Interracial dating and marriage can be a very tricky thing, depending on your geographic location. My sister went to California a few years ago with her Black American boyfriend and came back to report that they were the oddest couple in whatever city she was in. (I forget.) NO ONE was dating anyone of the same race. In Ohio, every third person is of some sort of mixed heritage. With a few exceptions and further south, however, we all pretty much stick to our “own kind”. We still have yet to truly heal the wounds of slavery and Jim Crow, and up until just recently, one of the WORST things you could do was date outside of your race. Nevertheless, this doesn’t stop a sistah from looking, does it?
Please, I beg you. I am very happily married to my husband and my eye is not wandering with the intention of picking up a side piece. I am merely here to confess to you that there are certain aesthetics in the opposite (and white) sex that I appreciate…those aesthetics being the appearance of needing a hot meal or six and a big bossomy hug. Yes folks: I find pale hungry looking white men attractive, and if I had been braver, I would have sought one to bring home to introduce to my parents. However after my mother go completely ape on my brother for taking the Russian girl as his date to his prom, I knew she would pull a full on Lady Galadriel if I showed up with a fiancé named Brad. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop a sistah from looking, does it?
Black men got over the hurdle of interracial dating a long time ago and have gone full throttle in their pursuit of lighter/whiter skinned women. Popular culture made this shift easier for the brothers to navigate as well and 20 years or so ago, this was a cause for distress for Black women, myself being one of them. As time has passed though, Black women really couldn’t care less whom Black men date/marry. In the 1980s and 90s, watching a Black man open doors and dine white women felt like a slap in the face, but I assure you it doesn’t sting nearly as much now. It’s just one of those things that has become normalized within our culture, like gay marriage or nylon socks and Nike beach slippers. Weird at first, but meh in the long run. The other day I saw a (Black) dude walking with his (white) woman to Chipotle. I looked at me with terror in his eyes, like I was judging him or something. It took all my strength not to shout “Bruh! It’s all good! I’m just here to get a burrito…not monitor your love life!”
Back to that whole bravery thing: I am always intrigued by comments people pass when Black women are brave enough to date not only outside their race – but to date white men in particular. These comments are often passed by Black men. Here’s a small sample:
“She must really hate herself to be with a white guy.”
“I bet he thinks he’s on safari.”
“I wonder if she calls him ‘Massa’ in bed…”
These were all the comments that were passed at a bar-b-que I attended here in Atlanta a few years ago when this FOINE Ivorian girl showed up with her geeky white boyfriend. I didn’t know either of them, and to my shame, I didn’t defend them. I suppose I was just amazed to hear the audible thoughts of Black men on this subject. I can’t help but wonder what people might say about me, given the type of white man I find attractive.
Chris Pine is a very good looking man, and so was Paul Walker (God rest him)….but I would pole vault over both of them to make my way to Benedict Cumberbatch. Benedict Cumberbatch? The frail looking chap with the crooked nose? Yes! That very same one. The one with the intense eyes and the soothing baritone voice. But should it behoove Benedict to beware of me, I would immediately turn my attentions to Alexander Vlahos, the skinny Welsh kid with those dreamy blue eyes. The way I would punish him, eh? He doesn’t know! Serve him up with a side of Buddy Holly and we have a proper pale-frail buffet!
I can see your faces. You are aghast. What kind of self-respecting African woman likes a white man whom she can subjugate and conquer? But that’s just the point, isn’t it? It wasn’t tall, strong white men who orchestrated the takeover of the entire globe, was it? It was the little devious ones with the devilish eyes. They made you trust them, them BAM! They made off with all your artifacts and your cultural dignity. I suppose my desire cum attraction is some visceral need to avenge the wrongs done to people of color centuries ago. Of course, that’s not true at all. I know exactly where my appreciation stems from.
When I was in elementary school, there was a kid named Todd that was in my third grade class. Todd was tall, blonde and brilliant. Todd had a late birthday in December, which also made him one of the older – and therefore more mature – kids in our class. Once, we had a project to do. President Regan was visiting our school and we had to make signs to welcome him. None of the other kids would work with me because I was an “African booty scratcher”, but Todd came over to my table and gave ideas about what my sign could say to welcome the president. I crushed on Todd like no third grader had ever crushed on a boy before! I tried not to be all weird about it, so I showed by appreciation for his kindness by refusing to speak to him or moving away from the lunch table when he sat down next to me.
People in general make a lot of assumptions about interracial couples, but there is usually one constant when one half of that couple is a Black woman. Folks usually assume – and remark with pity – that that woman is being “exoticised” by her white partner. That could be true. I met a white man who only dated women of color – any color – because he really did think he was on a dating safari. I don’t have a problem with this sort of thinking, except in the way that it treats women like objects. You don’t think we also exoticise people of other races? I used to work with this Serbian guy named Vladimir that was so washed out and pale, he made rice look tan and toasty; and I was taking him to lunch every chance I got. Took him outside and showed him off like he was my favorite Serbian accessory. We were both married and wore rings, and I reveled in the quizzical looks that people would give us when we sat in public laughing like the great friends we were. What would such a gawky looking white guy and a buxom Black woman with natural hair have in common? Plenty, it turns out.
Sisters! Sisters looking for a date! Sisters looking for a good husband! Do something for yourselves. Tomorrow is Saint Patrick’s Day and the Irish boys will be out en force. Don’t let them fool you: they like Black women and like them very well! (Except for the overtly racist ones, of course.) They are just afraid they will be rejected or worse, cussed out by a Black woman in public. Wink, flirt, wear a green wig and learn an Irish jig or two. Knowing the words to a Bob Dylan song or two never hurt either. You’ll be wed and making little leprechauns in no time.