When I moved to the US in my late teens, one of the first things I was indoctrinated into was the idea that there is a shortage of black men. I remember a group of us black girls sitting on my college roommate’s bed as she gravely recited the stats, “42% of black women never get married because a lot of black men are in jail, and the good ones are marrying white girls. Just look at our school!” My stomach turned. Black girls greatly outnumbered black boys at my conservative, suburban college, and a good 40% of them were dating interracially.
The panic stayed with me throughout my early adulthood. I felt melancholy when the black men around me took up non-black wives and girlfriends and smugness whenever a black man tried to make a pass at me without his non-black partner noticing. I held up black male celebrities who married black women as beacons. Hope that some of ‘them’ saw the value in ‘us.’
If you were to ask me today what I think about the increasing number of black men dating and marrying interracially, you would be met with indifference.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been through too much shit these past few years, but I don’t really give a fuck anymore (and please be forewarned, f bombs will be dropped throughout this post. This is something I feel strongly about.)
If there is one thing I have learned about being a black woman in America it is that we are tasked with internalizing the toxicity spewed at us. Our girls can’t be girls, we often aren’t seen as human, let alone women, and it is our job to “fix” everybody’s issue with us.
Whether it is looking less strong, or changing our hair, or not complaining when people say shit about our hair, or being more submissive, more feminine, like whatever the fuck it is. The question is never, “Why the hell are people constantly ragging on black women??” It’s, “What the hell are black women doing to be constantly ragged on??”
And honestly I am not doing a damn fucking thing to deserve whatever vitriol is spewed in the direction of black women. Whatever shitty totem pole that exists and puts black women at the bottom and white girls at the top. It’s called ‘being at the intersection of American sexism, American racism and American patriarchy.’ I didn’t build that shit, and whatever warped perception people have because of it has nothing to do with me.
This idea that I have less value somehow because I’m not considered as desirable a marriage partner to a black man, I reject it. Because there is a big gaping difference between what my value is, and what it is perceived to be. And I am fucking tired of society conflating the two.
And you might think I’m going to turn around and spew the ‘black women need to marry white men!’ rhetoric. But I’m not going to do that either. Because it’s the same fundamental problem in a different form. It’s attaching a black woman’s value to how she is perceived and desired by someone outside of her.
I am firmly in the ‘love is love’ and ‘go where you are celebrated’ camp. But I don’t rejoice when I see a black woman with a non-black man, just like I no longer despair when I see a black woman who is single. Because that woman is not fucking defined by who she is or isn’t with.
So back to black men and their dating habits. I no longer believe this is a problem black women can or should ‘fix’. And therefore, it is a problem we can and should let go of. And I know this is easier said than done. I understand that many black girls grow up with dreams of jumping the broom with a black man and having melanin babies. But here’s the other thing; “What the fuck can you even do?”
Look, black women have been marching on the front lines, pledging their allegiance to black D, going to bat for questionable men, building bridges, singing ballads, and by and large, it hasn’t changed the trend or the narrative.
One of the base principles of relationships is this: You cannot change a man. The same, I believe, is true of large demographic swathes.
We cannot fight, scream, insult, beg or thinkpiece our way into being loved. As long as we live in a society where whiteness is prized and blackness is exploited, where the value of a woman is tied up in a man ‘choosing’ her, this issue will persist. (And I know that #notallblackmen are marrying interracially as a slight to black women and some have found true love and blah, blah, blah. I’m talking about the phenomenon of black men avoiding black partners because they aren’t perceived as valuable.)
As for me. I don’t have to do anything but stay black and die. And while I’m alive, my only obligation is to myself: to have the audacity to live bravely, unapologetically. To not fear my potential, but embrace it. And the beautiful thing is that radical self-love is a true act of resistance.
Black women deserve better than to live in constant panic that Becky and Marquese are married while Keisha is still single. We are more than a collection of the horrible stereotypes and statistics that seem to constantly swirl around us. We say we are magic. Let’s start to believe it.