Commenter AMT writes:
I haven't seen a thread here on interracial marriage/dating. I'm interested to hear your thoughts on the subject.
OK, let's go. I've never dated interracially. When I was younger, and much less mature, I said I'd never do it. No that doesn't quite go far enough, I claimed that black men, specifically, should stick with their own:
I know a couple of black men who are honestly in love with white women. They've dated black women before, but this is who they fell for. But those who manage to shake off the cultural conditioning are rare indeed. I stick with black women, not because of any aversion to white women, not because of any "Nubian princess" mythology, and not because I think crossing the line would necessarily conflict with my politics. I stick with black women because I wonder, in this climate, if an honest relationship with anybody else is possible. I stick with black women because I know how men (black and white) routinely use them for toilet stools. I stick with black women because I know to do anything else, whether I meant to or not, would be to become an accomplice to that crime.
Oh man. So young. So ideologically pure. What happened to me? I wrote that right after I turned 22. I had just become a professional writer. And I was pretty stupid. Not stupid like, ill-read, but in those days, I didn't understand the limits of ideology--namely that it can say so much about the world, and yet so little about your life, or your neighbor's life, or the girl on the train's life.
I am ten-years deep into my relationship, and here is what I know--a long term relationship will make pragmatists of us all. It is hard to find someone you even enjoy sleeping with, much less live with. But please indulge me in that former point for a moment, while I deliver a message to the youth who are of age: When you're talking about long-term, you better enjoy it. Not cold pizza enjoy it. Not Big Mac enjoy it. But hot apple pie with ice cream--after you just smoked a blunt--enjoy it. What's that TV On The Radio joint?
Oh but the longing is terrible
Gentle heart under attack
I wanna love you all the way off
I wanna break your back.
Fuck what you've heard. Until those lyrics mean something to you, keep looking. Sorry, back to our programming...
Look it's hard enough to satisfy the basic carnal needs--it's even harder to satisfy those needs, and satisfy the basic emotional and mental ones too. There is a good chance that your long-term relationship will one day fail. A great way to up the chances of truly epic fail, hot grits, I'm talking hot grits fail, burn down the mansion fail, is to shrink the pool of your potential partners.
Look, my name is Ta-Nehisi. I've been black all my life, and look forward to remaining that way until I'm in the dirt. My woman is darker than me, and hasn't permed her hair in over a decade. All that said, if I was back out there I'd adhere to this maxim--Motherfuckers need to do what they feel. Your blackness will not do the dishes. Malcolm X, God bless him, won't keep your woman off your ass when you forget about that PTA meetings.
I understand how being a man colors this. Black women who oppose interacial dating have different reasons than most. I think it's closer to the manner in which some Jewish women must hate the idea of a Shiksa. But even that doesn't quite get it. The opposition comes out of a specific, and yet broad, historical experience of never being held up as anyone's flower of virtuosity, but instead as un-feminine and oversexed. The coping mechanism is an alternate world--here in Harlem, in the pages of Essence, on the campuses of HBCUs--where there are no white people and the historical baggage is gone. When you see a black man with a white woman, that alternate reality is challenged.
So how do black women beat history? How do you by into the game, knowing that the game is, indeed, rigged. I think you start by seeing yourself as more than a response to oppression, as more than a place on the totem pole, as an individual. With that in mind you go where your individual predelictions take you, and you date whoever you find there--regardless of race. It's true that there's a sector of society intent on not allowing you your humanity. But you don't want to date those people anyway. So what does it ultimately matter?