It seems silly to even start off calling this a “defense,” because we can always resort to the very idealistic notion of “everyone should have the freedom to love who you choose.” Of course in a vacuum this argument makes perfect sense and I support it whole-heartedly, but nothing ever exists in a vacuum that neatly, and is it not the point of cultivating consciousness to try to understand that?
I call this a defense because on many levels I must defend my choice to be romantically and intimately involved with a white man to myself, and I feel I would be doing myself a major disservice to not think deeply and honestly about these things, given that I aspire to live a deep and honest life. It is true that we do not choose who we love, or at least, it is very difficult to choose our attraction to others when it exists, even if we may have the choice of how to navigate that attraction and pursue it. As much as many things in my life may be made easier for me should I choose to change the nature of my relationship with this individual into a less conflicting one, it is undeniable the way I feel about him and the way he makes me feel in those times when it is “just us” and it is as if the dynamics and the pressures of the world simply dissolve into the air…
But it is not as easy as simply justifying my love for this man by saying that he gives me butterflies in my stomach and makes my heart skip a few beats. I am a person whose identity has been forged within the ideals of colonialism and imperialism – after all, I would not call myself the things I do were it not for the availability of the structures around me that allow me to do so. I am only a woman, a black woman, an Asian woman, a queer woman (with massive straight-privilege let me tell you), and all the other things I embody because there are structures in place against which I must define myself, and constructions available for me to do so easily. But let me not be careless – these constructions create a world in which it becomes a reality for me to have to consider the implications of my relationship in regards to my own sense of self and self-identity. I cannot simply sit here and say that because all of the bullshit has been constructed that I do not have to think about the impact they have on my life, even when my love for this man is not constructed in the least bit.
So what do I tell myself to make this okay, and how do I find peace with the fact that the dynamics of my relationship with this man exemplify the already existing disadvantages that our world imposes upon women of color? The truth is that I have not found peace, and perhaps I never will. I will never find peace with the fact that whiteness, patriarchy, heteronormativity, and all the different forms of oppression exist, because I am not okay with it. But somehow we must always find ways to persevere in our struggle and still remember to live, in resistance to the forces that try to stamp out our lives. I will never embody an existence that is free of any problematic aspects, given the privileges I am afforded that I did not ask for, and the position in the world I hold simply because of who I am. The question is, how much of myself am I compromising by choosing to allow this person into the depths of my heart, when so much of the spaces we have been born into are at clear odds with one another, and make it so very dangerous for me to trust them?
I have had to ask myself deeply what it is I believe in, what is at the core of my being, and the answer always comes up love. Love is what I live for – not romantic love but love as the energy frequency that can deliver us from the evils of death-loving ethics to the ethics of life and humanity. At the end of it all, I do not want to allow oppression to hinder me from experiencing love in any form, even if that love is so wrought with more societally-constructed contradictions and has so much higher of a risk to become distorted. The love that I feel is real, and on this I need no justification; it is simply up to me to deconstruct the noise that comes with it, to chip away at the bullshit so that the core of it, the part of it where its power lays, does not become clouded into obscurity by all the ways in which our humanity has been stolen from us. Oppression and death are always lingering, ready to distort any love that I should have with any other person, whether that person is white, black, male, female, queer, straight, or any other of these bullshit-ass identities that we still must bother with because we live in an identity-constructing world – “being with” a person more similar to me in terms of identity in the same way I choose to be with this white man does not guarantee anything to me, and in fact, even if I could date an exact replica of myself, I would still be conflicted because of the many privileges and oppressions I hold within my own body.
What matters most to me is love in its purest form, humanity that has not been distorted. I have found this man and we connect on that level, and if I choose to abandon that because of all of the heart-breaking constructions that have been placed around it, I would consider that a defeat by oppression; I would be letting death win. As long as I remain steadfast in my commitment to my own life and living, to always check with myself to be sure that my humanity is still intact in the myriad ways I have been working to cultivate its fullness, then I will choose to love this person and to challenge the impulses that fear and pain have placed inside of me.
There is no guarantee of his love. There is no guarantee of any of the things I looked for when checking to see if it would be “safe” to love him. It is never safe to love anyone, really. It is possible that I will find pain and heartbreak within my relationship with him, and that is also possible with anyone else. So far this union has only brought me closer to love, has allowed me to grow, has challenged the most paralyzingly painful parts of myself. At the end of it, as each passing day goes by, my heart still continues to remain open, and knows deeper and deeper what it is to exist in the paradise that is love.