I don’t date black girls

We were standing over the sliced opened body of a dead rat. He was holding the scalpel; I was holding the surgical scissors.


“You’re beautiful.”

I stared at him.

He was one of those jock types going off to college to play volleyball in Wisconsin. Had a thing for innocuous, bottled blond sophomores. I was instantly wary.

“Thank you.” I muttered through clenched teeth.

For however many weeks we were lab partners in that wretched anatomy class, he would make little compliments like that. One day, on a customary whim, I decided to wear my hair in a huge fro. It was a risky choice aesthetically. Out there. I had my doubts. But the sagacious words of Jennifer Lopez resounded in my ears, “Confidence is sexy.”

So I strutted into the classroom.

“Stunning,” my lab partner said. “Absolutely stunning.” He was very white. Literally. Skin so pale, it had tints of green. He was one of those guys who thought he was charming. He liked to talk to me because I was very quiet. He would talk about the volleyball team, about how he was ‘saving himself’ for someone special. But lest I question his manhood, he would quickly point out the number of girls in the class he had made out with.

I think about him when I  a) want a laugh, b) an ego boost, c) or watch videos like this:

Because here’s the thing. When my lab partner made those compliments, I had two simultaneous, different, very strong, visceral reactions. The first: an enormous sense of incredulity. I wanted to roll my eyes until they saw the back of my head. Yeah, right, whatever. The other: immense flattery. And I knew that it wasn’t the sort of flattery that came from being called ‘pretty.’ This sense of flattery, huge, enormous and blush-inducing? It came solely from the fact that he was white. It was like some sort of secret affirmation. One white guy thinks me, a black girl, is pretty. Yay. No. He must be kidding. I don’t believe him.

The New York Times had a college essay contest a while back asking for stories of modern love. I submitted an essay (I didn’t win. In case you were wondering. Haha.) It was a very ambivalent, ambiguous, confusing, cathartic piece about the plight of black Christian cisgendered heterosexual women who go to good colleges and can’t find men to date because the black guys are all gay or taken or undateable and the nonblack guys, the few that are worth pursuing, don’t date black girls. And these nonblack guys aren’t racist. They just have a preference.

Preference. I hate that word.

In my essay I wrote about John Mayer and his white supremacist dick comments. I tried to figure out why it made me so angry. By ‘try to figure out,’ I mean pretend that it was because of the way he phrased his comments. The sense of entitlement he had throughout that interview. (Nigga pass? Because you sung a few songs with B.B. King?) The rampant misogyny. The bloated arrogance. All valid reasons to find the article offensive.

And yet, I knew why he made me so livid.  (And I was livid. I kept going on about him for months; I couldn’t listen to his music anymore. Anytime someone mentioned ‘John Mayer’ I launched into a detailed tirade.) He had simply confirmed my worst fears. Black women are ugly. Undateable. We can’t get his penis up. Our bodies are not a wonderland.

So what? Who cares? Why do you need the approval of some white guy you don’t know? Why do you want to be objectified?Yeah, so what. No one cares. I don’t. I don’t want to be objectified. Racism and misogyny and arrogance are unattractive.  And on most days, I say, right! Forget him.  I trade Aloe Blacc for John Mayer.

But then some days (rarer now), when I watch videos like the one above, or read studies by pseudo scientists, or accidentally glance at  some asinine YouTube comment about how ugly some black female celebrity is, I feel sad. I take it really, really, personally. Sometimes I cry. I flashback to high school, remembering how ugly and asexual and unnoticed I felt.

I watch Something New. I click on every ‘Famous White Men who like the sistas’ article I find. I bask in the glow of the affirmation. And then it disappears. Because it’s all ephemeral.

If Brad Pitt left Angelina Jolie for Ajak Deng, it would not make a bit of difference. Because this secret validation that I need, the sporadic self-loathing that I have, that’s all me.

I need to read Psalm 139. Wipe the tears away. Have an answer ready, anytime a guy has the stupid audacity to say, “I don’t date black girls.”

What’s the answer?



11 Comments on “I don’t date black girls”

  1. Brittany Smith says:

    So you never get upset when a black guy is dating a white woman, or a white blonde at that? Majority of black women cringe when they see a black-white couple. Do you get just as offended when a gay guy tells you that he doesn’t like women? So every gay man is a sexist?

    • tometome says:

      My sister wrote a great response to this question:

      ‘Many people seem to think that their ideas of sexual attraction are theirs alone, that they were just born thinking, “I like white girls,” or “I like Asians,” and that they “can’t help” who they are attracted to.

      I would like to argue that this is all much more complicated than these ideas suggest. Culture plays a HUGE role in what we are supposed to find attractive. In the same way that people are under tremendous pressure to be sexually attracted to the oppostite gender, people are also under tremendous pressure to be attracted to a normative beauty standard. In Western American culture, that beauty standard has been skinny and white for at least the past two centuries. Whiteness has been the standard against which all others are measured, and usually, blackness has been its polar opposite.

      We don’t choose our partners in isolation. The reactions of our friends and families, of our CULTURES, has a huge impact on our expressed sexual attractions. The process of determining who we are ACTUALLY attracted to versus who we are SUPPOSED to find attractive is very long and complicated. There are many men who might actually be attracted to bigger women, but because of the cultural pressure that in a very sexist fashion judge men by the “hotness” of “their women”, deny those attractions and don’t explore them. Similarly, there are many women who might actually really like a man that is short, but fearful of what they’d look like with a short man, call it off with a great guy.

      So when someone tells me they “don’t date black girls,” I can’t help but wonder whether our great Western culture, which has LITERALLY abused, commodified, and objectified the bodies of black women (look up the history of Sara Baartman, the “Hottentot Venus” if you don’t believe me), might have something to do with it. I can’t help but wonder whether they might be Asian guys who could actually date and be with black women, but who have been culturally conditioned to think that being with black women is a degradation.

      I can’t help but wonder that the black woman who claims defiantly “I only date black men,” tells herself this partially because she fears that they are the only men that will accept her.

      Am I saying that this is ALL culture and not us? No. But as the famous Kenneth B Clark doll experiment shows us, people pick up on racism and “cultural preferences,” at a very early age. It would be naive at best, and just straight up ignorant at worse, to behave as if racial preferences in attractiveness just came into being all by themselves.

      So I would challenge people who don’t date ___(fill in the race) people to, rather than try and justify the preference, think about WHERE the preference comes from.’

  2. deedee says:

    And there actually are some gay men who can be very misogynistic in the way they talk about their sexuality. See here: http://thenewgay.net/2011/04/misogyny-in-gay-rhetoric.html

  3. Brittany says:

    I used to believe that idea of preference vs racism and I have definitely met people who have made racist comments such as eww in regards to ever being with a black person. Now I’m not to sure if it is real, what if that is just white people’s last way of discriminating against blacks without being called a racist.

    When a person has a preference for blond hair and blue eyes that doesn’t mean they would never date a red head with brown eyes. Someone with a preference for double D’s does not just overlook a compatible human being just because they are flat chested. So why is it ok to do that with race. Why blanket a whole entire race with the idea that none of them are attractive. It is racist for the simple fact that even though you get along with someone you won’t date them because of their race but if they were suddenly white or asian you would.

  4. amanahill says:

    Great piece, it made me smile cringe and laugh. I don’t know how I feel about White men, it changes almost everyday, but I do know how I feel about people who are highly prejudiced. While I don’t think that people who don’t black girls are racist, they are just prejudiced- which we all are- and the problem with that is that this prejudice is highly racial.

    Just like the John Mayer issue however, the bigger issue isn’t why are they prejudiced but why do we care? Why did we expect John Mayer to like black women, why do we want/need validation from white men?

    I guess I am somewhat of a pessimist (I think realist) but in my head most people are racially prejudice (which I would argue is different from the very loaded term RACIST).

    When I see a white man I don’t expect him to notice me or think I am pretty, and I don’t care if he does; if he does think that, great, if not his loss.

    I think white men, especially American , are raised in a culture where beauty, femininity, and ‘the girl you want to date’ don’t equal black. For this reason when looking for partners they often don’t notice black women.
    This often trickles into other racial groups of men, such that black women are not the sought after prize.

    Essentially I am saying : BLAME SOCIETY!

    I would say more but this isn’t a forum. Great post!

  5. JW says:

    Thanks for this, I totally relate.I was raised in white areas and it really messed with my self esteem and even sexual identity to a certain extent. I was outgoing from a young age and always had crushes on boys, but it was never returned. I saw my little friends going through their little baby romance. But the only males who showed interest in me as a mixed teen in white areas were older, creepy white guys. As they were the only ones who showed me any interest, it left me vulnerable to a few bad experiences. I relate to those feelings of being de-feminized (?), made androgynous. With African features and an afro?- no way. I would always be just a friend. It sort of morphed me into an adrogynous type, when, if I’d been raised in a supportive (black/mixed) environment, I don’t think I would have been that way at all. The race difference is too big for a teenage white male raised in a white environment, and the subtle racism is always present. It plays on a black teen’s psyche negatively. I was excluded from romance. But as soon as I moved to a big racially integrated city I became a normal young woman in that I got romantic interest from men. Parents–if you have children with any physically representing black heritage, do them a favor and live in integrated areas! p.s. When I moved to the city I quickly realized, who cares if white men don’t appreciate black beauty. Plenty of other men –Black, Latino, Mixed, Jewish, Southeast Asian men, (and some white guys too) do like black beauty, in my experience.

  6. Ian says:

    I always get so hesitant to respond/comment whenever I see posts like this come up, but I’ll put my thoughts out there on this one. I am white, and I grew up in a very racist area. Very much contrary to the ideals of where I grew up, I thought black women were so amazingly beautiful. I think it was the opposite of your situation for me though, because I always thought black women found white men extremely unattractive, especially when I never saw any interaction between black women and white men (it wasn’t until I moved away for school that I realized the lack of interaction was due to the culture/area I was raised in at the time). From a very young age though, I found black women to be much more attractive than other women. I got teased about it, but I still can’t understand how people are able to deny how beautiful black women are. I am married now to a black woman, and she has asked before if I would ever date a white woman if something were to happen to her, and I can honestly say that I couldn’t see that happening. It makes me very angry to see and hear about someone saying that black women are ugly… to me, i feel like that person has yet to open their eyes to a group of women that God clearly spent extra time in perfecting.

  7. This is a free country, I’m not mad at anybody. BUT Bottom line, any woman who excludes me based strictly on the color of my skin is: NOT MY TYPE anyway. My stance is today what it has always been: YES it is Racist with a capital “R” to exclude somebody from the dating pool due to the color of their skin. When somebody uses words/phrases like “preference” and “not my type,” to justify discrimination; that is “hipster racism” at it’s most covert. It’s Racist for two reasons: 1. Attraction (for females) has little to do with the way a man looks and more about charisma and charm. If she picks Steve Buscemi over Will Smith, she’s a country biscuit eating racist! 2. Every other white girl that says “I don’t date black guys” will drop their drawers if LeBron James walked into the room! Your Welcome.

  8. Oh yeah, I forgot another reason, 3: Everybody is Black When the Lights Go Out anyway:-)

  9. […] I know exactly why I spent three hours watching Shawn and Angela. It’s the same reason I have occasional, overwhelming longings to watch Something New. But I’ve already done that blog post.  […]

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