Date him because he’s dope to you, not them
Every trend becomes a thing of the past, including relationships
When CNN’s John Blake asked me one question, it made me pause. I’m not someone who minces my words. If I think it, I’ll usually say it and cannot recall one time when I truly regretted my words. It’s probably why I gravitated to Toastmasters International public speaking clubs so easily.
With Toastmasters speeches, I’m not someone who practices for hours on end. I love a good story and a speech that stays with me long after I’ve heard it, and I’m certified in four levels*. How? Stage fright makes little sense to me. I don’t think anyone is so important that I should shake in my boots when speaking to them — whether it’s 100 people or one person. That’s mainly because I don’t get caught up in people’s opinions of me.
But still, when he asked me this question, I had to collect my thoughts. I knew my response could too easily sound like I was knocking one group for another. My answer would more than likely reach a larger audience than a Medium post (or maybe not), so I wanted to make sure there was no room for a misunderstanding.
During the interview, Blake first asked me did I think more black women would date white men after seeing Vice President Kamala Harris married to Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff. The answer to that was simple: Possibly, but I don’t recommend they do it for that reason.
If you date someone to follow a trend, it will soon grow stale. Now you have to deal with this person who was your shiny new toy when he’s not so shiny and new. I don’t know one marriage or long-term relationship that has lasted based on looks or popularity. Those two people had to like (or at least respect) each other as full people — race, culture, mental behavior, physical appearance, financial outlook, dietary habits and so forth.
Recommended Read: “CNN: Kamala Harris’ marriage could challenge a racial taboo”
It’s not like Vice President Harris is the first Jamaican woman or first Indian woman or first biracial woman or first black woman to date interracially. As much as I blasted “Let There Be Eve” my freshman year of college, I could’ve followed Eve’s lead in dating a Maximillion Cooper long before I even knew why former President Barack H. Obama described VP Harris as “by far, the best-looking attorney general.” (He’s not wrong, although Eric Holder is good-looking, too, and Obama later joked about this at the Correspondents’ Association Dinner.)
As much as I jumped out of my skin to find out “Queen Sugar” was back on air tonight, I could’ve long ago followed the lead of Rutina Wesley with former husband Jacob Fishel. I don’t even follow sports, but even I did a double take when I saw Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce onscreen for the first time and pointed knowingly when I saw him on the arm of a beautiful sista named Kayla Nicole.
But seeing VP Harris with Emhoff — or anyone else really — didn’t make me want to run out and date someone because they did. I’m not even too thrilled with the idea of significant others passing a “friend” test. If I like him, then it is what it is. About the only three people who would make me pause if they didn’t like someone I was into would be my parents and my brother.
But if you line my exes up, or even people I dated for a short-term, the first thing you would realize is I have absolutely no type — minus height and race (about 98 percent are between 6'0 to 6'5 and 90 percent are black). The rest of their features are all over the map.
This leads me to the second question he asked me, the one that I hesitated to answer: What makes you prefer black men? I could’ve easily said something poetic and heart-warming — the kind of thing you read in Mahogany Hallmark cards or Black History Month memes. But the truth is that I don’t “prefer” anyone.
Do I enjoy dating black men? Absolutely. But “prefer” sounds like a level of authority that I’m willing to give no man. If dating someone of the same race could so magically make a relationship work, there wouldn’t be any single black women. We’d all lock eyes on our melanin and live happily ever after.
Keep in mind I realize there is a shared experience regarding culture and history for black men and black women (and really any other minority group) from just living and breathing. Many films get it right, too. My smile was a mile long just watching the fictional onscreen connection between Daniel Kaluuya (as Fred Hampton) and Dominique Fishback (as Deborah Johnson) in the just-released film “Judas and the Black Messiah.” I rarely see that kind of connection among interracial groups, so there is a large part of me that “gets it.”
But I still found the word “prefer” problematic. It wasn’t a confrontational question. It just made me picture my grandfather, who used to sit in this chair in his living room. He would rock one leg back and forth on the arm of it and the other on the floor, gazing from the television and out of his living room window. He turned to me one day and told me I was one of the most “contumacious, sagacious people” he’d ever met. In simple terms, it means I am wise but tend to rebel against authority. While he definitely said this to get on my nerves (he knew I didn’t know what either term meant at the time), I’d say he was right.
Even if I did have a preference, I think I’m too ornery to admit it. Why? Because I don’t want anyone to think that they could make me think their type must be my type. I don’t do trends. Shamontiel likes men who Shamontiel likes. Other women can like whoever they please. However, too often people will project their preferences onto you, as if it’s trendy. I’ve dated men so gorgeous that past friends jokingly told me they were going to crop me out of a photo. (Rude!) But I’ve also found unconventional men attractive. When my girls tell me that a guy I like isn’t attractive to them, I grin. “That means you won’t be my competition. Works for me!”
But I also have never exclusively focused on someone because they were attractive or because they were a certain race or religion or because they were into horses, hip-hop or handiwork. I liked them as a whole.
So during this interview, I finally settled on saying, “I don’t think I have a preference.” I like who catches my eye and keeps it. The physical features on that person may hold my gaze. Maybe he’s Asian. Maybe he’s Hispanic. Maybe he’s Native. Maybe he’s white. Far more often than not, he’s black. But as soon as we make eye contact and talk, that’s what I prefer to use as a reason to stay a while. And if the conversation isn’t hitting on anything, it’s time for me to walk away.
* The levels are Competent Communicator, Competent Leadership, Advanced Communicator Bronze and Presentation Mastery Proficient.
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