This question stemmed from a thoughtful and genuine conversation I had with a few friends on Facebook. I know – a meaningful discussion on social media, who would’ve thought! The discussion was about a Black man, dating someone other than a Black woman, and the question, “Can he still speak on his experience of being a Black man if he is not with a Black woman?” The answer is, of course, yes! It’s preposterous to think that just because someone dates a different race, somehow this man magically wakes up a different color. He is still Black and still lives the struggle of being a Black man in the world.
But I also understand the plight of a Black woman, who made the comment. I get the sentiment of the argument, being a Black woman, I know there are some that feel like there are no good Black men left. Not all, but more than you think. And the dating scene is tough. 70 percent of Black women are single and if you are in that pool, it can be a daunting experience. And throw in there that the majority of Black women choose to ONLY date Black men, it’s like finding Neverland!
Side note: I understand there are many, MANY nuances, historically and generationally, that go into this argument as well. Black women are the backbone of the Black community and support Black men like no other through systemic oppression such as incarceration rates, income inequality, police brutality, etc. that continue to keep our Black men from thriving in society. On top of generational bias that teaches our community to stick with our own. I won’t touch on the entire conversation since this isn’t a book, but just one observation that was sparked by the aforementioned FB post.
So this discussion pushed me to dig deeper into my own relationships because as a Black woman growing up and seeing Black men date women from different cultures, there was always a stigma in the Black community, that at times, I didn’t always understand. But it was something I needed to be aware of and realize how history is so deep-rooted in present-day.
Personally, I was taught that I should marry someone that looks like my father. And that is a tough act to follow regardless of ethnicity. But I have been lucky enough to find someone that is just like my father, but I’m getting ahead of the story. Now, I believe in Black love. My parents are both Black and I’ve seen the strength of such a relationship and how important it is for younger generations to see. But this is true for all cultures, not just the Black community. We need positive examples of companionship and love from all backgrounds to encourage young people to find someone that challenges them and awakens their soul no matter who they are or what they look like. Especially for the Black community.
In my adult life, I realized that I was limiting myself and my experience because I was only looking at one slice of the pie. I didn’t realize it, but I was shutting myself off from potential blessings because I had tunnel vision – considering Black men as my only option in a mate. Why? I don’t know, but to some degree, I needed someone that could understand my journey and what it meant to be a Black woman. It took me a long time to realize that not all Black men would understand my journey either way, and haven’t. And I was closing myself off to different and unique opportunities to get to know other people, cultures and teach them about my own. Once I opened my mind and my heart, I found exactly what I was looking for and he’s not necessarily what I was taught to be with or thought I was supposed to be with. And for good measure, since moving to DC, in recent years I’ve noticed more Black women being open to other cultures and dating non-Black men (or women), which is exciting to see!
Which brings me to the question above – why is interracial dating still so complicated? Why do we criticize people for dating outside of their race and somehow their experience as a (fill in the blank) man or woman is less than because they are dating a different race? Why is my love for Black men (in which I still have my father and two brothers that I love dearly) diminished because my significant other is not Black? Why does my Black card get revoked because I found a man that I love and cherish, but he’s not Black, so automatically, I’ve given up on all my Black brothers? I feel like people are threatened by this instead of curious to learn about other cultures and happy to see others happy. And I’m not being overly dramatic here, these were responses to the actual post and conversations I’ve had with many people over the years, including people I’m very close to. I didn’t understand either until I took away the barriers I put in front of myself.
Overall, I see this as an opportunity to educate and inform people that this type of logic is not the future. It’s okay to see color – it’s beautiful and inspiring and freeing. I love the man I am with because he is smart, ambitious, caring and pushes me to be a better woman. He teaches me about his experiences and his culture and I respect that so much. At the end of the day, he may not be able to speak about the Black experience and I may not be able to speak about his experience, but love is love. This conversation has a historical context that is for a different time, but the racial divide in our country is wired in so many directions, in which our children (many of whom will represent multiple cultures as time goes by) will live with the decisions we make today.
So open your heart to the world around you. You never know what blessing awaits you. Most of all, at a time with so much hate in the world, celebrate love where ever people find it. Live in your truth and happiness will find you.
Peace & Blessings,
Song of the week: Pink Lemonade by James Bay