Wednesday, May 16, 2007

IR Dating: The Flip Side

See my post about interracial dating involving black men/white women and the gay community here.

The topic of interracial dating is definitely exhausted, but my observation has been that only one kind tends to be discussed or is discussed most of all: black men and white women. What about everyone else? The only kind of interracial dating, other than black men/white women, I can write about with any real knowledge is black women/white men.

I admittedly have a double standard when it comes to black interracial relationships. I immediately think negative thoughts about the black man. With black men, I assume I know what his intentions are and, more often than not, I ask myself whether or not the white woman is good-looking enough by my standards. With black women, I wonder what the white guy's intentions are and whether or not he's good-looking enough by my standards. As far as the black woman's intentions, I assume that, as well.

My friend Nikki is kind of getting on my nerves. Nikki is a black female from an African family, a first-generation American. Her family would not be happy if she brings home a white guy. In fact, they would probably not be all that happy if she brings home--how to put it--a "real American" black man, for lack of a better phrase. Nikki is one of those women who says one thing, seemingly depending on who she's talking to, and then flip flops or acts a different way. So, I remember when we were first getting to know each other that she said she wasn't interested in white men. And yet, ever since we've known each other, her crushes have basically been white guy after white guy after white guy. She and I do something I really don't like to do, which is one of many reasons why I tend not to have close feminine heterosexual female friends--we talk about guys a lot.

When we first got to law school, there was, admittedly, this really amazing-looking white guy there on whom she had a major crush. Okay, I could understand this sudden change of heart. He is, to me, the best-looking guy at the law school. Now, Nikki is like many females in their teens and 20's--one week she's into guy X, and the next week she's into guy Z. So for the past two years, every time I turned around, there was a different white guy she was crushing on.

I started thinking about this. She talks about white men more and more, and it seems as if every conversation we have now revolves around her wanting to find a white man to date. She still claims to prefer to find a black man, but when she searches online or tells me about a cute guy that she's interested in...he's always white. She seems kind of obsessed with white men, and that's what's getting on my nerves. Her behavior is almost like what I've seen in Asian women I've known and even black men who don't give black women the time of day.

I could analyze her situation as possibly just one of curiosity, although she has never dated any male. I don't think she's like black men in the sense of my perception that they have all these negative views about black women and/or lack of physical attraction that keep them from being interested in us. The way that I assume black men in interracial relationships think about black women is what makes me have the double standard that I do because, as with Nikki, I'm always hearing black women defend black men no matter what. There are black women who don't, of which I am one. There are black women who think white men are preferable and treat black women better and/or only want to date white men. I still don't think nearly as many black women are interested in white men as black men who are interested in white women.

My perception of black women tends to be that of either her arm has been twisted or she has come to her senses if she is interracially dating. By the former, I mean that most black women I hear from are adamant about not wanting to date anyone but black men, and they are way more clear about that in both words and behavior than my friend Nikki is. By the latter, I mean that if black women seriously hope to leave the single world behind, then unlike everybody else they are going to have to broaden their circle of acceptable men. White women can be fine just sticking to white men, and black men could be fine just sticking to black women. Asians and Latinos can be choosy, as well. But this is honestly just not so for black women. We're considered the least desirable and the least attractive by every race.

So, if I'm saying they need to come to their senses, it's not as if Nikki is irritating me because she's open to dating white men. What I find bothersome is the obsession or the possible fetish they've become to her. Plus, her situation could also possibly be analyzed as one of those in which her knowing that her parents would not want her to bring that kind of person home is exactly what makes them so interesting to her. Honestly, I have no real idea of why every guy she likes has to be white and why her search mainly seems to be targeting them. It is totally possible that she is not being honest with herself about what she wants and how she feels about race, as I think a lot of minorities (and whites) lie to themselves when it comes to race and interracial dating. Even though she says she wants a black man and defends black men in our conversations, the fact that it's always white male after white male says a lot to me about insecurities she might be hiding when it comes to race.

I mentioned in another post that she's been getting into online dating a bit. Once again, pretty much every guy she has responded to has been white. She posted a profile, as well, and I don't know if she specified race or not, though I know she got responses from at least one black male and a couple white guys. Nikki is younger than I am and has struck me ever since I've known her as someone who is naive. And, as I said, when we have conversations she seems to shift positions, almost as if she just wants to agree with whatever is said by others. So, I think that, although she has agreed with my opinions about men finding black women the least desirable and us having a harder time finding men, she doesn't really understand that.

I remember I wrote in another post my opinion that a lot of black women overestimate their physical appearance and have insane standards given their lack of ability to compete with other races of women. I think having high standards is great, and I see a lot of beautiful black women out there. It's not as if I don't think black women measure up, but I recognize that the majority of us in America are sick when it comes to race. Black people talk so much about how that sickness manifests itself in blacks, but we are far from the only ones with inferiority complexes and obsessions with white beauty. In fact, I'd say Asians and Latinos are worse than we are--I might not know much about those two groups, but I do know that there's way too much white worship going on in their cultures, especially among Asians.

Bottom line, though--all minority groups are infected with the idea that other races are more attractive, particularly the white race. We talk about how this infection affects women all the time, but we never discuss the impact it has on men. When I think about it, I honestly think men, especially men of color, are more infected than women are and always have been by standards of beauty--after all, they went so far as to create them.

I think Nikki's experience so far with online dating just might be the thing to teach her this--all of this. Of course, I'm saying "teach her" when all of this really is just my opinion, but I really believe in its veracity. I mean, with regards to some black women overestimating their looks and their standards, to address that first off. I don't mean black women on the whole, but many black women on an individual case--I definitely don't think black women are worse-looking. But Nikki is one of these individual cases, and I know--even though it seems to remain unspoken--that a lot of us don't like more African features. For me, I think it might depend on the African nation because there are some amazingly gorgeous African women, and the same is true for Asians--certain Asian ethnicities are more attractive to me than others. But Nikki's features are of one of those nations that Americans tend not to find as attractive and, yet, she comments quite a bit on how she looks good.

There's nothing wrong with having that confidence and liking yourself the way you are. I do think being realistic about what others find attractive is necessary, though. I think every black woman needs to understand that men seem to have internalized some sick preference for whiteness. Because of this--and I hate to even think like this, but I really do think this is true--most of the guys she's interested in would probably choose to date me before they'd date her. And on top of her just not having any white features whatsoever, she genuinely is not as attractive as she thinks she is. That, mixed with her high standards (you know the drill, most likely, but even if you don't imagine some really picky stuff as make-or-break criteria), have resulted in her only responding to the really good-looking white guys--ones she's not physically a match for--and sending pictures of herself only to never hear back from them.

I can't tell you how many white guys I've spoken to online, back when I did more online dating, who would say they love light-skinned black women or mixed black women, and who would list the most commonplace black female celebrities as attractive to them. Even as a light, mixed black woman, I found it incredibly insulting. It's an example of how sick men are when it comes to race and physical beauty. These are not white guys who would be interested in a black woman like Nikki. Nikki is a great person, strong personality, tons of friends, intelligent, on the path to a good career. But she needs to get real. Despite everything great she has to offer, her interest in all these numerous white guys has not been returned.

And I can count on one hand the number of handsome white men I've seen with black women. Robin Thicke is married to Paula Patton, and Gabriel Aubrey is dating Halle Berry. But look at the kind of black women they are. It's sad, but true. And there are always exceptions, of course, but they seem few and far between. There are black women, some darker, out there happy with white men, but they are not really the kind of white guys (physically) Nikki is demanding for herself. So, yes, I hate to see one of my best friends do this to herself. But it's such a touchy topic, and because of how she seems to just agree with whatever I say even if she really doesn't, I don't know how to talk to her about this.

I just want black women to get a clue. I'm not saying to have low standards, but a lot of you demand near-perfection. But I've got to be frank here: you're not white. You can't demand perfection and get it. In fact, most white women can't demand perfection and get it. The only white women I know who have men or even women totally wrapped around their fingers are blondes with blue eyes, i.e. the whitest chicks you can possibly find. If you're happy being single, then I certainly raise my glass to you because I seriously think that's great and enjoy being single myself most of the time. But if you really do want companionship, you have got to start looking at the nation we live in and the dynamics we see among people a lot more realistically. You might be worth the best, and I'm glad you think you are. But if you're alone and don't want to be, then something's got to give. Unfortunately, we as black women are not valued enough in this nation to be the pickiest of all women...and we are the pickiest of all women. Yet, we're the most alone. It might sound harsh, but I think it's past time to face the ugly truth.