Black Love- a romantic union or partnership between Black people. Obama and Michelle, Will and Jada, and shit, even Beyoncé and Jay-Z (with his old trifling ass)... As a Black woman, I see these powerful representations of Black Love and scream #GOALS. I guess I’m like Issa Rae always “rooting for everybody Black.” I hoped someday I’d marry a Black man and have little Afro-puffed Black babies running in and out of my house.
However, the dating pool becomes real limited considering the number of Black men who are imprisoned, hoteppy, or would rather wife Becky with the good hair. Consistent with anecdotal evidence, research shows that Black men are nearly twice as likely to interracial date and to marry a non-Black woman (Pew Research Center, 2017).
Serena Williams and her new White husband, Alexis Ohanian, challenged me to question my own loyalty to Black Love. Why don’t I, a Black woman, frequent into the Fever of the Jungle? And Sis, why am I not checking for my Prince Henry?
A plethora of reasons come to mind: residential and school segregation, the desire to have shared cultural experiences with a partner, and social pressures to date within our own race. Black women have been taught to “hold down” and desire Black men through urban myths and stereotypes (e.g. the ride or die chick, white men can’t fight/protect us, and of course the Black male’s penis size). We are even socialized in our childhood to desire Black boys. Consider the nursery rhyme that I and thousands of Black girls chanted as we were coming of age:
"I like coffee,
I like tea,
I like the colored boy and he likes me,
So step back white boy, you don't shine,
Cause I'll get the colored boy to beat yo behind..."
Now, name ONE nursery rhyme that Black boys are taught to celebrate and desire Black girls? Don’t worry, I’ll wait...
If you’ve never heard of this chant, then maybe it’s a Southern thing! Speaking of the South, I'd be remised if I didn’t mention the obvious… RACISM! Black women have been historically and systemically disenfranchised by White men, so why would we want to date them now? Especially in this political climate! Who has time to sift through the Trump supporting racists, the #AllLivesMatter racists, and the I-Don’t-See-Color racists? Hell, I barely have time to sift through the “have my babies,” the “fix my plate,” and the “I only date light-skin girls” hotepping, self-hating Black men.
For these reasons, I never seriously considered dating outside of my race. It wasn’t a topic that came up too often. That is... until my QUEEN Serena Williams found her swirl! Alexis Ohanian literally looks at Serena like Barack looks at Michelle. And that’s also powerful. I began to considered all the good men I might pass up by romanticizing and idealizing Black Love. Could a White, Asian, Middle Eastern, or Latino man satisfy me? Could he honor and respect me? Could we laugh? Could I be happy? I became increasingly curious. So, I put myself out there... on Tinder. Yeah Tinder, because how else do people date in 2018. I swiped through, what felt like, a thousand profiles looking for handsome non-Black men with similar interest.
Here are the details of my interracial dating experience...
Jim the White Police Officer. Jim was a 3x divorcee with a traditional military-style haircut, pale skin, and blue eyes. I was immediately turned off by his occupation. On our first date, I couldn’t help but wonder if he had ever killed Black people. I continued communicating with him, taking extra care, to inform Jim of his White male privilege and the power associated with policing. Despite his Whiteness, he often caught my cultural movie references and our conversation was always great. We actually had fun together, and he treated me with respect on all four outings. We stopped communication because he had three kids and three ex-wives!
Siddiq the Iranian Muslim. Siddiq was a medical resident who took me to a Mexican restaurant (I love Chimichangas!!!). He had great conversation and great taste in music, but he got completely canceled after singing “nigga” in a song. NON-BLACK PEOPLE OF COLOR CAN NOT SAY “NIGGA”! He said that his Black friends didn’t mind his use of the “N-word.” Boy Bye!
Geni the Albanian Muslim. We met up for one coffee date… Our conversation was fluid and not an ounce was forced. He talked a lot about growing up in Albania, and his life as an immigrant in the U.S. However, he seemed intimidated by my level of education. He said, “So you have a master’s degree, how do you feel dating someone with only a high school diploma?” Truthfully, I didn’t care because I am not inclined to believe that college is a prerequisite for success. But he proceeded to tell me about his dark history of leading a shoplifting ring (Not exactly first date conversation)!
Amod the Indian Hinduist. Amod and I went for wine and pastries. He was an accountant for a very large bank. We talked a lot about investment banking, politics, & religion… At the end of our date, he said, “I really like how smart you are. You sound like my undergraduate sociology professor.” I felt a weirdness about that comment because I wasn't trying to be a lecturer. For a moment, I just wanted to be a girl at the bar. We never went on any more dates, but he smoked hella weed and was down to earth, so we are still cool.
Peter the White Nerd. Peter was a mechanical engineer, and he was the epitome of a White nerd caricature. I think I might have insulted his entire religion when I told him that I'd never seen any Star Wars movies. Nevertheless, we bonded over Game of Thrones because there is a little #BlackGirlNerd inside of me! However, my entire Black identity was offended when he did not know Angela Bassett. THE QUEEN ANGELA BASSETT!!! We disconnected because he didn’t understand any of my cultural references, and I felt like an educator when trying to teach him.
Alejandro the Venezuelan Buddhist. I actually didn’t meet Alejandro on Tinder. He walked up to me in a bar and said, “You are really beautiful. I know this lacks subtlety, but I’m leaving soon. May I have your number?” That’s a full-blown rarity these days! Over dinner, I learned that he was a Buddhist. I told him that I was also on the path of converting to Buddhism, and he even invited me to his Sangha to meditate… We are just friends, but we talk all the time about spirituality, philosophy, and culture. He even agreed to teach me Spanish!
Moral of the Story...
During my interracial dating experiences, I found myself doing more educating about the -isms than actually dating. At first, I was turned off because who wants to feel like they are giving a seminar while just trying to enjoy the Ahi Tuna. But shit, the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much time I’ve spent educating Black men. In the past, I’ve found myself sifting through the “ashies” and the hoteps, trying to explain the double, arguably triple, burden of consciousness for Black women. I’ve even been confronted by Black men who thought feminists were a bunch of man-hating lesbians. My point is…. dating is hard, especially for a woke Black woman!
The interracial dating experience wasn't all bad. I thoroughly enjoyed learning new cultures, trying new foods, and bringing diverging perspectives into one conversation. It’s nice to meet people who have lived completely different lives. It’s enriching. And Hell, I may even learn Spanish!
No, I haven’t found my Prince Henry or my Alexis Ohanian. However, I have found the nerve to date outside of my race, challenge my expectations of love, and open myself to new possibilities and prospects of love.
-Natasha M. Lee