Plus, you need to know this.
If you didn’t know already, dating interracially has reached mass acceptance by a majority of Americans – of every race. However, no racial combination is more explosive than black/white. People who will tell you in one breath that they do not approve of race integration in romance, will gladly champion, say the union of a white guy and, oh, I don’t know, maybe a woman from the Philippines that he met on a “marriage tour”. Black/white combinations are in a racial integration class by themselves. While the white woman (WW)/black male (BM) combination is the most explosive, I’m here to talk about the other one. The one that affects me – black female/white male.
It seems to me that having a black girlfriend, wife or lover is more like owning an old Datsun (remember those?). It may look great (alright, I’m stretching, but you get my meaning), be of superior design and get you where you are going when you need to get there; but somehow gets relegated to the garage - the garage down the street, across town or simply out of view
Let me start out by saying that a great deal has changed. Not that I was around back when things were different. But I know that my mom says that in the sixties, a real “Sista” would not be caught dead seen with a white man. As a matter of fact, my mother hinted that if a “Sista” did, she just might turn up dead. Well, thank goodness those days are gone. Okay, so maybe I wouldn’t wanna go parading around Tyler Texas, but most the of the country is safe. Right?
Brave soul that I am, my first crush in kindergarten, was on a little Chinese-American boy (note the correct use of an ethnic identifier). I probably thought that he looked a lot like Bruce Lee, who was my hero and the man I wanted to marry at the time. I had no problem having a crush on that boy. He may have had a problem with it, but I did not (guess I was always ahead of my time). Also in that turning point year (1974), I got my first kiss from a boy with blond locks and blue eyes. He thought that I was beautiful. At this time, can I voice my opinion that little five-year-old blond boys have absolutely the best eyesight. His mother however, I think, did not find me or my mother very beautiful at all. And she had plenty of time to study us as we stood outside waiting for him to emerge to go with us to play at my house. Do I need to tell you the end of that story? He never emerged. I was crushed and didn’t understand why my mother refused to wait longer for him to come out. But then, she was much older and wiser than I and had seen the ugly face of racism. That little boy completely disappears from my memories after that day. I wonder why.
Now I am older, but my mother says, alas, not a whole lot smarter, I look back on my childhood and see the patterns of subtle hate and distrust that I patently ignored. I thank goodness that I refused to see the difference in treatment, the reluctance to take a hand or stringent brush off. It’s true that I have experienced a few bouts of racism, including, in the second grade, being informed by a little Mexican girl that I was a “nigger”. However, in a grotesque twist of irony, I did know the meaning of “beaner”. Some might think that maybe by now I should’ve learned one or two things (like to stop messing with them white boys!). However, I’m still an idiot. It seems that I still spend my time waiting for white boys to come out and play. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. The part that makes me mad is that I don’t think that they know why they are choosing to stay inside and play with their GI Joes.
Lest you think that I have no basis for comparison, I have dated BM. The whole list of which, can be printed on the back of a matchbook - a very small matchbook. I didn’t think of it as filler or something to do until the white boys decided I was okay to play with in public. I dated those few BM, as I thought I dated all men. Because I liked them and figured it would be a good idea to get involved.
Caution: dating is probably not a good idea.
Most of the time I have been wrong about the men I’ve chosen to get involved with. But then, most women would probably report about the same failure rate. That most of the men I date are white, doesn’t mean that I date only white dudes. It just means I date the men that I am attracted to and who are attracted to me. These men were usually the ones who displayed the least path of resistance. In the past, these men have been overwhelmingly european. The ones that weren’t european were jewish. The ones who were not european or jewish were hip, artsy, creative, mentally unstable types.
This dating preference or practice of mine seems to, no, does make a great many people angry. Some of whom happen to be in my own family. They do not approve. But obviously I have not been too concerned with this development. I don’t know if I made the men’s parents angry, because as I alluded to earlier, most of the time I did not get the chance to meet them. Let me assure you that all parents of friends, co-workers and such that I have met have always liked me. That is liked me until I and that friend got really close. That seemed to make the difference. The double speak goes something like this, “surely you can be friends, but marry, live with, have a baby with, start a business with, have lunch with more than once a week, that’s going a bit far, isn’t it?” I resent the fact that with past boyfriends, I was not made known to their world at large. I want the chance to meet the important people in their lives and blow them away with the fact that I am black.
Because not everyone can tell I am black, especially on the phone. I don’t exactly sound “black”. Anyone can see that I am black; when they see me. Although I have to admit that I get asked a lot which of my parents is white. Answer: neither. I clearly look black. Can’t get around it if I tried; not that I haven’t been accused. I cannot say the same when someone talks to me or reads me or hears about me. Want the facts? What some ignorant fools might call the “race definers”?
Lived in Israel and Germany. Does not work for the government. Does not wear fake nails or have hair extensions. Favorite period in history is the Roman Empire. Is fascinated by ancient Egypt. Has a special spot for Brazilian jazz. There is so much that defines a person and almost none of it should give away anyone’s race. Are those things I mentioned white? Asian? African? Martian? I don’t think so. However, it seems that our society, both Black and White has decided that certain cultural choices determine someone’s race: music, clothing, speech, level of education and a few other incidental things.
I readily enjoy breaking down stereotypes. I know my history as a BW and I know my history as a human being. I choose what I believe to be the best lifestyle for my tastes and proclivities. My world, which I feel is the maximized best of the whole that I have experienced is my reality. This reality is afforded to me by my choices, all that I have been exposed to. I try to be the best of everything that I feel is good. Is that rejecting my Blackness? Embracing a Whiteness that will never be mine? I don’t think so.
If I am introduced to a potential in-law (when’s the last time that happened?) or parent of a friend for life, I would hope that I am breaking down their conception of who a BW is supposed to be. I don’t like chance to set the world straight being taken from me. It is frustrating to not be given the chance to show who I am, who I represent, who I am a part of and how that differs from what they think. And if that is living and breathing my politics, I don’t know what is.
Which brings me back to my original gripe. Am I not shown to potential parents-in-law until the very last moment or at least until he can think up some other reason why our relationship won’t work out other than because I am black? Or is there some other explanation?
Ladies, let me hear the amen chorus out.
“You’re way too good for me.”
Like anyone would consciously go looking for someone not good enough for them.
How about, “I’m just not ready to settle down and commit right now.”
And two weeks later you get the announcement of his wedding in Jamaica -- a week late.
Or my personal favorite, “let’s just be friends.”
Face it. Friends don’t let friends fuck.
I suspect that all women have heard these gems or their numerous variations that men seem to recycle with alarming frequency these days. But as a BW who usually dates WM, these little sayings take on a whole new meaning.
Once, I actually sat next to a not unattractive guy at a unusually frisky dinner. He said some enlightening (actually disheartening) things about race relations, especially sexual race relationships. My frequent platonic dinner companion, Jesse, divulged that his number one secret fantasy (that is, after the world’s #1 male fantasy, seeing two women make it together) is to sleep with a BW. Need I say that “Jesse” is white? BM apparently do not have this fantasy. They want to sleep with a WW. No cigaras with this black chick, but he echoed the often echoed, “once you have black, you can’t do back”. I didn’t bother to tell him that I had given plenty of WM their first taste of “black” and it seemed that they actually raced back to “white”! Jesse asked Not Unattractive Guy if he had the pleasure of sleeping with a BW (his loss). He said no, but his brother had. Jesse excitedly asked him what his brother said. “It was fun and is definitely something I should try before I get married.” Good thing that I was intoxicated at the time or my razor sharp mind should have thought of some kind of smart-ass remark. At the very least, I should have lectured him on the marriageability of legions of BW. I should have berated his master-slave, Madonna-whore complex. I should have stopped thinking about getting this guy into bed (moral superiority note: I did not sleep with this idiot!)
What did I do? I laughed at the naiveté and gullibility of white people. Yet another stereotype that I did not bother to topple. But then again, let’s be honest, sexual stereotypes are not the ones that the stereotyped is eager to dispel. Try “black men are hung like horses,” on for size. At least the sexual stereotypes that work in the stereotyped’s favor. Well not, “all WW are frigid”. The particular sexual stereotype that benefits me is that BW are dynamos in bed. And this is not mere conjecture. It’s a fact. This of course is not an excuse for my inability to put that clod in his place, but simply a walk down the sexual stereotype lane for you, dear reader. And if you believe that, you believe that asian men aren’t sexually attractive, I have two words: Russell Wong.
Still, I find it hard to live out my sexual life in a racially political world. And that is not even taking the whole safe sex thing into account. I have seriously considered becoming celibate (not really).
I am still not deterred.
Should I be? Should I worry that every time there is a missed date or casual decline, it is because I am black? Is the caution exercised by the men I date due to my inherent fabulousness as a smart, opinionated, cultured, action-oriented woman or simply because after a few dates, a couple of hops in the sack, the men suddenly wake up and discover I am a BW and this was going to be much harder than they ever imagined?
Give me an answer white America. As a matter of fact, anybody, please give me an answer. Men are just duds, right? Doesn’t matter which race you choose to date. They all suck. The sad part is that confirmation of that statement will probably make me feel a heck of a lot better - and, no doubt also the hundreds of thousands of women who have been involved with men.
Love. What a concept!