Whoa whoa before you get mad, I ain’t saying you can’t date white girls no more. Brotherman you grown, date whoever you like. I’m just wondering if it means something. When I see patterns it makes me curious about how decisions are influenced by societal structures influenced by power invested in maintaining itself. That’s the whole point of a system.
Here we are in the era of #blackgirlmagic and #blackwomenrock. Black woman are winning. Unless of course you’re Leslie Jones. Or Korryn Gaines. Or Tiarah Poyau. Or Shaqueenia Hanna. Still, it’s trendy to praise Black women. We call them brilliant, highlight their leadership, encourage their natural beauty, mock white women for appropriating their style. Yet it’s not as popular to suggest that Black men should date them exclusively. Because love is love.
This is really a question about identity. When someone ascribes to a value system, claims a particular label, in what ways should we expect evidence of that identity to show up in their life? If you say you’re a Christian I’d expect you to have read some bible. If you’re an architect you should know some math. Writer’s write. Philanthropists give. If #blacklivesmatter to you, if your shirt reads ‘Unapologetically Black’, then I should be able to expect you to spend some time around Black people, engage with Black culture, read Black authors, watch Black film, support Black businesses. etc. Black is diverse enough for that to manifest in lots of different ways, but it looks like something. Just saying it isn’t enough. As a lifestyle choice who you chose to spend intimate time with is a powerful statement about what you deem valuable.
I dated a white girl once. Like went on a date with. We were both in grad school in Atlanta. I was 24 years old. She was from Greece. All the guys in the program thought was she gorgeous. I was like oh yeah? And my ego asked her out. We saw a movie, but I felt awkward so that was the end of us. Except for one more time when she helped me get out of a meeting (she out ranked me) to go hear a lecture at Spelman College by Robert Guthrie who wrote a book about psychology called “Even the Rat was White.” We went to the lecture together. I’ve never felt more like I wanted to die than that day walking through Spelman’s campus with a white woman. We weren’t even holding hands, I still felt like a traitor. I told Aphrodite about it and we haven’t talked since.
That’s the bulk of the research that I’m building my theory on. The basic premise is: if I had the experience of feeling shame, then there must be some brothers that feel pride when they publicly date white women. I know my feelings of shame have been shaped by my upbringing, the African-centered school I attended, my values about family, my perceived obligations to the Black community, and my sociopolitical analysis. It would only make sense that their pride comes from somewhere too. It can’t not mean nothing. Sure, there’s also the love is love theory, the neutral position. Love chooses you, not the other way around. I think it’s hard to play colorblind these days, but it’s certainly a much safer, liberal, accepting explanation.
We ain’t even get to the hard part yet. What does my theory say about Harry Belafonte? Frederick Douglass? Frantz Fanon? Cheikh Anta Diop? Amiri Baraka? I may have my own personal discomfort about the image of Nate Parker having a long grueling day conjuring the suffering and resistance of our ancestors and going home to be comforted by his wife. But does that mean I’m suggesting he is any less Black? Yes. The biology and phenotype of Black is one thing, but the active identity of Blackness should be connected to tangible outcomes. It’s not as simple as you being woke OR nah. It’s a spectrum of wokeness, if displayed in chart form would be really large and messy. If we chose a Black expert panel, which we’d never come to a consensus about, hypothetically if they created a survey to measure Black, there’d have to be lifestyle items on it. I know people who would score higher than me because they’d mark yes to “always use black owned laundry detergent” or “speak an African language”. But it’s hard to imagine the question “dates black people” not even being on the scale. Which don’t determine if someone is or isn’t Black at all, it just means… something.
~Dr. Cartman is the author a new book about family, manhood, relationships and culture. You can purchase it here.