“Some say we are responsible for those we love. Others know we are responsible for those who love us. —Nikki Giovanni
News pundits recently went hard at Jill Scott for writing in Essence magazine about the mosquito bite–like sting she felt when hearing that a brotha is in a relationship with a white woman. While I’d be lying if I said most times I walk past an interracial couple involving a black woman or man and had no sort of internal dialogue about it, I attribute this more to questioning the narrative I grew up with: who loves who, and why.
I agree with Nikki G (in the sense that one isn’t obligated to date certain men because they are of the same race as she and that you can find love anywhere). I am also ambivalent about interracial dating, can’t help bouncing questions around my mind. What I have to say here is no theory explaining 100 (or even 5) percent of interracial dating (discussed here only as black and white)—just food for thought while waiting on Hump Day.
While the post-slavery legacy is different for every black family, I do feel that, as a collective, having this heritage weighs on blacks in America—sometimes manifesting itself in battles with abrasiveness toward each other, ability to show gentleness or vulnerability or sincere emotion (other than anger or tough love), self-hatred. Much is made about the current (perceived or otherwise) disconnect between black men and women. This didn’t “just happen” with Generations X and Y, and now that our world is wider, we have dating options previously unavailable (because of racial, geographic, and economic limitations).
bell hooks, in Rock My Soul, speaks of economic gains and the civil rights movement and how “caring for the soul” was put on the back burner:
“Black folks have been . . . ‘hurt to our hearts,’ and the deep psychological pain we have endured and still endure affects our capacity to feel and therefore our capacity to love. We are a wounded people. Wounded in that part of ourselves that would know love, that would be loving.”
Am I saying that black folks can’t love? Hell no. We love romantic and familial, up and down, left, right, and through—but we love in this context that hooks lays out. And for some (often unconsciously), they may seek a place of love where this context doesn’t look back at them through the eyes of a brown-faced partner. A place where one can let down her guard in a perceived “white standard” of “healthy” (read: “Leave It to Beaver”) relationships, or at least those where one partner isn’t struggling with an oppressed history and the constant self-definition / re-definition that comes from existing as a “minority.” In short, they think, on some level, being with white romantic partners is easier.
Or maybe I am internalizing media hype. Even if that is the case, I think the development (or stunting) of our capacity for love and outward emotion is a convo worthy of taking up. Little brown babies are counting on us to do the needed work.
“A white face goes with a white mind. Occasionally a black face goes with a white mind. Very seldom a white face will have a black mind.” –Nikki Giovanni
Do you have strong feelings on interracial dating, or do you “live and let live”? What do you think is the next step for the dialogue on black love–or do you think there even needs to be one?