Thinking about Ashley Graham, many things come to mind but racism is not one of those things. When Ashley Graham first brought home her now-husband, Justin Ervin, to meet her family, the model admits that it was not the perfect melting pot or the image you might think of today.
Ashley Graham gets real with us about many things in her new memoir, A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like. Of course, one of those things is about her marriage.
A new excerpt obtained by Glamour shows the model explaining how her white family struggled to accept her interracial relationship with Ervin, who is African-American. The couple married in 2010 after meeting at church.
In the memoir, Graham describes bringing Ervin home to Nebraska, where she “didn’t grow up around many Black people,” for the first time.
“I never told my grandparents that the man I was bringing home was Black,” she wrote. “I naively hoped everyone would be color-blind, which is not what happened. When my grandparents met Justin, my grandmother was cordial but cold. She greeted him and immediately walked away. When it came time for us to leave, my grandparents didn’t even acknowledge him. Instead, my grandmother looked me in the eye, with Justin standing behind me, and said, “Tell that guy I said goodbye.”
“I had never seen my loving, hardworking and wonderful grandma be so hurtful and so racist,” she continued. “I was shocked.”
After leaving the awkward encounter, Ervin turned to Graham and said, “Racism is never surprising but always disappointing.”
According to Graham, “someone like my grandma only saw Black men depicted on television in situations involving guns, rape, and violence, situations that perpetuate racist stereotypes against Black people in general and Black men in particular. She had probably never looked a Black man in the face, let alone had a conversation with him, and now one was in her daughter’s home, dating her granddaughter.”
Things eventually got better for Graham, Ervin and her family. Graham writes that her grandmother softened after Ervin personally called her to congratulate her on her 60th wedding anniversary.
“From then on out, she loved him,” she shared. “Loved him.”
Graham’s new memoir A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like comes out May 9.