Saturday, January 25, 2014
I am Tired of Talking About Interracial Relationships
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.