I DVRed CNN’s Black in America: The Black Woman and Family and watched it last night with a few other people. We all agreed that it was God-awful. The whole show went through all the problems with the “Black family” (whatever that means), and then included this asinine section about dating outside of one’s race. The basic jist: there are positively NO Black men for Black women to date, so some of them are even resorting to (wait for it) WHITE MEN. OH NO. The world is coming to an end.
I’ve been dating White men my whole life - so am I some kind of freak? It’s not like I was pushed to it out of desperation either. My first love was interracial, like me. We met in 2nd grade, and I loved him immediately. He moved to Kansas in 5th grade, then to Woodstock in 6th, and then to the Greene State Medium Security Penitentiary at the age of 17 – but we’ve remained close.
Since then, I’ve found myself deeply attracted to people who are my opposite (at least on the outside). I’ve been trying to figure out why for quite some time, and I think I’ve boiled it down to a few reasons. The first has to do with catcalling. I was an early bloomer and I remember, at the age of 11, being very uncomfortable walking past large groups of Black men (well, male teenagers). They’d always yell things at me or whistle or walk next to me. Not saying all Black guys do this, but on the whole Black men are much more vocal with their flirtation, and when I was young I really didn’t know how to handle it. I think this informed my early proclivity for White boys.
The second has to do with my family. Both my mom and my aunt (her sister) married White men. We’re a family of mixes and matches, of skin tones and hair products. I guess I always thought that was the norm. My dad was White, my uncle was White, my cousins were tan like me – that’s how it always was.
The third reason is a bit harder to explain. For some reason, I get this sentimental feeling deep down in my stomach when I see a Black woman and a White man together. Maybe it’s because I figure any White man has a relatively easy life in comparison to any Black person. But when he decides to enter into a relationship with a Black woman, he is immediately making his life (on the outside at least) just a little bit more complicated. Of course, the same can be said for the woman. They will both have to answer questions and endure the 2-seconds-too-long glance from virtually everyone they pass. But they’re both willing to answer the questions and stare back. Together. There’s something absolutely beautiful about that.
And on a purely personal level, star-crossed lovers – separated by age or location or race or gender or whatever else can keep two people apart – have forever fascinated me. I have a catalogue of movies in my head that feature such relationships, I rummage around in bookstores for such stories, and I have also yearned for a star-crossed ingredient in my relationships. A little extra element to push things into the realm of the sentimental. Something to make my heart ache, at least ever so slightly.
But that’s just me, of course.
So what really bothered me about this CNN Special Report? They chalked up the dating preferences of all Black women to logistics, pure and simple. Workplace, school, neighborhood, whatever. Here’s a tip to CNN: Black people are not some monolithic group that one can do a little study on and call it a day. Everyone has preferences (White people AND Black people AND everyone in between!), driven by a multitude of factors. Factors that include logistics, sure, but also include – dare I say it – feelings. Crazy, convoluted, tangled feelings.
So in the end, I’d like to say thanks but no thanks to CNN for this predictable and ice-in November-thin lab rat study.