Interracial Dating: Self Love or Self Hate?
I was walking down the street in Los Angeles when an approaching couple entered my awareness. A Black man in his mid 20’s with almond brown skin playfully carrying a White woman with sprawling blonde hair on his back as they laugh down the avenue. Her white legs were a contrast against his dark forearms as he joyfully held her, and when I asked if I could photograph them they obliged and proudly posed for the picture that you see above at the top of the article.
I live in LA- and one thing I’ve noticed here (and in Oakland, San Diego, Seattle, and many places in between) is that nearly every time I see a Black man out in public romantically with a woman she is white. Or the woman is Asian, Latina, Arab or some form of racial ambiguity that is not Black.
Now wait, before we start this ride we’re about to take together- let me be clear that this is not some article written to thrash interracial dating or the people who are involved in interracial relationships. I would however like to ask a few questions as well as explore the implications of Black men not dating or building relationships with Black women. I’ll move statistics and research out of the way and deal with the inside lens and natural awareness that comes from being a Black man and the observations and communal knowledge that that perspective grants me.
Off top, let’s get the ridiculous myth out of the way that Black men are largely with white or other non Black women because of love or just happening to meet and fall in love with a person that is not Black. Of course there are incidents where a Black man falls in love with a woman that is not Black and it is purely innocent and void of any prejudice or self hate on his part. However, it is just an outright fact that Black males; boys, teenagers, young men, and old Black men in linen suits alike- are drawn to non Black women based on a preference that is conditioned in their mind to find beauty in women that do not look like their mothers and grandmothers- and resent or even be repelled by dark skin and thick hair. It goes right along with being conditioned to not live around Black people if you can help it, to not work with Black people if you can help it, and so on. You’ll hear brothers saying things like “Man! I need a White girl”, “I don’t date Black women”, or the most laughable self hate idiom I just heard recently: “If it ain’t snowin’ I ain’t goin’…’’
In my hometown of Oakland, CA there’s an area that surrounds a lake called Lake Merritt. You literally can spend a whole Sunday afternoon watching young couples walk by and not once see a Black man and woman walking down the street romantically!
A sci-fi movie romance could be filmed there with the following plot:
COMING SOON: InvisiNegro
“It is the year 2014 and Black men and women have been shot with lasers that makes it impossible for them to see or notice each other. A social affect is then on the rise where every single Black man and woman you see walks the city holding hands with women and men of other races as they have forgotten that each other ever existed.”
It isn’t just a Black man thing either. Increasingly more and more Black women are connecting with and dating White men. Again, let’s move the research and university findings on race out of the way and tap into what is known in the Black community:
In general for decades, if not centuries, Black women have been weirded out by, not interested in, nor inviting of the advances of White men. This social and cultural reaction by Black women probably stems from their ancestral socializing into the gaze of White men through slave trade rape, molestation, and brutality onto not just them- but their children and husbands as well. Even in the last 50 years of a modern America- Black women have maintained a firm interest and commitment to Black men, even as many Black men simultaneously opt out of being in relationships with them, as well as abandoning them and their children in catastrophic numbers.
Then when Black men have babies with White women they seem more likely to be in a blissful union with the White woman and child, jogging and pushing one of those fitness strollers with a golden biracial baby inside. A baby that may grow up with a complex about race due to his father’s ill feelings towards Black women.
It’s so gross to me when I see the parents of biracial children posting pictures of their kids and hash tagging things like #mixedbabies or #mixedbabies rock. Proponents of the notion would say that it is a celebration of diversity and cultures blending, but I would caution that somewhere in their celebrating “mixed babies” there’s an undertone of rejecting the Black in a child.
You see, that’s the thing- or at least part of the thing. It’s not just that Black men are dating White and other non- Black women, it’s the jubilant excitement you see Black men briskly walking, smiling hand and hand down the street with a White woman with- while rejecting Black women. Like the man I mentioned at the top of the article so gleefully carrying his white girlfriend on his back as they frolic down a newly developed hipster district in downtown LA.
So let’s not get it twisted like suddenly Black women are “broadening their horizons” or “exploring different pools of men for a fun new twist…” No. Many Black women are forfeiting and settling with dating non-Black men as a result of feeling rejected by or not valued and respected by Black men.
The smash TV show Scandal, or more so it’s iron clad army following of Black women fans may be the glaring sign of a paradigm shift in the thinking of Black women who identify with and viscerally love the lead character of Olivia Pope- a Black woman in an affair with a White (married) man (who is the President of the United States)
In social circles of Black women you hear sista’s saying things like, “Girl I’m just gon’ get me a white man cause these (Black men) don’t want a real relationship…”, or “Girl I’m about to find me a Mexican man…” The high fives and jovial laughter that accent these conversations are covering up a deep pain and enigma in Black communities; Many Black men are not enthusiastic about being with Black women.
I find that if I see a Black man holding a woman’s hand it is a white, yellow, or beige hand. Young Black boys lust after and aim for a “Kardashian” type of girlfriend and radio rap lyrics covet “Snow Bunnies” (White girls) and “Baby with the light skin.”
The most prominent Black woman in Hip-Hop the last four years is Nicki Minaj, whom up until 2 months ago had blonde hair and photographs of her often exaggerate the lightness of her skin.
In fact, until Lupita Nyong’o entered our social mind within the last year or so - I don’t think any of us could name a dark skinned Black woman with thick hair that has been celebrated for her beauty on that level in at least the last 20 years. It is also important to note that Black publications and blog sites didn’t really take to Lupita until White media outlets at large gave us all some permission of sorts to celebrate Lupita’s beauty.
So I feel for Black women yearning for love from Black men and feeling that it is unrequited. I wonder if a nation that is growingly understanding of body image issues and how alienating it can be for women to be bombarded with images of only slender and traditionally “pretty” women, can empathize with how Black women not being celebrated as beautiful or sought after by Black men may feel.
Is interracial dating wrong? Well, to each is own, I say. I just want to advise against the apathetic and or naïve sentiment that embraces interracial dating as just a choice people make and under minding the deeper implications of a large percentage of Black men turning their hearts away from Black women.
Ise Lyfe is a recording artist and educator, famed poet of the HBO Def Poetry series, and Executive Director of Lyfe Productives - a social marketing and education firm focused on product development. His first book, Pistols & Prayers, is a best-seller and mandatory reader at universities across the US. His forthcoming book, Get Off the Fence, will be released in February 2015 and distributed through Partners West.