Sunday, October 12, 2014

Notes From My Daughter - Here's The Thing About Saying, "I would never date a black girl."

Occasional notes from my 20 year old daughter. I never know what to expect when she writes, but it's usually a pleasant surprise.  Read on!

PS - I have tried to instill in my daughters the following thoughts: Know your worth, stand your ground and men are stupid.  The stupid men part is a caveat and only applies when men aren't willing to accept any woman's, but in particular my daughters worth. Men aren't really stupid.  Seems like this daughter knows her worth, and wanted to share some thoughts on dating.

My daughter
The fact that this needs to be explained is so utterly surprising to me, but being a black woman living in South Africa, I've heard this phrase expressed with unbelievable frequency. It’s not the individual component of you not wanting to date me that hurts, it’s the inherent racism that you condone that hurts black women globally. And the same goes to you black men across the world who would “never date a dark skin girl” or “never date a black girl” unless of course she’s an exception.

I realized long ago that for some people, I as an individual was an “exception” because of my body type, hair texture, and because “I’m not like other black girls” and I REFUSE to take that as flattery. (And this is warning for girls: when a guy finds you to be his exception, he will typically keep you around as his “friend” all the while trying to go after others. You’re his back-up plan because he is confused by your existence not because you’re his ideal. You have just been warned because he will never say it). I don’t need you to consider me as valuable by deeming my sisters as unworthy. But once again, let’s get away from the individual component and get down to the issues. There are only so many things about a person’s external appearance that can possibly make them attractive:

1. Their features; skin, hair, facial structure, body type, etc.

2. What the culture assumes about said person because of their features

3. What you conclude about yourself and how you would relate to the conclusions you’ve made about someone you do not know based off of culture and/or your own perceived notions.
Beautiful Black Women
How do you perceive blackness and how do you perceive womanhood to the point where when they intersect you are no longer interested? Seriously, I challenge all men to consider that. Many times we know a lot of stereotypes but we don’t really know the people that we are either consciously or subconsciously condemning as lesser than. 

Why is it that if I say white woman, you don’t think she may have a loud or “intimidating” (I hate that adjective) personality, but that’s the dominant apprehension one typically has when it comes to dating a black woman? Can white people not be loud? What makes someone intimidating? Can a black woman not be introverted without being praised for her “atypical” demeanor as if her culture guarantees that she will be a loud banshee with no “class”? WHAT. IS. THIS. TOMFOOLERY?
Beauty in all shades
As you may be able to tell from the tone of this post I do take offense when I hear this from men of any color because this idea about dating in general is not simply coming from a vacuum of personal preference (that’s another post for another day) but from a culmination of messed up ideology that leaves the black women with the role of inferiority while everyone else is considered better than. Men I know this post might make you feel guilty, but have you ever considered that you just might be? I’m not here to criminalize you, but to really make you consider the common lack of empathy, consideration, and compassion projected towards black women globally. You do not experience her pain and you cannot tell her she is being dramatic because “it cannot be that deep.” The concept is foreign to you, but just because it is invisible from your point of view doesn't mean it is mythical. It may be difficult to understand but go out of your way to do so.

And black women, love yourself in the face of the mainstream ideology convincing you that no one else will. I am not saying this as though it is a simple task but I know I’m charging you to do something truly difficult. Don’t ask yourself “Will he ever date a black girl?”, as if you are some sort of alien to this world. I understand the distrust we have because of the experiences we know, but darling do not let them consume and DO NOT encourage the idea that you will never find love. Relationships are difficult and the way in which the world has framed them is very broken, but you are a beautiful complete human being made in the image of God. He’s your creator, not men. Don’t feel like you have to adopt other people’s culture, lose yourself, hide your culture, or anything else because of the lies and rumors that you've heard about your existence. You are accepted because of the unique elements that make you, you, including your blackness. There are challenges to loving and there are challenges to being loved but please know that you are not less than. You are so much more than you know.
2 generations
So in conclusion understand that by saying “You would never date a black girl” you are indeed validating every notion that society has upheld in efforts to oppress black women. Conversely understand that if (not saying it’s right, but if) a black women says “I would never date a white guy” its typically out distrust for the hurt they've already experienced unlike the disgust that typically comes from men and the stereotypes they have of black women whether they've experienced them or not. Also IF (once again not saying it’s right) a black women claims “I would never date a black guy,” you as a male typically still have other options that will potentially accept you. However, there is no privilege or mobility for a black woman; as a black women it’s typically understood that no one wants you because you are not the norm or ideal in a majority of cultures. This topic is too complex to fully address in one blog post but I hope I clarified the general pain, and expelled the foolish excuses that encourage the acceptability of the phrase: “I would never date a black girl.”

Young Beauties
 Lastly, this is not a request for black men or white men or any men to start asking me out. Once again, this is not about the individual act of dating but the mindset we condone around the simple human issue of relationship. Please leave me and my singleness alone :). I am content, I just wanted to explain the mechanisms feeding a deeply rooted wound that no one seems to understand besides those who have to feel its pain on a consistent basis. That’s all.

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