#TBT – On Interracial Dating
Today’s #tbt is based on a article I wrote for Black and Married with Kids in 2010.
I was involved in a recent convo on FB that started when one person stated that some successful black men have to date outside the race because black women don’t them. It’s a line I’ve heard in the past and is often accompanied by the charge that black women aren’t interested in the clean-cut studious guy and instead want a ’round-the-way roughneck. I made the point that some of the guys who feel they’ve been slighted probably overestimate their value on the dating market. Given the familiar stats on young black men when it comes to h.s. graduation, unemployment, incarceration, it’s easy to be a black man with a college education and a stable job, to look at your peers and inflate your sense of self. You look in the mirror and think that any sane black woman should jump at the chance to date you. And while being financially stable is a very good thing, it doesn’t replace your need for personality and charisma, both of which impact chemistry. So when you run up on a sister and she’s unimpressed with your degrees and job (probably because she has her own), you might jump to the conclusion that she’s looking for a roughneck when in fact she just wants a guy who can make her laugh.
But the part of the debate that centered on interracial dating got me thinking about the fact that dating outside the race can still be a sensitive topic in our community. My only concern in this area is about the motives of those that choose to do so.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with having preferences but we do ourselves a disservice when we esteem certain physical features and degrade others for no logical reason at all. Western culture has historically viewed feminine beauty through a prism that places a premium on white skin and European features. Similarly, stereotypes about black men regarding unfaithfulness, commitment, and other racially-specific pathologies have the potential to negatively impact the dating decisions of some black women. Hundreds of years of being inundated with messages about the undesirability of our African features and the dysfunction of our culture has infected our minds with what I call “the virus”. The virus manifests itself in different ways, in different people, at different times. If you’ve ever heard a relative launch into a conversation on “good hair”, explicitly link physical desirability with color and skin tone, or been told “you’re pretty…for a dark-skinned girl”, then you are familiar with the ways in which this mindset affects us. Another example is the tendency for some black men in the public sphere to exclusively date and marry women who are either white or very light-skinned. To be clear, this is not an indictment of specific individuals choosing particular mates but a question of why, assuming a relatively equal distribution of light, brown, and dark skinned black women, it is difficult to name 10 famous black men with spouses darker than themselves. The key issue here is not outcomes but motives.
I say you should hold onto love wherever you find it but it’s worth noting that preferences and desires are not created in a vacuum.