to endure.”
Journalist: “That’s heavy. Do you think you’re trying to make up for that? In the name of your town?”
Me: “That’s a good point. I don’t know, maybe? All I know is that at the end of the day, you have great people everywhere, in every group, in every culture. And you will always have a bunch of idiots just as well. It’s down to the system to make sure everyone gets the same fair treatment and this is where everything falls apart.
Governments of our Western countries don’t even protect their own people, and make sure that anyone ‘different’ gets extra hate and abuse. Maybe to deflect from the very fact, how they have systematically and intentionally pulled us all apart so they can keep profiteering from us all. Men against women, one race against any other, poor against…middle class.
Funnily enough the rich are being left alone, maybe because everyone hopes to reach that holy grail of big money and become part of the elite. That’s part of the problem. With big money comes big power and even bigger responsibility – which not many want to take.
Guess what? #Blacklivesmatter. They do. The issue of how badly we treat black people is blatantly pointing out how badly our countries are treating all of us, how they have abandoned us during the Covid19 threat and now every injustice is even more visible than before.
We don’t have to point out the injustice for the rest of us. All we need to do is to correct the injustice that happened and still happens to black people, we need to apologise for it, we need to stand with them and acknowledge how valuable and great they are. (It’s sad we have to say it, it should be so obvious.)
If we manage to finally correct this mistake and stop pushing black people to the fringes of our society, then maybe we will find the inspiration to correct the whole system from the ground up, for everyone.
But first things first. 500 years of wrongdoing needs to be undone first. Only when we have stopped creating ghettos and everyone can say they have a freaking rainbow of people at their dinner table every Sunday, because that’s how we role now, then we might have the right to look at our ‘white’ problems.
But guess what? If we get that far, I guarantee you, any other societal problems will have been solved as well.”
Journalist: “You sound very political.”
Me: “Well, I live with a politician, lol. Actually, I’ve always been political, if politics is about right and wrong and fighting for the people. That’s not how it is though, is it? Especially if you’ve had a taste of war in your own country and you lose a lot of friends to it…and for what? Yes, you become political.”
Journalist: “Are you in politics yourself then?”
Me: “No, I leave that to my husband. He is far more savvy, has this vast sea of information and remembers names and facts in a way I never could.”
Journalist: “Next time, what is it like to be married to a politician. ?”