I know I’ve said before that Que’s African American family really loves me, cares for me as much as they can, given the fact that I’ve come into their already-pretty-well-developed-lives just within the last decade. I mean, it isn’t like we all grew up together and bonded that way. They love me as I love them, and as much as we are capable with our limited histories together.
The family members I’m speaking of here are those in our lives pretty much daily. Her Mom and sisters, nieces, and Dad, for the most part. My sister and my kids love my wife as her people love me. A lot. They love her because I love her. Her relatives love me because she loves me.
Move beyond that inner circle though, and things change quickly. And the Interracial-ness of us just may be the reason why. I’ll explain.
I don’t usually go to too many larger gatherings of my wife’s family and / or friends. I just don’t feel all that welcome there, when the core group– that “inner circle,” (IC) either isn’t there, or is preoccupied with aunties, uncles, cousins, nieces, and grand babies they don’t see as often. When that happens– when that inner circle of those who genuinely care for me forget about me (and of course this happens, I don’t expect them to babysit me!) When they move about to mingle, I’m kind of left there by myself. And every time this has happened, probably a half-dozen or so in our history– no one has come forward to talk to this light-skinned stranger to the rest of the family!
I used to sit looking as confident as I could at first, self-assured; don’t need anybody by me, talking to me to enjoy myself. That lasts about 5-10 minutes. I’ve already started sending out friendly smiles left and right to curious people who are looking at me, but who never come over and chat. What’s up with that!? There are far more of you, than there are of me– and I’m the new person in the family– am I wrong to hope that others will approach me? Will see that I’m floating there all by myself in a strange and dark sea? I’m shooting out the friendly inviting smiles. Do I have to do all the work?! Well I really don’t have the confidence for that. (I really don’t have the confidence to even sit there. That was an act, you knew that!)
Sometimes, if there’s a punchbowl or a buffet line, I’ll go back and grab another something to nibble on…. (pretty sad, huh?) just to busy myself. Pretty soon after all of this, somebody from the IC usually returns. If it’s my wife, I dryly say to her, “Thanks for not leaving me alone,”– a reference to the unfair promise I usually wrestle from her before agreeing to attending said event. If it’s anybody else, they’ve usually come back because they’ve seen me floundering there by myself. They feel bad for me, and I feel bad that they’re leaving long lost relatives to pacify me.
The way I deal with that now is, I usually don’t go to her family meetings with expected attendance of say eight or more.
Okay. You can say I’m being immature. That I should grow up, get out and glad-hand, be bold and go around and introduce myself. But that’s not who I am. I’m really pretty shy ’til I get to know people, and they me. And it’s one thing to say that– quite another to do it when you aren’t sure how people feel about you; how they feel about the whole dating outside our race concept. Mom & Dad love that their daughter has a great guy– her true love and soul-mate. The rest of the fringe family—– not so ecstatic I sometimes sense.
My family’s too small to flip this around and see how it goes for Que. We’ve never had a gathering of my peeps over six people really (Christmas). I could maybe see the same thing happening to her if my old family (especially my older relatives. Definitely old school. Might have been pretty cold.) But I always say that my Mom & Dad would’ve loved Que, just as I do. I wish they could have lived long enough to meet her.
So what about everyone else? How do our IR friends handle this social spousal separation, (or bf / gf separation?) Am I the only one with this problem? Do I need to, like I said you’d say– just grow up? Or do some of you empathize with this issue? Anyone else know this feeling, of eyes watching you, but not reaching out to try to get to know you? Black people have HUGE families. And HUGE family gatherings, way more often than most white people that I know do. I think that it’s great. I really miss the days when my family was big and the get-togethers we used to have. White people may be starting to do family reunions more now, thanks to black people– but that’s another post.
Lemme hear ya on this issue of outer circle acceptance, rejection or indifference. Inner circle = great people. Beyond that, I don’t know. Might be great people, might not be. Should I push? Or am I right to expect or hope one or two might approach me? Should I just be happy that we’ve got a great IC, and let everyone else keep watching from afar? What kinds of circles do you all have around you? Big, friendly IC’s? Big friendly OC’s maybe? We’re curious. Do you do that, “Don’t leave me alone here,” thing too? Or don’t have to?
And what should I title this post– so that lots of curious people come visit, read and comment? Because I think it’s a good one; an issue that has IR ramifications / complications written all over it. What do you think friends? Tell us your familial tales (yes, I think that’s a made-up word.)