For as long as I’ve had the ability to think, reflect and be aware of my thoughts I was sure that all emotions or feelings were not only named but also defined. Until tonight, because during and after my visit with #prisonbae I’ve been feeling some type of way and I can barely even describe it, let alone give it a label.
As a 30 year old pasty white woman who grew up in the prairies I can pretty much say I have never experienced discrimination, of any kind, let alone racial discrimination. Let me also start by saying that I’m not completely sure that is what is going on here but it definitely feels that way to both #prisonbae and myself. So in case you didn’t know, #prisonbae is black. His parents are both born and raised in Jamaica, and with a splash of England on the paternal side he has the most perfect double double skin tone I’ve ever seen in my life. Our different races have definitely lead to some very interesting conversations, even some may call them debates but this difference has never divided us or caused tension. Do I find him more physically attractive than average white male? Hell ya, but he is fiiiiine and this is not a deciding factor and has never influenced the definition of our love. For the longest time I didn’t even think about it, the words “interracial” and “couple” did not come to mind. Of course, one of my family members’ biggest argument against me dating an incarcerated man was not only will it be hard enough to function in society as an “interracial couple” but also throw his criminal record on top of that. As if that statement was going to put me in check, or make me come to the realization that I’m not up for this challenge. However, I am. I so am.
This brings me to this evening. I currently reside in Winnipeg, Manitoba while #prisonbae is serving time in beautiful British Columbia. I have been travelling for visits for the last 6 months, this time being the longest string of consecutive visits we’ve had so far. Needless to say, there’s an attraction there, #prisonbae has been inside for 7 years and I’m a sucker for that lovey dovey shit. So we have our moments and sometimes we need to be reminded of the strict rules placed upon us when it comes to physical contact. We figured out early on that it’s all about reading the room, and making sure we aren’t hugging for longer than the couple next to us. On a Sunday, or a night of the week that is pretty family oriented we keep it PG, play some hangman or do some analytical people watching. Tonight was no different, after reading the room and seeing mostly couples curled up or making out in various corners I went in for the long hug. That’s when Officer “R” came to speak with us. She informed us that our prolonged hugging was not allowed and that she would be submitting a report to the visit review board about us as they are “cracking down” on the visiting staff at this institution. We politely nodded our heads, crossed our arms and stood across from each other for the remainder of the visit. This gave me some time to do what I do best, and people watch. The asian couple in the back continued to make out without warning, and the white couple in the corner stayed embraced for the duration of the visit. This is when I had that new feeling. I couldn’t exactly pin point it but I looked over at #prisonbae to see if he noticed what I noticed when he asked “do you feel like we’re being targetted?” Are WE being targetted, or is HE being targetted? Was that 30 second hug really enough to warrant a report to the VRB? Am I just imagining the other couples in the room? A lot of questions came up, none of them answered and this gross, frustrating feeling, like nausea of the brain lingered on. We were both upset, angry and confused but ultimately decided it would be best to politely ask the officer her name on my way out, just in case this becomes something bigger and I can prepare for yet another fight against the correctional system. On the way back to his unit, after the visit, #prisonbae walked with a fellow inmate who asked why his strip search took so long. It was through this conversation he found out his search was much more thorough than that of other inmates. I just can’t see why that would be, the only difference between #prisonbae and the other inmates being a couple shades of skin tone. This is Canada, and I’m positive we didn’t magically step over our south border. I think I may still be in shock and perhaps after a good nights rest I will be able to process exactly what happened here – but for now, I’m feeling some type of way and I just can’t name it…
xoxo, half Shelly