Dear white parents,
Interracial dating is HARD. It sounds fun on paper, but in all actuality, it takes concerted effort from both parties to work. I’ve noticed that the most strenuous relationships usually involve black males and white females.
In my own personal experience, I’ve encountered fierce backlash stemming from all kinds of people, regardless of race, because of this. It’s always felt as if their main goal was to discourage me from pursuing relationships with white women, as I have an affinity for them.
That doesn’t mean I don’t care for other races; it just means I know what I prefer, and I don’t get why anyone takes that personally to this day.
White men act as if I’m taking away “their women,” while black women look at me as the enemy, claiming I don’t care about them because I’m not dating within my own race. There’s no middle ground for us black guys, and it’s partly because of how you view us.
It reminds me of the story of Emmett Till. For those of you unfamiliar, he was a young boy from Chicago who was slain by white men for whistling at a white woman.
Till was visiting some relatives in Mississippi when it happened. They went into a grocery store where he spoke with the shop owner, a Caucasian lady. Back then, in the Jim Crow South, it was forbidden for black men to interact with, let alone attempt to court, white women.
Emmett was abducted from his grandmother’s house by the shop owner’s husband and brother. They beat, lynched, and tortured him, then dumped his body in a nearby river to hide what they’d done. Grown men. What a shame.
I’ve been privileged enough to be head-over-heels in love with two different Caucasian women. Neither relationship worked out, but I’m still immensely grateful for the experience.
My first relationship was with a lovely woman named Shelby. She was two years older than me, which made the relationship all the more sweeter.
We met at a young adult ministry in Fayetteville, Arkansas, home to Dillard’s, JB Hunt, Tyson Foods, and of course, Walmart. Neither of us liked the other when we first started engaging with one another.
I thought she was too country, with an accent that never failed to reveal how deeply Southern her roots were. In spite of this, I’d like to think I know how to interact with women. By some stroke of fate, we ended up dating later on that year.
That relationship started off well, but ended in disaster, as her parents didn’t fully approve of us being together. My minority status worried them too much.
Never mind the fact that her parents were two women in a lesbian relationship (which I have no problem with); I simply wasn’t good enough for their daughter.
As a minority myself, I vowed to never discriminate against other marginalized groups, so seeing how this wasn’t mutual did a number on me.
That relationship lasted eighteen months. We even tried to negate the effects her parents’ words had on me (and us), getting engaged in early 2016. Sadly, that wasn’t enough to sustain our relationship; her parent’s words — and influence — were too much to ignore.
We started fighting about things that didn’t matter, only to realize that the root cause of our incessant arguing was simple — she was no longer sure she wanted to be with a black guy.
Then came Evangeline, the picturesque strawberry blonde from Central Arkansas. We dated for fourteen months while I resided there.
The night I met her father, he took me through a pointless series of tests to see if I was a stereotypical black male — which basically meant he wanted to see if I was a thug. I knew in that moment his interactions with black men had been extremely limited.
He actually asked me how much of a role gold played in my life, aware that most hip-hop recording artists wear attention-grabbing chains and jewelry, usually chalk-full of gold and/or diamonds.
That would be like me asking his wife if she knew how to make a green bean casserole, or any casserole for that matter. Those are staples in every white household I’ve ever encountered.
The pain from the fallout in my relationship with Evangeline trumped that from my relationship with Shelby because of how much more attention me being black got. Throughout the course of our relationship, I had to continuously defend her decision to date me.
Not because I was a bad boyfriend or “wife beater.” Not because I failed to treat her with the love and respect she deserved. Not because I had no ambitions or aspirations for my own life. It solely stemmed from me being dark-skinned.
The pressure from outside influences was too much for Evangeline to handle. It came from her immediate family, extended family, friends, coworkers, even our fellow church members.
While I remain spiritual, I no longer look at myself as a Christian or devout religious individual. It doesn’t sit well with me that the South, aka the Bible Belt because of its emphasis on religion, is also the epicenter of this country’s racism.
People who claimed to serve an all-loving God also espoused that I was no good for my girlfriends because black guys are nothing but trouble.
In the end, that relationship also failed, all because of what started with her parents, trickled down to her siblings and extended family, and made its way into her place of work and our place of worship.
I realized that there are a lot of white women who have an affinity for black men, however public or private they are about it.
Hear me when I say I understand your concerns. You want to make sure your daughters are provided for and protected. And if I’m being honest, the statistics aren’t exactly favorable for us black men.
A few years ago, 1 in 4 of us would have the unpleasant experience of living life behind bars, no matter how temporary. Now, that number has gone up to 1 in 3.
You read stats like that, and it cements your decision to keep your daughters away from us.
Other times, you allow your own prejudices and preconceived notions to influence your overall perception. If I did that, I wouldn’t have learned as much about Caucasian culture as I did.
We ALL have prejudices. The only way to overcome them is to immerse yourself in the very environments you spend time avoiding. It’s like fear — you either fear everything and run, or face everything and rise.
With prejudices, you either immerse yourself in settings that can help you overcome them, or you look for reasons to justify your feelings. But be warned — that’s how racism starts.
Prior to high school, I exclusively interacted with black and Latinx community members. That’s what my neighborhood primarily consisted of.
Then, during my freshmen year, I moved from the city of Philadelphia to the suburbs, attending a high school that was 98 percent Caucasian. That was where my social anxiety began.
But, like mentioned above, I knew I could run from that fact, only socializing with the few other minorities who attended Owen J. Roberts High School, or I could make the most of my first chance to fully immerse myself in white culture.
I’m glad I chose the later over the former. I was introduced to Led Zeppelin, playing the acoustic guitar, the Beatles, the Imagine Dragons, and yes — casseroles.
At the end of the day, aren’t we all just people? We share similar hopes, dreams, fears, insecurities, worries, triumphs, tragedies, etc. We breathe the same air and bleed the same color.
And yet, because of color (or looks), us black males have to deal with being treated like second-class citizens. This needs to change.
Your daughters will be safe with us. We’re more than the ugly, nasty stereotypes you often see attributed to us. The ones that make you question why any white women would date a dark-skinned man like myself.
Let’s stop assuming the worst once you meet one of us up close and in person. We’re more than what you see on TV or in any form of media. Like you, we’re just people.
A tired but optimistic black man
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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