The internet recently went into an all-out furor over a segment of Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s radio program, in which she used the N word repeatedly, while telling a Black woman who had called for advice about her interracial relationship that she was “hyper-sensitive.” I could probably spend 10,000 words talking about why what Dr. Laura said is wrong, but since the media has spent so much time dissecting her use of the N word, I believe that perhaps someone should address the purpose of the call. The caller originally reached out to Dr. Laura because she felt that her White husband ignored the racist comments their so-called friends made.
Anyone who has ever been in an interracial relationship will tell you that they are very difficult to negotiate — whether it is two people of colour, or a person of a colour and someone who is White. Though segregation is no longer the law of the land, many people still lead very segregated lives and this means interactions are often fraught with difficulties. Though we are supposedly post-racial, each day people of colour are assaulted by racism — even from those who we may call friends, because they have not learned to challenge their undeserved privilege.
For an interracial relationship to work, both parties must be committed to confronting race in all of its positive and negative aspects. It means a constant conversation with both parties really listening to each other, because without communication, race will become the barrier that breaks the relationship. The divorce rates already indicate that the likelihood of two people being lifetime partners is not high and therefore, if the added extra burden of negotiating race is included, then the relationship has even less of chance of being successful [PDF]. Not only will the couple have to deal with misunderstandings between themselves, the outside pressure of family or friends often leads to the dissolution of the love that seemed so full of hope at the beginning.
When Dr. Laura advised that “if you are hyper-sensitive, you shouldn’t be in an interracial relationship,” she chose to assert White supremacy. A relationship cannot work if one party must always be submissive to the other, because this eliminates the possibility of a truly equal coupling. It may seem from the outside at first that the White person is being submissive to the person of colour, because they must radically change not only their thought process but their behavioural patterns as well. In truth, this is just bringing a level of equality to the relationship that is not in existence in society when people of colour interact with White people. How can you love and deeply commit to someone, if you believe whether unconsciously or not, that they are less than you? This is absolutely not possible and is a recipe for disaster.