Thursday, November 29, 2007

where this blackgrrl stands, part two -- "interracial dating" and the cool guy

i decided a long time ago that when it came to dating, i wanted someone that was basically a good guy, and i really didn't care what race he happened to be. finding a smart, decent, cool, God-fearing person would prove to be difficult enough. why cut my chances of meeting that special someone by setting up racial barriers? to my way of thinking, it just didn't make any sense.

i knew very early on in the dating game that just because a guy is an african-american, that didn't mean that he would understand me or "get" where i was coming from or get along with me -- or find me attractive. as a matter of fact, a lot of african-american guys find me patently unattractive because i don't straighten my hair -- believe it or not. (note: i said african-american. not west indian. not african. african-american. but i digress.) it's the wierdest thing, to walk through greenbriar mall in atlanta and watch black folk stop eating to stare at my hair.

here's an interesting sidebar: i don't straighten my hair because it is at its strongest and healthiest and most beautiful when its in its natural state. it's expensive to chemically treat it, too. do the math: if you trot to the beauty parlor every other week or so for a touch up, that money invested wisely long term could probably buy you a house or give you an early retirement situation in no time.

besides -- i don't think i should have to affect a white standard of beauty to be presentable. or pretty. if some african-american man thinks otherwise, that's his problem.

unconsciously, i realized that because i had essentially become the person i wanted to date, that's exactly what i usually attracted: men who wanted a cool girl, irrregardless of race. oh, there was the occasional righteous brother who preferred me with a perm, or who was genuinely disgusted that i'd dated "outside of my race." as far as i was concerned, that made them much easier to sort through. i didn't care how black or white or whatever he was. he's not cool, i'd casually observe. i cannot date him. and i would move on.

case in point?

years ago, some white guy was trying to chat me up at a party somewhere deep in the heart of brooklyn and i wasn't having it. somewhere in the midst of the conversation we were barely having, he told me that he only dated sisters. what baffled me is that he said it in this confidential "just between us" tone. the implication was that i had nothing to worry about because he understood who i was and where i was coming from -- he was familiar with me, with my culture, my people. bad move.

"who are you calling 'sisters,'" i snapped, "black women aren't sisters to you. you have to be a brother to say that." he vehemently disagreed. we were off to the races. i remember watching his face change as he realized how deep he'd stuck his foot in it. that's when i said, why would you only go out with black women, anyway?

to his credit, he tried very hard to explain himself. he went on about how beautiful black women are, how intelligent, how much more interesting they are than white women -- blah, blah, blah. as he went on, what i couldn't stop thinking was, there's some great looking white women out there that really are all that. why is he systematically excluding them? why would someone not date within their own race? it reeked of self-hate but he didn't see it that way. fortunately, i did.
(it's a preference, he said. no it's not, i countered. it's a fetish. amazing, the things people will say to justify themselves.)

my friend happens to be one of the coolest guys i've ever met. i think we're kind of spoiled because we're artists and we don't really live in america. we live and work in new york city -- a place where it's very easy to meet and hang out with people of different races and nationalities and cultures. here, your life can be as segregated or as diverse as you want it to be.

last night, i made my friend watch the online component of nbc's african-american women: where they stand series called love in black and white. he sat there quietly holding my hand, occasionally crinkling his nose in disapproval. when it was over, he said it sounded like the black women in question were dating white guys because black men weren't available. like the white guy was a consolation prize, and if some black guy came along, she would dump him. to his way of thinking, race is not a reason to date anybody.

and that's when the obvious struck me: it's really not about black women dating white men. it's about black women dating the cool guy. why wouldn't anyone say that on this segment? why can't anyone think it? they were so conditioned to think in terms of black and white that they couldn't see it any other way. ridiculous. it's a big world out there, ladies. lots of men, all over the world. the one for you could be anywhere. he could be anyone. a turkish businessman. a polish bar owner. a chinese chef.

it could very well be that the cool guy that God wants for you is probably in Prague right now, having a latte.


faboo said...

Reading this post, I'm shaking my head in agreement. Black guys never wanted anything to do with me because of the lack of makeup, straightened hair (or weave when I had my hair straighted, it was short), or any other Glammed Black Woman image they've been forced-fed on. That's not my problem.

I will say this, my husband is from Romania and here in LA, I get stares. From black women. Black men, don't even bat an eye. Granted they're usually with a Latina or Asian woman, but black women don't like it and just stare. What I've found is that because of my hair and our coupling, people just assume we're artist-types. Isn't that strange?

queenesther said...

wow. i have to tell you -- i think eastern european men are highly underrated.

that said -- artists are generally the ones who live unconventional lives and as a black woman, your union would read as such on the left coast, no matter how "normal" a life you have.

LA is a cold place to be as a black woman if you don't fit in with that eurocentric ideal of beauty. good for you, that you've found happiness.

btw: did you ever think that maybe the black women are staring out of jealousy?

Anonymous said...

Good Post... Its true what you said. I guess since i'm from the west indies, men from there don't really mind how you wear your hair or maybe its the ones i come across.... Dating out side my race, its hard but i'm still young so we will see how that goes.

faboo said...

Hmmm...I think many of them are staring because I'm fat, nappy and happy and got a man. Meanwhile, they're spending all their cash on "looking the part" and--I'm sorry, but too many black women in LA are so incredibly shallow--wanting to know what a man makes, what he drives, what he can give her. No man, no person, no matter the race would want to do deal with that.

I think the stares may also have to do with the fact that people think my husband looks like Johnny Depp, so there's a lot of doube takes.

But yeah, being a black woman in LA is hard. I had friends who were born and raised here, but live in the Bay Area for awhile. When they moved back down here, that was all they complained about. One, I was like, "You are not gonna find your Black King you're looking for if you're always out with the gay white couple." And the other already has a man, she just wanted attention she got up in the Bay Area. BTW, they're both back up in the Bay Area. But both of them had dreads, no makeup, not stick thin. The only guys they'd both attract are white guys who admittedly only date "the sistas".

queenesther said...

trecia -- i don't care who you're seeing. dating is hard, period. i think it's something you have to practice, like a piano, before you can be truly good at it. and like playing the piano, dating takes work. and discipline. hang in there.

faboo -- your husband is (johnny dep!) gorgeous and you're not a size 2 with a weave? that explains everything! no wonder they're staring at you.

heh-heh. you're probably glowing with happiness...

faboo said...

LOL...I have to admit I got a weave once just to see what the hype was about. I looked like a fat Tina Turner and my husband begged me to get rid of it. It lasted about 5 days. Way too much work.

BTW, I gave you a h/t in my recent blogpost and quoted a bit o' you. If it wasn't for your blog, I wouldn't have heard about the MSNBC special. I finally watched the clips online and I'm waiting for a friend to get the original airings. That wasn't a good thing they did there. Wasn't it you that mentioned that you should make the documentary? I saw go for it and I'll be more than happy to supply Black women from across the nation for it. Hell, I'll even make you a website for free!

ANA said...

faboo, men of LA seem to have zero love for black women and I seriously believe that they've bonded over this, becoming the army whose mission it is to bring back black love. They are angered by anyone whose relationship clashes with their mission.

I have several friends from LA. The city is a fishbowl and I really think EVERYONE there is shallow. It's not just the black women asking how much you make and what car you drive. That's everyone.

queenesther said...

faboo -- thank you so much for your gracious offer! the help you've offered is all the more reason for me to do it.

we're going to have to talk offline about my documentary idea. i'm quite serious. i think that this topic bears further exploration and we all know that if we wait for "them" to do it, it'll never happen.

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

I'm only partly through this post and I'm really enjoying it and feeling it. Unfortunately, most Black people - men and women - cannot accept Black women as they are, because they desperately want Black women's hair to be more like white people's hair. This is a sickness, as far as I'm concerned. It reflects a lack of self-esteem and a twisted envy of others.

Of course, it's not our fault. The white-media and our experiences in this society tell us in every possible way that white people are beautiful while Black people are ugly.

Of course, Black women believe deep down that they will never approximate the 'beauty of white skin and straight hair' by trying to straighten their own hair. But, it would be perverse, obstinate and rebellious not even to try, right? We've got to at least TRY to look like white people!

That's the sick thinking that, unfortunately, has a hold over our culture, and I'm tired of it.

This is something I wrote about in a well-received article entitled "Free Your African Hair" that continues to be visited by people from all over the world who are seeking positive discussions of braids.

I decided to a write about about this post, which I've entitled "Black Woman Slams (Some) Black Women's Fake Hair Culture." (You've got to break some Faberge eggs to make a cultural omelet.

Here in Brazil, the lengths to which Black women are going to straighten their hair revolts me. I often think that I would cut off my own right arm if I could trade it for a world in which Black women refused to try to make their hair like white women's hair.

One woman here died after going to a beauty salon that put formaldehyde in her hair to straighten it, and yet this same "Brazilian Process" was given favorable column inches in the New York Times recently.

I know a number of Brazilian women who are stunningly beautiful, with lovely curls in their long hair, until they recently put chemicals and combs into their hair and came out looking like wet cats. Like Michael Jacksons with a Jheri Curl.

I once was engaged to a lovely Black woman here with lovely long braids. Within two months of our engagement, she started straightening her hair! Then, she refused to go to the beach anymore, because enjoying the beach (my favorite pastime) would ruin her fake ironed straight hair. No more beach with my girlfriend!

I'm so glad I married a woman with Rasta Locks, who can swim in the waves with no effect whatsoever on her hair.

Thanks for letting me vent.

garland said...

A big fat black chick with Johnny Depp would get stares not out of jealousy but because of the freaky visual charm of it all. Black guys don't bat an eye because men generally find Johnny Depp to be rather feminine-looking so they probably think you're a f*g hag. Just wanted to explain this cuz it seems like such a mystery to you all.