Why I Don’t Date White People.
DISCLAIMER: If you are a person of color who is currently involved in an interracial relationship with a White person, and you and your romantic partner do not actively engage in critical race analysis, you are going to want to skip this post altogether. For rill. I’m not trying to shatter anybody’s delusional take on the ”healthiness” of their relationship (this is always touchy, and I’m aware of that) or otherwise ruin anybody’s day, I promise. Alright. Here goes.
UPDATE AND ADDITIONAL DISCLAIMER: If you object to anything I have written about in this post, you are more than welcome to post a comment and further the dialogue. I prefer not to be e-mailed about the stuff I write here. Really, I don’t like e-mail in general, and I’m not terribly fond of e-mail from strangers. Nothing personal, just one of many idiosyncrasies. Enjoy!
My most popular post to date is a summation of some of the more common mistakes ordinary people make when dating inter-racially. Now, when I say “mistakes”, what I basically mean is “ignorant shit that people do that pisses off the people around them because it highlights their ridonkulous unconfronted racism and other assorted prejudices.” I mentioned in this post that I have never seriously dated a White person. It’s true. The only White men I have ever dated – even casually – have been actively engaged anti-racists. I am someone who identifies strongly – stridently, loudly and constantly (my friends and family will confirm this) - with oppression resistance. The people I choose to be around and have around me are all similarly-minded. I decided some years back that being a person of integrity and living a courageous life entailed not putting up with racist, sexist, homophobic, classist, closeted and conformist bullsheist in my optional relationships. As you can imagine, this has meant abandoning a LOT of my friendships and relationships, and pruning as I go when I identify something toxic that has wormed its way into the inner sanctum. Often, it has meant being incredibly lonely, and feeling like I’m losing my mind because I notice and am disturbed by things that don’t seem to bother most people. I am often made to feel like a fool for speaking up about and out against all the shit that I see in this world that is messed the hell up.
Now, why’s all that important? Funny story. After a two-hour discussion with my sister yesterday evening, where she expressed her concern about my psychic health and the dangers of focusing too hard on “things that are beyond our power to change alone,” I decided to check my e-mail. There, sitting in my inbox, was a message from someone who identified himself as a White male who had read my pitfalls post:
Why don’t you date White men? I am in love with a beautiful and strong Black woman and we have been together for several years now. Color is not an isue and race is not a factor because we are colorblind. Its racism from people like you that makes it hard for us to be together. Maybe you should open your mind and date outside your race and not be bitter about other peoples hapiness.
SIGH. This is not the first time I have encountered this sentiment. It is not the last. So, the following is an attempt to explain myself and my love choices.
- Most White people are not actively anti-racist. This is just the Truth, y’all. While there is a definite stigma attached to the word “racist” and most White folks do not embrace the label, most people do not understand that in a world as thoroughly entrenched in racism as this one that it is NOT ENOUGH to be merely “not a racist.” All those -isms and -obias? They are a part of our cultural fabric. They are as real as the air we breathe. They are the Hegemony. In other words, the current default of our social structure is racist, sexist, homophobic, classist, ageist, ableist, and everything else. If you are going to combat those things, YOU MUST engage them. White people shy away from race dialogue for a lot of reasons. Tim Wise (a White man who I would happily date) talks about this a lot. And that brings me to point 2.
- Most White people are EXTREMELY aware of White privilege and White entitlement – and they will, consciously or otherwise, reinforce them. The excuse here, unfortunately, was never ignorance. White people are very aware that, in a White racist social structure, being White is a social advantage. I say this because most people of color (even activists) think that White people are basically benevolently clueless (BTW, that notion is a function of White privilege as well – that White people are always friendly, welcome, and well-meaning. Every time I encounter this idea from a White person who is “not racist” or ”colorblind” I immediately recall Emmett Till and smile grimly to myself. Yes, knowledge has made me jaded.) Anybody who has gotten into a heated discussion with someone who is opposed to affirmative action because of “reverse racism” (file “reverse racism” with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny under “Shit That You Have Heard of But That Nobody Has Ever Motherfucking Seen”) knows what I’m talking about. The idea is that – somehow – we live in a meritocracy, where everybody gets/has exactly what they deserve. If it seems like White people have more, well then, it must be because they deserve it. Where that idea comes from is rarely critically examined.
- Even with the most well-meaning White person, at some point, there is a communication block. With the standout exceptions of two White people I know and love (anti-racists) I have encountered what I call “The Wall” with every White person I have ever known. You know what it is. It’s explaining why an incident was racist. It’s explaining why it’s not okay for ANYBODY to use the n-word. (I’ll talk more about that later.) It’s explaining why it’s not okay to exoticize ”mixed” babies. It’s the fight that happens when you challenge your White friend to explain why she thinks that Alek Wek does not belong on the cover of Vogue, but Halle Berry does. It’s what happens when you attempt to challenge the White racist hegemonic structure within the “safe” space of your friendship or love relationship, and you inadvertently discover racism so deeply rooted, so firmly entrenched, and yet so passionately-denied that it shakes your soul to the core.
I have had my heart broken by friends more times than I can recall, and this world chips away at my dignity and sanity in a million myriad ways every day. I refuse to let this be one more thing that I have to find a way to survive.
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