We all know the internet is full of strange, unhappy lurkers who pop up every once in awhile to spew hate and then disappear back into the folds of the internet.
I got my first horrifically racist comments during my second month of blogging. I had been expecting something like that to happen (especially as my blog grew steadily bigger) so it wasn’t too surprising. I glanced over the comment, deleted it, and then headed to class.
I was a bit hurt but not surprised. And I tried to put it out of my head. For the next couple of months as my blog steadily grew more popular, I’d get a new racist comment or email like this a couple times a month. I quickly learned how to ban people based on the IP address.
After a while, the comments stopped hurting. Or, that’s not quite true. They still hurt. They will always hurt – I allow myself to feel hurt for a second or two, take a deep breath, and move on. It’s not feasible to tell people “don’t get hurt by criticism,” it’s better to teach people how to move on from the pain. But I guess that’s a whole other post…?
I learned how to recognize them from a mile away (common indicators are EVERYTHING IN CAPS LIKE THIS or swear words) and never allowed myself to actually read them (because what good can that possible do?). Even with these rules in place, the pretty regular onslaught of racist remarks made my stomach queasy. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. For someone to come up to us and not just say something, but act out any number of the violent threats we received over the internet.
And it was hard to talk to friends about this because the general consensus was “Wait, is that still a thing? Do people still have a problem with interracial dating?”
The short answer is yes.
A very, very tiny percent of the population gets personally offended when “one of their own” marries outside “the group.”
And before you think white, American men have a monopoly on xenophobic and racist ideologies, we get the same emails and comments from xenophobic Japanese internet lurkers too, furious my husband has tainted the bloodline.
I wish I was joking. I really do.
The worst comments aren’t the truly vile, ugly, hate-spewing ones, believe it or not. Those were the ones that made me fear for my safety in the beginning, before I realized that most of the writers were all talk and no action. These types of comments can be shocking and hurtful but in the end they are easy to delete because the writers are completely un-relate-able.
No, the hardest comments are from the people who don’t threaten or swear. They seem completely normal, like any other commentor. They don’t have KKK emblems on their online avatar or an offensive screen-name and they don’t swear or threaten. In fact, they’re almost apologetic in their racism, writing things like:
“I’m sorry, you two seem okay together but I really think you would smile more if you had married an American instead.”
“I think you’re so beautiful and smart and funny and I’m so sad your future kids will be ugly because they will be mixed race. That’s such a shame.”
“I see how you love your wife but your parents must be so heartbroken that they won’t have a good Japanese daughter-in-law.”
“Please don’t get mad at me but I think you would be a better looking couple if your husband didn’t have slanty eyes.”
These comments are so difficult to stomach because the writer isn’t trying to attack me -they’re determined to try and “save” me. Or Ryosuke. From our “disastrous, ugly, tainted, interracial marriage.”
They slip right under the radar and attack.
Comments are like gifts left on your doorstep.
Most of them are beautiful and full of precious words of encouragement, love, and respect. Their wrapping paper is gorgeous and you can’t wait to open them up to see what’s inside. They make your house a brighter and better place.
Every once in awhile, you will find a lit bag of dog feces on your front doorstep. Those are the trolls spewing hate from doorstep to doorstep, rarely stopping long enough to watch you open the door (or coming back to deliver another “package”) and they’re easy to pick up with a shovel and drop in the outside garbage can. Your front doorstep might stink for a couple of minutes but soon after all traces are gone.
Secret, almost apologetic, racists create gifts that look lovely on the outside, so you pick it up and bring it inside, eager to engage with someone. Except when you open the package, it’s full of killer wasps who sting you and hide in the corners of your house for days, jumping out to sting you when your guard is down. Eventually you track them down and get rid of them all but it can take days.
These apologetic racists’ words stick in my head and pop up when I’m trying to sleep. Or when I’m feeling down. I hate how I accidentally let them slip in (but the only alternative is banning comments on all my platforms – something I’m not ready to do).
And I hate it.
It doesn’t matter what we say or do or post or draw, there will always be people out there who oppose our relationships because they think races and ethnicities shouldn’t mix.
They might be sad or offended I married someone who isn’t a white American like me or that Ryosuke started a family with someone who isn’t Japanese – but I am furious they would be so utterly stupid as to think the only “successful” marriages and “beautiful children” come from couples of the same race, social class, and country.