I think there’s some expectation for me to begin this response with some form of unwavering support to the original piece: ‘It is so cliche now to see an intelligent/ well-to-do African man with a white woman’ or some other biting statement, but the truth is that this type of response is so cliche… another
bitter angry annoyed black female blogger writing about black men and white women. It’s a waste of time and energy, doesn’t help anyone, and is such a bore. Although, I can relate to the sentiments discussed in the piece (and the scenarios as well), once we come down from the ‘ranting and raving’ on our soapboxes, I think there are some things to address as African women, with the role we play in ‘letting our men go to other races white women’.
My last longterm situationship ended last year and following the demise of the relationship, I had to take a hard look at the role I played in its demise. Not only because I don’t ever want to repeat the situation again, but also because I felt as though I let my fellow African sisters down. It’s a bit difficult to convey this feeling because
I don’t fully understand it myself I’ve never felt a particular sense of devotion to my fellow African woman. However, in some strange way I felt as though I let the past, present, and future African woman down. Namely on my part, I contributed to the stereotype of not being able to ‘hold your African/black man down’, ‘love and take care of him like he needs’… and accordingly, I was not able to help the world see what real (educated) black/African love looks like in the 21st century. Please note before you keep reading, the only thing I am addressing in this piece is me. I am writing this in hopes that it can help someone out there, because I think we do ourselves a disservice if we’re not learning lessons from others.
When a close black guy friend read the White Women guest piece I am responding to, he sent me this:
I don’t totally agree with the premise, but it was humorous. If I had to answer the question of what is the difference between the Black Woman and the White Woman, it is as simple as this: Black Women spend more time talking about “What I’m not going to do…” where White Women spend more time talking about “What I’m open to consider…” Thus, they get the man they want, because they’re willing to consider things where Black Women immediately put up the no and set the ultimatum for the Black Man to take it or leave it, and we see what he usually does…Leaves it.
What’s said above is spot on. From what I’ve seen, a lot of African women are brought up with very principled backgrounds, which leads them to an attitude of ‘I don’t do this, I would never do this, I only do this this way… take it or leave it’. Like the guest blogger mentioned at the end of her piece, “I am not moving to anyone’s country where I do not speak the language, cannot cook the food and burn every time I go outside unless there are ring(s) on it…take it or leave it.” Whether it’s from watching what has occurred in their own households (how the women in their lives didn’t compromise, or did compromise and got burned); or it’s from growing up in strong christian or traditionally valued households which have framed what they believe a lady should and shouldn’t do for a man… these things play into what women give up and give in for their men.
In my personal case, I held on to things, rightly or wrongly, which I believed trumped being with him. When I was eventually ready to lay aside “my ultimatums”, it was way too late. My point here is not necessarily about being principled about certain things, but it’s more about understanding the situation. We, African women, can’t get mad when African men pass us up (because of this issue) when
other white women are more willing to, for all intents and purposes, ‘sacrifice for their man’. And ladies, the amount of times I’ve heard (and said) ‘well if he loves me, he’ll oblige, and if he doesn’t…then he can get to steppn’ is beyond countless. And there is some truth to this, BUT there is also truth to the fact that you may not be giving him the chance to fall in love with you with all your barriers placed, so you can’t get mad if he doesn’t decide to stick around long enough to figure out whether he can love you.
Second thing, and this is a little paradoxical to what I just mentioned, is that for me, I didn’t demand anything in terms of commitment from the guy. And I think this is more common than not with black women. Though I wasn’t content keeping the relationship as it was, I thought because he didn’t say anything about things, I didn’t want to rock the boat… so we remained non-defined and that’s an equation which will never add up: Not requesting commitment + Having demands 1,2,3 now or before we are ever to take it to the next level = diaster. Perhaps what should have happened is a discussion of commitment and what that entails on both our parts, which would have also helped with the issue of ‘giving in’ and ‘giving up’. I think some African women put barriers in place because they don’t have the commitment they want or they are scared that they won’t get the commitment they want if they let down their guard. This is not to say the fear isn’t unfounded, but at the end of the day love is an art not a science… you go all in and try. When Beyonce said, ‘if you like it, then you shoulda put a ring on it’, I don’t think she meant neglect telling a man what you want in terms of commitment before the ring stage. And I’m not saying to do this to any guy, but this is for a guy who you believe is serious about a relationship with you.
Of course this is my one-dimensional take on things, and I have not exhausted the list of my faults in the relationship, but I think these two things stand out as dear lessons learned, which I thought I would pass on to my fellow African woman. So no Kanye, ‘he didn’t leave my a$$ for a white girl’, really he just left my a$$, period. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what color the new girl is, because it’s less about that than it is about what the two of you couldn’t do and be for each other. White women aren’t stealing African men as much as they are offering them something ‘WE’ won’t or don’t. Until we’re willing to change that, or at the very least acknowledge it, we can’t be mad when another bites the dust.
I must separately address this idea of not being African enough or foreign enough, because it’s so intriguing to me. I have to say that
unfortunately for me, I was privy to this guy’s thoughts about our compatibility after the fact… and I was indeed hit with the ‘you wouldn’t fit in with the fam’ chorus… so it was a little fascinating to see that family compatibility would exist with a white woman. However, the one foot in/one foot out explanation makes a little sense now. It is excusable when a foreigner acts as a foreigner, but when someone brought up in an African household acts as a foreigner, perhaps traditional families are less forgiving with this. This is definitely a topic to continue exploring… I wonder readers, what’s your experience on African men opting out of relationships with African women who are too foreign?
On an ending note, perhaps me and ms. guest blogger should be encouraging our fellow African women to become more open to scenarios such as the one on the right **KanYe Shrug** ->
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PillowTalk’s new question has been up for about a week now on Bandeka, but it’s taken me a little bit to put together a piece to address the issue. Why? Because the topic of black men with
other women white women isn’t the same topic as interracial dating for people black women, so the topic has to be treaded on delicately.
Never have I ever seen a race of men who are so quick to date outside of their race as black men.
A couple weeks ago, I saw this piece announcing Michael Jordan’s engagement to his longtime girlfriend Yvete Prieto (a Cuban American model). There was nothing particularly exciting about the announcement, however I was
floored entertained at the comments written by readers. They go on in a similar manner to the one I just quoted above:
“Sistas, let this be a wake up call to keep it movin and do what you need to do. Its obvious that we’re not considered worthy and have been hated by our own men for quite sometime…”
“It Figures! A NON-MINORITY FEMALE!”
“There is nothing I can say that hasn’t been said already …Black men are sell outs, black women are jealous, love has no color…blah blah blah…”
“Et tu, Michael? Boy, what are there now, like 3 black women in the world so all those who are famous have to look to other races?”
At first, I did throw some judgment at the commenters- ‘haters, much?’, however when I recalled a conversation that I had with a friend a few months ago, I had to check myself. A few months ago, after seeing a picture of a successful African man that I admire a lot, I asked my friend if the white lady beside him was his wife. ‘Yes, that’s his wife’. My response was a sadden, ‘oh ok’. Not because I have anything against
interracial marriages white women, not because I have anything bad to say about her personally, but because it’s becoming common to see powerful black men marrying outside of their race, and sue me, when I see a successful happily married black couple, I smile a little inside (if Obama’s wife was white, I wouldn’t feel the same way about the first couple). A friend put it quite reasonably to me, there are so few black men ‘at the top’, and white women have their pick of a much wider pool of white men every other type of man, so it stings more when they dip into our jar. [Read here why black women rarely date outside their race/white men: http://madamenoire.com/124921/reasons-why-black-women-dont-date-white-men/5/. It also stings to be passed over by an eligible black man when he 'makes it' - statistics show that as black men increase their earnings and status, a larger percentage marry outside their race. So back to the first comment I referred to in this post, I do agree with it- I may be wrong, but I can't think of any other race where men are so quick to date outside AND celebrate it. (Though this is probably one of the worst examples out there, see here).
Ladies, here's some good perspective on things though: "While it may annoy you that a black man chooses to date outside his race, it’s also foolish to fixate on a segment of the population that clearly has no interest in you. If this same man chose to date black women, he may prefer them in a certain size, shape and color that you may not fit and he’d overlook you anyway. So what’s really the difference?"* Perhaps instead of racking our brains as to why certain black men don't want to be with black women, black women should just keep it moving and look for that person that wants to be with them.
It's so easy to clump 'blacks' together as well, but there are differences between African Americans and Africans. I'm interested to know your thoughts on African men. Is this a phenomenon across the board for black men? Do you think African men tend to sideline African women for white women as their incomes increase or when they 'make it'? From my experience, African men DATE white women, but MARRY them less; I've actually heard this from African men I know: 'I'll date white women, but it's not like I would ever marry one." Does that make African women feel better? Anyhoo POLL BELOW, let me know your thoughts... this should be an interesting one!
Make sure to check out White Women Part II
It is undeniable that there has been increased fascination with black relationships and black marriage. The spotlight shines even brighter on single black females. People seem to have a lot to say about black women and who they choose to date/marry or not date/marry. From countless blogs, articles, books, and also from the mouths of black men*, the message to black women has become consistent lately: perhaps it is time to widen your selection pool.
Recently, the blogosphere has been buzzing over a book written by Stanford Law Professor Ralph Richard Banks: ‘Is Marriage for White People?’. In his book, Professor Banks analyzes the social factors affecting declining rates of black marriage (in the middle class). He also shares numerous stories from professional black women that he has interviewed over the past year. You can read an excerpt of the book in the September 2011 issue of Essence Magazine (HERE). However, to sum up his conclusions, Professor Banks believes:
“If more black women married non-black men, more black men and women might marry each other. If black women don’t marry because they have too few options, and some black men because they have too many, then black women, by opening themselves to interracial marriage could address both problems at once.”
Regardless of how you feel about Professor Banks’ conclusions, it is something to think about. Note that I have not read the book, only reviews. I know this blog entry is geared toward women, but I don’t want to make the assumption that men don’t struggle with the idea of dating and marrying outside of their race. It’s easy to make a blanket statement that black men find it easy to date and marry outside of their race, but that’s not necessarily true. So I want to know for both sexes, would you DATE outside your race? And would you MARRY outside your race? Take our poll below!
* see #9
In the pictures above: Sudanese supermodel Alec Wek and her boyfriend, Italian Real Estate Developer Riccardo Sala. Also, the famous interracial couple who gave birth to a set of black and white twins back in 2008. Stephan Gerth is German and his wife, Florence Addo-Gerth, is Ghanaian. Bonus: take a look at ten fascinating interracial marriages throughout history: http://listverse.com/2011/01/25/10-fascinating-interracial-marriages-in-history/.