EASY MAGAZINE: Love in Black and White
They met on a Wednesday night almost four years ago in McBrides in St Lawrence Gap. Jalicia Nightengale was the dark Barbadian girl from Kingsland, Christ Church, with the blue eyes, hanging out with her friends. Ché Hebson was the white dreadlocked Brit from a little town on the outskirts of the city of Bristol called Weston-super-mare enjoying the reggae music and island breeze. The two, unbeknown at the time, were checking each other out, but Jalicia made the first move.
“One of the girls, Tanya, and I were waiting on our drinks by the bar and as I glanced over her shoulder there he was standing with one hand in his pocket smoking a cigarette, jamming to the music.
I whispered in Tanya’s ears ‘that guy looks interesting and he’s cute.’ She said go talk to him but I was actually shy to go and I said, “I don’t think he’ll be interested”.
But after many more minutes of staring Jalica walked over and introduced herself.
Ché also had his eyes on Jalica: “I was saying to myself that this girl looked quite interesting and I was amazed at how stunning she was. I was staring at her the whole time as well . . . but when she wasn’t looking because I didn’t want to get caught staring and being a weirdo. I was actually going to go over to say hi but she beat me to it.”
The couple talked that night and many nights after. As is common, feelings started to develop and the couple decided that they would see how far they could take it. Of course with Ché thousands of miles away, it had to be long distance. The worst part was the time zones.
“It’s like four hours or five hours ahead and he’ll be now going to bed and I’ll be just getting to work. We called each other about three to four times a day and if I stayed up until midnight or 1:30 a.m. when the clocks change, he’ll be just getting up for work.”
The couple used technology as their best friend, keeping in touch with Skype, Footalk then through mostly Facetime and Whatsapp to send messages and pictures or sometimes Facebook.
It got much better when Jalica went to Britain to visit and decided to stay, getting some modelling work and becoming attached to Ché and his family. The two said the most natural progression was to get married.
They had both been in an interracial relationship before but for them it’s never what’s on the outside that counts, it’s inside that always matter.
“Ché is very passionate and positive. He is patient, caring and understanding especially when I’m at my lowest.”
“Jalicia is beautiful inside and out. She does little romantic things for me and shows interest in what I love to do It is amazing how similar we are to the way we think and see life.”
Jalica and Ché will celebrate two years of marriage in June. The wedding took place on Maxwell Coast Road on a small, romantic beach with Sir Wesley Hall presiding. The reception was on Accra Beach. The couple thoughtfully held wedding reception in Bristol at Ché’s childhood rugby club The Hornets for friends and family who couldn’t make it to Barbados.
Their interracial relationship, they said, is no different from others, except for the many stares.
“We would like to think that people see us as any other healthy married couple just living and loving life together overcoming obstacles side by side as equals but as individuals,” said Jalicia.
Ché added, “We’ve never had any feedback towards how people see us as a couple. I personally think it’s about how we see each other that really matters the most.”
The couple said they understood many of the stares as people usually looked with a smile or a curious face – constant curiosities about her eyes (yes they are her real eyes) and his dreads (yes he is a white guy with real dreads).
The couple went through a rough patch last year as Jalicia had to move back to Barbados to sort out her visa and thus spent nine months away from Ché.
“Ohh it was the worst feeling ever. I went from having my best friend around and sleeping next to me every night to talking to him through the phone and coming home to an empty bed,” said Jalica wistfully.
It was also hard on Ché who said he had to wait on her to reply to his Whatsapp messages. He also slept with her pillow next to him.
Now that she is back in weston-mare, they are over the moon and both said it was a mutual decision for Jalicia to live in Britain.
“As a young couple we have more opportunities work wise and would be able to save more and in the future if things go to plan we will move back to Barbados running a bar along the beach and jamming to reggae music with our friends. In fact it really doesn’t matter where we lived as long as we’re together,” said Jalicia smiling.
And both families have taken a shine to the couple.
“The family I can speak for sees Ché as another son, grandson, brother, uncle; honestly, my family is so mixed up that another race doesn’t matter. I think Ché fits in perfectly they all respect him as family but mostly as my husband.”
“Well my family is all over the place really but they all love her even the ones who haven’t met her as yet can’t wait to meet her but I can speak behalf of my mum and my nan (grandmother) as my dad passed away when I was quite young and they both are the closest to me. They adore Jalicia, she’s like a daughter my mum never had and another granddaughter.”
The couple has big plans for the future which of course includes children.
“Now that we’re back together we find ourselves talking about it even more, said Jalicia who will turn 23 in June. Ché, who turned 23 last month replied, “The best thing I would say is how mixed up our family history is going to be and thinking about how interesting are kids are going to look.”
They had advice for couple in who have mixed race partners.
“Stop caring so much about how others see you, it’s how you see each other as a partner as a friend and as an individual as long as you truly love your partner, race and culture shouldn’t matter. Instead you should spend time learning about each other’s culture. You will be amazed at how much more you learn about your partner’s background and it’ll help you to understand and educate you about his/her culture which will help explain to your kids why they are different from others . . . . Acceptance plays a big part in any relationship gay or straight, black or white.”