3 Hard Conversations to Have When Bae is White

Comments (11)
  1. Almost 10 years in with my white chocolate…sweet to see a younger sister take a lovingly light spin to what can be weighty, difficult waters to tread. Blessings, and thank you for the read!

  2. Nikki says:

    Chellese, thank you for this practical, personal, and hilarious piece!!
    Frank and DCStudent, I would commend to you Raj Chetty’s (among many others’) research on the equality of opportunity for a fuller exploration of Chellese’s insight on generational wealth.
    Regardless of personal experience, the data is undeniable that inequalities by race in homeownership, income, household wealth, etc. are significance and pervasive.

    1. DCStudent says:

      Nikki, thank you for your comments. I am aware of some of the statistical inequalities by race regarding wealth. Nor do I deny such inequalities. But that was not what I was getting at in my earlier comment in this thread. Indeed, I find that statistics, though helpful, risk removing the human component from race discussions. Essentially, we should not ignore someone’s personal experience of poverty then hold statistics in their face to tell them that their race and, therefore, they themselves are better off than they should be. That is merely cruel. Rather, we should show compassion to the poor, whatever their racial background.

      My earlier comment on poor whites was merely to point out that the stereotype Ms. Hall uses in her article is not an accurate stereotype of whites as a whole. Ms. Hall is a brilliant and humorous writer, and her stereotype is, no doubt, an accurate portrayal of many whites and people from other ethnicities. Oddly enough, though, it describes a culture that Ms. Hall, because of her geographic location and the background of the man she is dating, is probably more familiar with than many whites would be. Indeed, in rural parts of the country, many whites don’t regularly shop at Columbia stores or Starbucks. The importance of keeping that discrepancy in mind is that if discussions on privilege, etc., are based on the idea that all whites are the same and have equal access to wealth, the discussions will only alienate large swathes of the American population. And, moreover, those discussions will misdiagnose the needs and struggles of individual Americans.

    2. Chellese says:

      Nikki, so glad you enjoyed the piece– and I’m definitely into that equality research. #DataDontLie #GottaShowReceipts

  3. J-Dog says:

    Just wanted to add that a lot of Causcasion people are poor. I work in a rural hospital, and one of my male coworkers in the Laundry Department is struggling to not go to jail for child support, and he’s working full-time to try to pay it.

  4. Frank says:

    Why is it assumed by blacks that, because I am (or anybody else is) white, we have loads of “generational wealth” at our whim? That’s absurd.

    My wife & I are in our mid-50s. We both grew up poor. Neither of us have ever received anything, financially, from our parents. Nothing. No down-payment for a house. No free car. No free education. Nothing. And we don’t resent our parents for that, nor do we resent people of other races or financial standings.

    Both of us have always, since our teens, been “at least” full-time employed. At one time, when our kids were teenagers, we were both working 3 jobs. We have held and advanced in the same jobs, because of hard work and diligence. We are both college educated, and I have a graduate degree – all of which we paid for.

    Any American, of any color, can do what we’ve done.

  5. Dr. Bri says:

    Very humorous approach to a many times all too serious topic! Great read Chelle!

  6. Sharon Bratcher says:

    We are white. We know a lot of Dutch background people, and they love to talk about how Dutch people clawed their way up from nothing in Canada and the USA in the 30s and 40s and how nobody is as stingy/tight as a Dutchman. Well, excuse me, but I grew up in a typical white Detroit family that had what we needed but not much extra (we did have a couple of car trips here and there). Dad went bankrupt because of a partner who fleeced him, and I know what it’s like to stretch grocery dollars. Then I married a seminary student and we lived on very little money in a neighborhood nobody at my suburban church wanted to drive into. We ate a lot of biscuits and cornbread and bought almost all our clothing and furniture at thrift stores (or found the latter on trash day on the curb). We were happy. We raised 6 kids and God blessed us and we did okay.

    Our daughter married a black man and we proceeded to read a lot of books and articles recommended by him and intended to drive out any remaining racism we didn’t know that we had. All I can say is: be honest but kind to your boyfriend’s family – especially if they are going to be your family. They won’t all know that watermelon jokes aren’t funny (as I tried to explain to my dad). They may not have ever had even one long conversation with someone who wasn’t white (I didn’t until I was 18 and had a job). Be patient and educate them as you can (or overlook the elderly ones who may never learn?) Our family ended up ripped apart by a misunderstanding that I tried and tried to clear up (between him and another family member).

    It’s kind of like learning about Canadians – I now have Canadian daughters-in-law (from Dutch background). We never learned much about Canadian history and most Americans know NOTHING about Canada, nor do they care. They get on fine with their lives without this knowledge. I think, unfortunately, its the same for whites – we learn almost nothing about black culture, traditions, ways of thinking or doing things, and since life goes along fine, we don’t see a reason to care.

    Well, I’ve studied Canadian history now (a whole new perspective on the War of 1812, believe me!) and I’ve studied about black culture/history. I want to understand. I want to learn. I want to love and be loved.

  7. DCStudent says:

    While I appreciate the author’s deep insight into cross-cultural relationships, and the light-hearted way she discusses difficult challenges, I would politely caution against the stereotype of whites that she makes in this article. The article, when coupled with the title, portray being “white” as being like her boyfriend. But the simple truth is that not all whites have regular access to all-expenses paid trips, Winnebagos, or even urban coffeshops. Many whites are impoverished and have long family histories of being impoverished. To portray them all as being rich can come across as being insensitive.

    That said, I commend the author for her honesty, including her openness about struggling with prejudice against non-blacks in coffee shops.

    She sounds like a truly remarkable and intelligent person, and I sincerely wish her and her boyfriend the best! I look forward to hearing more of their journey in life together.

    1. Frank says:

      I agree.

      The idea that whites – like people of any other color – are one monolithic group is absurd.

  8. Carlos says:

    I love this article! I’m married to a Filipina-American and we have 3 beautiful daughters. One day, I happened to walk past the room while my wife was homeschooling our kids and realized that she was teaching black history. My first thought was that I should be teaching that subject but I was glad that she took an interest in my culture as well. Once again, great story!

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