Some Thoughts On…Interracial Dating

Living in New York, I’ve heard a lot flashy and heavy-handed comments about interracial dating and mating. My ears have experienced more of this than they ever did in Boston, in which people who’ve never even visited have the temerity to label or ask me if it’s “racist”.

SIDE NOTE: No. Not any more or less than your own hometown thank you very much.

Still, I’m very shocked that for a city (and its 5 boroughs) that’s been exalted for decades on being the melting, gumbo pot of the United States, sometimes racism and racist tendencies are of a second nature that every other person has willingly played into.

In observing black and white individuals in New York, I’ve noticed that many were either adamant on “sticking to” their “own kind” or went somewhat out of their way to mingle with anyone completely opposite as far as physical outward traits go. On a psychological front, interracial dating as a topic of intrigue and anxiety, when it has caused ripples in our social dynamics is because of true racism or is actually colorism within oneself? For example, while black women have remained more faithful to black men when it comes being within their “race” (but the same can be said for those that are Asian, African diaspora, the Latino/Latina/Afro-Latino groups, etc.), black men have been appointed the ultimate scapegoat and visual representations of “self-hate” or in promoting interracial dating because the black man and white women duo has become indubitably the most controversial pairing. As black girls, willing in their minds to potentially date a white man but are concerned “corniness” would be their eventual downfall, white women have historically been more opened to dating outside their circles.

So as black men and women trash each other on YouTube rants, anything that could possibly get stirred into the pot gets thrown in as the media loves to watch a community self-destruct and we’ve seen this all too many times. Official news networks whip up exposes on why successful, beautiful black women just can’t seem to find a good man and then these reports are followed by why black men are behind the social ladder of progression and these so-called updates are nothing but explicit propaganda.

We don’t see white people in massive numbers having these kind of talks or worries. Nobody asks in scintillating manners if there is a divide among white men that prefer blondes over brunettes or if they prefer their women to be a size 2. White, “Caucasian”, people seemingly don’t feed into this. It would a rarity to see Cosmopolitan or Glamour publish a story on interracial dating (though you might see one in the more socially aware Marie Claire), and while I’m sure they have, at least twice a year there will be a piece about it in Essence or Ebony. Evidently, white people or girls have other things to think about, while as for black people this is all we sometimes think about it.

Much of what surrounds interracial dating is a lot of insecure bullshit from outsiders, but sometimes when the topic does arise, if at all piquing your curiosity, it pays to give attention to it because the contradictions, outlandish statements, and awkward truths give greater insights as to why we are so messed up when it comes to dating and finding “the one” and how even the most well-intended person’s bucket list is a tad judgmental or flawed. It’s controversial, but the reality is that we all have a preference when it comes to dating even when we do give someone outside of that a “chance”.

Recently, an article published by Gawker has been making the rounds online, and it is an essay by a black man defending his past and present history of dating mainly white women. It seemed harmless enough so I read it even though I had some withholding. I’m a little burnt out on the subject matter. Before, and now, if I talk about it, even I: raised in a multi-cultural neighborhood (oh hey Brookline Village), loves Britney Spears as much as do Beyonce, don’t judge me for having watched a rom-com starring two white leads; would get upset along with the friend I would be discussing this with because sometimes it is hurtful. Some black men do date “outside their race” for specific reasons and their reasons are often highly disrespectful to women in general, it same thing happens every time in that the topic then becomes an implosive.

By the third paragraph of Ernest Baker’s piece, I wasn’t very touched by his words and my partiality didn’t budge by the end . He came across weak and delusional because one minute he declares that all women are beautiful and “hot is hot”. It doesn’t matter if you’re “Lupita Nyong’o” or “Allison Williams”, but wants the world to admit to each other that “light skin, light eyes, and soft hair” are attractive.  He uses cliché examples of how he’s gotten the side-eye sell-out look from black woman on the street and that white men basically roll their eyes towards him and the white girl he’s with in a kind of “another one bites the dust” manner.

The most alarming part of Baker’s essay was his sheep admission for his preference and what the media would call “Eurocentric” features. He didn’t seem aware of how brainwashed he in that his own black isn’t beautiful. First of all, do black women virtually look the same to him? And “soft hair”? Ummmm, black women obtain soft hair too. Are you referring to straight hair in which many white women get weekly blow-outs to keep it so? Not only does he join a list of men that really don’t know what women, black or white, go through to look beautiful, when glorifying white women he mentions nothing beyond their looks. He doesn’t want to be labeled a sell-out, but as one of his initial reasons to date interracially was to “piss off racist fucks” due to our nation’s history that includes the murder of Emmett Till and now the tragedy of Elliott Rodger killing six innocent women in California, his intentions don’t seem entirely pure. He loathes self-hating black men, but his writing shows traces of him having been one.

I remember those Ricki Lake episodes and she used to have segments on this topic (who could forget her correspondent Strawberri), and occasionally Jenny Jones did as well. On stage was always the most outrageous comments from the self-hating or aloof black male, the Afrocentric sista that’s had enough, and docile white girl that would literally chop off her arm to prove black women wrong that she is just as good enough for a black man as they’ll ever be. These episodes would be so campy, you couldn’t help but laugh and thank God you weren’t on that stage and had half a brain. Who really wants to defend their relationship? That sucks.

From a time, it seemed like the drama of it all had died down, but it never last for long in this country of ours. If anything, interracial dating has gotten a boost during this past Oscar season when the gossip rags and fans alike were practically lifting Lupita Nyong’o and Jared Leto, now both Oscar winners, to sit up on a tree and live happily ever after as the next great swirl hope. Black women were especially fond of this pairing with comments of “Girl get it!” and “Do you boo!” as many had felt for too long, they were ignored by both the media and their own men as “unpretty”. Sometimes what has encouraged interracial dating is that when approached by someone of another “race” and letting fate lead the way, those that have shared their experience of being in one expressed how they felt more genuinely appreciated for not just their beauty but their intelligence and dreams, which is understandable.

Instead of Baker’s ping-pong, lengthy explanation to why he has dated mainly white women from a voice that clearly sounded more guilty than unifying, he would’ve been better off just staying in the lane of “it’s just so happens I’ve dated white women a lot and I’ve had a good experience with them”. The timing of his piece is incredible considering the current viral video of that upstate New York white women having no shame in repeating the N-word to the camera in a verbal assault, another video in where a biracial woman bravely and calmly confronts Neo-Nazis in Germany on why they continue to practice a segregated agenda, and that episode of VH1’s Hollywood Exes in which a white female cast member found it necessary to yell across the room that “black and white [women] don’t mix!” (Who the hell asked her?!) And lest we not ever forget the ignorance of Instagram, and the epic showdown of the white girl that wrote a doltish letter about why her types are better for black men and how this one black Superman came out of nowhere to reply to her letter and set her straight about her callousness.

Evidently, no one leaves this topic unscathed.

Let’s stay on the side of hope and say that the average human being believes you should love who you love. Ain’t nothing wrong with that, and never will be. It’s hard enough finding someone you can tolerate for longer than thirty minutes. The book was called Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. It wasn’t titled White Men Are From Here, Black Men Are There; Black Women From That Side; and White Women Are Over There Yonder. When I’ve talked to white girls about guys and dating, our experiences are more alike than separate. When I talked to my fellow women of color about the same subjects, there is a sense of community that is shared between us. Yet in either instance, whether you date a white guy, black guy, or a someone who doesn’t look like you, whether your’re in a hetero or homosexual relationship, dating should be easy and it always isn’t and sometimes it simply because men and women are different, period. Never-mind the other considerations for a moment that just makes everything more complicated that it already could possibly be…

Below are two separate videos but both from The Ricki Lake Show on interracial couples discussing their lives together and the ones that oppose it.

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