It’s been a while that I’ve been here but it was quite a surprise to see this conversation still going from last year. Not that a continuing conversation is a bad thing and I’m definitely happy to see Emerging Phoenix engaging you… But there’s still much missing in all of this that only looks at the white vs. black dimension of interracial relationships that does not speak to the experiences of many of us who are black non-African American.
I do not want to trivialize the multitude of issues that black women face from not only the society at large but also from black men who are more than happy to denigrate them… But in order of magnitude, the number of black-white interracial marriages is by far less than black-black marriages. I think the current stats (I will try and find the link soon) is that of all marriages involving black folks, black-white marriages are less than 10% even when you climb up the socioeconomic ladder the proportion of black-white marriages is still less than 10% of all marriages involving black men or women. In terms of severity, I think attacking those negative images of black women while promoting the multi-faceted lives and experiences of black women is more important and more constructive than calling race-traitor on black men who date white women. With regards to the black men who denigrate black women to protect white women or other non-black women (e.g. Wesley Snipes) they should be condemned outrightly BUT the kind of prejudice they express is by far more complicated than just a black man thing… this segues to how the issue of denigrating black folk affects the diverse romantic interactions between the multiple ethnicities in the black community.
If you were to ask Nigerian who he/she would marry, nine times out of ten they will pick a Nigerian, which on the face is a good thing because they’re with black people, but if you were to dig deeper this perspective also includes a racialized view of non-Nigerian black folk (especially African-Americans) as less than acceptable. This also brings in very sexist perspectives, where Nigerian women are beholden to Nigerian men in order to have legitimate identities as Nigerians within their families as well society at large, Nigerian men are all too happy to have their way with African-American women but after having their fun will settle down with a Nigerian woman (without loosing their identities in anyway). Even between and within African nationalities there are so many prejudiced views; where Ibos, Ibibios, Yorubas, Hausas, Nigerians, Ghanaians, Ethiopians and Egyptians employ nationalist, tribal prejudices against one another. If one were to extend RR’s theories of black on black love to Yoruba on Yoruba love or Nigerian on Nigerian love or Ethiopian and Ethiopian love only, then we would be left with more of a fragmented community.
Flipping the coin, my experience has shown me that just as much anti-African racialized prejudice and discrimination from African-Americans who have internalized their racism. I’m talking about those who still use the “paper bag” test when it comes to dating other black folks, as well as African-Americans that look at us Africans as savages. This does not mean that the other extreme i.e. those who exoticize the sexuality and identity of Africans as the “real” Mandingos/Africans, is any less problematic and detrimental to building personal relationships. Additionally, having lived and worked in countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Central, I’ve seen too many African-Americans take full advantage of their American privilege (which is by extension a racialized privilege) at the expense of their African and Afro-Latino cousins. These same people were in relationships with other African-Americans enjoying their isolation or when they were in relationships with African or Afro-Latino were very happy to utilize their privilege to select partners from the “cream of the crop”. Tell me what difference does it make if the doctors, marine biologists and engineers who were trained (with heavy investment by the government of Nicaragua and Cuba) to serve their poor communities left with African-American sisters (which was the case) rather than white women (which was rarely so)? Because at the end of the day, the government and community (including the women from these men’s communities) will not be able to reap the dividends when the people they’ve invested in decide to take advantage of the opportunity to live in the U.S.
Lastly, while I will never submit to the view that employs the epithet of race-traitor to EVERY black man who is in a relationship with a non-black woman (white women included) because I much prefer to leave that type of stubborn generalization to bigots… It has to be said that black women have suffered far too much and for far too long at the hands of our racist and sexist society, and they should be free from the poisonous racist and patriarchal views that act as gatekeepers in their selection of partners who are not black… I will say it again, Black women should NEVER be subjugated and obligated to be with Black men (who also benefit from a male-dominated society) solely because of racial solidarity because too often that involves disempowering Black women. Black women should be able to marry anyone they so choose because it is their right as human beings and anyone or any social system that actively or passively denies their agency or the legitimacy of their identity (as well as any offspring they have) as black folk is nothing but racist and sexist and it must be systematically dismantled. Period.
Aulelia over at Charcoal Ink has an interesting post entitled: “marry a tanzanian….?”, which discusses the issue of inter-cultural relationships among those of African descent.
Lots to think about, think on. Absolutely, the idea that we should be doing a kind of ‘Ethno-Nationalistic Noah’s Ark’, with the Nigerians lined up with the Nigerians and ONLY the Nigerians…That shit is absurd.
We have progressed way past that, but, many if not most are still mired in the white man’s game – wallowing in absolutist, overgeneralized, simplistic, myopic thought and sight.
The figures you mention are correct, I believe, though it may be less than 10% of black married relations that are interracial. So, is there a crisis, and if there is, is it a group or individual crisis?
What you say about AA’s colorlining/brown bagging/comb testing each other – that shit is real. We of all people have to be constantly vigilant about these kinds of attitudes. And usually, the ones who talk the loudest have done the LEAST work on themselves; hell, they behave as if they are unscathed by racism/white supremacy. We’re all touched by it, burned by it.
I spent time in Paris and I know its different for me than it is for an Algerian or a Martinican. I’ve been in the subway and seen the random police stops. All you need is an American passport and you’re good. What I do about THAT I don’t know. But if I lived there I’d need to face it squarely rather than ignore it.
Paulo Coehlo said our only obligation is to our destiny. I believe that. Part of my destiny is seeing where I need to grow up – intellectually, emotionally, spiritually – developing my talents, having relationships and being present in those relationships. Really present, not just in body, but in mind and spirit.
So many of us have evacuated our bodies; we are simply a collection of prejudices, hurts, taunts. So many of us aren’t real, aren’t even alive, though we walk around on two legs. A real human being recognizes that they have NO limitations. The only limitations we have are the ones we default to, the ones someone else gave us.
So no, NONE of us should be subjugated by anybody or anything. NONE of us should HAVE to marry anything or anyone we don’t want to. If you find love with someone who doesn’t look like you or come from the same culture – who am I to judge. That might be right for you – or right now for you. Its like some folks would rather have an arranged marriage cultural procedure. Not me.
Nice Lubangakene… real nice. I can feel the spirit of your words.
Thanks for putting this up, maybe it will spark a more constructive debate about the diverse experiences regarding this matter within the black community.
P.S: Always having to catch my typos, I just realized I forgot to complete the sentence, I worked in countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Central America.
I’ll respond to your comments later.
Sewere said ”But in order of magnitude, the number of black-white interracial marriages is by far less than black-black marriages”
– I am not sure I fully agree with this. I cannot speak for the US but in the United Kingdom, 50% of Black British men date outside their race. This might not mean that they marry white girls or Asian girls but I think it is a good indication to show that black girls are not the first rate choice for a segment of black men in the UK who in general look for white female partners.
Which Sub-Saharan countries have you been to? Your points about Nigeria ring true throughout East Africa too. If you don’t marry a tribal member, it is looked down upon. If you don’t marry a citizen of your nation, you are a traitor. There are so many bogus ideals that African people and members of the African-descended diaspora put on themselves in order to maintain who they are. Is it because colonialism robbed us of our African identity?
I like your slant on how black women shouldnt be made to feel like gatekeepers. I think this is particularly revolutionary but I think many black girls me included want to be able to support our men. If I was in an IR relationship or even if I wasn’t, I would still want to be seen as a pro-black man black girl (I hope that makes sense).
Black men do BENEFIT definitely from a male-dominated society (fully agree with you on that). It is unfair but it is the way the cookie crumbles. And I think this myopic reality of how gender is seen is WHY many black girls feel pain when they see IR. I really think that is it. If black women were equal to black men in a social sense and the stereotypes of crack-whore, video-ho were erased, would there be as much of ”oh he’s not keeping it real”?I don’t think so. The imbalance is to blame in my opinion.
Thanks for the comments and questions Aulelia. I’m a bit swamped with work but I’ll be sure to get back to you by the weekend.
Descriptions: Blog discussing interracial dating issues and relationships in today’s world.
Are you in a same-race relationship and are cheating on your spouse interracially