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Friday, August 24, 2007

Crystal Clear On Interracial Relationships

Okay if you have read anything at all on my pages you know that I don’t shy away from controversial topics or try to sugarcoat my opinions. You also know that I’m not just someone who writes blogs, but I am someone who reads them regularly. One of my favorite blogs happens to be a white 20somethings Christian conservative blog (hey just because opinions are different than mine doesn’t mean I can’t read and appreciate them). It just so happens that the topic of discussion was interracial dating/relationships last week. (Most people can guess where this is going.) The original blogger wrote that 1) There is no biblical basis for discrimination or anti-interracial relationship sentiments. I agree. 2) People that aren’t proponents of interracial dating are probably racists. I somewhat agree. 3) That children of interracial unions don’t face discrimination or identity problems. I disagree! I will (probably) discuss these at length in future blogs but for the time being I’d like to comment on the comments. I found many of them terribly politically correct, misguided, and profoundly (umm) stupid. I read comments that said that black people
and white people are the same. Ha! Yeah right. That two white people from different cultures (think a Swede and a German) encounter some of the same problems as lets say a black and a white person dating. Ha! That interdenominational dating among Christians was just as controversial. Ha! There was also a huge debate about which term was the most PC friendly term to use to describe interracial/interethnic/intercultural relationships. Finally, having read dozens of such comments, against my better judgment, I added my two cents to the discussion. And this is where the conversation gets interesting.

My first post
“While all these well-intended, politically correct comments are sweet, I am inclined to disagree. Black people and white people are different. I realize that’s a generalization, but for the most part it’s true. I’m black and from the inner city and when my white friends start talking about sleeping on the ground (i.e. camping), jumping out of airplanes, and skiing (what inner-city-bred black person skis?) I really can’t relate. Okay so here’s where I get lambasted! I really feel like when at all possible we should date exclusively in our own race—although I refuse to believe that it is morally wrong to do otherwise…I believe that children who are bi-(whatever the word of the week on boundless is) tend to suffer a tremendous identity crisis. My best friend is black and white and he’s not just mixed—he’s mixed up. I have [other associates who are mixed] and they have no black identity, they may as well be all white. It really stinks to not being able to relate to half of what you are. It’s awful to throw part of your culture away—and I see that happening a lot to mixed children. I think many mixed children feel like they have to choose a race. No doubt our society is responsible for that.
And now for my most controversial point…I am against inter(whatever) relationships when the woman is white and the man is black.* Does that means I’m against all of these unions. NO WAY. But I am against it when black men intentionally seek white women because they buy into stereotypes about black women (i.e. they are too independent, they are gold diggers, they aren’t as attractive etc). I believe that’s a form of self-hatred. It is the worst kind of racism—racism against ones own people. I believe most black men date white women because they are 1) looking for a status symbol) 2) ashamed of their own race 3) believe that white women will let them get away with behaviors that black women wouldn’t tolerate 4) buy into the forbidden fruit hypothesis or 5) a combination of all five. How else do we explain so many black men marrying and dating outside of their (ahem) group. A few yes…but now its become a trend. I know black men who won’t even date black women, because white is the hottest new craze. I think that’s horribly chauvinist to treat any woman as a trophy—but it happens. And it happens a lot.
Lastly, I am concerned about what will happen to my race (darn did I use the “r” word in this politically correct discussion!) if this type of thinking continues. If black men continue to marry white women because of their lack of racial identity/consciousness (which is what it all boils down to), and then their children grow to lack racial identity/consciousness, and their children etc…etc it will mean the end of the black race—or at least the whitening of it. Maybe I’m overreacting, but that bothers me.”

After I made this post, I intended to walk away (or at least navigate to another page). But then a young lady had this to say in response.

“About the white and black men preferring white women - it is any shock? Look at how our media portrays white beauty as THE most desirable - as many articles by staff at boundless suggest, people are influenced by the media when it comes to their tastes in the oppositite sex. For example, if black women are sexualized in the media, and we always hear that you bring home the "good girl" to mama, how is it surprising that no one's bringing mama home a black woman?!?”

Ouch! I couldn’t walk away from that one even though I agree that white beauty is the ideal in this country.

“[Young woman’s name] what you said about black women not being portrayed positively in the media is definitely true. But I think you are forgetting that black men are portrayed even less positively. They are uneducated, swearing, misogynists, who objectify women for their own selfish gratification. That’s what you see in the media! And there are hundreds of other such stereotypes. Yet these depictions haven’t stopped white women from being attracted to black men. Why have they then succeeded (to use your logic) in making black women unappealing---particularly to their own men? Also I can’t tell you how much media I’ve come across that has white women half-dressed and shaking their thing, or having a sexual encounter, or doing things that are too unchristian to even be talked about. Also consider that the majority of porn (think playboy) is white. Many black men’s first experience with the idea that white is sexy probably came from magazines like Playboy and Maxim. All women are sexualized and caricatured in media! That’s the sad reality we live in.
I also want to add that as a very conscious black woman it does something to me when I see another one of my men with a white woman on his arm. It feels like a smack in the face. It feels like a betrayal—like he’s selling out—as if he is throwing his race away. We must also not forget that a few years ago if he had even looked at a white woman he could have been lynched. I recently watched a documentary in which a young black guy was arrested because he was dating a white girl whose parents accused him of kidnapping. They even threatened to disown their daughter if she refused to press charges. The police didn’t ask questions they just threw him in jail without even trying to hear his side of the story. We must consider the painful and sad history of this country and how that history affects race relations today. Racism still thrives and in many situations (like the aforementioned one) it’s just not safe to date outside of the race. It [interracial dating] causes unnecessary tension and hurt.
I’d also like to add that I really appreciate this discussion. I don’t agree with many of the comments, but they were genuinely expressed and well articulated. These discussions of race always give me food for thought…”

Some people were inclined to agree with me.

“Speaking as a black woman who is pretty much equal opportunity, I was struck by Crystal's comment that dating outside of race might not be safe. Having experienced persecution because of my color, my height, my gender and my religion, I would have to say that if I were only to do what is safe, I would lock myself in my apartment and never come out. (And even that's a risk... what if there's a fire?) As Christians, we're always going to be misfits regardless of whatever else we choose to do, so if I meet and choose to marry a man who isn't black, I'm not going to allow the ungodly opinions and sinful actions of others to put asunder what God has joined.
Jesus came to give us abundant life in every area... He didn't say it would be safe.”

Hey I can’t disagree with that.

Another had this to say “I understand Crystal's concerns. I mean, being ashamed of your own ethnicity is not a good thing. Plus, there is nothing wrong with marrying within your race. However, she didn't point out (sadly) that it is just as wrong to intentionally date within your own race primarily to stay safe or out of fear of becoming a sellout as just as it is not right for folks to intentionally date someone outside of your race out of shame of your own culture or out of wanting to fit into the majority. Plus, we all carry baggage when we date or marry.”
What’s to disagree with there?
But then one young lady had this to say “Crystal, being that my father is black and my mother is white, and they have been happily married since 1979, i find your statements highly offensive. first of all, why wouldn't an inner-city raised person camp? my dad was raised in the inner city of cincinnati, and he and my mom love to go to the red river gorge for a few nights of camping. there is no racially defined "thing" people do. my dad wasn't a "gold digger"- being that he's a northwestern educated librarian, its hardly something he worried about.there is no "forbidden fruit" aspect- if a white person on this board would have made the same statement (and even more, if they would have worried about the "darkening" of the white race) they would have been rightfully lambasted. and my sister and i are not "confused". we refuse to choose a race- why should we? we are black and white. both. not either. i am completely and entirely repulsed. what does it mean to "identify" as black? be able to dance well? be able to name top 10 hip hop artists at the drop of a hat? sheesh.”
Wow I guess I really ruffled her feathers. So I attempted to post this in response. Only thing is that my comment was a bit too black to be approved.
“Dear [young ladies name],

When I wrote my earlier posts I was not targeting you or anybody else specifically. I was merely sharing my feelings on a very contentious topic. My intentions were never to offend or “repulse” anybody. When I talk about living in the inner city, that’s a euphemism for the hood and black people from the hood don’t find the same things appealing that white people from more privileged backgrounds do. I used camping, sky-driving, and skiing as examples because where I’m from these activities are enjoyed predominately by white people. Sure it’s hard to generalize, but I think we can all agree that generally there are things that white people enjoy that blacks do not and vice versa.
Also I think you misunderstood me, I never said that black men were “gold diggers”, what I did say was that many of them buy into the stereotype that black women fall into that category. You see, whenever a black man does something that goes against his stereotype (i.e go to college), he tends to rush right out and get a white woman and throw his race away. That’s another generalization, but I think it’s relevant. I think black men that date outside of their race have an agenda, and I believe that most fall into one of the categories I listed in my prior posts. I’ve seen it, read about it, and experienced it! I think that to choose to date a person just because of their race is just as wrong as to choose not to date them just because of their race.
Lastly, when I talk about racial identity and consciousness, I’m not talking about dancing or hip-hop. That’s entirely irrelevant. I think that you should look up these terms. If you understood them fully you wouldn’t have made the assumptions you made. Read up on the theory of “psychological nigrescence” which talks about how racial identity (a group identity or sense of people-hood related to self esteem) is developed. Consciousness refers to a psychological awareness that one is black living in a world that can be highly hostile to people of color. It’s really hard to paraphrase these very complex constructs without posting 50 paragraphs, but I encourage you to check out the article “African Self-Consciousness and the Mental Health of African Americans” by Joseph Baldwin** for a more complete definition. Also check out the Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B Dubios where he talks about dual consciousness.
I think black men who date outside of their race usually lack such identity/consciousness and that it has implications for their future generations. If all black men began to neglect their race and adopt an anti-black worldview, then I am justifiably concerned about the future of the black culture I love so much!”

Crickets chirping. No response. Chirp some more. Yeah of course that comment wasn’t going to be approved. Ha! But it is now and on the most wonderful blog in cyberspace! (I’m suffering from temporary delusions of grandeur).

So what is the moral of all of this race hating and debating. Well the original blogger sums it up in this tongue-in-cheek way stating that, “by the way, who I am really has nothing to do with being black or white -- it has to do with being awesome ;-).” Hmmm. Good point.

***this dialogue was taken from boundlessline.org. For the full discussion click http://www.boundlessline.org/2007/07/mixed-matches.html.
* Before I end up with another defensive email or comment--I’m not against interracial relationship in general. I just have an issue with WHY black men do it. I don’t feel this way about other such unions.
**So I only half agree with this guy because I think he’s a prejudice prick, but the essence of what he says about how lack of consciousness affect mental health is relatively valid.

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