When they only date white girls & other musings on interracial dating

The drawback of being a creative person is that sometimes you have a thought & it just will not leave your skull.

I have a good spidey sense, so I can usually tell when I meet a man who has been believing that Psychology Today hype about black women being mannish or whatever. Still, it’d be nice to have some kind of hand sign, T-shirt, or whatever that would separate the WODAWGS — Will Only Date A White Girl — from other potential suitors.

Taye Diggs. Still fine.

I’m about to start reading  Swirling: How to Date, Mate and Relate Mixing Race, Culture and Creed by Christelyn D. Karazin and Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn, so the question of interracial dating has been on my mind. The book seems to be a guidebook for black women who date interracially, which has been a hot topic in most media focused on single black women.

Specifically, I noted that Ralph Richard Banks’ book, Is Marriage for White People? was the most recent work to remind black women to broaden their dating options:

Banks writes with acuity and directness about the costs of that loyalty to black women who are most negatively affected by man-sharing and its consequences. He also mentions the skewed online dating market, where white men basically exclude black women outright (through silence or an explicit preference not to date us). He also offers a more balanced, objective viewpoint of how black women basically keep themselves from finding happiness in interracial relationships. Banks’ central thesis is that by dating outside of the race and marrying outside of the race more often, black women may save black love.

The reason it would be helpful to know if people only date within their race, though, is because you can’t ever take for granted that you’re not being fetishized as a black woman. And all of this talk about black women trying to get chosen because they’re so desperate, unfortunately, builds the mythical case that if a single black man is within a 50 mile radius, the nearest single black woman will hunt him down & trap him, Black Widow style.

As if you can make someone who doesn’t want you or anyone who looks like you in the first place want to date you with the stench of desperation alone.

When I was younger, I had a very simplistic glare reserved for black men who only dated white women — as if it were a personal assault against my very existence. I think my internal rationale was: One less date for me and what is wrong with me, anyway?  instead of Um, you can have that one, I’m good.

I believed that the person you chose to be with was a reflection of what you desired in yourself. And I desired (and still desire) black men. But at some point, particularly when I lived on the West Coast, I was surrounded by so many black men who were dating outside of the race that I became immune to it and finally just accepted that grown folk are allowed to choose their own mates. Eventually,  the presence of black men who only dated white women to the exclusion of other races (particularly black women) stopped hopping on my last nerve.

That only happened, though, once realized that I had limited my options based on what they were when I was younger. I didn’t date white guys until I was out of college, and even then, only sporadically. When I ventured into interracial territory, let’s just say it wasn’t as smooth as Something New made it seem.

I thought a lot of white men in popular culture were hot (looking at you Richard Gere) but because I never saw images of them with black women (there were rare exceptions…Iman and David Bowie, for starters) somehow the concept of white men who found black women attractive  seemed…distant. The kicker? I was shocked to discover that random black men (usually the ones who didn’t date black women!) felt some kind of way about that. Apparently, they, too, had a gaze reserved for black women who dated outside the race.

News reports say that the number of people dating and marrying interracially is creeping up as the taboo associated with dating outside the race starts to fade:

About 24% of African-American males married outside their race in 2010, compared to 9% of African-American females. However, the reverse is true for Asians, where about 36% of females married outside their race compared to 17% of male newlyweds. And intermarriages for white and Hispanic people do not vary by gender, researchers found. Intermarriages also vary by region. In Western states, about one in five people, or 22%, married someone of a different race or ethnicity between 2008 and 2010. That drops to 14% in the South, 13% in the Northeast and 11% in the Midwest. Interracial dating services have also cropped up online, offering those looking for love an opportunity to find their preferred matches.

I only have anecdotal evidence. Among my friends, I would say four out of 5 of the married black women I know have partners who are not black. Most of my friends are a little on the maverick side, granted, but still. Those are pretty interesting statistics. I’m interested in hearing from y’all about your interracial dating experiences. If you only date a particular race, why is that? And if you date interracially, have you noticed that society has become more accepting? I’ll be back with a review of Swirling shortly.

Dating Dispatches: Richard, the white rapper

When I was traveling between Houston and Beaumont, I covered this hip hop conference in Houston called The Third Coast conference. Yeah, I know.

The story never ran because my editor at the time didn’t like hip hop. But I had just bought my own car, and I was feeling free. A friend and I hung out after the conference with this rap group from Pittsburgh. The quietest among them was Richard, and we hung out separate from the group.

The Hip Hop Dalmatians, Rin & Tin, From Brown Sugar

When I tell you I can’t remember a single conversation I had with Richard, I’m not exaggerating. The conversations we had were about Biggie, Pennsylvania and the fact that his mother thought I looked like Erykah Badu — probably because he had never brought another black woman into her kitchen before. I don’t think I was even wearing a headwrap at the time.

(Note to self: Even some of the coolest white men have families that are a little bit dismissive of black people and sometimes they all think we look alike. That scene felt like it happened a century before Simon Baker and Sanaa Lathan got down in “Something New.”)

He was the first of several men I dated who had a love affair with the glorified gangster life, which included smoking more weed than seemed humanly possible or even necessary for blacking out the entirety of his existence. This didn’t make him a big talker. That made our three-month long-distance relationship pretty challenging.

I tried, though. I flew to Pittsburgh. I hung out with him for a weekend. Soon after that, he decided he was going to the Marines.

One day I will write more about my love of military dudes. Something about the willingness to die for what you believe in, the structure and discipline military life requires. Oh — and yeah — my dad was in the military.
Our romance ended abruptly when he said he bought a ticket to come visit me in Beaumont and instead, I called him in Pittsburgh that morning and his mother said that he’d missed his plane so he had just decided to stay home. I think he sent a card, but I was so heartbroken that I dismissed it. He called and said he signed up for the Marines I think, and at some point, I got a card from him saying when he was going to Camp LeJeune and then I never heard from him again.

I spent the next four months chatting with men on BlackPlanet before I drove across country to Seattle.

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