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12.09.2009

Things We Don't Apologize For: Who We Date

Yesterday: Never apologize for ordering dessert or more than one dessert.
Today: Never apologize for dating outside your race. Just because you found Mr. Right across the color line doesn't mean you don't love your brothas.

Finding Something New, catching Jungle Fever, getting your swirl on... we have all kinds of euphemisms for it, but it's still one of those really touchy subjects: interracial dating. Every blog has a requisite post on interracial dating (and if they don't, it's coming...) we've all talked about it, thought about it and some of us have done it.

The reason this topic gets so much press and can evoke very passioned responses is because race is not an easy topic in this country. We like to say we're in a post-racial society, but we're not. Racism still abounds, it's still a big deal and even though interracial marriages make up more than 7% of all marriages in this country we're still not comfortable with it.

But we're not talking about marriage. We're talking about dating. Going to see a movie, having a drink, spending a couple of hours with (gasp) a person of a different race. Sounds simple, and I think it can be, but trust me when I say I know that it's not.

J (for anyone who may be new/missed me saying this, J is my ex and he was white) seemed completely oblivious to the stares we would get when we would go out. Almost to the point of aggravation on my end. I talked before about our experiences with bold waitresses
We would argue all the time about whether or not our waitresses were flirting with him. He would swear up and down that they weren't. Eventually he admitted that he knew they were flirting with him, but he didn't want to admit it to me because he didn't know how it'd make me feel (that he didn't shut it down...)

I wasn't the insecure/jealous type so mostly my irritation at the waitresses was more on a "can you please be more professional" level than anything else. I wasn't actually worried that he'd take their bait.
I can say that part of what bothered me more was knowing that for these white waitresses thinking that J was in a relationship with me was too far-fetched.

There was also the staring. I vividly remember going to eat at one of J's favorite restaurants during a busy dinner service. We were positioned in such a way that his back was to the entire restaurant but I had a perfect view of the people around us. There was a booth off to my right where 3 girls were seated shortly after J and I ordered. I didn't pay them any attention until I realized one of the girls kept leaning over to get a better look at me, and, presumably J. Of course everytime I told J to turn around she'd quickly scoot back inside the booth. He knew, though -- by then he was aware of the staring, he just didn't think it was worth it to worry about it.

I say all that to say that of course there are people out there who "don't approve" or take issue with interracial dating and that's their problem. Really. Letting them bother you, especially letting what you think they think get to you is making their problem your problem and that is no bueno.

But what about your friends? What about the black guys who think that a black woman with a non-black man is a traitor and somehow takes it personally? I can say with certainty that there were black guys I had known for years who never seemed to care about who I was dating or what I was doing romantically until they found out I was dating a white guy. I didn't understand it and none of them were negative about it (they couldn't be, almost all of them had dated non-black girls) but I noticed it. You are not a traitor because you date outside of your race. You are no less black for dating outside your race because, surprisingly, race has nothing to do with who you date/marry/sleep with (ask Tiger Woods).

You don't have to justify who you're attracted to, or who you date to anyone. I've said before:
...the point I'm trying to make is that I could go into all of the social reasons why I'm open to dating outside of my race and make some larger point about how we all need to just chill out and mind our own business. You know, ultimately, one shouldn't have to justify why they choose to be in relationships with whomever they choose to be in relationships with. That's the individual's business and surely none of mine. No one should ever, in my opinion, justify the type or sort of people they are attracted to. Attraction in and of itself is hard to explain and thus is all the explanation necessary.

I have found that most of the time there's a larger question [people who are fascinated by my dating history] want to ask or discussion they want to have that usually goes back to how "black" I am, which is also a stupid question. I'm black. That's enough -- who I do or don't date has nothing to do with my ethnicity.

I'll never, ever try to "justify" or "explain" why I date non-black men by placing the blame on anyone else. I date men -- period. There wasn't some wayward relationship I had with a black man that made me decide all black men were dogs and thus I'd only date white men. If you're attracted to people outside of your race, that's fine. But we shouldn't make people feel like they have to explain it and on the flip side we shouldn't feel like an explanation has to be at the expense of a group of people, most of whom we don't even know.
Frequently I've found that people who date interracially want to tell you a sob story about all the people within their race they dated that made them decide never to do it again. Those people are stupid, just like people who are against interracial relationships. I've never understood why I can have non-black friends but I can't date them.

It's not everyone's cup of tea. That's fine. But if you want to date someone of another race, you should feel ok to do that, you should feel like your friends will support you and you should feel like you don't have to explain it to anyone. If you don't feel that way, you need new people around you. I often found that if I didn't offer an explanation, no one asked me for one. You can even assert your decision in such a way that dares someone to ask you to explain it. It doesn't always work, but it can. Regardless, don't apologize for who you date to anyone. It's not worth it.

Tomorrow: Never apologize for demanding respect. You are to always be treated as a queen.

7 comments:

Akirah said...

Amen! I just ended a three and a half year relationship with a white man whom I love immensely. We've had our share of issues...particularly with black men staring at us, cops wondering if we're exchanging sex for drugs, and so forth. But really, we were just madly in love and never apologized for it.

A.Smith said...

Akirah - I had to laugh and shake my head at those assumptions by cops. I mean people will come out of left field with stuff and never once think the two of you are together...

Assertive Wit said...

Did you see the tweets in my timeline yesterday?

Known this dude 9 years and yesterday he decides to be blatantly racist and say it was ok for Tiger to cheat on his wife because she wasn't black. He has a daughter so no telling what he's telling her about people of other races! This fool made me mad because our generation is supposed to be doing better than the last when it comes to race relations.

A.Smith said...

Assertive Wit - I missed those tweets, but I'm not surprised. Sometimes I think we give folks our age too much credit. People are ignorant and it's ridiculous.

Dash said...

This just blows my mind to smithereens. I have dated every color under the sun by now and I only started dating 6 years ago. Some have gone their whole lives limiting themselves because of something as silly as race or ethnicity. (Religion is a different story)If you like someone why should you deny yourself that happiness because of the superficial?

Daniel said...

Who gives a hairy flip about what others think. If you truly Love that person, then the only persons opinion that should matter is that of your b/f or g/f. I actually got sad when I read Akirah's response because I hope I red that wrong, but because it almost seems she and him broke up because of the fact that others did not seem to approve. In this country we are suppose to have come so far in race relations that skin color is not suppose to matter. The only thing that should matter is what is in your heart.if the rest of the world van not understand then to hell with them. Go stand in a dark room, and give a hug to two different people, one black, one white, and you will not be able to tell the difference. If someone needs an organ transplant, like a heart or a kidney, they're not going to care what color or nationality the donor was.

A.Smith said...

Daniel-
Akirah may not see your comment, so I did want to clarify that she and her beau broke up for reasons unrelated to race.

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