Dating black women: Interracial dating gone right and wrong
“You and my sister may not get along,” he said. “She’s so delusional. If she was here right now, she’d be going on and on about how slavery wasn’t her fault. That’s one of many reasons why I don’t talk to her anymore.”
I sighed and gazed at the family at a nearby table. Maybe they’d let me sit with them instead so I could enjoy my Shimbra Asa entree and Yemisir Wot in peace. It was my first time going to a neighborhood Ethiopian restaurant that I’d walked by countless times. And it was his idea to go here on our first date.
I met him online, and he insisted that we go out to dinner after a few chats. I immediately agreed — after verifying he wasn’t a Trump supporter. I always want to meet in person (pre-COVID-19) and still wonder why “Catfish” has lasted this long. (Online daters, use virtual conference rooms and save yourself a lot of wasted time). Although he wasn’t physically someone I’d initially do a double take for, I would give him about a 6.5 out of 10. More importantly, he was funny (at first) and intelligent. (The latter two work wonders on me.)
But a couple of beers in and suddenly we rounded a corner into talking about his family problems, how he’d never dated a black woman before and the sister-versus-slavery rant. Just like that, “funny” and “intelligent” perks quickly diminished. There was no spark. I quickly changed the subject to something else, and by the end of that date, I politely thanked him for the meal, gave him a quick hug and was so relieved we met in separate cars.
Ghosting people is not my style, so I was honest and told him there was no spark when he wanted to hang out again. Although there was no immediate magnetism, the slavery conversation on date one was what really killed it for me. These experiences are why I fully understand why black women are hesitant to date non-black men. While Eve and Maximillion Cooper make it look reasonably easy, interracial couples (and daters) are still daters and couples who have to get through all the usual humps, on top of being from different backgrounds and races.
Ninety percent of the guys I’ve dated are black, and I do not claim to be a relationship expert. But, from my own personal experiences, this is what I’m fairly confident about regarding interracial relationships.
You absolutely cannot be afraid of black people. Black folks can feel the terror vibe dripping off of non-black people almost immediately. It’s the kind of vibe that says “I don’t see color” but clutches her purse. It’s the guy who immediately looks uncomfortable whenever someone brings up even the safest race-related topics: Black History Month, Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs), Black Greek Organizations (BGOs) or even Juneteenth. It’s the white person who starts conversations by saying, “I’m not racist but … [insert absurdly racist story here].” If you immediately tense up around a group of black people, you really need to work on that first before trying to date a black woman with a whole host of black male cousins, uncles, godfathers, grandfathers, brothers, nephews, father, etc.
Know when to bring up the topic of race and when it’s just unnecessary. A co-worker friend of mine learned that I was dating a Romanian guy (at the time), only because I brought up the kind of music he liked to perform live. (He was in a band.) He mentioned another friend of his, who was also a black woman, dating a Romanian guy. I nodded and got ready to resume the topic of his band when he paused and said, “What is it with black women loving Romanian men?” I raised an eyebrow. I’d known this co-worker for several years, so I believed he meant no harm. I paused for a beat and said, “Consider rewording your question. Could it possibly be that Romanian men love us? I didn’t go after the guy I’m dating. He approached me. Is that too hard for you to believe?” He understood how the ordering of that question, or at least not making it mutually inclusive, sounded like black women were on a wild Romanian chase. Better yet, why was that so hard to believe?
Your friends are a reflection of you, so know your friends’ reactions before introducing us. Referring back to the Romanian guy, his older brother called him at my condo, and he immediately shoved the phone to my ear. I had no idea who was on the other end. I said, “Hello.” His brother said, “Hi!” I talked to his brother for a few seconds before he got on the phone, and they went all off into a conversation in Romanian. I walked off to let them talk. I didn’t understand what the hell they were saying anyway. (That became a pet peeve later, but I’ve had enough bilingual friends to realize some of this is paranoia.) One thing I did know for sure was his brother definitely wasn’t going to judge me for being black. His brother’s son was biracial, courtesy of a brown-skinned black woman.
However, he did admit to having a few friends who kept asking him what was up with the two of them only dating brown-skinned or dark-skinned black women. He couldn’t quite put into words why. He just said, “I like women of all types. I just happened to like you all more.” Considering he’d spent about 10 years in a predominantly black neighborhood in Chicago (after living in Romania up until his early 20s), his exposure to more black women made sense. It still didn’t stop a Romanian female friend of his from saying she liked him better before he started dating me, even though I’d never met her. That was strike one.
Do not fetishize black women. Although your behavior may not be as bizarre as Ali Henson’s (played by Taraji Henson) and Captain Fucktastic’s (played by Kellan Lutz) in the 2019 film “What Men Want,” we will quickly catch on. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told I “lucked out” to not “have to tan” or how my skin color is “so beautiful.” There’s a clear line between finding someone attractive and treating her like a museum exhibit. In all fairness though, I’ve heard this far more from white women than white men.
Avoid telling black people racism is in our imagination, and never ever use the term “playing the race card.” Although this should be more than obvious — without ever watching that grocery store scene between Sanaa Lathan and Simon Baker in the 2006 film “Something New” — there is no quicker way to strike out than to tell a black woman racism is “all in your head.” Marginalized groups are far too often put into circumstances where we can quickly separate the difference between a disagreement, prejudice attitudes and flat-out racism.
If you would not tell LGBTQ+ people that they imagined homophobia, or tell Asian people that xenophobia is not a real thing, or tell Jewish people that anti-semitism is overly exaggerated, don’t tell black people we created racist moments. If you don’t understand why she feels racism or prejudice was involved, just ask her to explain it to you. (Note: There will be a segment of black women who will immediately lose patience with you for even asking. This is also a group that is least likely to even want to date white men at all because you don’t already recognize the signs.)
Don’t try to pit certain minority groups against each other. I can only speak for me, but I don’t want to hear a white guy gush over African-American women while insulting the looks of African women or Mexican women or Filipino women, and any other minority race. You don’t gain brownie points doing that, even if the compliment is directed at black women. Everyone has a right to a type, but you don’t have to insult another group in order to share what your type is.
Never try to force your way into being cooler (read: black) than you are. Picture a white version of 6ix9ine but with dreadlocks. I remember seeing a guy who was the spitting image of him, walking kissing-distance away from my face at a neighborhood Subway and yelling out, “Hey, I’m gonna buy your food for you.” I checked out the dreadlocks, the “urban wear,” the suspicious accent and said three words, “No, just no.”
For the love of all Afrocentrism, stop trying to be the male version of Kim Kardashian mixed with Rachel Dolezal. You do not have to copy every single element of black men just because you grew up around them or watched too much BET. You will rarely if ever pull it off, and it’ll more than likely be considered cultural appropriation.
There is a reason Lark Voorhies dated Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Tatyana Ali dated the late Jonathan Brandis, Iman married the late David Bowie, Rutina Wesley once married James Fishel, and Eve is married to Maximillion Cooper. Although Robert De Niro clearly loves black women and may not have the best luck of staying married, that still doesn’t change the fact that he was in long-term relationships with Diahnne Abbott, Toukie Smith and Grace Hightower. The man’s clearly got a type. Meanwhile Jon B. and his wife Danette Jackson are out here posing for Instagram “I voted” pics. You know what all these men have in common? None of them seem like they’re trying way too hard to be invited to “the cookout.” (Babyface secured Jon B.’s status early, and Tupac signed, sealed and delivered the final confirmation.) Just be you. If she likes you, she likes you. And if she doesn’t, then she doesn’t.
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