“We accept the love we think we deserve.” – Stephen Chbosky
Interracial dating is something that I have never discussed outside of my close circle or with men I am romantically interested in. But since I pride myself on being as transparent as possible with my writing, I knew this was something that I needed to address. It was the only way I could make sense of what I shared with you all in part I of, Dear Black Man: I was made to love you. I won’t front, it’s a very sensitive topic for me. If I don’t choose my words carefully, then I come off sounding jealous or territorial, and the last thing I want to be seen as is an angry, possessive, black woman, because that couldn’t be further from the truth. Ask anyone I know, and they will tell that rays of sunshine shoot from my fingertips and sparkles appear every time I smile. I know that my perky demeanor can sometimes be borderline obnoxious, but I can’t help it. I’m an eternal optimist who always see’s the glass half full, as well as the best in people. But on Monday night when a male friend, we’ll call him John, disclosed to me that he was swearing off all black women for the rest of his life, I knew I could no longer keep my views to myself. My sparkles were soon replaced with words that he’d probably never heard me use before. I was beyond pissed. I allowed myself to be taken to a place that I didn’t even know existed within me, but fought hard to regain my senses long enough to have a somewhat rational conversation with him.
As I listened to John’s reasons for now only dating outside of our race, one thing was painstakingly clear. He refused to accept any type of responsibility for the failed relationships he’d experienced with black women. I asked him what he was doing differently to have more fulfilling relationships, to which he responded, “nothing, other than dating women of other races.” Insert several curse words here, and this is how the conversation went for two hours.
His past was nothing more than a sad case of looking for love in all the wrong places. When his last serious relationship came to an end, the woman found herself in a mental state that I pray I never find myself in. You see, I also pride myself on being sane and not allowing my craziness to make it all the way to the surface before it’s too late and I do or say something I regret.
Before I go further, I partly blame myself for this situation and I’ll explain why. I now have a better understanding of just how powerful words really are. Not just any words, but my words. We speak things into being and we create our own reality with what we believe and buy into. Words can build up or destroy a person, leaving them feeling all mixed up, confused and lost inside. John is definitely having an identity crisis and all I want to do is help him. But you can’t help people who won’t admit that they need it.
I remember I was dating someone around the same time as John started dating his ex. And even though the guy I was dating was in a different place in life than I was, I continued seeing him, despite knowing it probably wasn’t going in the direction that I’d hoped. He was a great guy, but I could tell he wasn’t ready for a real commitment. My motto at the time, was that seeing him was better than not seeing anyone one at all because my prospects were few and far in between. I remember my friend often checking in, asking me how things were going, to which I would simply shrug and reply, “what’s the alternative?” to which he’d agree. Clearly, I’ve grown a lot since my 20’s.
As I look back, I wonder what type of impression my words left on him, as I recall him starting to say them to me when I asked him about his then current girlfriend and now ex. I know that I didn’t drive him to cut off an entire race of women. It was his actions that lead to this terrible decision. However, I probably should have encouraged him not to date his ex. She wasn’t anything that he wanted. He was into fitness, she was overweight and didn’t like exercising. She wanted to be a stay at home wife and he wanted a two income household. Eventually, she wore John down, and I think he liked feeling needed and desired because his prospects seemed to come around as often as mine. We’ve all been there at some point and time. Maybe not to this extent, but who doesn’t like the companionship and attention of the opposite sex? She was a cute girl, and she cooked, but she wasn’t who he really wanted deep down inside. I won’t lie, her pursuit of him never ceased to amaze me. We all worked together and it was obvious she was marking her territory on a daily basis.
Fast forward a few years and they were living together. But eventually John came to his senses, realizing that he was doing neither one of them any favors and officially broke things off with her. She moved to a completely different state, but somehow had managed to leave a few things behind, which he probably should have just offered to ship to her. However, after what he thought was an amicable split, she called asking if she could pick up those things while she was in town. John was out on a date and told her that she could come by the next day. So, when she come’s by, for some reason, he still isn’t home, but I don’t remember as to why he wasn’t there. If I had to guess, he probably just didn’t want to see her.
Long story short, when John got home that night, he couldn’t get into his house. Low and behold, this chick changed the locks. So, after he calls the police and the lock smith unlocks the door, he finds his house empty. She’d taken all of his possessions. She took the furniture, his clothes, his 60 inch screen television and his watch collection. She left nothing but the hangers and a few pair of shoes and there wasn’t shit he could do about it because her name was still on the lease. In no way am I saying that he deserved this, but he shouldn’t have allowed things to progress beyond the point of friendship with her, and he sure as hell shouldn’t have moved her into his home. I love my friend, but as the saying goes, common sense, ain’t so common any more.
If I’d have to guess, this is the incident that pushed John over the proverbial edge. Now again, I am in no way shape or form condoning John’s decision, just felt that the story was kind of funny and provided context for part 2. I tried to get him to see how his actions attributed to his current state of mind, but he wasn’t hearing it. I think too often people don’t take responsibility for the poor decisions that they make when it comes to choosing a mate. And the quote at the beginning, says it all. He accepted the love that he felt that he deserved, which makes me sad for him. Because we all know that dating can be challenging no matter how attractive, funny, or intelligent you are. Even rich people get dumped and cheated on. However, at some point you have got to stop and ask yourself, “what is it about me that keeps attracting these types of people?” John foolishly answered that question by deciding that black women as whole were to blame, instead of just the one’s he chosen to be with.
During our conversation, I realized that something in him had broken over the years. I couldn’t quite pinpoint when it happened, but I knew that it had. Despite how powerful the human mind is, it also very fragile. Everyone wants to be loved and accepted. But somewhere down the line, he stopped feeling accepted by black women. I’m almost certain it was before his last relationship. I know this because he moved to Atlanta right after graduating from FAMU, like so many other of our classmates. Even now it seems like we all eventually end up here or in some other city overflowing with black potential.
So, like me, you’re probably wondering what happened. I really wish I knew. All I know for certain is that there is layers to his belief system that I can’t even begin to comprehend. He’s been brainwashed by the images in the media. He’s bought into the lies that society tells to ensure the continued destruction of the black family structure. He believes he’s gained access to a class that keeps the unworthy, lazy and ignorant out. For him, it’s easier to believe a lie, than to search and fight for the truth, while bringing others along with him. Its classic divide and conquer. We essentially create our own realities, and I told him several times, he was blind to the truth and only seeing what he wanted to see. He’s insulated himself with other black men who no longer date black women. He claimed that they all had their own reasons for jumping ship, but he knew I didn’t care about their reasons, just his.
When I solicited comments and other people’s opinion today on Facebook, I received a lot of interesting responses. One man commented stating that for some people, dating outside of their race is like an escape from the issues threatening their own existence that they have to face on a daily basis. The climate in America towards black people has everyone on edge and it can be hard to relax when you go home and those issues are staring you in the face and across from the dinner table. I understood that to a certain extent and could see the appeal of wanting to date someone and not having to worry about them coming home and complaining to you about the people at work or discussing the news, when you’re trying to forget about your own crap.
In all honesty, I try not to bring up those topics with men I’m dating. I remember bringing it up one time a few months ago, and for the first time ever, things went left. Our take on current events were very different. He didn’t understand that as a black person in America, the cops don’t need a legitimate reason to pull you over other than driving while black. We were planning our first date that night. Needless to say, we never spoke again.
I know that John is burying a lot of issues about himself and black culture, but it was nothing we could get to the bottom of in one conversation, especially given his current state of denial. I expressed this, probably not as eloquently during our conversation, as I am now, which I am starting to regret. So, needless to say I surprised but glad when he texted me this morning stating that he’d read part I and that I’d made a few good points.
The reason why I regret the way I expressed myself Monday night is because I feel that it is my job as a black woman to always create a safe and loving environment for the black men in my life. Whether they are family members, friends, or a significant other. They should be able to tell me any and everything without fear that I will stop loving them or remove them from my life. The guy I was planning the first date with didn’t fall into that category. However, I am starting to think John may have some unresolved abandonment issues as well. He’s never talked about his father and was raised in a one parent household.
Unfortunately, I didn’t hear from as many black men today on this topic as I had hoped. But again, I know it’s a sensitive subject, but it’s one that needs to be discussed. Another gentleman was brave enough to express that he felt dating outside of our race helps people to grow personally. I was proud of the sisters for not going in on him because I could tell one may have been thinking about it when she asked if he’d actually read part I. Tearing one another down is not the solution to this growing problem. So, I very impressed when another man replied to his comment explaining why he disagreed and that dating outside of our race did little to move our people forward or to rebuild all that we’ve lost. I wanted to high-five him through the computer, but simply thanked them both for their sentiments, with a winkey smiley face.
Some people thought John may be dealing with some unresolved issues with his mother and to be honest, they could be quite right. I’m not sure what their relationship is like, but I did ask if he told her that he was no longer dating black women, to which he paused and replied something along the lines of, ”not in so many words…” But apparently she was aware that his current girlfriend is Indian. I didn’t ask how she felt about it and just assumed she was happy that someone loved her son for who he is.
I’ve calmed down a lot since our talk. But it gave me a lot to think about when it comes to dating and how black men perceive black women. I found it ironic that men are always complaining about having to pay for the last man’s mistakes and that not all men are dogs. Yet, here John was grouping an entire race together with the exception of me and a few other women. I know that not all black men feel the way that John and his idiotic friends do, but it did give me cause to pause and worry that this train of thought might become more prominent among educated black men, which happens to be my dating pool.
Don’t get me wrong, he didn’t shake myself worth and I had to straighten him a few times that men of other races do find black women attractive, but I prefer men of African descent. However, he did make me wonder where it will leave black women like me who desire a black husband. Because like another male friend shared me with me last year, when it comes to dating, women choose but men decide. Meaning, women usually choose the man they want to be in a relationship with, but it’s up to the man to decide if he wants to commit. Everyone has dealt with rejection before at some point in their lives, and I know I’m not every man’s cup of tea. But, if nerdy black men like John, stop wanting nerdy black women like me, who can we run to, when we need love?