Awkward: When Your Friends Make Racist Assumptions About Your Dating/Sex Life

So, as I am wont to do, I found myself doing chores and catching up on reality TV.

I had heard about Nicole Murphy/Andrea Kelly’s new show, but I also set myself up for disappointment by reading the title as “Hollywood Execs” not “Hollywood Exes.” Here I was excited to hear all about these new women fronted development projects, and the show is actually about moving on from your famous spouse. Oh well. I decided to give it another chance. During a routine conversation about vaginal lasering and rejuvenation, this exchange happens:

Sheree Fletcher: Wait a minute, let me ask you this. It’s my understanding that men really don’t care what it looks like -

Jessica Canseco: Well, that’s ’cause you datin’ a black guy, honey!

*record scratch*

Sheree Fletcher: Now wait a minute…

Other women: What do you mean, what do you mean?

Jessica Canseco: From what I hear, black guys don’t go [down.]

*gasps*

Nicole Murphy: (in confessional mode) That’s garbage. That’s not true. At all.

Jessica Canseco: Black guys are like “eep eep eep” (makes chicken fingers). They do, I swear to God. They talk about black girl’s vaginas. It’s true.

Sheree Fletcher: (swoons) Our vaginas?

Jessica Canseco: You want me to get into all of this?

Sheree Fletcher: They complain about our vaginas to white girls?

Jessica Canseco: The guys I’ve talked to complain – that’s why they don’t want to go down.

Nicole Murphy: They had an infection then.

Jessica Canseco: I agree. It’s not everyone. It’s not everybody’s but you know…. Now let me tell you something. I’ve experienced that and I don’t agree.

Sheree Fletcher: Experienced what?

Jessica Canseco: A woman!

Sheree Fletcher: You went down on a black woman?

Jessica Canseco: Yeah.

Friend: Can I get another drink please?

Sheree Fletcher: (in confessional) Jessica needs Jesus.

The conversation quickly moves on, and this did not turn into any kind of racial moment on television – it was quickly chalked up to Jessica’s “say anything/do anything” personality. But there were definitely some palpable tension when the conversation turned to breaking down sexual experiences through a racial lens. It’s also worth noting that in a later episode, Andrea Kelly came out as a vocal fan of “the swirl,” noting that she was generally more interested in experiences with white men post-divorce. But this revelation didn’t cause the same awkwardness as Andrea was specifically talking about a personal choice, not generalizing.

Tia Williams wrote about a similar situation on her blog Shake Your Beauty:

Years ago, I had a black man-loving white girlfriend of mine say the following:

“It sounds so bad to say, but no wonder black guys don’t like sleeping with black girls. Yuck, all that scratchy, fake hair. No one wants to run their hands through that!”

She was that particular strain of non-black girl who felt that she could make racial comments to me, because I’m “different” somehow. You know the type. The comment was so extravagantly dumb, I didn’t waste my breath saying “you developed a philosophy on race and sexuality based on a drunken makeout sesh with a synthetic weave-wearing Jamaican chick at a BBQ? Vamoose, you square-hipped slut!”

What makes so-called “friends” comfortable enough to drop in racist generalizations when the topic turns to dating or sex?

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  • Anonymous

    I wonder if what makes people dare to feel comfortable in voicing their stereotypes is really kind of a dare. As if they want to find out if their assumptions are true, but are afraid to ask, so they state their opinion as fact instead. I also think some people are eager to show that they have “insider” information, as if to lord something over you. They’d rather do this than ask honest questions because to do that leaves them much more vulnerable.

  • Anonymous

    MOD NOTE.

    I’m deleting about six comments on this thread because the principals involved seem more interested in fighting each other than discussing the issue. It looks like it is time for another reminder as to why we all are here – and, hint, if there’s an “us vs. them” tinge to your comments, it may be time to re-evaluate your stances. I’ll put this up in a longer thread at some point later this week, but seriously.

  • Anonymous

    MOD NOTE.

    I’m deleting about six comments on this thread because the principals involved seem more interested in fighting each other than discussing the issue. It looks like it is time for another reminder as to why we all are here – and, hint, if there’s an “us vs. them” tinge to your comments, it may be time to re-evaluate your stances. I’ll put this up in a longer thread at some point later this week, but seriously.

  • Anonymous

    The comments disturb me. Not that Tia Williams *should* go around calling people sluts, but people’s reaction to that is “okay, time to dismiss racism because a black woman doesn’t consider the consequences of slut shaming a white woman after being bombarded with hateful language directed at her and those like her.” Is slut-shaming bad? Yes. Is it a reason to say “she doesn’t have a leg to stand on” or to blow off black feminists? NO. She DOES have a leg to stand on; the point of what she’s saying is correct. Her friend thought it appropriate to tell her, a black woman, about why black men go after “obviously superior” white women and their real hair/somehow much less “trashy” hair extensions.

    I see this trend in basically any racially charged situation. A white person, PARTICULARLY a white woman, uses piles of racism to goad a black person (again, particularly a black woman) into an angry response, and people find ANY reason to back the white woman. Be it an inappropriate comment on the black woman’s part that has nothing to do with racism, or some previously-unknown mental illness, or “past experiences,” many so-called anti-racist progressives fly to defend the white instigator with “but you called her a slut, and by the Rules of Feminism, that means you and your entire group is no longer worthy of our support” or “well, sure she’s wrong, but you have to remember that a black girl called her names and stole her bicycle in 3rd grade, so she has reasons to feel this way!” Black women’s reasons for feeling ANY way is usually pushed aside.

    If you want to call out Tia’s words, that’s completely justified. What ISN’T justified is to completely ignore her complaints about having hateful, dehumanizing garbage flung at her with no provocation by someone supposed to be a friend.

  • NK

    Aha but as many comments point out, we must never forget that white women are the real victims! That’s what is really important here. Don’t forget it, not for 1 minute.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll address the rest later: Too busy cheering the fact that Jessica went down on a Black woman… and the world according to evangelical Right etc did not collapse on itself. (woohoo!)

    I see the point about the racist generalization, but “you square-hipped slut” doesn’t address that. It just scolds her for being White and then adds some slut-shaming.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t know what there is to cheer about sex between a racist white person who believes in ugly stereotypes and a black person. I see Jessica as being like the men who say that they want to “try out” a black chick but not date one, and also the white men and women who are inappropriately obsessed with black male genitalia and feel entitled to ask their “black” friends questions about it. There is nothing enlightening about that. It’s like the master who visited the slave quarters to rape the female slaves, or the people who think the solution to racism is the “screw” the blackness out of the population. I think it is unfortunate indeed when black people wind up satisfying the curiosity of horny racists. But I guess not enough people remember that white people can hate black people but still want to have sex with them.

      And the square-hipped slut comment doesn’t mention race, and is specifically directed at the person who had just felt comfortable insulting black women. If you say some, out-of-pocket, racist stuff to me, I will probably refer to you in negative terms too.

      I hate how black people who get rightfully upset at white racism are turned into the villains. We aren’t. And calling out someone’s promiscuity is not “slut shaming.” That seems to be a go to phrase for white feminists when they get called out. And I think white people need to get used the idea that we aren’t going to turn the other cheek the way that our grandparents did.

      And what is so hard about “White” that makes it offensive to point out that someone is white. I think calling out white privilege is very much called for in this situation.

      • Anonymous

        “Villains”? That is a bizarre term to use- incredibly mighty for something so little: The hip thing is completely negligible. The idea that Black feminists are huge fans of the idea that promiscuity in women (and in women only…) can be attacked is as bizarre. Continuing the bizarreness: Your ‘turn the other cheek monologue’. How do you deduct and infer all of THAT into my comment?! Yes, as a woman dating other women I cheered a bit, while still denouncing the generalization. To be honest I would have thought almost all of the women on the show absolutely repulsed by the pure idea of sapphic action.
        I find all of your leaps preposterous.
        There are many people that I wouldn’t be in a relationship with. For very many of these I would still cheer them going down on me. (and I would reciprocate)
        The point where we agree: Yup, pointing out White privilege is in order. I have no clue how a comment on one’s bony hips or one’s sluttiness does that.

        Something else entirely: I would be interested in actual real surveys on male views on different sexual practices now; differences in age, race, educational background, political views. Has anyone seen anything like that?

  • d

    “you developed a philosophy on race and sexuality based on a drunken
    makeout sesh with a synthetic weave-wearing Jamaican chick at a BBQ?
    Vamoose, you square-hipped slut!”

    for a ineffective response to racism, try slut-shaming. just saying there needs to be a better way

  • STaylor in Austin

    Racial generalizations regarding almost any topic are
    usually proposed by people who have the least insight regarding the topic being
    discussed.

    These generalizations are most often the person sharing their own prejudices
    and ignorance, like when blacks say that other blacks don’t like to swim,
    become pilots or whatever they personally aren’t comfortable doing. It’s given
    cache because when a black person speaks into a microphone or is on TV they
    become a spokesperson for all blacks

    Also Tia Williams doesn’t really have a leg to stand on
    because in her comments about the ignorant “black loving white women”
    she shows her own prejudice and ignorance by calling the white woman
    “square hipped” which in itself makes the assumption that white women
    don’t have hips, which is just as ignorant a statement as what she just railed
    against

    • DeezerT

      I disagree with you on Tia not having “a leg to stand on”. She was adressing the friend specifically with her comments, not saying “All white women…etc.”. Her friend, on the other hand was making a generalization about all black girls, which was extremely stupid.