The conversation has arisen once again. Having a Black Bachelorette kicked off a frenzy of conversations on blogs and at our dinner tables about interracial marriage. The conversation can be heated and significant to many people. So, I’m doing a three part series on it.
I’m familiar with this conversation. I am a person who has chosen not to date White men. I’m asked about it all the time and in very public ways. “Why don’t you date White men?” in the middle of a panel discussion on #BlackLivesMatter. I think there is a message when asking this question that isn’t about my dating life, but more about trying to find a simple solution to racism. An attachment to the idea that if we just all date someone of a different race then we’ll just eventually be a country of “mixed” people and “race” will go away. If a Black woman would choose Black men singularly, and have no desire to date White men, then that complicates the possibility of a “utopia” where we all assimilate to Americaness.
I do not believe that dating, and whom you date, is a radical social justice gesture. Recently, the folks who challenge my choice to not date outside my race give the movie, Loving, as an example of how interracial love can change the world. Well, Richard and Mildred Loving have a story of a legal battle. A fight against laws that were created to maintain White supremacy. That is a totally different scenario than me not being bothered, not one bit, by the super fit White guy who lives across the street from me and always does yard work without his shirt and still not choosing to find ways to flirt with him. If he and I go on a date, no social justice battles will be won, not even if I spend the rest of my life with him.
This is my opinion and how I live my life. It is not the story of all women of color. There are a multitude of feelings about this subject, each valid and important for that person. I’m also challenged that this is the way our world is going. Yes, I know that headlines would lead you to believe that, but it just isn’t true. In May 2017, the Pew Research Center released a study on interracial marriages taken from the US Census of 2015. The articles followed and most of them stated, interracial marriage is the norm. The numbers show that 17% of new marriages are interracial; 17% is not “the norm”. It’s a huge increase from 3% in 1967—when it was illegal. And for Black and White women, who marry outside their race at 12% and 10% respectively, it isn’t even close to a norm.
Even if the percentages grow and grow and become more than 50%, dating someone outside your race still doesn’t end the racial injustice in our world. You don’t get to be less Black by dating someone White. There is not a magic key you’re given when you date outside your race that will make you impervious to the institutional racism of our society. And, you won’t miraculously understand what people of color experience, just because you walk hand in hand down the street with a person of color.
Change comes when we daily unlearn the unconscious bias we have and work to dismantle structures of oppression. Who you date is just who you date. Again, just my opinion.
But still, people want to know “Why?”. I will answer that question in next week’s post.