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Ashley Graham Expected Her Family To Be "Color Blind" Toward Her Interracial Relationship

“Racism is never surprising but always disappointing.”

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Before model Ashley Graham debuts her first book, A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty and Power Really Look Like, she decided to share an excerpt with Glamour.

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In the essay, the Sports Illustrated cover star opens up about the racial tension she experienced from her family early in her relationship with husband Justin Ervin.

The 29-year-old Nebraska native admits her family did not grow up around a lot of black people.

"I didn’t grow up around many black people. The sum total of what I learned about African American culture in school was Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and the Underground Railroad. This was more than my mom knew; she didn’t even see a black person in real life until she was 18 years old."

Although Ashley was bringing home her black boyfriend for the first time, she didn't think it would be that big of a deal.

"I never told my grandparents that the man I was bringing home was black. I naively hoped everyone would be color-blind—which is not what happened."

She describes their interaction as "cordial but cold." Ashley also revealed her grandparents didn't even acknowledge him when they left the house.

"I had never seen my loving, hardworking, and wonderful grandma be so hurtful and so racist. I was in shock."

During the car ride home, Justin and Ashley tried to digest what just happened.

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Justin helped Ashley understand that her grandmother was probably only used to seeing the negative stereotypical images of black men portrayed on TV.

It wasn't until Justin called Ashley's grandma to congratulate her on her 60th wedding anniversary, that things began to change.

"And from then on out, she loved him. Loved him."

Justin and Ashley have been married since 2010.

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To read more personal essays about their relationship and her rise to stardom, pick up Ashley's new book on May 9.

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