I’m going to tackle an issue that never will die, interracial dating and whether or not people should. I’ll be specifically tackling the issue from the African-American perspective, with whites dating blacks. I damn sure don’t want to try to do global interracial dating, and definitely not from a perspective I’m not familiar with (white, Hispanic, Asian, etc.) so let’s see if I can narrow down some issues in the African-American community that always seem to bring up problems for interracial dating.
Firstly, there’s two types of interracial dating – black man/white woman (BM/WW) and white man/black woman (WM/BW). Both are met with resistance, and I’ll briefly describe the resistances that are common for both. If a BM/WW relationship is going on: black women feel slighted and some outright disrespected; many black women also think the black man is just going for something easy because white women are easier to deal with than black women and only a real black man can handle the black woman; he’s a sellout and not in tune with his people; he’s only with her because she’s “exotic” (AKA non-black); and black families, mothers especially, get worried because their son might get “Genarlowed” and end up in prison due to false allegations.
For WM/BW relationships: the black woman just couldn’t handle a black man so she ran to a white guy; the white guy isn’t man enough to handle a black women; she’s a sellout and not in tune with her people; she doesn’t care about keeping the black family together; she’s weird/stupid; she must come from money…
On both sides I could do a laundry list of stereotypes attributed to Black people who opt to date white people. When I originally started this post I was going to do something about the debate, but let me get a few things off of my chest first. 1) I’ve never dated a white woman (or non-Black woman). This could be for a bunch of reasons, but it’s never been because I have an overwhelming desire NOT to – it’s just never happened like that. So if I end up being pro-interracial dating (which in most instances I am, and I’ll explain what I mean by that later), there’s nothing directly that I gain by being at the very least neutral towards interracial dating. 2) The major impetus for this is a very hypocritical position a friend of mine took towards interracial dating. She, a Black woman, will be absolutely furious if a black man dates a white woman. She sees a clear moral duty, but can’t articulate why (and subsequently refuses to talk to me about this situation, holding close to her dogma and not critically engaging her moral impetus). On the other hand, she has absolutely no problem with Black women dating white men – herself having dated a couple and been in serious relationships with them. I’m not going to make her argument for her (last I remember it’s pretty shitty), but it did prompt me then to do a small examination on this issue. Then I read Mills’ essay, “Do Black Men Have A Moral Duty To Marry Black Women,” and after reading and evaluating the arguments given (which he gives a very good account of the 6 arguments given and where their strengths and weaknesses are), I can’t say that there’s a moral duty on that end. Instead, I’d like to make the point that in the search for love, it might not be the best move to limit yourself.
Listen, I’m a fan of people finding real love. I haven’t found it, but I’ve seen people who find it and they appear legitimately happy. I’m a fan of that. I’m a fan of Black love also, but really insofar as it’s a subset of love. The fact is that it’s hard enough to find love. Half the people you date will be crazy, at least one will be gay, another 25% will be good but not quite good enough…it’s an uphill battle. To me, it makes the most sense to try to cast your net far and wide and hope that a good fish comes up.
But I’d be naive to even posit anything without recognizing the many social issues surrounding miscegenation. There’s still a litany of racists out here, bigots and racially prejudiced people. There are plenty of communities that don’t like to see mixing up going on; I remember a recent report on a couple in perhaps Mississippi who weren’t allowed to get married because they were of different races. The stuff is real – the problems are out there. And truthfully, I can’t get mad at someone who chooses to date within his/her race because s/he wants to avoid the social problems. I can only hope those people find love, but if they don’t and settle for something less than love it might come back as a bad decision. Or perhaps a decision they can live with. The people I do get mad at (beware, I might rant here), are the people who have fetishized the other race to the point that they only date outside their race because of the fetishism attached.
This, to me, is a problem. I understand choosing different people and that those different people might be of different races, but honing in on one race that’s specifically not yours appears to really be a problem. To me, it fetishizes the members of that race. And my gut instinct tells me that if you go back up to that above list – you’ll see some of the reasons why that person dates only that race is couched in one of those stereotypes – why would someone go out of their way to ONLY date outside of their race? Granted, if you’re Black but you listen to primarily alternative music, classic and contemporary rock, enjoy the comedy of Eric Schwartz and grew up in a primarily white environment – yeah, you’ll probably be interested in white people for dating, if for no other reason than it might be kind of tough for that specific Black person to find another Black person with similar interests AND a romantic connection. I’m sympathetic to that circumstance, but I really, really hate when people adhere to a stereotype as their primary reason for dating that race.
You might ask, well why doesn’t it apply to Blacks dating each other? Surely, you might inquire, there are stereotypes at play that make Blacks want to date Blacks? You’re very right – but Blacks dating Blacks doesn’t create a problem. It’s the expectation. But, as I think about it (and if you all find any good ones, please post them here), I don’t have any real stereotypes that Blacks use as the rationale for dating Blacks other than, “White people don’t want us,” or “It’s what we’re supposed to do.” There aren’t any stereotypes coming to mind that drive Blacks to Blacks except for maybe the large scale desire to improve the Black family. But I could definitely be missing some.
I’m running out of steam so I’ll wrap it up by saying this – it’s hard enough to find love, so to me there’s no sense in cutting off a section of the populous due to them not having pigmentation. Moreover, I don’t see any good moral arguments that demand Blacks to date Blacks – the pitfalls in each outweigh the prudence in the argument. Again, I’ve never dated a white woman, and truth be told – I see it as something very difficult for me to do following my 4 year inculcation at a HBCU. Admittedly, I miss hanging out with Black people primarily because as a group, there’s just more I can identify with. But, that’s not to say that I’m not open to the possibility of dating a white woman, or a non-Black woman. Fact is, if she and I vibe, I’m going to look into it. And no, I’m not doing anything wrong – I’d like to see someone point out how I would be, honestly. But, as I said, it’s hard to find love. It’s harder to find Black love (in the US chalk it up to many, many different reasons including the numbers game in total). But as long as the intentions of the dater are pure (that is, not a fetishism of the other race for some personal benefit or something), I have no qualms with interracial dating. I’m not going to push my views on you, but I must also say in this conclusion that if you allow for one subset of the race the “freedom” to date interracially, then that same freedom must be extended to the whole of the race. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s an argument defending hypocrisy. Anyways, those are my jumbled up thoughts on interracial dating.