Welcome back to the final Black panel on Interracial Dating. Our panelists are:
N’Jaila Rhee, the mastermind behind BlaysianBytch.com (link NSFW); Damon Young, better known as The Champ and one of two VerySmartBrothas; Ashley – longtime reader and friend of the blog; Cheryl Lynn, Digital Femme extraordinare, rabblerouser, and longtime friend of the blog; Andrea Plaid – our own Sexual Correspondent; Dani – long time friend of the blog; Sewere – long time commenter, one time contributor, and friend of the blog; Tami Winfrey Harris, long time contributor and editor of Love Isn’t Enough and What Tami Said; Kadian Pow, friend of the blog and occasional contributor, and Helena Andrews, author of Bitch is the New Black.
“Give a blue collar brother a try” is what I call the Tyler Perry belief. It’s misguided advice and it often leads to bad relationships and the high rate of divorce for black couples. We’re the least likely to marry and the most likely to divorce. The reality is, if you’re a college-educated black woman, you have less in common with the guy you grew up with from the neighborhood who’s driving the UPS truck and more in common with the white guy who sat next to you in history class in college.”
What’s your reaction to this statement?
N’jaila: Having tried to relate to the white guys in my history classes I think the above statement is bullocks. I mean, you can take me and my brother, same racial, economic and social background and we have very different views on race, relationships, religion and myriad of other things – and we grew up in the same household. So I’m not a very firm believer that you will automatically have anything in common with anyone you meet based on perceived shared experiences. I think what a white male experiences in college and what a Black woman does could be so vastly different that some might even argue that its not a shared experience at all.
I’ve had white student look at me in shock when I told them that I was working to pay for my college education, they actually believed that most Black people got in for free and the government paid my tuition or assume that I was accepted into the college not on academic merit but because the school needed to fill a quota. I went to Rutgers University the most diverse campus in the country and I still had White students that did their best to stay away from anything and everything Black. So what would I have in common with one of those people? Am I to believe that because we sat next to each other in History of Western Civ that that White guy has ever thought of bringing home someone that looked like me to his mother?
Also, being college educated doesn’t stop a person from sharing opinions and beliefs with someone that did not complete the same level of education as them. I think that statement is just plain class-ism.
Andrea: Yep, it sure is. And that’s exactly what this article is getting at: maintaining class privilege. In essence, everyone should stick with their socio-economic kind. But it’s also good to remember that Essence, in its racial-uplift efforts, for a good long time promulgated the message that its middle-class, college-educated readership date Black working-class men. The “dating outside the race” pieces they ran generally side-eyed IR relationships, as if the women doing it made good copy but were doing bad by The Race™. But, as the “Black male shortage” became the mantra (“all the good Black men are taken!”), the IR stories Essence ran became more “lenient” in its attitude towards interracial relationships. And now, we have this piece, which is Essence offering its Negro Imprimatur by calling such relationships “practical.” Nothing about love and/or desire…”practical.” The subtler message is Black women not deserving of wonderfully wildly heart-stopping love except from Black men, if at that–in all of the homophobia dripping from that idea.
Ashley: I don’t agree [with Bank’s statement.] Asking me to switch to Cheerios – just because the corner bodega ran out of them – when I’ve been eating Raisin Bran my entire life wouldn’t work either. This binary solution for black women – stay single or date outside of your race – approach needs to stop.
Also – can we please STOP acting like Tyler Perry’s version of the blue collar brother actually exists! It’s just an awful fantasy.
N’jaila: Espeically because you might end up just as miserable, men are men not matter what the race. I think its more likely for me to end up with my pink rabbit than a white, black, or whatever race man.
Andrea: You have one, too? ::daps::
N’jaila: Oh honey , I have quite the collection.
Andrea: Gurl, we got each other’s email addies. We’ll chat later.
Tami: Classist nonsense! My husband does not have a degree and yet is one of the smartest men I know. We both love history and politics and British sitcoms. Anyone who knows us knows we are compatible, despite his spending time in the military rather than a college classroom.
You cannot judge compatibility by the academic degrees anymore than you can by skin color. It’s interesting that in telling black women to broaden their choices they also tell us to narrow them.
Cheryl Lynn: I know that guy driving the UPS truck! He’s one of the smartest and nicest brothers I know and he’s also taken. Not by me, but another black woman has swooped him up and she is not sharing. And guess what? I have a lot in common with him–more than I have with the upper-class white guy who sat next to me in history class. I may be a college-educated black woman, but I still grew up working class. I have a lot in common with blue collar men because I was raised by one. “Give a blue collar brother a try” is misguided advice? Um, we are dating them! Happily! Right now! With good results. Who wrote that? Why do we have to put down one group in order to open ourselves up to another? What’s wrong with blue collar men of any race? I’m sorry, that just hit a sore spot with me. Perhaps the writer meant “no collar” instead of “blue collar”? I’m not dating the dude on the corner–’cause he’s the dude on the corner. But the guy who drives around the corner in the UPS truck? Fine with me. I just wish there were more of them.
Helena: Banks assumes that you and your fancy pants degree are making more than the UPS man. Um no. I have two fancy degrees and my uncle who drove a truck for 20 years could buy and sell me in day. True, money is an issue in any relationship. It creates a power dynamic that can be either destructive or supportive. But degrees don’t make direct deposits.
Sewere: Like everyone has said, this statement is just stupid, there are so-called blue collar workers who own their own businesses, who have all the trappings for a stable relationship that to assume that just being blue collar disqualifies them from being partners. Furthermore, where is the data that shows that such pairings are likely to result in divorce? And why the bloody hell is the white guy the default rather than the latino guy? Also, what about the other side of the equation, how many white guys are sincerely interested in dating black women?
Kadian: Firstly, that statement presumes that there aren’t any “blue collar” white guys or Black guys in college. Huh? Anyway, as a college educated Black woman, I have dated that “blue collar” White guy. It did not work out specifically because of those differences (and personal reasons as well).
In terms of coverage, these articles are often propagating stereotypes about the achievements and overall value of black men. Why isn’t that discussed more often?
N’jaila: I think it has to do with the long complicated history of the vilification, sexualization and comodification of Black men. The mainstream has gone through so many versions of the Black man. I think they feel they need to keeps tabs on the Black Community because we’re the “White Man’s Burden”. I think a lot of the time Black men are seen as sexually virile but morally bankrupt and good for labor but not able to really achieve higher education
Of course these are just ugly stereotypes, there’s no natural force that keeping Black men’s “market value” low. Its an ugly White supremacist attitude that refuses to acknowledge Black men’s value. The mainstream isn’t trying to discuss situations and attitudes that show their ugly side.
Cheryl Lynn: “The mainstream isn’t trying to discuss situations and attitudes that show their ugly side.” That pretty much hits the nail on the head. Anything that involves a serious look at institutionalized racism isn’t making the six o’clock news.
Sewere: Because outright pathologizing of black men has always been in the fabric of US narrative.
Damon: The (non)value of black men is never really the focus of this discussion for the same reason that the weatherman on the evening news doesn’t feel the need to point out that the sky is blue. Everybody already assumes it to be true, so there’s no use in pointing out the obvious
Ashley: I pretty much agree with Damon. Because we feel like most of those stereotypes are true.
Helena: It’s like beating a dead horse. Nobody wants to be the last to kick it. Instead these articles rather vilify black women since we’ve been living too high on the hog. Clearly, we got too hype about ourselves.
Helena: Because this story is so easy. It writes itself–repeat the same tired numbers, get a few quotes from some single black girl who works for NASA (they’re everywhere) and then tack on a kicker that provides no concrete solution because there isn’t one.
N’jaila: Like I said before, stories like this make the mainstream look more “normal” and why would anyone not want to hear more about how other groups should be like them?
Damon: ***Taken from “The Bottom Line: Why The Media Cares So Much About Black Women’s Dating Habits” — something I wrote up last night***
“Why the hell is the media so gotdamn worried about what’s going on in black women’s bedrooms?”
Depending on who you ask, the popular answer ranges somewhere between “White men are preternaturally obsessed with black booty. The recent release of “The Help” didn’t make it any better, as the thought of black mammies in tight white dresses stirred a primal lust that made the WSJ’s editors decide to go with that topic” and “It’s a conspiracy to destroy the black family and ultimately ensure that Sasha Obama never has a prom date”
But, while both of those theories have some merit, I believe the answer is much, much simpler:The media is obsessed with who, where, and what black women date because we’re obsessed with reading and talking about it.
That’s it. No conspiracy. No subterfuge. No byzantine plot to permanently sabotage black love. You aint going to get murked by any albino monks for finding out the “real” answer. The media gives a shit because we give (approximately) 100,000 of them, and us giving 100,000 shits means more links, more Facebook likes, more comments, more page views, and, most importantly, more ad money.
They’re not idiots. They’ve seen the oft-shared articles and features their colleagues have written about successful and single black women and how the church is holding black women back and how an urban black woman has a better chance of finding Lebron’s hairline than finding a man, and they want an invite to the orgy of easy page views too.
Cheryl Lynn: It’s profitable. It sells books, ad space, tickets and more. I wish it was something that could be discussed “in house” without millions pressed up against the glass gawking–but that’s not an option in this age. There is no “in house” anymore.
Ashley: The mainstream is tired of talking about how broke, uneducated, and criminalizing we are, so they looked at their one black unmarried employee… and some young, budding journalist had an “ahhh haa!” moment. It’s as simple as that.
Andrea: There’s an old adage that racism makes Black men feel stupid and Black women feel ugly. All of this copy and these ads and books and whatnot continues the centuries-old racist meme of “Black women are unmarry-able,” which is another way for Black women to feel ugly.
Sewere: As I said above, pathologizing black folks has always been part and parcel of this country’s history. To do anything otherwise, would be almost revolutionary.
Dani: I think the last sentence in the sidebar Q&A with Banks is really telling: “If White women want to understand what’s happening in their own world, they need to understand what’s happening with Black women now.” But reinterpret what he’s saying, so “what’s happening” becomes evolving beyond marriage rather than continuing to yearn for some yesteryear ideal. These authors who have so much advice for black women suggest that we contort ourselves any kind of way to fight our way into marriage, into coupledom as the key organizing principle of adult life. I think there’s a concern (clearly among Christian conservatives and other right-wing forces, but also in the mainstream) that black women may start refusing to accept the terms of the debate. And once we do that, it’s a wrap. Because other women will, too.
Kadian: Dani makes a good point about coupledom and marriage being the central institutions of adulthood. If the statistics about Black women and marriage are looked at differently, perhaps Black women are pioneers railing against the establishment of marriage rather than being victims of racism. As a married Black woman whose is not classed as “married” by homophobic/discriminatory US laws, my marriage has more to do with legality and protection than participating in the hegemonic institution of marriage.
Is there anything else we didn’t cover above that you want to discuss?
Sewere: No one is discussing black intra-ethnic relationships. For hetero-relationships, data has consistently shown that black intra-marriage has been on the rise and that it far outstrips black and non-black marriages. In fact, black and non-black marriages only account for less than 5% of all black hetero marriage, intra-black marriages far more prevalent than black interracial marriages. It would be really interesting to see the dynamics of these kinds of relationships. The little data I’ve seen of hetero marriages shows that African-American women marry non-African-American black folks at a higher rate than African-American men. Now I think the complexities (stereotypes and realities) involved in these relationships are more interesting than the usual black-interracial relationship discussions.
Ashley: I would love to see mainstream black media to pay more attention to black lesbian relationships. I also agree with Sewere and I would love to see more attention devoted to intra-ethnic relationships.