Response to Article: Everyday Wear and Tear of Racism on Black Couples

Written by @Loretta Wetzel

It’s true, you know. The trauma of doing everyday things like grocery shopping, attending church, or
jogging down the street and then targeted for discrimination or worse, violently attacked because of the
color of our skin happens in America. Some people are under false pretenses that racism no longer
exists in America because we elected a Black president in the past. Nothing can be further from the
truth. While these racially motivated incidents make it to the national news, there are thousands of
racially motivated incidents that occur annually across the country, and no one even hears about them.

How do I know? According to the 2020 FBI hate crime statistics, of over 8,000 hate crimes, 61.8% are
motivated by race/ethnicity. I know because I am Black and I know what it feels like to be chased out of
a public park by a group of white teenagers as a young kid. Or have a young white female stare at you
while in a college dorm shower room because of her parents who told her all Black people had tails and
she was looking for mine (true story).

For married couples, there is an additional layer of stress that occurs due to racially motivated incidents
that occur at work or simply driving while Black. My husband of 42 years is a Black man with a
professional career as an accountant. But he tells people it is rare you see him outside his “uniform.”
Driving a luxury car, he will have on a suit or at least a collared shirt. Based on daily observations, law
enforcement in the Chicagoland area will more likely pull a Black man over with a baseball cap and a t-
shirt than someone who looks “professional.” Every day as a couple we have a mandatory prayer before
either one of us leaves our home for blessings and protection. It has become a standard way of living for

The article indicated that 100 Chicago-area Black couples completed online surveys and reported moods
and feelings known as “affective reactivity.” The results showed there is an inverse association between
relationship quality and heightened affective reality to everyday racism. In plain English – if you are
having a bad day impacted by racism and discrimination – your personal life with your spouse/partner
will temporarily suck. Other people have bad days at work or home and can usually “shake it off,”
especially working together as a couple. Black people have bad days at work impacted by a racially
motivated incident, it can have a serious negative impact on their marital relationship because the
circumstances are harder to change. My parents frequently told me as a child, “As an adult, the only
thing you must do is stay Black and die. The rest is up to you based upon the choices you make.”
So how do you effectively deal with racism and not have it negatively impact your marriage? Here are 3
simple steps you can take to enhance your marriage:

  1. STOP reacting and instead CHOOSE POWERFUL CHOICES! I know Marvin Gaye sang in the
    Inner-City Blues song, “make you wanna holla, throw up both your hands” but then what?
    Emotions are like ocean waves. Some you choose to ride, others you let pass by. Talk about the
    racially motivated incident between the two of you and how it made you feel. Look to see if
    there was anything within YOUR control you could have done differently (e.g., driving on an
    expired license plate, escalating your voice, and starting an argument, bringing it to the
    attention of your HR rep, etc.). Remember, it is not about being right or wrong. It’s about

choosing the ability to thrive. You MUST learn how to let that SUGAR-HONEY-ICE-TEA GO! When
you bring light to it, the shadows disappear. If you allow it to linger, it will negatively influence
your subconscious and future behavior.

  1. Schedule time to work on your marriage in 5 key areas. Most relationship books cover the
    major 3 areas: 1. Communication 2. Money & Finances 3. Sex & Intimacy. But there are two
    other critical and often overlooked areas – Managing Expectations and Conflict and Faith, Trust,
    and Commitment. Be sure as a couple to put ample time in your schedule to work on these
    areas for a successful marriage.
  2. Connect with other Black professional couples for social events. Why is it that as human beings
    we sometimes forget to have fun on a consistent basis? You will be surprised by the tension
    released and the fun you can have by playing simple games like Connect Four, Jenga or UNO.
    You won’t break the bank by adding a basic home-cooked meal or heavy hors d’oeuvres paired
    with your favorite beverage.
  3. Consistently use these three simple steps in your marriage or relationship and stop being reactionary to
    your circumstances. Although racially motivated incidents and discrimination occur more than the
    media reports, the choices we powerful choose to make can make the difference between a happy
    marriage or divorce, even life or death.

Loretta Wetzel aka Mama Soul Wisdom is a prominent family entrepreneur expert, motivational
speaker, and podcaster. She also has published an article in the Los Angeles Tribune Magazine. You can
connect with her at https://exposureplustv.tv and [email protected]

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