Get Out — Jordan Peele’s acclaimed horror-comedy about a black man who finds himself in a nightmare while visiting his white girlfriend’s suburban family — is the kind of film that gets under your skin, using horror-film tropes to illuminate the daily terror of being black in a white world. We talked to seven interracial couples of various backgrounds about how watching the film made them reflect on their own relationships, the enduring stress of “meeting the parents,” and whether they’ll be RSVPing for the next family reunion — “TBD,” as one of our interviewees put it.
Morgan, 19, white, and Jordan, 20, black. Dating almost two years.
Morgan: I was so embarrassed the whole time! I just kept thinking about what other people in the theater were thinking about me and him and our relationship, and I felt uncomfortable. Not bad uncomfortable — more the type of uncomfortable that pushes you to recognize your privilege and to try and reconcile the past. Afterward I looked at him and I was like, “I really hope you know I’m not racist.” He’s met my entire extended family and I was like: “I really hope you know this is not a possibility with my family, everybody loves you.” But after the movie, I could just feel eyes on us. You could just feel people looking at us and overhear someone saying, “Man, he has to leave her.”
Jordan: She definitely felt more uncomfortable than I did, because I guess I grew up around racism more than she did. My mom’s white and my dad’s black, and I have a bunch of family in Tennessee on my mom’s side. I visited them when I was 7 or 8, when I was much fairer than I am right now, and they thought I was just a tanned white kid. But when they heard that my father was black they wanted nothing to do with us. So I guess I was exposed to it at such a young age it doesn’t bother me anymore.
I did visit her grandparents one time, and they showed me nothing but kindness, but I guess her grandfather thought I was uncomfortable because I was the only black person at dinner. He basically told me that he wasn’t racist and that he’s fine with me being black and us dating. It made me a little bit uncomfortable but I guess he was just trying to be nice.
Teana, 19, black, and Matt, 20, white. Dating six months.
Teana: Right after the movie we kind of joked around about it. We saw it with my dad, and we were like, “Surprise! It’s like the movie plot but we’re kidnapping you.” And I’d been invited to his family for Thanksgiving, and we joked about that, like, “Oh, was that the plan all along?” The first time that he’d actually really met my dad was when we went to see the movie.
Matt: Meeting another person’s family is always sort of awkward and a little scary, but I think in our experience it’s a little more awkward and scary when you’re in an interracial relationship.
Teana: The movie deals a lot with having to act a certain way in front of white people — when I’m over at his house, I usually just stay in his room because I don’t know how I’m supposed to act. And when I’m interacting with his parents it’s very different than when I’m interacting with him. I remember Matt told me about them one time and he was like, “My dad’s racist!” and I was like, “Oh my gosh, I can never go over.” So at the beginning of the relationship I was really reluctant to have a conversation with his parents when he wasn’t around. At this point in the relationship I’m a little bit more comfortable, but it’s still a little bit scary.
Alexis, white, 23, and Robby, black, 25. Dating six months.
Alexis: I was surprised by his reaction. When we walked out of that movie, he probably talked about it for a good two hours and he still has not stopped talking about it.
Robby: I wasn’t really expecting much; I thought it would be any other horror film. But when you’re in an interracial relationship, these are thoughts you always have. So watching it, I was like, Okay, I’m not alone in this. And as the plot thickened — it was like, Wow, could this really happen to me? As crazy as it sounds, that’s what I thought.
Alexis: It does sound crazy!
Robby: The movie just caught me off guard because in most scenarios the parents would be racist right away, but in this one the parents were so friendly and that got in my head, like, Her parents are super nice to me. What’s next for me? We live in the South on top of being interracial — you get the stares. When I first met her parents I did walk in with a bit of a chip on my shoulder.
Alexis: After the movie, he did tell me that he was kind of scared to meet my mother because based on the pictures he had seen of her, because she has this kind of Paula Deen haircut. Right before going into the movie I was telling him about a family reunion we do every year, and I was like: “You’re going to come, right?” And he’s like, “Yeah, I’m not going.”
Robby: TBD. If anything starts happening like in these scenes, I will not be sticking around. I will be on the first whatever out of there.
Jordana, Jewish, 26, and Tarek, North African, 27. Dating two years.
Jordana: We did have a talk about the film that night. He was talking about what it felt like to feel different or like an outsider, and saying that he feels that way all the time. I wasn’t so aware that he still felt that way, even after two years of us being together.
Tarek: Once you get more used to people at a personal level these things don’t play as big of a role, but you can’t help but always have these things at the back of your mind. That scene at the party with all the older white people reminded me of when I go somewhere and it’s all her high-school friends and it feels really weird. You just really feel out of place, you find yourself engulfed by people who grew up with completely different experiences and backgrounds, and it’s hard to even contribute to the conversation. You just feel a little different and a little on edge.
Jordana: There’s the scene where they go to the party and it’s all white people and everyone’s trying to prove they’re not racist, saying things like “I voted for Barack Obama three times!” I was like, this is literally my family. Everyone’s really well-meaning, and it comes from a place of showing Tarek that we don’t see you any differently, but all they’re doing is pointing out that they do see him differently.
Tarek: One other idea the film brought up is that just because you’re a white liberal and you would have voted for Obama three times if you could, that doesn’t necessarily make you in touch with other people’s experiences. The idea that, Oh I can totally relate to what you go through and I don’t see you any differently, that typical white liberal language — I don’t think that makes things any easier. It doesn’t convince people that you can actually relate to what they go through.
Tavis, half-black and half-Asian, 21, and Michelle, half-white and half-Asian, 22. Dating one year.
Michelle: I’ve been reading a lot of think pieces about how white progressives aren’t really taking away the right lessons from the film, like how they are Rose [Allison Williams’s character, the white girlfriend], and they appear benevolent but in reality they are perpetrating the same social crimes and macro- and microaggressions but automatically identify with the protagonist. But I know for me, my gut reaction was: Oh my God, I’m Rose. I’ve totally done all of these things. The whole time I was cringing at her family because I was like that’s exactly what my family is like. I felt this huge element of guilt while watching it, like everything I do is so transparent. I was so scared that I was causing Tavis pain or discomfort in any way by just not being aware of his experience. I laughed a lot at the jokes partly because I was so uncomfortable.
Tavis: I didn’t come away from it questioning you, Michelle. I just kind of saw Rose as the conduit through which privilege and microaggressions occurred. I think people saw a strict black-male white-woman romantic relationship, whereas I saw it as more of a black-white relationship in general.
Michelle: Both of our parents are interracial, so we have these commonalities in terms of having mixed identities and having struggled through it in our adolescence. But sometimes I feel like I’m overstepping my boundaries in having these conversations with him because I’ll never know what it’s like to be a black man in America.
Tavis: The movie just does a really good job of nailing those small indescribable things that make you feel like you’re outside of a group.
Michelle: It makes me upset that Tavis is so comfortable with these microaggressions and these things seem so egregious to me. This movie was made because we have to comment on these things; this is how internalized racism rears its ugly head, through these little things, so I drive myself nuts about it. And his coolness makes me feel even worse, and yet it’s something I admire so deeply. If anything it makes me admire his resilience even more and I’m glad I got to see the film with him.
Bilali, black, 26 (his girlfriend Sarah, who is white, has not yet seen the film). Dating five years.
I want her to watch it with me. I was thinking about it the whole time, like, This could actually be me and Sarah. Because she’s super Waspy, she has that exact family size, dad’s super successful, mom’s really artistic but also eclectic. I was like: The next time I go to visit her family I’m going to be having nightmares.
It felt like one of the most honest depictions of that kind of interracial relationship for people in our age group. Like the relationship between the guy and his boy — my boys make those kind of jokes all the time, like, “Yo you better be careful going up [to her house], I don’t know how many black people they’ve got.” It’s weird because I’ve had some of those thoughts, especially the first time I went to see Sarah’s family: like, Maybe they’re not racist but maybe they don’t want their daughter dating a black guy. Those are actually fears I’ve definitely had and I feel like a lot of black guys have had who’ve been in relationships with white women.
Sometimes, someone will be looking at us weird on the street, and Sarah will be like, “Why does he keep looking at us like that?” and I’m like, “It’s ‘cause I’m black.” So I kind of want her to see the film because I feel like then she would be able understand the feeling I have sometimes when these things happen. Sarah has even said some of the lines in the movie to me — like when the police pulled them over, and Rose [Williams’s character] says “Nobody fucks with my man.” Every time some weird or uncomfortable or racist shit happens, that’s exactly what Sarah says. I was dying laughing.