How to Talk to Your White Partner About Your Black Experiences

How to Talk to Your White Partner About Your Black Experiences

For most of the U.S., and some places internationally, many are having the conversation about The Black Experience. Wether its the 1,000,000,000,000 time (for Pete’s sake…) that they are having this convo or it’s the first time (that is truly Wonderful) it’s a conversation that helps us understand each other better. However, what if you are in a bi-racial relationship and in light of recent events the two of you are now getting around to digging deeper into this conversation. For many it can be an emotionally difficult, and worse, it could drive a wedge.

First, this is not going to be the only time y’all have this convo (at least I hope it’s not). It’s important that you enter into this dialogue at different stages of your relationship. It can help the two of you understand each others perspective, beliefs, reactions, and find perhaps commonality or how to grow from it together. 

I’m going to be totally honest here. Wether you’re discussing the Black experience and how it shapes you separately and together, or any other topic of great importance, what I’m going to recommend is the same: talking about your black experiences are YOUR experiences. They are true, real, and have impacted who you are as a person. The person that your partner loves today. They get to see you, love you and respect you and your experiences – in all their glory.

When you bring up the topic, or are asked to talk about your experiences as a Black person, it’s important to talk from the “I” perspective. When we talk from the “I” perspective, we are truly speaking and showing your loved one “this is what I lived.” 

When we say “I have felt…” it can help our loved one start to place themselves as much as then can in your shoes…to sit and really listen. To open and hold the space for you to talk and share. When we start the same sentiment with “They have made me feel…” for many people the focus is no longer on your true INNER experience, it has now become external. 

External experiences, for many, open the door for a person to argue “misunderstanding/was not their intention/I don’t think it was that way…” You’ve heard it before. I don’t want that for y’all. I want for you to be able to truly hear each other. Speaking from “I” can help that happen. 

What if they really don’t get it? It’s very likely that they may not 100% get it as you get it. Because as much as we would want our loved ones to 100% understand our experiences and perspectives – it’s not realistic. They have not lived it and most likely never will. What is realistic, and I hope this happens, is that they understand that this is real, you lived it, it has shaped you, they open and hold that space for you to talk, and that they really hear you. That they have put their feet in your shoes as much as they could. 

With this it can help you both grow closer, understand each other, and support each other in topics and views throughout the life of y’alls relationship. 

As always.

Gabriela 

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