There is a lot to consider when we plan family trips. We have to consider how I will be treated as a black woman, how my husband will be treated as a white male, and how people will react to us as a mixed couple. Even more so, we worry about what may be said or done in front of, or within range of, our daughter. While often times I like to think that in this day and age my family would not be a “problem” for people, these concerns are very real and require a bit of planning and research when planning trips.
Take, for example, our trip to Cape Cod a few months after our daughter was born in 2006. I was sleep deprived, exclusively pumping, and an emotional wreck. So, when we stopped at the local grocery store, you can imagine how annoyed I was when the cashier had to ask us about 5 times if our purchases were together. Sadly, this was not the only time during our four-day trip that this happened.
Then there is the 3.5-hour trip we made to visit friends in Oneonta, NY, a small college town halfway between Albany and Binghamton. My husband and I attended college there and during that time, we really did not have any serious issues with people interjecting their opinions onto our relationship. However, upon checking into the Clarion Hotel with my husband and my daughter, I was again reminded that I have to have my guard up at all times. The Front Desk attendant actually asked my husband if he needed a cot. I assume she thought I was the Nanny and not his wife and despite having been down this road before, and my desire to educate her, all I could do was grab my husband’s hand and squeeze.
Do not get me wrong, we don’t avoid places, we just have to prepare. We read Disney’s FamilyFun Magazine because it offers great family-friendly activities includes a diverse range of families spotlighted within its pages. We engage in small public displays of affection like hand holding and hugging so that people make the connection- so that they know that we are together. We avoid places that have high racial tensions, and we listen to our gut. Again, we still go places- after all no one will stop us from exploring the world and sometimes, regardless of what we expect, we are pleasantly surprised.