interracial relationships still viewed as outlandish

I’m excited to share this article, not only because my friend Nia wrote it, but because finally someone has been bold and truthful enough to lay this stuff out for us.  I mean, yes, we all know that these stereotypes exist.  We have all heard, witnessed, or discussed these taboos.  But in bits and pieces.  Nia gave us, like, the entire run down.  From personal experience.  It’s the kind of experience that literally created me, yet it’s also one that I haven’t had exactly.  I have dated white guys certainly.  I have had people say to me, with words or hostile, disappointed, or dismissive glances “you’ve turned your back on your own kind.” But because (despite appearances and societal definition) I’m white too,  I never felt like I was really in an interracial relationship in the same way that a “monoracial” black woman might.  I ponder different things when I imagine my future children.

So, thank you, Nia for boldly going where most wouldn’t.  For candidly and hilariously covering the whole story. I hope your kids don’t get asked “What are you?” I hope that if they do, they’ll know with unshakeable certainty that the answer is “I am a brilliant child of God and Nia and Bill.”  I know they will have a sense of humor about it.  I can’t wait to meet them.

I’M A BLACK WOMAN WHO DATES WHITE GUYS —

 

HOW TO NOT BE A DICK

 

I am not some census-taking dick measurer, OK?
Mar 14, 2013 at 12:00pm
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The first time I ever kissed a white guy, I swore I would never do it again.

It was high school, it was my friend’s brother and I’m pretty sure I was drunk. I gave him a massive hickey, which I found pretty amusing, and I figured it was just an “experience.” Something I’d write about in my journal, the one with Maya Angelou’s picture on the cover.
I attended a posh mostly Catholic prep school in the suburbs of Atlanta. I knew every Black person in my school. A lot of us took MARTA (the public transportation system) home. Once when it was pouring rain, one of the priests gave a couple of us Black kids a ride to the train station so we didn’t have to get soaked waiting for the bus.
We joked that those rain affected our hair in such a way that it made the priest’s car smell like activator.  We bonded, this small circle of Black kids in a privileged white world.
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Despite the fact that this was the 90s, it was still the South. So many of my classmates mocked Black culture, defended the Georgia state flag and compared slavery to the potato famine that I didn’t exactly feel like interracial dating was an option. That all changed when I went to college.
I mean, how could I not eventually date a white guy? I went to a liberal arts college in Boston. Along with Sociology, it was practically a required course.
In that blissful 4 years, I hooked up, dated and fell in love without a care in the world. I moved to New York after college and continued to tear through men with abandon. It was a glorious time. I’m proud that I had a lot of not so great relationships with men of varied ethnicities and didn’t become bitter and jaded.
That being said, I still ended up feeling like I was constantly defending and explaining my choices to overly enthused white women, annoyed Black men, judgmental Black women and fetishizing white men. Hopefully, this handy guide will help all of us approach the subject in a more informed and less dickish manner.
DON’T ASK ME IF WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT BLACK GUYS VS. WHITE GUYS IS REALLY TRUE. WINK WINK.
 
Please don’t go there. Let’s just say I’ve been surprised about how UNTRUE it is. Also, I am not some census-taking dick measurer, OK? While we can certainly generalize about the physical attributes of all races, penis size seems to be the most obsessed over. It’s gross and unnecessary.
Also, you don’t need to be all up in my sex life like that. I’m not the kind of chick who needs to go on and on about the size of a man’s penis and those that do get an eyebrow raise from me. I had this one friend and I swear to God, every time she started dating a new guy he had the BIGGEST PENIS SHE HAD EVER SEEN. No, he didn’t. Stop.
Do you really want to know if what they say is true? Sleep with a white guy, then sleep with a black guy. Better yet, invite them both over and do a side-by-side comparison. Take pictures, make a graph, email it to me and we’ll meet for scones and tea to discuss it. Just kidding. Black people don’t eat scones.
DON’T ASK ME IF I’VE GIVEN UP ON BLACK MEN.
There seems to be this pervasive idea that if you date a non-Black man as a Black woman, then you must hate Black men. I’ve had Black women say to me, “Oh, you like WHITE guys!” as if they were unlocking the secret to my personality.
Even a childhood friend remarked very flippantly, “Oh, Nia only dates white guys,” when she knew very well that wasn’t true.
We also seem to be living in a time when the media is very concerned for us poor Black women. You see, apparently there are “no good Black me left” so many of us are single and alone. I refuse to participate in that discussion because I don’t believe that is true. I’ve seen too many awesome Black husbands and fathers (including my father, step-father, grandfather, uncle, etc.) to give into that line of thought. These books and TV shows that continue to perpetuate this lie, are only interested in profiting from our insecurity and we need to call them on their bullshit. It creates more of a divide when we need to keep fighting for unity.
There are certainly some issues involving the personal and professional successes of Black women versus men but to think that I have turned my back on my brothers because of who I am romantically involved with implies that I see them as one and have dismissed them all. Not true. I try to treat everyone as an individual and you should do the same. Yes, I am on my high horse, thank you very much.
DON’T ASK ME WHAT MY FAVORITE KIND OF GUY TO DATE IS.
Here’s a sampling of the various types of men I’ve dated: Black, White (Irish, German, Italian), Jewish, Latino, and various combinations of all of the above. You want to know which were my favorites? The ones who didn’t treat me like shit. The ones who cared about me.
I find that some Black women feel that a White guy will treat them better than a Black guy will. News flash, ladies: All men can be assholes. Douchebaggery isn’t race specific. This need to lump everyone together instead of taking the time to learn things about the individual is so lame and lazy.
Men like to joke about this as well. Black women are difficult. White women only want to please. Asian women are subservient. It seems odd to have to remind people not to give into stereotyping but everyone from the hipster to the executive feels like they’ve done enough cultural studies to know everything about everybody.
DON’T GUSH TO ME ABOUT HOW PRETTY MY BABIES WILL BE
Well, maybe this is a little true. Bi-racial people of all combinations do have a tendency to be beautiful. But still! Don’t put that pressure on me!
Ever since I began dating my White fiancee, people literally gasp when I talk about starting a family. They fall all over themselves envisioning our light-skinned children with their silky hair and light eyes. But what if they don’t look like that? What if they look traditionally Black? Are they not as beautiful? If my daughter’s hair texture is more like mine (kinky) than my fiancee’s (fine), did she lose out somehow? If instead of getting her father’s genes of being tall and skinny, she gets mine of being short and round, has she gotten the raw end of the deal? What if they aren’t what you consider beautiful?
I mean, of course they will be, my fiancee and I are both INCREDIBLY good looking but that is always the first thing people comment on. I’m more interested in what my children will aspire to be, having creative parents. I wonder who will be the fun parent. I wonder how people will see them. I wonder if kids will mockingly ask them, “What ARE you?” I wonder, if they acknowledge both their Black AND White sides, will people insist that they choose just one. I wonder if they can have a sense of humor about it all.
But mostly, I just hope they aren’t dicks.
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4 thoughts on “interracial relationships still viewed as outlandish

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  2. You are preaching to the choir. Growing up i always had an eclectic taste in men and other black people including family would say things and/or treat me like i was defective or something. Like i was somehow less of a person and something was wrong with me.
    I love seeing interracial couples i respect them so much because it shows that people can have an open heart and not a closed and ignorrant mind.
    Btw. I love your fiance he is so hilarious and my heart lit up when i found out that you guys were together.

  3. My husband is white. I’m mixed, with very light skin. Reactions to my marriage have been varied. Some Black people have made little comments about it but they generally seem to accept it. A few white people have looked at us curiously…it seems to be mostly white women who have a problem. They will smile/flirt with my husband like I’m not there, and one older white woman shot me a dirty look when we were at the mall. I’m just as much white as I am black, but I guess it shows that racism never really dies.

    The lady who does my manicures is a Latina and she once told me that I “should” have married a Cuban. She didn’t say it jokingly either…she was serious. Um, why? I am not Latina and I don’t think anyone should tell me who to be with. She was out of line for saying that. I feel like some people want to control others and that includes telling them who they can have relationships with and who they can’t. Living in Florida, many people think I am Hispanic but they aren’t sure how to deal with me because I don’t try to pass myself off as Latina, unlike some other mixed women I know. Some mixed girls I knew growing up learned to speak a little bit of Spanish and they pretended they were Dominican or something (although many Latinos have African blood) to avoid racism, I guess.

    I dated Black guys in high school and college, but there were issues with that too. Sometimes I encountered hostility from Black girls/women because my skin was so light. With one of my ex-boyfriends, we would be out in public and there were some very ugly incidents that happened. It wasn’t just Black women…sometimes white women and Latinas called me racial slurs because they liked Black guys, and they wanted my boyfriend.

    My mother’s former boss (I’ll call him Charles) is a white guy who tried to talk my mother into a ridiculous situation a few years ago. He had this friend, a young Guatemalan guy who needed citizenship in the US. Charles suggested to my mom that I marry this guy so he could get citizenship…despite knowing that I was already engaged to be married to my husband. And even if I had been single, there was no way in hell I would have married somebody I didn’t know, just so they could live in the US! He pressured my mother constantly and she kept telling him no, my daughter would never agree to that. I felt really disrespected that anyone would even suggest something like that. He knew that I was engaged and yet for some reason, he wanted to push me into an arranged marriage with his Guatemalan “friend”. And since I disappointed him by marrying my husband, he made rude comments about my weight when my mother showed him our wedding pictures.

    I feel like as a mixed woman who is racially ambiguous, some people want me to be unhappy. They don’t want me to be successful in relationships or anything else. And I try to surround myself with more positive people, but it can definitely be frustrating. I will never apologize to anyone for loving my husband or being with him. He accepts me for who I am and that’s what matters.

  4. More on the issue of interracial relationships…

    I believe that in America, and the UK, the only time interracial relationships are viewed as “normal” is when it is a Black man/White woman or a White man/Asian woman. Anything else is often viewed as deviant or weird.

    This is why I love your blog, Tiff, because you are the product of a White father and Black mother…my mom is a product of that as well. Maybe I root more for that type of interracial relationship because it seems to be less common and it goes against the racist notion of Black women being undesirable. There is another blogger by the name of Erica McKinney who also has a White father and Black mother, and I believe she links to some of your posts.

    I believe that people should be able to love anyone they want, as long as their intentions are good. My white in-laws have been really wonderful to me and it is a far cry from the hatred I experienced from the family/friends of my Black ex-boyfriend. The only issue I’ve had is with a few white female relatives and friends of my husband (they call me a gold digger behind my back for some reason although he isn’t rich at all) but I don’t care what they say. None of them have the balls to come out and tell me the truth about why they don’t like me. Oh, well…it is what it is.

    People make life more complicated than it should be. They give labels that are completely unnecessary and divisive…we are all human. Hating others for things beyond their control makes no sense. We all bleed red, we all use the bathroom, we all die. But some people have this need to feel that they are “above” others.

    re: the nonsense about making “pretty” babies. My ex took me to a family function once where everyone was dressed up and looked amazing. He came from an African American family where people were VERY outspoken to the point of being offensive. I mean, they had no filter at all…they were just plain rude. This one lady told us that we would make “pretty” babies. I wasn’t offended but her comment made me uncomfortable because I was the lightest person in the room. His mother and other relatives disliked me mostly for that reason, so I didn’t see it as a compliment. I agree with you, Tiffany, in that mixed children/people can be beautiful but sometimes we’re just like anybody else. “Monoracial” people can be beautiful too…being mixed doesn’t always mean hitting the genetic jackpot.

    I don’t have ringlets in my hair, I have naps. I’m not the golden-brown complexion that everyone imagines mixed people to have, I’m pale. And while I do consider myself to be a pretty woman, I’m definitely not a beauty. I hope that if we have children, my future daughter will have my husband’s piercing blue eyes but not because I think blue eyes are better than brown…I just happen to find his eyes beautiful. My ex had a baby with his Latina girlfriend and I don’t think the little girl is cute just because she’s mixed. I actually think that the Black genes are part of what makes her so cute. She has this pretty brown skin and a little button nose and she looks more like him than her mother.

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