by Special Correspondent Nadra Kareem
Do black women regard interracial relationships as a personal affront?
I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen this issue raised. On June 2, it surfaced once more when blogger the Black Snob posted a thought-provoking piece on those who oppose interracial relationships called “Sometimes the White Girl (Or Guy) Isn’t about You (Unconventional Wisdom).”
The post begins with the Snob recalling her days in school when two black girls unsuccessfully try to jump a white classmate who’s dating a black guy. Throughout the piece, the Snob not only questions the rationale the two girls used to justify beating up their white peer but the rationale that black women in general draw upon to oppose interracial relationships. Are black women being fair when they assume that a black guy dating a white chick is a sell-out? And how do the insecurities of black women in Western society factor into their objection of interracial relationships?
She writes, “Some black guys are going to date white girls. Attempting to beat up the white girls will not turn that tide. …You’d be better off learning to love yourself than becoming mired in bitterness and hate over that thing that’s not really about you.”
The Snob’s points are valid. However, after reading her piece and others like it, I find myself wondering why black women are constantly portrayed as if they are only ones who react negatively to interracial relationships. As a black woman who has been involved with a white guy for more than a year, I’ve faced my fair share of hostility from white women, and some Asian ones, who seem resentful of my partnership. None of these women have disapproved of my relationship aloud, but they don’t really have to. Their body language says enough.
They do double-takes when they learn my boyfriend and I are together. They give me the side-eye or attempt to look me up and down when they think I won’t notice. Others have just been aloof or exhibited general bitchiness when I try to make conversation with them. I know that if I am having such experiences other black women involved with non-black men are as well. Yet, black women continue to bear the onus for the hostility that black-white interracial couples face.
The sad thing about this to me is that the reasons a black woman might object to an interracial relationship are wholly different from the reasons a white woman might. Black women worry how the black community will be affected overall if, say, the most successful black men find themselves with white women again and again. They worry about the effect interracial relationships have on low marriage rates in the black community. In contrast, when I encounter white women who cop an attitude upon discovering that my boyfriend and I are an item, their hostility comes from a very different place—a place of superiority.
It’s as if they are asking themselves, “Why on earth would he be with a black girl when I’m here?” Adding insult to injury is that it doesn’t seem to matter whether I’m more or less physically attractive than these women. That I’m black alone makes me inferior in their eyes. It comes down to this: women accustomed to being prizes in Western society are thrown for a loop when they see a white man who’s chosen a different option. As ridiculous as it sounds, their behavior reminds me of the Valley girl at the beginning of the “Baby Got Back” record who says in disgust, “She’s so black.” Black women aren’t supposed to be desirable, so when an eligible white male partners with a black woman, it’s not surprising that some people are going to react with shock or hostility.
I discussed this issue with a black friend several months ago. Then, she said of white women, “You know they’re threatened by us.”
Sure, I know that some white women may be intimated by black women they view in stereotypes—loud, overbearing and aggressive. But I did not think that white women were threatened by black women in the romantic realm. Is this akin to white men being jealous of the fabled size of black men’s penises? Are white women worried that they can’t compete with black women sexually? I don’t know. Yet, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this issue raised. Years ago when I was reading a profile on Oprah Winfrey, the writer suggested that the talk show queen wouldn’t have so many white women fans if she were more sexually threatening. In short, if Oprah were slender and alluring instead of the woman white ladies bring their problems to, she wouldn’t be as successful.
I wonder how valid this statement is. I do know that, on the surface, a few of the hostile white women I’ve encountered have no problem with black women. They do volunteer work involving the black community and are eager to sympathize with the woes of black women. But, upon learning that my boyfriend chose to date me, they are taken aback. Rather than being a rung below them on the social ladder—someone in need of their help—a black woman had effectively become their competitor and, thus, their equal.