Black Women, Interracial Dating, and Marriage: What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Black Women, Interracial Dating, and Marriage: What’s Love Got to Do With It?

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I cannot help but dwell on who might be coming to dinner.

Last holiday season gave me plenty of food for thought on this all too familiar and often uncomfortable racially-tinged question. One of my male relatives brought home a date for Thanksgiving who could have been Barbie’s twin sister. She was blonde, thin, big-bosomed, and even had a Germanic name. She was probably very nice; but I cannot say for sure. She was shy and didn’t talk much in what was likely an unfamiliar and perhaps overwhelming African American social setting. Another of my male relatives brought home a woman for Christmas who seemed like a modern-day, socially progressive southern belle. She was blonde, full figured, outgoing, and outspoken with a saucy southern accent and friendly, expressive manner. Two of my younger male relatives have recently been engaged to white women, and one tied the knot last summer. This is a pattern that I have observed in my professional life for years: successful black men pairing up with white women, but now that the practice has come home to roost, so to speak, I cannot help but admit to feeling a bit demoralized.

I wish my male relatives luck and joy in their relationships, but I also feel a pinch when I watch them with their girlfriends. It is the same sharp tug of disappointment that gets me every time I see a black man with a white woman on his arm. Try as I might to suppress the reaction, I experience black men’s choice of white women as a personal rejection of the group in which I am a part, of African American women as a whole, who have always been devalued in this society.

Certainly my reaction links back to a few bad apples in my own young dating years. Once I overheard my black boyfriend telling his buddies how he preferred white women; on another occasion (with a different black boyfriend) a guy told me he didn’t care that I was breaking up with him because he could go out and get a white woman, which was what he really wanted anyway.

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