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You do get looks if you’re part of an interracial relationship.” It was not necessarily vicious, pointed distain that was thrown at Law, who dated a white boyfriend in Belfast for two years.It was more like a constant background noise that the relationship was something different or other – even coming from those with seemingly no prejudice in their hearts.
Straight-up racism was slugged at the couple like a brick to the chest.
“There was one time we went to Tesco,” remembers Otukoya.
I have spent several weeks speaking to couples and people with various experiences from across the spectrum of interracial dating.
Enar’s stats are consistent with what I hear during interviews conducted for this story – that black people, particularly black men, who enter interracial relationships with white Irish women suffer the sharpest abuse.
In 1971, 96 per cent of all 17- to 64-year-olds who married did so to another Irish person. When Irish men and women marry someone who isn’t Irish, the majority wed people from the UK.
These statistics do not directly address race, nor do they cover same-sex wedlock, but they go some way to affirming that interracial marriage remains relatively rare.
“We came out, a car drove up, called her a ‘n***er lover’ and drove away. She was obviously deeply upset because she couldn’t be seen as someone who was in a genuine relationship.” Richard Bashir Otukoya: “There was no, ‘Oh look at this guy, he’s got a job, he’s doing his Ph D.’ There was none of that.
It was just, ‘No, you’re black.’ That’s it.” Photograph: Dave Meehan/The Irish Times As someone who has suffered “subtle racism and explicit racism” all his life, the incident did not unnerve Otukoya (“That’s fine because then you know their intentions”).
You can sense you’ve crossed a barrier you shouldn’t, and that becomes a problem.” There are other disparities in experiences, depending on what part of the country a couple lives in, their social circles, and family history.
Tara Stewart and Karl Mangan, for example, report no tangible distinction between their relationship and anyone else’s, but they see themselves as living in a liberal bubble.
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