As I discussed in Interracial Relationships Part I, I don’t believe that who you choose to date is a social justice movement. But, I also get asked the question all the time, so I use this time to answer it.
Why don’t I date White men? Emotional safety. I spend most of my day dealing with the subtle and not so subtle oppression of our world. The institutions that are racist and sexist, the microaggressions from strangers, friends and colleagues. I have a career supporting others that face institutional racism. My home is my refuge. I go home and I don’t have to face those things in the emotional safety of my place. I don’t have to switch off my real personality and try to be accepted. That emotional safety would be missing if the person I shared my home with wasn’t someone who was also coming home to that refuge. I can’t first explain, define and qualify what I go through and then ask for support and comforting. I just want to come home, be with my partner and be Black together.
And, the follow up question is always: Why don’t I like it when Black men date White? Is your name Micah, DeShaun, or Mozez Whitfield? Well then, I can’t say anything. Luke Cage can marry a White woman and I can only say his choice is valid and important for him. But, if your name is Micah, DeShaun or Mozez Whitfield, then you are family and I can share with you why I’ll be disappointed about you dating someone White.
There are so few choices in this world that are not influenced by the racist, sexist power structures of this world. I imagine that if this scenario were to happen you would say to me that you are in love and that it wasn’t about race and that you just fell in love with the person. I challenge you to shed some reality on that. Do not think that the years of TV and movies and magazines you’ve seen portraying a range of White women as beautiful, and not Black women, have not swayed your opinion. Do not think that the multitudes of stereotypes and stories that portray Black women as angry, hostile and crazy in relationships, while White women are simple and easy don’t prompt you to look more harshly at Black women. Do not think, not even for a second, that the jokes about Becky haven’t landed on you and affected your choice. The choice you end up making does not matter, but to pretend that it is pure and without influence is wrong.
If you bring a White woman home, we will love and hug on her the way that Whitfields do. We will also crack jokes on you about your choice and make fun of her, the way Whitfields do. You will get the Whitfield Family treatment. Your place in our family will not change. But, you will not be rewarded for seeing past race, that is not what has happened. We will not all sit in denial as if your choice shows racial progress. We will call it out. We will once more have the conversations about White Man’s Ice that you heard when you were younger.
Now, know this—your choice will not make you less Black. You are still part of the community, you must still adhere to the Handbook, you must still participate in social change. Dating a White woman will not make you less Black. So consider, what your choice might mean for the Black women around you. The women who might not be interested in you, but wonder if your glance past them makes them less than. The women who are interested in you and tried to get your attention and now must wonder if they should have been more like the woman you chose, less Black. The women who will compare themselves to your choice, the same way they have compared themselves to the “beautiful” women in magazines and not been able to see themselves. The women who don’t know you from Henry, and you’re just a Black man walking past them holding hands with a White woman, they will wonder who is their champion. They have been ridiculed and blasted in media, they have been forced into assimilation professionally, they have been erased from history books. They have always gone to Black men, their community, for assurance of their strength and beauty. Now, you will make them wonder, does their community not even choose them. Their esteem and worth may not be your responsibility, but know that your choice may influence it.
And while this is my choice, you can see a differing view in next week’s post from a 50 year interracial marriage.