With an air of condescending disappointment and over a plate of fried catfish and smothered sweet potatoes, my good friend asked, “How does Ms. Blackness herself, Queen of critiquing all things white, end up dating a WHITE man?” Yes, it’s the same friend from my last post — what can I say; he provides much fodder for writing! Anyway, I was a little perturbed at the thought of having to “justify” my dating life; still, I pushed my saltiness aside. Once again, I found myself in a “teachable” moment.
Granted, ten years ago not only would my own underdeveloped consciousness justify his question, but my actions would have affirmed that African American men were the only available dating partners for me. Mind you, this would have been an outgrowth of all the social indicators informing me that I was in the beginning stages of developing a syndrome — the SSBF (Successful Single Black Female) syndrome.
Apparently, the whole of U. S. society is in cahoots to make sure that African American women know how much “success” is detrimental to their heteronormative reproductive outlook — for those who may be seeking such a thing. Random self-dubbed public intellectuals are writing blogs and books, CNN and ABC are hosting televised forums, and comedians are the focus of films teaching professional black women how to think and act right. GTFO!
When I entered undergraduate school, I began hearing the warnings for black women in higher education. Like public service announcements, upperclassmen — male and female alike — would proclaim, “You know the male to female ratio is one to eight here.” Because I went to school in the Atlanta University Center, the ratio in the minds’ of heterosexual men and women were even more disparate for the fact of homosexuality among black men mattered, but ironically not among black women. (Lesbian black women were simply in a liminal space waiting to become bisexual or turned straight — an altogether different blog needing to be written). In response, I often saw men attempting to partake in their full-allotted share of women and women desperately clamoring to grab and hold on to the men who would have them.
As I graduated and went directly into graduate studies, I ran into hosts of people who had missed their callings as surgeon generals. With these people, no matter what conversation was taking place, at some point I was generally warned against becoming too educated if I wanted to marry a black man. “One, you just won’t find them here at this level,” they would say, “two, if you do, they are probably with a white or Asian woman. So three, don’t talk so much because you’ll be too intimidating to most of the other eligible ones.” This was the advice they could offer for my overall health and wellness.
On the other end of the spectrum, black males who had made it out of their violence ridden, drug-infested, economically depraved neighborhoods (cause all black boys in the U.S. live in these conditions — and by themselves) were simultaneously being told how wonderful and truly exceptional they are. Having a legally honorable income and/or college degree made them a dating commodity. A black man with a professional or graduate degree and no children? Hell, he’s become a VVS yellow diamond in the ruff.
Hence the sheer idea of dating for professional black men and women in the United States is a fabled narrative of scarcity bought into by many. I know the realities of African American men caught up in the prison industrial complex. I don’t dispel its genocidal effect on Black America. Also, I do not accept that homosexuality is the phantom destroyer of black communities, but homophobia and new cases of HIV/AIDS definitely are working a toll on the stability of black lives — all issues that I will write about in the future. What I do offer regarding this narrative of scarcity inhibiting heterosexual black women from believing stable healthy relationships are possible for them are two points.
First, as a dear SOTA (sister of the academy) recently said, “Baby you know the Black Diaspora is huge!” To my dear sisters whose life preference is to be with only a black man — I dig it! I love my fathers, brothers, cousins, and even misguided friends. Just know that from Canada to Argentina and Chile to Australia, black men exist. And they don’t all live in abject poverty praying for a green card to the United States. It may mean one less Gucci bag and pair of Louboutin one year for a solo trip in your passport (going with a gaggle of people limits your chances of actually interacting with folks you already know). But if finding viable black men who value you and themselves is important, they dear sister readers are out there.
Second, let’s be clear as the Belizean coral reef, black women’s bodies are not battlegrounds for the revolution — at least not mine. Yes, I will continue to fight for the liberatory justice from systems of domination for all people and my children will be taught to be just as consciously aware and active in this humanistic fight. So, that litmus test of my consciousness based on whom I date, like and love can be put to rest.
Returning to my inquiring friend whom I love dearly, it took everything godly and civil within me to refrain from reaching over his plate of catfish and tersely responding, “Because in all your demanding inquisitions about me and my commitment to black people, you have still yet to answer whether you do or don’t want me.” In the meantime, am I supposed to wait in the wings while you play leading role in my life? I think not, though I know to many women, black, white, yellow, brown, whatever willing to do so.
Additionally, for those who buy into the “commodity” factor of educated black men, dear brothers, you can put your hands back in your pockets if you are waiting for me to give you a cookie for having your “life” together according to the norms of American society. Believing that there’s a hierarchy of struggle that makes your “success” much more valuable than anyone else’s, keeps divisiveness in black communities and allows for the proliferation of white supremacist ideologies in our lives.
The white man I am currently dating figured out that I am a woman of interest that he enjoys sharing moments of his life with. Furthermore, he doesn’t hold my life achievements against me as if markers of a disease; nor am I valorized upon an alienating pedestal for being “too much,” as if that is a compliment. Hence, we value and appreciate what we offer one another right now.
Heaven forbid black women for wanting to be reciprocally wanted and discovering that in the world beyond their twenty-mile daily radius, there just may be someone or multiple someones out there ready and willing to comply.
What do you think?
BIO: Stephany “Stiletto” Rose, Ph. D. is a poet, activist, public intellectual and an assistant professor of Women’s and Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Article originally published on Dr. Rose’s blog page at http://thedrstiletto.com/2012/02/15/why-im-dating-a-white-man/
Photos in this article were provided by USARiseUp.com.