Saturday, January 25, 2014

I am Tired of Talking About Interracial Relationships

I'm convinced that Black women are the most questioned when it comes to interracial dating.

Interracial dating is a topic that comes up more than I care to talk about it. I'm always asked what I think about interracial relationships, if I personally would interracially date, if I'm attracted to men who aren't Black, if I'm attracted to men who are Black, and if I get upset when a Black man is with a non-Black woman. And for the most part these questions do not receive a serious response because they are not serious questions.
First of all, I know that my dating decisions would not be so heavily scrutinized and politicized if I weren't a person of color. Particularly, if I wasn't a Black woman. This is very ironic to me since statistically speaking it is whites who are most opposed to dating outside of their own race.

But I also realize that questioning me about interracial dating is a covert way of asking about more salient issues. It is often a euphemism for issues caused by white supremacy, patriarchy, Eurocentric beauty standards, and colorism. Instead of directly talking about these issues we veil the discussion by talking about interracial dating. Instead of talking about the impact that Eurocentric beauty standards have on all of us and how that leads to the devaluation of Black womanhood I am asked about how I feel whenever I see a random Black man with a non-Black woman. The latter makes me feel nothing as I don't believe it's my responsibility to police anybody's dating decisions. However, the former is a real problem.

It isn't whether or not I have or would ever date somebody outside of my race or within my race that is of main concern. It is the idea that I must see myself as patriarchal white supremacy sees me. As an object to be exchanged on the racial/ gender/ class/ sexuality hierarchy. Not a person who is primarily interested in love and care and makes dating decisions based on that.

Another issue with most discussions about interracial dating is that the parameters of the conversation are heavily founded on anti-Blackness. When I am asked about interracial dating I know that the person asking me is looking for a certain performance.

Black women are expected and in fact encouraged to assume a kind of mercurial hysteria surrounding dating.

We are supposed to deal with "reality" which is that we are ugly and unwanted. But we are supposed to exude confidence because women with low self esteems are pathetic. But then we can't exude too much confidence because there comes the meme about the independent Black woman who don't need no man.

We are supposed to be loyal to Black men. But we are expected to deal with the "reality" that there are not enough good ones to go around. We are supposed to desire Black men exclusively, but we are encouraged to believe that Black men do not make good partners because they are hyper-masculine and violent or because they hate dark skin and natural hair. We normalize whiteness by making it seem like white men are above and beyond the pitfalls of internalizing white supremacy that apparently too many Black men are wrapped up in.

Black love is tested on every side at the cost of Black women and men.

Meanwhile non-Black women (other women of color included) use Black men as a weapon to demean Black womanhood by claiming that "our" men prefer them. And then they wait for me to do the angry routine when asked if I care about who a Black man chooses to date. It's a trap. And it's one I refuse to fall in.

Here's the thing. Interracial dating does not solve any systematic issues Black women face. It never has and it never will. But on the flip side, interracial dating also doesn't exacerbate any systematic issues Black women face. Any issues that come up with interracial dating are merely a reflection of larger issues that exist regardless.

 I am always amused by the argument that interracial dating means increased racial tolerance. Yet, the entire system of American slavery was built on miscegenation or to be more frank the sexual abuse and exploitation of Black women by white men. Desire and attraction have never precluded abuse and oppression. So then why are conversations about racism and sexism reduced to these things?

And here is the other thing. I am political but not autonomously so. I am a huge supporter of Black love simply because Black love means self-love. If I can see the beauty in my own people, I am poised to see the beauty in myself. This is especially radical because there are so many messages given to Black women and men to distrust each other, to hate one another, to think the worst of each other.

However, it is not in my interest to be against other types of love or to suggest that other kinds of love aren't as worthwhile. Because that isn't true. Interracial dating to me is largely a non-factor that has become a hot button issue precisely because nobody wants to address the issues that truly impact us.

So the next time I'm asked what I think about interracial dating I will ask the person to clarify what they really mean. Do they want me to comment on white privilege or white supremacy? Do they want me to talk about the devaluation of Black femininity due to interlocking forms of oppression? Do they want me to talk about how patriarchy functions within the Black community?

I have stuff to say about all of that. But I have nothing to say about who anybody should be dating.


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38 comments:

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  2. Thank you so much for writing this. I, as a young black woman, can relate to many of the things that you have mentioned. I have received this question often and always felt weird about the overall question itself and why it is something I get asked in the first place. As you have said above, it is a topic that predominately white people have had more of a problem with, therefore I was always baffled when I was asked this question and others, of white decent were not. This along with numerous assumptions that I would automatically be against it, and put on the angry ‘routine’ that you mention above, has always shocked and confused me also. The View you present on your support for Black Love, but not wishing to touch on interracial dating, I found especially interesting and helpful also. It is always hard to articulate support without condemning opposite topics or views at the same time but I feel as though you separated the two, for the right reasons, very well.

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  12. I think that black women should focus more on inter-racial dating, that is if we want to increase our chances of marrying our socio-economic equals. However, we should consider other racial groups and nationalities in addition to white American men. Also, women of other racial groups, esp. white women, are not empowered by racism but by black men's obsession with marrying non-black women. White men are no longer placing white women on a pedestal; black men are in the mates they choose, films, and music videos.This is especially true of black men of high social standing. Take a look at any inter-racial site and you will find significantly more black men looking for women of other racial groups than men of other groups. Let's not blame white or other men because they prefer their women over other groups of women. I wish the same were true of black men. For instance, all racial groups share the same facial and hair characteristics; yet, it is the black man who rejects those of his women. It is insane. I don't believe that white men don't find us attractive. In fact, when I cut my hair short and natural, it was white men who were more attracted to me. Black men preferred me with long, chemically straightened hair. I tested my theory by placing two images of myself on a inter-racial dating website. One black and white photo was of me with long straight shoulder length hair. The other was a black and white photo of me with my hair short and natural. I was overwhelmed by the response of black men to the former photo. Very few responded to the latter even though I had the same facial features and light makeup, the same body. It did not matter, black men were attracted to the long hair and they said as much. In contrast, a significant number of white men responded to the latter photo of me with short hair.Moreover, when I view the physical characteristics of black women who are married to white and other men, I don't find the light skinned, Euro face, straight hair woman that black men crave; rather, they are usually brown and dark skinned women with classically African features and bodies. So, enough of this BS about white men not finding our facial features attractive. If anything, professional white and black men are bothered by the extremely high obesity rates of black women, including professional black women. Black women can level the playing field by placing more focus on obtaining a healthy body weight than expensive weaves and dating men of other nationalities and races. After all, we are in a much better place to meet and marry outside our race than are black men.

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  13. I think that black women should focus more on inter-racial dating, that is if we want to increase our chances of marrying are socio-economic equals. However, we should consider other racial groups and nationalities in addition to white American men. Also, women of other racial groups, esp. white women, are not empowered by racism but by black men's obsession with marrying non-black women. White men are no longer placing white women on a pedestal; black men are in the mates they choose, films, and music videos.This is especially true of black men of high social standing. Take a look at any inter-racial site and you will find significantly more black men looking for women of other racial groups than men of other groups. Let's not blame white or other men because they prefer their women over other groups of women. I wish the same were true of black men. For instance, all racial groups share the same facial and hair characteristics; yet, it is the black man who rejects those of his women. It is insane. I don't believe that white men don't find us attractive. In fact, when I cut my hair short and natural, it was white men who were more attracted to me. Black men preferred me with long, chemically straightened hair. I tested my theory by placing two images of myself on a inter-racial dating website. One black and white photo was of me with long straight shoulder length hair. The other was a black and white photo of me with my hair short and natural. I was overwhelmed by the response of black men to the former photo. Very few responded to the latter even though I had the same facial features and light makeup, the same body. It did not matter, black men were attracted to the long hair and they said as much. In contrast, a significant number of white men responded to the latter photo of me with short hair.Moreover, when I view the physical characteristics of black women who are married to white and other men, I don't find the light skinned, Euro face, straight hair woman that black men crave; rather, they are usually brown and dark skinned women with classically African features and bodies. So, enough of this BS about white men not finding our facial features attractive. If anything, professional white and black men are bothered by the extremely high obesity rates of black women, including professional black women. Black women can level the playing field by placing more focus on obtaining a healthy body weight than expensive weaves and dating men of other nationalities and races. After all, we are in a much better place to meet and marry outside our race than are black men.

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  35. nice article however I think you're making mountains out of anthills. Why must everything be made so complicated? Why must you put more into it than it is? it is what it is and by choosing to take things in a negative way, you're not doing anyone any good. You don't know for sure that if you were a white woman that things would be different. I'm not saying racism doesn't exist, I KNOW it does and that saddens me especially since Obama made no positive impact on the racial front. It's hard enough finding a love interest that responds in kind and the relationship grows. Why put more garbage into it? Let it be what it is to the individual/couple. Communicate with each other and forget the rest of the world. Tell the ego to put its defenses down and then see what evolves.

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