When preference for your race leads to discrimintation of another; what to do?
“So I was dating this guy…”
I’m a Black woman and I was dating a man of another race who was very much.. let’s say adapted to black culture. His choice in music, style, and even slang all were used as his way to express his love for black culture. Now I’m not going to lie, this was originally one of the reason as to why I was attracted to him. We had things in common; common interests are no doubt one of the main reasons people we would date anyone. We could talk about artists that we liked, we could chop it up about fashion trends, and we also learned about different things about each others culture. Yet as we spent more time together, I picked up on a few things that just didn't settle with me.
One day we were watching the BET Awards. Three gorgeous women, (all singers I believe, yet I dont remember who they were) announced the up and coming performers right before a commercial break. While two of the women were black, there was white woman amongst them. My boyfriend at the time proceeded to say that the two black women looked “good as hell” while the white women did not.
Now…rewind before this comment. We spoke about dating preferences. I asked him what women he tended to date and he told me black women. He never expressed dating in his race or even wanting to. He was simply infactuated with black women. Now being a black woman, I’m thinking kudos to you! We are pretty awesome. However, it wasn’t until this comment escaped from his mouth that I felt a little uncomfortable about his .. “preferences”.
I said, “What’s wrong with the white woman? She’s gorgeous too; they all look nice.” He responded nonchalantly and I dismissed it. For the sake of the up and coming Ariana Grande performance. However, something about his comment left a bad taste in my mouth, so much that that relationship ended (in addition to other things) and I felt compelled to write about it today.
I have only had one conversation about this with my loving and openminded boyfriend that I have now, and we couldn’t quite put our fingers on what was wrong about this comment. And this is because it’s a complex comment to digest. So, all I could do was think about how I felt and the number one question that I had in that moment. That was, “Why is this guy with me?” However, this led to more questions…
“Am I just an accessory to this guy’s lifestyle?”
“If I was a different skin color would I even have caught his attention?”
“Do I sound like that when a commenting on men of different races?”
“Is this still just a preference thing? Or is it something deeper than that?”
I found myself searching for answers to my actions thus far in my lifetime. I thought about my thought process when he approached me that very first day we met and what was going through my mind. I thought about what was going through his. The ultimate answer that I came to was that this is wrong. I just needed to address why so that I could be okay with myself and how I think about people outside of my race.
A preference for dating a particular race is fine! To date within my race was always my preference because of various reasons as to why anyone dates anyone. Proximity, similarity, common interests, etc.; we date people which we connect with. Now, this has not stopped me from dating people outside of my race. For example, you move around and thus you find yourself in a different neighborhood, at a new job, or you start a new class. This would bring you to find that you are now in close proximity, share similarities, and may have common interests with people you never would have before these life changes! This is why I’ve had the pleasure of meeting great people white, black, brown, and yellow; men and women and have great connections with those people. Now, when you still find yourself attracted to the smae type of person this is fine too, and this something that I found out after dating different kinds of people.
The problem is not loving other cultures. The problem is when you shame another culture in order to show love for another one. This is discrimination at it’s subtlest. Take this example into consideration: You are looking at three different paintings of a sunset. You say I don’t like any of them except for the middle one. That’s fine because they are paintings and they are already giving you all they have to offer. Yet, when you do this with people, this is not a preference because you have taken the time to get to know anything else about them before dismissing them. Now, will I look at a black man and a white man both equally attractive and still go for the black man? Yes. That’s my preferance. But, I will not shame the white man in order to lift the black man up. This is not right nor is it fair to the white man.
I attributed the fact that the man I am talking about, had engulfed himself in the black culture so much, that he simply wanted every part of it that he could get. This included a black woman to have mixed children with someday. This slowly seemed to cross a line of cultural appropriation to me, but not quite.
Now I have seen this at other times in my life with conerning other people. Living in America we have many cultures to learn from and I believe that it’s a beautiful thing to be able to embrace other cultures and to open your mind to the way other live. I also believe that we need to be able to embrace other cultures while showing respect and dignity for the people in those cultures as well as others.
BUT that’s my take on that experience. If you have any HELPFUL feedback at all about this post, please leave your comments!