Should we stay or should we go?
Robert and Kiri are an interracial couple living in Alabama, where some members of their community are openly hostile to people of color. Robert is Black and Kiri is white, and the constant threat of racism and violence has put strain on their relationship and Robert’s mental health. Today, Kiri is asking Robert: if we can’t find safety here, can we find it somewhere new?
Looking for resources? Visit ineedtoaskyousomething.org for info on how to strengthen relationships, deal with traumatic events, and get help.
Dr. Monica Band is the host of this show and consultant with the Jed Foundation. Chrystal Genesis is our supervising producer. Giulia Hjort is our producer, and Rachel Lightner is our producer and audio engineer. Tess Novotny is our associate producer. Mixing and original music by Bobby Woody. Additional music by Andi Kristinsdottir. Special thanks to Kelsey Henderson. Jackie Danziger is our VP of Narrative Content. Executive producers are Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs.
This series was created with The Jed Foundation, a non-profit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for teens and young adults. Find ways to manage your emotional health, cope with challenges, and support the people in your life at jedfoundation.org.
This series is presented by Hopelab, a social innovation lab and impact investor supporting the mental health of adolescents, ages 10-25, especially BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth. Learn more at hopelab.org.
This series is also presented by the Stupski Foundation, returning resources to the communities it calls home in Hawaiʻi and the San Francisco Bay Area by 2029 to support just and resilient food, health, and higher education systems for all. Learn more at stupski.org.
This series is also presented by the Lumina Foundation, an independent, private foundation committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. Learn more at luminafoundation.org.
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Kiri, Robert, Dr. Monica Band
Dr. Monica Band 00:01
This episode includes conversations about racial discrimination and race based violence. Remember to be kind and patient with yourself and if you need to take a moment to pause while listening. We’ll be here when you’re ready.
As long as I’m darker than a brown paper bag there are certain areas I’m not going to be accepted or welcomed in. My parents taught me the rules of engagement back when I was 10. It is humiliating because most of the rules of engagement start with me go into a nice atone me saints Yes, sir. No, sir. Having to disassociate enough to survive.
Dr. Monica Band 01:34
Meet Robert. Robert is Black and his girlfriend Kiri is white. They both live in the Deep South,
Where you have these major Trump supporters. And they really like you know, have their big huge trucks and would like go around using racial slurs against Black people that they were seeing on the street.
Dr. Monica Band 01:56
In a place like Alabama, where 26 year old Robert and Kerry live, terrifying acts of racism can be common. But this isn’t going to be an episode about reinforcing stereotypical talking points, like how backward southern states are, or how forward thinking other states are. It’s a fact that racism is woven into the very fabric of our country. It might take different shapes across state lines, but it doesn’t mean it’s not there. It’s just that some of you are more privileged to not have experienced it. Today, I’m talking with two people who know the workings of southern racism all too well. Robert and Kiri were raised in a town where the Ku Klux Klan paraded down the main street well into the 1940s. They were born in a state where hundreds of lynchings took place. It’s also the birthplace of the civil rights movement. Both of them have chosen career paths to create a brighter future for their community and the people in it. Curious, studying social work and dreams of opening a center for teens in foster care. Robert is a local organizer and aspiring politician. He’s led local pride demonstrations and even ran a free mutual aid store that provide a no cost groceries, clothing, birth control and other goods to people in his community. While chasing their career goals, Robert and Kiri are also planning their future together. They go back and forth about whether it’s safer to stay in their hometown, or build a life somewhere new. Which brings them here with me.
I want to ask my partner, Robert, why we should stay the community that doesn’t feel safe.
Dr. Monica Band 03:38
This is I need to ask you something. And I’m your host, Dr. Monica band. Before we jump in, I want to mention that this conversation needed a little extra time. So we recorded it over a few sessions. With that, let’s get started.
I mean, I know that we met at the library. I don’t remember all the details of it though.
Going back to middle school, specifically in the library’s teen zone. I was playing Super Smash Brothers on the way that they had in the teen zone.
A lot of us would go there on Monday nights just to all hang out, do different activities. I usually went there to pick up some like manga because I was really interested to read the manga.
We didn’t start dating until nearly a decade after we met.
We were friends. like all throughout high school. I would say I was probably the first one interested in him. And then I went off to college and then I came back home. I decided I just wanted to reconnect. I really liked hiking at the time. That was like a huge thing for me. So I if Like, Hey, you want to go hiking, and then we just kept hanging out? I thought he was really smart. I liked having conversations with him.
Dr. Monica Band 05:09
Even back in high school, Kerry admired Roberts intellectual curiosity, which made him stand out. And Robert was drawn to curious empathy and kindness.
Kiri’s willingness to listen. And being thoughtful in how to respond. And having shared interests. In a lot of cases. There aren’t very many people that specifically have interests that I do or did at that time.
I haven’t heard that from from before, but then it gets really sweet. I mean, I’ve always thought what what he says is super intelligence. So it’s like crazy to me that there was anybody else that was disrespecting them for those beliefs or whatever.
Dr. Monica Band 05:54
Not only has Robert been disrespected, but he’s been physically attacked, too. When he was just 14, he was walking along a road near his grandparents house. All of a sudden a truck drove by, and someone chucked a brick at him. It hit Robert leaving a small permanent indent on his forehead. And when he was 23, he was targeted by law enforcement.
There are certain people that will never change. And it became very clear after an incident with the police officer, that my life wasn’t infinite. I was doing a anime convention. Police officers were called because there was an armed individual now, at the time I was dressed up as a character from Bleach most characters in bleach carry a sword. There was literally someone right next to me with Helsing, your costume, and that person did have to specialize Beretta 45. The issue was specifically I looked more dangerous. Some about my brown skin was more dangerous with this sword than the Caucasian person with a gun. So I got pulled over and then they asked me did I have a weapon, the sword was made out of plastic and Styrofoam. I was gonna flip the sword up to show them it wasn’t. But then the moment my wrist started move, they started popping the button on their guns.
Dr. Monica Band 07:26
Robert stayed very still and quiet. The officers let him go. But this confirmed his instinct to always be on guard around police. Being repeatedly targeted, like this must be really frightening. And when you experience this level of intolerance, you can spend more time thinking about why people act this way.
For a lot of situations. It’s ignorance rather than hate. Because some people’s reasoning will be I watched a specific news broadcast that specifically said your side of town are specifically hurting mine. That’s an educational issue that can be tackled. What can’t be tackled is I don’t feel safe around you. Because your kind is the issue whenever we mix. That’s when problems start.
Dr. Monica Band 08:24
Law enforcement has also harassed Robert while with Kiri, there was one time she asked him to come meet her dad at a storage unit in the next town over black people in his community warned Robert to be weary of this town, especially late at night. So right away, he was against the idea. Robert described it as similar to a son downtown, an all white community where residents are hostile and violent towards people of color, especially after dark. So he had good reason to fear for his safety. And they weren’t supposed to leave for the storage unit until later that night. Still, Robert wanted to be there for his girlfriend. So he agreed to go along.
The storage was 24 hours, by all legal law. Nothing was wrong with that. But the problem is, in a lot of cases, I don’t just go by legal law, I also have to go by the invisible power. Essentially, there are rules in place that you don’t have to abide by, as long as you don’t have issues with meeting God early.
Dr. Monica Band 09:27
So what you’re describing is sort of these invisible, kind of unspoken, but certainly very, very real rules of engagement. And this was on your mind that night that Carrie wanted to go to the storage unit.
Yeah, I explicitly told her that there was a chance that we were going to die. So what ended up happening was we went out, it was 10 o’clock at night. Five minutes later, police officers pull up next to us and start asking for identification and then start asking her, did I kidnap her?
And like that took me You’re back. Like, why would your first assumption just be that he’s kidnapped me. And then on top of that, I wasn’t really drivin regularly at the time, so I didn’t just keep my ID Yomi. And so that was like another mistake. When they asked for ID I didn’t have my ID. And so they were even more suspicious of him, like kidnapping me.
And I was actually worried at that point. Because as looking back, I was like, oh, man, we have not had enough discussions on how we’re supposed to interact with each other when officers are around. And since then, have you definitely that particular incident was very eye opening, just because it highlighted that I was not making things up. She got the experience, I won’t say a black experience, but a minority experience of you now know exactly the reason why I said these things you may not understood, or you may even counteract it. But now that a gun is within firing distance of you, you can understand why certain precautions were taken.
I’ll be honest, because that was the first time I really realized that situations like that could actually be genuinely dangerous.
Dr. Monica Band 11:12
Makes me think about the emotional toll. It certainly takes to feel like you even have to think about these things that we’re hyper vigilant to these communities or people. What are your thoughts, Robert?
I get within 10 days before I think there’s going to be like an emotional crash. The last time I had an emotional crash was specifically because there was people doing racist and bigoted things in and around the area I was at. I didn’t exactly feel safe, and I started to cry about it. But that was over two and a half years ago. So I normally have a crash once every two ish years.
Dr. Monica Band 11:50
When you say crash. Robert, what do you mean by that?
Uncontrollable emotional outbursts due to negative or traumatic issues that have happened within the last year.
I mean, I definitely know when he goes through his emotional crash, I would say that they’re more often than he says, the ones that he’s talking about are like, super severe. But I would say there is minor situations where he’s more down than Adames. Every few months or so.
Dr. Monica Band 12:32
It’s horrible to hear Robert talk about the mental and emotional toll of being black in America, and how it impacts his relationship with Kiri. And after listening to him, I had some takeaways. Robert described his underlying fear of violence and dying. It’s important for me and others listening to let that sink in the challenge of going through life work and relationships under that perpetual cloud of stress. That cloud is actually called race based traumatic stress, or racial trauma for short. It’s the emotional impact of racial discrimination, violence and harassment. Robert has some serious racial trauma. He has to constantly negotiate between pushing through another day, compartmentalizing and allowing his feelings to overwhelm him. Roberts response to all of this has been staying engaged with politics and social justice work, but it can only do so much. Robert has what he describes as emotional crashes. These crashes, which sounds similar to anxiety attacks remind me of something called allostatic load the wear and tear on our bodies from living under chronic stress. Research shows black people have higher Allostatic loads, which leads to things like heart disease and shorter lifespans. Roberts emotional crashes are the physical result of his high allostatic load. So it’s fair for him and Kiri to be questioning whether or not to stay in a place that contributes to so much chronic stress. More on that after the break.
Dr. Monica Band 16:44
Before the break, Robert told me about his emotional crashes, and how they often follow racist incidents. Sometimes they’ve even involved the couple’s inner circle. One of these crashes happened after church around 2020 Robert and Kiri were sitting quietly in the pews of their Southern Baptist Church, listening to the pastor’s weekly sermon. The pastor talked about overcoming trials and tribulations through God’s help. Then the pastor began to speak about Freddie Gray, a black man who had been killed by the police in Baltimore back in 2015. The officers involved face charges for his death, but they were all acquitted or had their charges dropped.
The pastor was saying that it was an act of God that the police officers in question got off.
Dr. Monica Band 17:34
How did you feel hearing that?
Disappointed but I’m surprised the moment he started talking about the Freddie Gray situation and how God ordained these police officers to do what they did. And for them to be blessed and highly favored. And that God Himself let them out. He was backstopping a lynching with religious dogma. So when it up half the happening was I walked out, and I walked out in a professional way. I did not scream I did not throw stuff. I knew that there were going to be questions and I had no problem explaining myself. I have to explain myself.
Dr. Monica Band 18:17
Can you share with me what happened for you after you walked out of that church?
I was seemingly mad. But I knew it was one of those situations where there was an unwritten rule. angry black man starting to scream at old white man, cops will be called. And I’m ended up at best. Slightly bruised, probably pistol whipped, at worst, dead.
Dr. Monica Band 18:43
Can I check in with how you’re feeling sharing these stories with us?
Sad and irritated? Destitute will be the word? Probably because it doesn’t matter what I say or do.
Dr. Monica Band 18:55
There’s a lot to be sad and destitute about in what you’ve shared. Kiri, could you give us an idea of what was going on for you?
This pastor said things like that all the time. Though. I didn’t necessarily agree with everything. He said I became kind of desensitized to his messages. I actually was the one that started there. Go into the youth groups and my sister came and then my whole family kind of joined church. So yeah, it was it was our family church.
Dr. Monica Band 19:27
Okay, so that adds a just a different layer for us to understand what this was like for you because on one hand I empathize that this is a church that you grew up in, that you received a lot of your faith based teachings anyway from and whether or not you agree or own those belief systems. Now it is certainly a part of your identity. And here you are as an adult. Can you tell us more what that felt like?
They didn’t really click with me like how bad it was until me and Robert had a conversation about it. And it was also a conversation at up half and a half with my family too, because I finally was like, Why did Robert get up and leave in the middle of the sermon like that is so rude. It’s not like he had got up, like all huffy and stuff left. And he just got up and left in, there was some, like racial conversations I had to have with my family as well. Because they were just like, who needs to, like, respect cops more and all this stuff? And I was like, Oh, I don’t think you should really be telling somebody else how they should be filming develop something.
Dr. Monica Band 20:38
How was it for you to push back on your family?
It was really hard. Because I have always been more of a peacekeeper. With my family, I have a fear of them. Not wanting to be around me anymore. So there was some times that I didn’t say certain things I wanted to out of that fear. Eventually, I broke out of that fear. And I just started saying I wanted to say.
Dr. Monica Band 21:07
Do you mind me asking what changed?
[…], you started changing the lot. I haven’t always been very liberal. I used to be very conservative, just like my family. So a lot of my beliefs had already started changing before I met Robert. But they really were changing. When me and Robert were together.
Dr. Monica Band 21:29
Would you say that your family is racist or has racist thoughts?
Yes. Especially when we first started dating. My grandmother kind of made this assumption of like, supposedly, she’s had other friends who are in interracial relationships, and they ended up being abusive. So my grandmother just assumed that all black men were abusive. And a lot of what she believes in, kind of seeps into the rest of the family. For a while there was like a lot of a minority towards him. But my family has definitely opened up more to him. Now it’s more of like with my grandmother, it’s more of a I don’t like that he’s not conservative, instead of erasing, which I do think still plays into your race as well.
Dr. Monica Band 22:26
And, Robert, how did you experience the earlier stages of dating with Kiri, and what were you mindful of?
Disappointment, irritation kind of covers how I was feeling because it became pretty clear. Even before I was dating Carrie, her grandmother owns a shop right behind the library. And I started going over there hanging out with Kiri. And thing was after the second time, she started locking her door. And I was like, Ah, well, you know, start fidgeting, making sure a purse was three inches closer to her whenever I’d walk into a room I was like, sounds about right. I
mean, it’s upsetting to know that it’s kind of like, I feel a little powerless, because there’s not anything I can really do to change that. And that’s sad. But it’s also not something that I can fully understand. Because I’ve never had to go into any situation and think, Is my life going to end.
Dr. Monica Band 23:34
Has racism and experiencing racism, gotten in the way of you both feeling closer
I mean, there’s been times like, I haven’t been able to understand situations, and there’s been times where I see things a lot more positively to, I also just don’t believe that you should live your life in fear. That doesn’t mean I believe that you should literally put yourself in situations where you’re going to be hurt, but at the same time, I believe you should be able to do things that you enjoy, even if there’s a possibility of something happening. That has sometimes brought a wedge in between us.
Dr. Monica Band 24:18
Robert, you were gonna say as well.
I was going to say family issues while they have gotten better family issues have been irritating and could continue to be irritating if we ended up having kids just because there’s a chance that my child will be treated differently than any of the other children.
Dr. Monica Band 24:42
So you’re thinking about the future when it comes to having children and what that might be like specifically for curious family. Are you worried about those things with your family as well having biracial children?
No, I have no problems with my family as sincerely doubt they’ll have any issues with my kid. They have no problem with Kiri. The only problem they had withKiri was the fact that they didn’t know if I drilled it deep enough into relationship conversations, that there’s a certain way she needs to act around police and in general.
Dr. Monica Band 25:22
It sounds like they were worried that Kiri didn’t have the ability or skill to protect you in a way.
Yes. And I mean, that has brought some schism. My family is worried about how carry acts, how Kiri’s family acts, and the chasm of difference between that and Kiri’s family worrying about like, even when they met me about me being a criminal me bringing criminality near their family?
Kiri, are you surprised to hear that?
No, I know that. In fact, me and his mom had a conversation about it before.
Dr. Monica Band 26:08
How did that go?
It went well. His mom was like, super nice understanding. So I mean, she was actually mostly concerned about, like my family. Like, if he could be safe around my family.
Dr. Monica Band 26:23
I hear you laughing a little bit. What was that about?
How sometimes when I’m nervous?
Dr. Monica Band 26:28
Is there something about that conversation or just the topic that makes you a little nervous?
Robert wasn’t supposed to know we had that conversation.
To be clear. I did not know anything about that. But it doesn’t surprise me simply because my parents have went over with me how I need to it’s one of those unwritten rules, how you need to coordinate who you tell what when you tell them and why you tell them. It’s just sometimes it’s an awkward conversation, because it looks like I’m putting on a tinfoil hat. Explain to Kiri, hey, Kiri, if I ever am walking towards you with our child and our child’s lighter than me, you’re gonna have to walk on the outside of the street. That way, it’s clear that I’m not trying to corral you and your white baby. And I’m not trying to kidnap y’all. Like that sounds crazy, until a cop pulls up.
Dr. Monica Band 27:27
We just heard a lot about the issues Kiri and Robert face from the outside world and within their community. I want to break down a few things. When Robert chose to leave that church he was honoring his need for safety and calm over tolerating a high stress environment to make others feel comfortable. The fact that he had to make that decision and Curie didn’t know what was happening in the moment shows how much his daily reality differs from Kiri’s. When thinking about race, Kiri can choose to focus on enjoying life, while Robert is on a near constant lookout for danger. And that’s not a choice. It’s his reality and a survival tactic passed down by generations. Just to be clear, Robert finds joy in his relationship and community. He told me he’s an avid gamer and loves going to the movies. But his hypervigilance versus Kiri’s positivity means Robert often has to balance teaching Curie about racism and sometimes letting things go. Robert and Curie experienced racism in the family together, but in very different ways. For Robert, it’s a roadblock to connection. For Curie it’s harder to maintain relationships while challenging her family’s racist beliefs. No matter what navigating racist and ignorant family takes a ton of uncomfortable communication. Curio has learned a lot and now feels emboldened to push back and even educate her family when she needs to. But Robert and Kerry’s communication with each other is sometimes a different story. More on that when we return.
Dr. Monica Band 29:43
Welcome back. When we talk about racial trauma, it’s an umbrella term for a broad range of experiences such as subtle microaggressions, and targeted violence, and living under that level of chronic stress as made opening up and sharing emotions hard and even dangerous for Robert. At times, he’s also been disbelieved by the people closest to him. And when our reality is minimized, it can cause us to question ourselves, Is it really that bad? Maybe these things are my fault. Informally, some call this racial gaslighting, this and other factors contribute to people of color finding adaptive ways to process their experiences. So in Roberts case, this could be what his emotional crashes really are. It’s his way of coping right now. And this isn’t only about Robert Kerry’s role in these conversations is vital to how they relate and find safety. I wanted to address this with the two of them, how it affects Robert, Kiri and the future of their relationship.
I usually try to get him to talk about it, or try to spend more time together.
Dr. Monica Band 32:11
Does that help you Robert?
I would say that is 50/50. It does help some times. But in a lot of cases, I need to just work out how I’m going to be able to compartmentalize what I need to get done. That way I can get things done. I know it’s a bad response. But it’s just one of those things where if I had better options, I would take said better options.
I want you to share more. There’s times where we’ve had date nights, where I’ve said like, I wish we would do something more personal than just just to say mo going to the movies, which I do like to do. But like when I’ve wanted dates more of like to gather. Those are often times where I’ve wanted to have conversations.
I can try. But it would be inappropriate for me to make a base promise that I know that there’s a chance I cannot keep.
Dr. Monica Band 33:14
What promise are you hesitant to give?
Time, for working through emotional needs and issues. In a lot of cases, we start talking about it, I start getting emotional, I have to sit with that she has to go to work, I have to go to work, I then have to go to work and an unstable emotion, emotional thing. And that’s not comfortable for me.
Well, I mean, I feel like part of having a partner is having a safe place. And that’s that’s needed to keep a relationship foundation. Without it, there is no real genuine partnership. And then like him mentioning, like, sometimes there’s not time to be negative all the time, which I don’t believe that negative thoughts should really be brought into the home anyways. incept. Like, certain times.
Dr. Monica Band 34:11
Where did you I mean, that’s a that’s sort of like a philosophy to live by. Where did you learn that from?
It’s a philosophy that my family likes to speak about, but doesn’t actually do. There’s been family, friends who lived by that kind of philosophy and they had very like happy homes.
Dr. Monica Band 34:30
That makes sense to me if that’s something that you want in your life. And maybe sometimes we’re so beholden to though to that concept or idea that it can be hard then to figure out when and where to have conversations that are a little heavier, that might lean into that realm of what we would consider identify as negative. Maybe I can pause here and kind of share a little bit about what I’m seeing so far and tie in a few things to that you’ve already shared for me, Curie, something you said earlier about, we should think, positive thoughts here. When we’re with each other, we should focus on that and less on the negative.
I mean, I believe there’s times to discuss negative things. It just seems like we need to make more of a scheduled in time to do those things.
I would say that sounds about right, just because that is our relationship at the moment. Because we both have very labor intensive careers.
Dr. Monica Band 35:35
Even more important to prioritize each other in these conversations. So you can fill each other up to go back out there and give yes, if you were to be, let’s say, more emotional, and instead you shared it with Kiri, how do we imagine that feeling?
Calming. helpful, and I love caring, but there are certain aspects of being a minority in a certain area that is hostile towards certain minorities, you have to experience before you understand an explanation.
I mean, I definitely think there’s things that I’m not going to be able to understand from a minority perspective, because I’m not a minority, I haven’t had those experiences, I can understand like, not wanting to do certain things, because those things can put you in a situation that is dangerous, though my viewpoint is a little different. Of like, okay, so you’re trying not to die. But what’s the point of living if you’re going to be miserable?
Dr. Monica Band 36:46
So are some of these things just kind of off limits to talk about, then in your mind, Robert, or Curie is this sort of what we accept and being an interracial relationship, that there’s just some things that I’m going to go through that I can’t really talk to you about without, you know, feeling? Like I have to explain myself? Do we just accept that as part of our relationship?
I try not to, I try my best to keep it into the ballpark of the relationship where we have the conversations, we disagree on the conversations. But when it comes down to it, in certain situations, we may disagree with the idea of having to act that way. But nine out of 10 times if it’s a life or death situation, or could turn into a life or death situation, I respect her willingness to ensure the safety of both of us.
Dr. Monica Band 37:40
So let me step back here because a lot of the conversations or examples that we’ve been referring to, obviously had to do with you all living in your particular community. But the original grounding question that we have on the table is, should we stay? Or should we go? Are we still on a similar plane of we’re not sure when that might be, we still have the same concerns.
I would say.
I would say similar. But also, it’s not entirely fair. Because Kiri work is in social work, you’re always going to need social work. The same can’t be said, for my social organizing, where I build the community I work in and around, I’d have to start from scratch.
Dr. Monica Band 38:27
So moving or imagining moving to a place, even if it is, let’s say, more socially liberal, or you have the ability, ideally, to move around, because I imagine community organizers could move around to I mean, I, I’m in DC, I think of how valuable you’d be here. I’m hearing you say there’s something about the familiarity of the area, though, that is comforting.
Hypothetically, let’s say I move out to DC. For me to get where I am today, it’s going to take me three to four years to get the trust in the community trust from police officers even trust from politicians in and around the community, like a first name basis, they actually care about my opinion, that’s going to take at least four years.
Dr. Monica Band 39:13
There are just some uncertainties that we can’t actually predict to be absolutely true. But I guess I’m wondering underneath all of that, what you’re feeling about all that. So maybe what’s preventing us really from moving forward in this grounding question, should we stay or should we go has a lot to do with fear of the unknown, maybe even just frustration in the system and needing to build ourselves back up and unknown as to where you’d land?
I can say that definitively. Also fear of homelessness, just because a fear of the uncertainty includes the idea of being able to pay your rent and not having to live on the street. Of course, absolutely. Fear of safety, or lack thereof is there I’d say about three 1% of the time, but the majority of the time, I know and understand my community in a way in which I don’t normally put myself in situations that are dangerous.
I can actually see how, like if you can make a safe place in your community that is, can be better than just leaving to go to a place where you think will be safer. And then another part of me is like, well, if those issues aren’t issues at that place in the first place, you don’t have to worry about those things. Because now I’m also kind of thinking like, those ideals that I have about those places, the safer are those actually real? Or they’re just things that I’ve heard about? Because I haven’t been there?
And I think that was the basis question of do you move away from your community or not? Is, is there a safe place? Are you building a safe place? And can you build a safe place in time enough that you feel ready for any future steps in your life?
It’s interesting, because we both have, even though it’s opposite of each other, he wants to stay in and I want to go, it’s both because of safety. Like I think that if we would live happier, safer lives somewhere else, we’re we’re more accepted. Though he feels that he has built a safe place here. We both have like safety in mind. So it is very interesting to to hear that from him.
Dr. Monica Band 41:43
I think that is a beautiful connection there. What I’m hearing you say is that there’s some common ground, we’re both feeling and sensing that that is important. What what we’re attributing where safety can be or lies. There’s only one loose end for me in all of this, which is. So if we decide okay, so grass isn’t always greener, we’re going to stay put, we’re gonna stay right here. Is it worth the mental health toll it can take? And if I do, then what do I need to change to survive and thrive here?
It’s a difficult question I’m not sure I can answer outside of the ideal that I want to live. So there’s going to be things that I do to protect myself that are trauma related, I would say, give it five years and then come back. Because we’re both on the precipice of getting over that hump, specifically in our careers, and in our community to figure out if it’s salvageable or not.
Dr. Monica Band 42:49
Kiri is it worth the emotional toll, if not for you also to witness Robert go through?
If things can change, for it to be a community that’s more of susceptible to ideologies that are different than their own.
Dr. Monica Band 43:04
Sure. And I think we can influence that. But what would we need to change here with both, you know, to protect both you and Robert, is there anything you both could do for each other, for instance, that you have control over that you feel that can help ease the burden or emotional toll?
Maybe we need to schedule a time for a few hours once a week or even two weeks to discuss our emotional state at the time and what’s happening, or even to use, like the technique, the thing it’s called the Rose technique where you kind of talk about the highlight of your week, and then the low of your week.
I can do it. I’m not exactly sure for it. 100%, but I can do it. I worry about the ill effects of a bad day emotionally, or cracking open a door to something that there’s not enough time or space or people if it’s something that breaches pass just me and Kiri to take care of.
Dr. Monica Band 44:10
Yeah. Okay. I hear you. How are we feeling now that we’re coming towards the end of our conversation? I check in with you both.
A roller coaster of emotions. I’m actually really glad to be having this conversation. This has been like kind of therapeutic to get everything out. Somebody else just anyone else had just amongst us.
Dr. Monica Band 44:36
And Robert, how is this for you?
Bubbling frustration due to the fact that there are systematic issues that I do not have the power to change. And even when I do get enough power. It won’t be to change it. It’ll just be to smudge the edges a little bit to protect me and mine.
Dr. Monica Band 44:55
Does that make it any less valuable?
It depends on the difference but Twain the love I find for my family and the love of fight for my fellow man, which are supposed to be equal.
Dr. Monica Band 45:05
I think that is a lot of weight on your own shoulders. And I can hear you have a strong conviction to want to see positive change in this world, which I greatly admire. And I think, Curie from what it sounds like fell in love with too. And so I certainly don’t ever want you to lose that. It almost seemed like you both settled on staying for now and working on the things that help us sort of sustain, you know, our level of closeness and intimacy and move through together some of the violent situations, racism crises that we experienced, that you experienced, Robert, is the answer for now. Did I hear that correctly? That right now, the answer to our driving question that we started all that time ago about was, let’s stay and figure this out together?
I think it’s more along the lines. And let’s stay for two to three years and then come back to the conversation.
I mean, we talked further about it, like him being comfortable because he knows the people here kind of changed my perspective on it. I would say that the more resounding answer are now is yes.
Dr. Monica Band 46:26
Together, Robert and Kiri are better equipped to support one another through the difficulties they face as an interracial couple in the South. They both mentioned in their worry of not having enough time to open and close the faucet of pain these conversations can create. It’s a common concern I hear amongst couples in therapy. I also want to say this was a chance for Robert and Kiri to practice something we call broaching in therapy. It’s a word to describe the ability to initiate conversations about cultural differences. Say for example, race and class. This can be especially hard if you’ve grown up in a homogenous community. So broaching is a skill that requires practice. I also want to encourage people in relationships like Robert and Karis to make immunity with other interracial couples. This way, they can talk over the difficulties they face and celebrate their love for each other. Thank you so much to Robert and Kiri for giving us a candid glimpse into your relationship. I’ll see you next week. Next on, I need to ask you something.
There’s more I NEED TO ASK YOU SOMETHING with Lemonada Premium. Subscribers get exclusive access to bonus content. There’s so many things we talk about and we’re barely scratching the surface. Tune in to learn more about what it means to be a perfectionist, to be conflict avoidant. And how to ask for help. I NEED TO ASK YOU SOMETHING is a Lemonada Media original. I’m Dr. Monica Band, the host of this show and a consultant with the Jed foundation. Crystal Genesis is our supervising producer. Giulia Hjort is our producer, and Rachel Lightner is our producer and audio engineer. Tess Novotny is our associate producer. Mixing and Original Music by Bobby Woody, additional mixing by Ivan Kuraev. Special thanks to Kelsey Henderson and the members of our youth focus group. Maria Perry, […] Erica Familia, Kofi Green and Cloud Ben. Jackie Danziger is our VP of narrative content. Executive Producers are Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs. This show was created in partnership with the Jed Foundation, a nonprofit that protects emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults. This series is presented by HOPE Lab with, Stupski Foundation and Lumina Foundation. Visit I needtoaskyousomething.org or use the link in the show notes for resources related to today’s episode. Follow I need to ask you something wherever you get your podcasts or listen at free on Amazon music with your Prime membership