Welcome back for another blog tour! This time I’m looking at a new Audible book, which is riveting, powerful, and, sadly, needed. Mixed Up is a work woven by real couple Tineka and Alex, looking at many of the issues that have faced them, separately and together, as an interracial couple. I have to say, it was an absolute pleasure to listen to, whilst also being highly emotional at times, which is how it should be; things like this are designed to move you, and Mixed Up succeeds.
Tineka and Alex have joined me for a Q&A about their audiobook, which I’m really grateful for.
How would you summarise Mixed Up?
MIXED UP: Confessions of an Interracial Couple is a deeply inisghtful listen – full of confessions from Tineka Smith and Alex Court. The authors share their experiences as an interracial couple, discussing overt racism, racial micro-aggressions and the impact systemic racism has on their own relationship. Together they share their feelings about being the first mixed-race couple in their families, not always being able to agree on race, the cultural differences between the US and UK and the political climate in which we live.
What made you want to write a book about being in an interracial relationship?
It all started when a man saw me kiss Alex in the street, followed me for about 10 minutes and then spat in my face. Alex and I had parted ways at the time so I was alone when it happened and what was particularly sad and disappointing for me was that it was a Black man. The incident made me feel a little like a traitor to my own race and I guess that was how he wanted me to feel. Alex and I were discussing it and we hadn’t found any books online where interracial couples were really telling their story. So we come up with the idea of talking to other interracial couples and maybe doing a book around that. But eventually we were encouraged to tell our own personal story, and the rest is history.
How did you decide what topics to cover in the audiobook?
Honestly, we didn’t sit down and think, these are the topics we’re going cover. The entire book is based around intimate confessions from our own individual point of view on race and being in an interracial relationship and we then focus on our experiences and take aways from there. I think it’s a very unique way to structure a book and we cover a variety of topics through that avenue of storytelling.
What impact did the Black Lives Matter protests have on writing the book?
A huge one of course. I think many Black people like myself found themselves in situations where they were becoming a sort of racial advocate within their own relationship. The global movement raised questions and brought to light the everyday struggles and oppression Black people face. My husband, Alex mostly knew because of the experiences I told him about or he had witnessed with me, but then it was splashed all over our screens and across social media – so that of course was woven into the book and you’ll hear that.
What surprised you most about each other’s chapters?
I think how honest we were being. And then sometimes discovering for the first time how the other person felt in a certain situation. So it definitely brought us closer together and caused us to reflect about our own actions.
How did you find the process of writing a book with, and about, your partner?
Not easy! To be honest, we did have a little fighting happening because in the beginning we would peek at each other’s chapters, not like the way were were being portrayed and then make small changes secretly. And at the time we didn’t realise the other person was also doing it. So we were both upset when we noticed and we complained to our agent about it who told us changing each other’s chapters was off limits! We laugh about it now but that also allowed us to really write how we feel about each other especially when put in racially tense situations so the outcome I think was much more genuine.
Was it important for you to narrate the audiobook yourself?
The situations and scenarios Alex (my husband and co-author) experience are so intimate and emotional, it only made sense if we narrated the audiobook. And we’ve received a lot of feedback — listeners have told us they loved that they were able to hear our voices telling our own personal story.
What would you like listeners to take away from the audiobook?
If there’s one thing to take away from the book its the realisation that we all carry bias. And that racist assumptions not only hurts others but those they are directed towards can carry that with them for a long time. It’s also important for listeners to realise that people of colour ARE reliable witnesses to their own racist experiences – that’s something I find some White people have a hard time acknowledging and that can also include spouses, friends and acquaintances – as you’ll hear in the audiobook.
Thank you so much to Tineka and Alex for their time, and to Midas for giving me the opportunity to join in with this blog tour. I really can’t recommend Mixed Up enough. You can find Tineka and Alex on Twitter.