Monday, 10 May 2010

Love is love

I read something the other day that really hurt my feelings. Thanks to a commenter (Kay) on this blog, I found out that a woman I’ve greatly admired, Jill Scott, basically dissed interracial relationships She said she winced when she found out a Black male friend of hers was married to a White woman. She went on to mention the African-American experience and to raise the slowly healing scars of slavery.

Many of you know that I’m happily married to a white man (Scottish, no less) and I have a great appreciation of stable, happy and loving relationships of all kinds, but interracial ones are particularly attractive to me because they are so immediately identifiable. The majority of the men I have been dated have been white with a few forays into other races (equal opportunity dater here!). I’m not going to get into my past, but I will say, before I started Dave and had started my dating sabbatical, I had decided I wanted to put more energy into dating men with a similar ethnic background as me mainly with the hope that we'd be starting on the same page. Of course, the best laid plans get cast aside and I fell in love with a funny man named Dave rather than just a white guy named Dave. So since I’m in this loving and stable interracial marriage, I always appreciate seeing those in likewise situations on the street and in the media. We both get excited in fact because those folks resemble us. And it’s especially strong when we see biracial kids with their honey complexion and massive hair. So yeah, I’m pretty protective and proud of interracial love.

On the flipside, I can appreciate arguments in the Black community that “Black love” needs to be upheld and celebrated because it’s becoming an endangered category. It’s true – monocultural relationships are easier in the respect that individuals can truly comprehend and empathize with what the other has gone through and can perhaps better understand the trials that particular group has to go through (this goes for white folks too). I do feel a twinge though when Essence magazine puts on their annual “Let’s get married” contest solely to celebrate Black love (mind you, this would NEVER go down in a white mag). Is the love I share with a white guy not as beautiful as the love shared by two people of the same race? That’s what this contest seems to deny.

But back to Jill. Am I so out of the loop that Black females still feel like a victim when they see a “brotha” with a “Malibu Barbie”? Was her article written borne out of old hurts? Black women are not helpless or incapable of love with men (or women) outside their race, right? I think it’s a sad, sad state of affairs of a woman feels so beaten down in love that she can’t be happy if her male counterpart has found love and happiness, even if it’s with a person outside their race. Love is love, right? Well, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Luckily, I found something that brought me back up. Love being celebrated here. Of course I love seeing pictures of beautiful women with natural hair and I was especially happy to see some white guys in there. The blogger, Black Girl with Long Hair wrote a post for Clutch magazine explaining how disheartened she was by the media’s recent pre-occupation of the sorry state of the love life of the black woman so she had a contest inviting readers to submit pictures of them in their natural hair state with their honeys. She aptly called it “Love is in the hair”.

If you’ve been following these media stories about Black women in love, or even if you haven’t, what do you think about the latest contribution to this fascination? What do you think about interracial relationships? No hating please!

9 comments:

  1. Yeah, I don't know... LOL! What I mean to say is, I can understand what some of these women are feeling, but I don't identify with their struggle. Maybe it's the fact that I wasn't born in a white-dominant society, coupled with the fact that in Canada, the racial situation is not as poisonous as in the States. I've seen the difficulties, but I've never seen the barrier to interracial relationships that many women seem to be expressing. And "victim"?!!! When my bf gets home I will let him know that I'm his "victim" and we can have a good laugh. :D

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  2. If I could put as much energy into writing my papers as I do into discussing topics like this, I'd have finished law school five months ago.

    Lemme toss up a few links:
    http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/2009/10/05/your-race-affects-whether-people-write-you-back/

    http://www.economist.com/world/united-states/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15867956

    http://www.thefighting44s.com/archives/2007/08/10/browns-wall-of-shame-in-inter-racial-dating/

    http://www.racialicious.com/2010/03/30/social-capital-and-denying-the-pain-of-black-women/

    http://anepigone.blogspot.com/2009/05/marriage-and-cohabitation-rates-by-race.html

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  3. Now then. I can only speak to the situation south of our shared border. I saw the article you're referring to and my initial reaction was mixed. On the one hand, the decades of tolerance education crammed into me and my upbringing in the 50th State all cringed at what appeared to be an open attack on interracial relationships. People are allowed to fall in love with whomever they wish, aren't they? On the other hand, some teary-eyed part of me cried out "wakaru!" and I felt almost an envy that it is socially acceptable for women (and particularly black women) to voice this particular complaint. After several conversations and combing through blogs, I've concluded the emotions Jill Scott is expressing are based in an empirically provable reality and that a similar reality exists for Asian men.

    I had a black female friend over for tea a few months back and she matter of factly said to me that black women rank lowest in dating desirability (anecdotally). As an Asian guy, my first thought was to dispute this, but I wasn't interested in engaging in a "my-wounds-hurt-more-than-your-wounds" conversation. Given the way that black people are disproportionately represented in pop culture and black women are highly sexualized in media, it seemed absurd to me that black women were struggling in the dating world. After all, Damaris Lewis is pretty much #1 on the list of people in the world I’d like to have sex with. Then, I came across the first post linked above: It’s an analysis of data from the OkCupid dating site discussing how race affects the number of responses you get. Lo and behold, white men get far more responses than any other group. White women get high rates of responses. Asian men get a low rate of responses. Black women get very low rates of responses. Black men respond far more to messages from white women than from black women, and even more to Asian women. The data do seem to suggest black women (and Asian men and other groups) have it relatively rough.

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  4. Then I saw some other articles… Consider the second and third links. The second is an economist article that among other things, produces some pretty staggering numbers. 1 out of 3 American black men will be locked up at some point. Between 20-29, 1 in 9 is behind bars. The number for black women is 1 in 150. Not to mention, many women won’t date an ex con. The second article is about black women at Brown University who made a public list of men who date white women to punish them socially. Sounds pretty terrible and puerile. The article mentions that in 1994, nationally, there were 900k black women in college and only 550k black men. Pretty shitty odds.

    Put it all together and what do you get? Not a lot of eligible black men to begin with, and many of the ones who are around don’t put black women first. It’s frowned upon to attempt to lay any kind of claim to members of the opposite sex of one’s race, so people keep quiet. But everyone knows something’s going on, and that’s the anger and hurt coming out of Jill Scott’s piece and the actions of those girls at Brown. In this country, being a woman means it’s socially acceptable for you to voice such emotions. It’s acceptable for women to publicly be insecure and hurt by being passed up. Not so for men. If an Asian man wrote an article like Jill Scott’s, he would be stoned to death in the street and called unimaginable things. People would say he thinks women are his property and such views are precisely why he’s losing Asian women. And yet, look at my last link (scroll to the last four pie charts). Asian women are the only demographic where a MINORITY of those cohabitating do so with members of the same race. A MAJORITY of Asian women who cohabitate do so with non-Asians. If cohabitation is any indication of marriage statistics to come, Asian women marry white men at virtually the same rate as they marry Asian men. Something real is going on and very few are able to talk about it. That said, WGWAG (pronounced wig-wag; White Girl With Asian Guy) combinations are clearly on the rise (though still less than 1/3 of the opposite).

    Anyway, I guarantee you’ll find all of those links fascinating if you give em a moment. And by the way, when the black girl who came over for tea told me what she did, I flipped open this laptop and busted out some Scotland wedding pics to rebut.

    One more link. Straight from me to you, Kaki: You’ll like this one. J
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckGFc3cTHA8

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  5. I agree with the title of your post Love is love.

    My husband and I are a biracial couple and we have raised two sons. Been together 30 years and married for 28.

    I believe that if you are lucky enough to find love you need to cherish and nurture it to the fullest.

    Peace, Alida

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  6. P.S. I'm presently in search of what is going on re: certain demographics' desire to date/marry out. Whereas previously, I thought the issue was a lot simpler, now I think it has myriad angles and reasons are definitely not uniform. Although Asians on average make more than white people in this country, Asian women continue to have the perception that marrying white is "marrying up." So there's definitely some kind of residual colonial mindset thing going on. I also believe the trauma of the Japanese American internment experience caused a lot of self-hatred and hastened the desire to get out of the community. Then you have the issue of how we're portrayed in Hollywood, which I could talk for ages about. Then there are all the usual dating issues... height, buffness, masculinity, etc. Fun stuff.

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  7. Kaki, you are so right - love is love. What does it matter what your race is? If you fall in love with someone who you care about and relate to, then you're very lucky and it shouldn't be wasted. It makes me sad that there are still so many racial divisions in this day and age, but as long as there are people out there bucking the trends the world is moving in the right direction :)

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  8. C7, I'm sure you do spend a lot of time and effort on your law assignments, but aren't cultural/sexual investigations just a lot more fun?!?

    I read all the articles you posted + I watched that short on youtube. Firstly, that Joel guy was fine. There. Secondly, it made for uncomfortable watching for me. I've felt other people's, specifically men I've dated,desire to squeeze me into some narrow box that I had no business being in. It was a lot more subtle than what Joel experienced, but it was there nonetheless.

    About this issue about interracial dating, self-hate, fetishizing the other and "victims", it is so, so complex. I'm willing to admit that my world view might be narrow and flawed. I personally have never seen myself as part of a demographic. Yes, I know that I'm a black woman, between the ages of 18-35, I'm university educated and married. But I've always believed that I was/am just me. Just Kaki. So my experiences are my own. I was the girl that liked boys who didn't like me back. I was also that girl that dissed the boys who liked me. I found attractiveness in a myriad of shapes, sizes and colours. I can remember one episode of being rejected by a black man I wanted who ended up having a white girlfriend. But I didn't feel that he was a race traitor or hated me as a black woman. I just felt that he liked someone else and she happened to be white.

    I really feel for Asian-American men, and I've had my blinders on to their plight. It's tough for them too. They are also cast aside and have slim prospects for marriage. What is it about the white race that they are put on the dating/marriage pedestal for a lot of cultures? They are no better than the minorities! But it is years and years of conditioning. It's not going to disappear overnight. The hold on our thoughts and hearts is still strong. My wish is that people will continue to look at people at individuals rather than a member of a particular race. It is so, so hard.

    But I still stand by my title. Love is love. If you feel it in your heart, it has to be real and cannot be bad.

    Alida, your marriage and family is a beacon for me.

    Viajera, we are so not victims, we're warriors!

    Lou, bucking the trend and walking your own path is so much more fun!

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  9. I think more black women would be opened to men of other races if they were being approached. I can't imagine most educated black women who are approached by men with the qualities they look for turning them down. I think many black women feel slighted by black men and this is affects them more because they get little or no attention from men of other races as well.

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