By the time you read this, you’ll have had more than enough time (two whole weekends, b!) to have seen Jordan Peele’s instant classic flick, Get Out. If you haven’t watched it… get your life together. I’m not usually one for horror movies, but I am one for doing things for the culture, and Get Out was personal for me.
A few years ago in an unnamed Texas town (Dallas), I casually dated a guy of the 2520 variety who seemed great. He was a teacher, we had mutual friends, and he even helped my best friend move into her apartment in the heat of the Dallas summer. It wasn’t love, but I didn’t need it to be. We hung out for a few weeks, going on dates and watching soccer together… until one day when we met for happy hour and had a conversation, during which he told me he had to stop seeing me. I didn’t ask him why because it didn’t matter to me. But he seemed adamant to provide an explanation: he told me his parents wouldn’t be cool with me being Black.
Dear reader, I had been (and, yes, continue to be) Black throughout the entire time he knew me. No Rachel Dolezal. Granted, I might have eaten fries with mayonnaise in front of him. But I was then and remain a Black woman.
I’ll never forget the embarrassment that ensued over being broken up with for such a dumb reason or the sadness that I felt. I felt these things not for me, but for him. Zora Neale Hurston said it best: “Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.”
Fast forward to 2014, when I realized that the guy I was seeing at the time was something special and that we might be exploring a future together. I shared this previous negative experience with my now-partner (Spoiler: He’s white.) and asked if his parents and family would be okay with my ethnicity. His answer was reassuring and so far drama in our relationship has only occurred when our soccer teams play each other (Go Gunners!). So when I first saw the trailer for Get Out late last year, I knew I had to see it with my beau.
You see: it brought me back to that summer in Dallas and also made me thankful that the family I got to meet and was welcomed into hasn’t been anything like the horror that our boy Chris experiences. (Who’s Chris? Dude. Just go watch the movie or at least the trailer.)
Get Out is not only a thriller, but a cautionary tale, and for those of us who have navigated interracial dating stresses, a catharsis. Chris (and I) did that, so hopefully you won’t have to go through that. So, you might be asking: how does one date interracially after seeing Get Out? CAN one even date interracially after seeing Get Out? The memes might say no, but I got you covered.
Just kidding. Love is love is love is love, etc.
(Editor's note: I actually have love is love tattooed on me. Not because of interracial dating, but because of Cappadonna's verse on Method Man's Sweet Love. I made interesting decisions in my 20s. Anyway, I agree that people should continue to find love where ever they find it and shit. But I wouldn't be surprised if people currently dating interracially imposed two-week-long moratoriums on their relationships after seeing Get Out, just to thoroughly vet their beau's families. Rose Armitage set race relations back further than Miracle Whip did.)
2. Get to know your white people
The first red flag should have been how dismissive old girl was of Chris’s feelings. They should have had a mutual understanding regarding what he was about to walk into. Yes, this would have negated the need for the actual movie, but Chris didn’t want to be saved and you might; we’re talking about real life here. Photos should have been shared, if not on social media, than with her nearest and dearest. And yes, a heads up should have been given, not solely for Rose’s parents well-being, but for Chris’s, as well. Our ninja.
3. Be prepared for awkward situations
People, even well-meaning ones, say stupid things. Your white bae, his or her friends, and their family members might say things to try to make you feel comfortable around them or to show that they’re “down.” You have to establish your personal threshold for shenanigans and decide how to navigate the conversation. You may feel like that’s your burden to lead them to the Promised Land but I promise: it’s not your responsibility to teach anyone, or to explain why saying they would’ve voted for Obama for a third term, really means nothing.
4. Listen to your friends
In terms of the best friend Mount Rushmore, it’s Joe Biden, Donnie Trumpet, Molly, and TSA’s finest, Rod Williams. There are memes aplenty about how good a friend Rod is, and with good reason. Look, everyone deserves a friend who will look out for your best interest and make sure that you won’t end up on the back of a milk carton. Seriously, you have to watch Get Out.
So, my brothers and sisters, don’t let this wonderful movie break up your happy home or deter you from finding your bliss with a lover of a different color. Just stay woke and keep your tea bottled, not stirred.
Kayle Barnes reps Texas (Houston) by way of seven different states. She dabbles in writing, and makes a living and a life working at a nonprofit. She is not a hipster, she's just hip a lot.