As you all probably know, it’s been a year since the 2016 election. I’m not going to talk politics right now. I am going to talk about my first relationship.
You already know this from the title, but my first boyfriend was a Republican. (He still is a Republican, but if I hadn’t written “was,” it would sound like we’re still dating.)
Disclaimer – I wrote “Muslim-American” because that is the racial and religious group I am categorized in (both according to society and the U.S. census). I have read the Q’ran both in Arabic and English, I grew up going to the Mosque, and participate in Muslim holidays, but my family isn’t that religious. I do need to preface that I don’t consider myself a Muslim because I haven’t practiced the religion in years and am not a fan of organized religion in general. This information will come into play later.
How I Met Him
We met the summer before high school during STEM Camp. We were friends for two years and started dating at the beginning of our Junior year of high school. We didn’t talk a lot about politics until we started dating.
You guys probably think it went downhill because of politics, but you are wrong
I don’t know how to describe to you how much I learned from this relationship. He and I never really argued about politics. We just had really long and thought out discussions about it.
Here’s An Example:
Gay marriage was illegal back when we were dating. When I asked him his thoughts about it, he said, “I think it should be legal. It’s not the government’s job to judge what marriage is. It’s God’s job.”
He was raised Jewish and was pretty religious (He’s also Hispanic for those of you who are stereotyping him as a racist white southerner just because he’s conservative), so I knew he wasn’t comfortable with Gay people in the same way my family members from Bangladesh are. If you aren’t exposed to it in good light, it makes sense to be uncomfortable at first. What he said was so open-minded and it wasn’t some random backlash against gay people.
There are Open-Minded Republicans and Closed-Minded Democrats.
I’ll go into the latter later, but my point is that not everything is as black and white as the news makes it out to be.
Whenever we discussed politics, it wasn’t about changing each other’s minds. It was just like any regular conversation. He’d tell me his views and I’d tell him my own; we would just listen to each other. And I would understand his views too because I made an effort to do so. Learning this skill has made a world of difference in the last year.
Discrimination We Received
I’ll start with my family’s reaction. My father didn’t bat an eyelash about the interracial relationship. Honestly, if I brought home a girl, he wouldn’t care. There’s this saying that you don’t know how racist or homophobic someone is until their kid brings home someone of another race or gender. My dad’s reaction says a lot about him.
My mother was a different story. I remember a lot of yelling and crying. I told her she was being racist and she admitted that she was, but now that I think about it. She would’ve reacted the same way if I brought home a Bengali-Muslim guy. It wouldn’t’ve been as dramatic, but she’d’ve had the same reaction. I’d like to advocate for my mother because she’s grown a lot in the last few years. She’s completely fine with me and Zidan being in interracial relationships, now. I would also like to say that me being able to tell her about my relationship at all says how open-minded she is because most people I know wouldn’t dream of telling their immigrant parents about their relationships (Even when they share the same country of origin and religion), so I’m lucky on the parent front.
His parents were super racist towards me, but I’m not going to talk about that. It defeats the purpose of this post. I will say that they were never rude to my face. I wouldn’t have even known if my then boyfriend hadn’t told me. I would also tell him what people would say to me about him. Honestly, it could’ve been a lot worse.
This post isn’t about racial discrimination. It’s about political discrimination.
This girl I knew in high school would tell me, “Your boyfriend is racist.” because he’s a Republican. I’d always brush it off by stating, “He’s obviously not that racist if he’s dating me.”
This was in 2014. I bet I’d get so many more comments like that now.
(There were a few other comments about him being a conservative by other people I know, but most people didn’t care. Like I said before, it wasn’t our main topic of conversation.)
Get To The Point Triasha
The reason I’m writing this post is that in the last year, a new stereotype has risen. The moment Trump became President this time last year, all white conservatives were labeled as racist. (I’m saying white here because my great-uncle who is a very devout Muslim is a Republican, and I’m sure he doesn’t receive this stereotype.)
This is sort of like how 9/11 created a whole new stereotype about Muslims. Ever since 9/11, terrorist attempts are only ever called terrorist attempts when a brown person does it. (Like, why has everyone stopped talking about the rich white man that brought a machine gun to a hotel and shot almost 600 people? Or the shooting in the church in Texas? Is that not terrorism?)
My point is that one moment has stereotyped and categorized a whole group of people. And that’s what we’re doing again.
Last year, I heard so many people gripe about third-party and Trump voters, but all I could do is nod. I wasn’t that angry at third-party voters because they voted for what they believed in. I was upset that Trump was elected, sure, but I also couldn’t be angry at Republicans because I know many of them didn’t like Trump. They just thought he was the “lesser of two evils,” which is exactly what many Democrats said about Clinton.
The point is that you can’t just assume something about a person based on one thing about them.
I would’ve blindly listened to what the news and everyone else said to me about Republicans if I hadn’t been in that relationship. And I am very grateful for that relationship because I learned so much. It made me a more open-minded person.
Needless to say, we both broke up and don’t talk much anymore, but I do know who he voted for last year. I’m not going to tell you, though because it really doesn’t matter.
I live in Georgia, so I know many conservative and moderate people. I know that some people’s only exposure to Republicans is the news showing extreme views by white people at Trump rallies, but that’s not always the case.
There’s always a middle ground.