Dating can be a strange phenomenon for me sometimes. It's not always clear how to interpret the signals, when to pull back or dive into getting to know someone, who on the surface, seems like a good match. For various reasons, I've always thought dating interracially would be even more complicated.
I went on my first date with a caucasian gentleman a few days ago. I've mostly dated Haitian, Haitian American and African American males. I can't say that I've been against interracial dating but it just never seemed like an option for me. I guess I too adopted the belief that I somehow needed to be "loyal" to Black men in my choice of potential mates. There's a sense of "betraying the race" that pervades my thinking in consideration of dating outside of my race.
Going out with Irish Jackson (he's a caucasian guy with consciousness of African American culture) actually brought to light some of the stereotypes and prejudices that I hold towards white people. I quickly found myself asking Jackson questions, if posed of me, would be interpreted as offensive and insensitive.
I assumed Jackson had a dog, was only interested in Black women for purposes of having an exotic experience, and was somehow just lost and stopped for a drink at the lounge before running back to his safe neighborhood for the evening. I can't believe I wanted to run my fingers through his hair just to know what it felt like (this coming from someone who would read a white person their rights if they asked to touch my natural hair).
Yeah I may be a bit out of touch when it comes to interracial dating. I'm pretty sure though that there are other Black women in big cities who can relate to my thoughts on interracial dating. These are women still holding out for the "perfect" Black man. We grew up learning how to dress ourselves, cook and clean to please a Black man. The biggest piece of chicken was set aside to feed our brown skin fathers. Any fairytale ideas we had swimming through our minds of a man sweeping us off our feet, included characters of tall, strong Black men whose skin resembled that of our fathers. It never crossed my mind growing up that learning how to set the table properly to feed my future husband would mean he would look like Robert Deniro or Brad Pitt.
To my delight, conversation with Jackson was great. He seemed comfortable in his skin and appeared to have an adventurous side. I was able to laugh freely with him as we talked openly about racism, race and interracial dating. I can't say that I've been healed of all of my misconceptions of interracial dating from our conversation that night. But, I do know that I'm more open to seeing men from all races as potential mates.
Besides, at the end of the day, race is a socially constructed phenomenon that anthropologists have found in research to be bogus. Check out the three part documentary, "Race: The Power of an Illusion." It's clear that I may have more similarities with a Caucasian woman from Scotland than with an African American woman who lives around the corner from me.
This doesn't negate the reality that people with dark skin similar to mine, have experienced years of social and economic injustices from various American institutions. Finding love with a Caucasian male won't mean I'll be seen as any less dangerous when I stroll into some predominately white neighborhoods or have less of a battery of questions about std's and drugs thrown at me by white nurses and residents because of the stereotypes that they hold of Black people being promiscuous.
I know well the harsh realities of being of African descent in America. But, shouldn't I hold on to a greater hope for race relations in the department of love as well?
At the end of the day, I'm hoping that my family, my friends, my community are cheering me on to experience happiness with a man who treats me right and challenges me to be the best me, regardless of race.
Or should I continue to hold out for a "perfect" Black man, when some of them have clearly gotten the memo years ago that they can date whoever they want?
What I want is the BEST man for me.
For now I'm enjoying getting to know Irish Jackson. He makes me giggle, holds my hand crossing the street, and walks beside me like he knows I'm a great catch.
I like my me with him!!!
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