I don’t date black girlsPosted: June 2, 2011
We were standing over the sliced opened body of a dead rat. He was holding the scalpel; I was holding the surgical scissors.
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.
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?