Kahlib Barton was told “If they can’t use your comb, don’t bring them home” by his family about any future spouse he might have. It turns out his partner does use a different kind of comb, and Kahlib has found that is A-OK with the home in his heart. Here is their story.
“If they can’t use your comb, don’t bring them home.”
This is a phrase I heard many times from different people in my family and community while growing up. I always wondered why dating someone of a different race was so taboo in the black community. The more mature I became, the more I began to share the sentiments of my peers; although not as broad as differences in hair texture, but more specific to white people.
I believed that all white people, even those who may not show it, truly hate black people. It was much more than their micro-aggressions or overt racism; it was deeply rooted in history and circumstance. Being from a small country town in East Texas exposed me to much ignorance, never realizing that the thing I was lacking most was just that; exposure.
In the world of photography, exposure is what determines how light or dark an image will appear. It is very interesting in the sense that one of the key components of exposure is shutter speed. When you slow down the shutter speed, it allows the camera to capture more low-intensity light.
I find this intriguing because when applying this system to life, if people were to slow down their speed of processing specific images (i.e. scenarios or situations) then it may allow them to shine a little bit more light into said image. I say this because when I decided to actually spend time with someone who is white, I not only discovered the love of my life but that there can be light in situations that may otherwise seem bleak.
His name is Kristopher Sharp and he is the most amazing man I know; not the most amazing white man, just the most amazing man. He taught me how to love again after many adverse circumstances in my life and accepted me in spite of every hair raising detail I shared; from embarrassing first times to surviving housing instability.
But even with this being the case, I still experienced a staggering inability to overcome my innermost thoughts. I felt that I was a traitor to my own race and often internalized other black gay men’s frustrations of seeing a rise in interracial gay couples. I would read articles, Facebook posts, tweets, and sit in on conversations that were attacking me because I fell in love with “the enemy” and would feel ashamed.
My shame caused rifts in my relationship with Kris. I began to lash out about miniscule things and we eventually separated. Those following few months were some of the most difficult I have ever experienced. I began to date again and I met a guy who just so happened to be black. I thought he was my saving grace until I discovered his drug addiction and he began to abuse me. I had reached the lowest low I thought I could possibly reach and through it all Kristopher was right there.
Even though I had broken his heart, he still remained a dedicated support system. He would call and check on me, pray for me, all the while maintaining a successful relationship with my mother who had fallen in love with him much to my surprise. There was no more room for my denial.
With the support of my religion, I humbled myself and asked Kristopher if he would enter my life full-time again and he said yes but under one very strict condition: There could be no more doubting; if I was going to love him, I had to do so unapologetically. I agreed.
Today we are living our lives together in Washington, DC where he dedicates his life to Foster Care advocacy and mine to HIV and I couldn’t possibly be happier. We realize that this is “take two” on our relationship, an opportunity many couples aren’t afforded, and we are attempting not to salvage.
I realized that it wasn’t exposure to acceptance of others that I required; it was exposure to acceptance of self. Once I was able to embrace all of my flaws and my dark past, it became much easier for me to appreciate his. One of the biggest lessons I learned is that his experience is not mine and mine is not his. This being vital because there will surely be times when he will say or do something that may not necessarily be 100% competent to my culture, however his dedication and eagerness to learn and embrace who I am outweighs those moments.
Just because mine is kinky and his is bone straight doesn’t make a difference. Our diversity is what makes us a family. So despite hair texture, skin pigmentation, or life experiences it is important to take the time to expose yourself to variation because you never know what kind of hair the love of your life may have.