When I was initially sent this piece, I thought omg I’m going to have to preface this with X, Y AND Z so people don’t get their feelings hurt slash get mad at this blog slash think the author, me or this blog is racist. However, I’m not going to do that. I think editing this would have made the piece lose its authenticity and raw emotion. Take for it as you will… don’t worry, I’m ready for the backlash. This blog has been lacking some fire, and this piece definitely takes it up a notch. I will be responding to this piece personally… very soon.
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Conversation overheard at a bar in Accra, Ghana… yes… Africa:
White boy: <notices cute white girl and steps to her> Hey, how are you?
White girl: <busy dancing her best version of the azonto> Ummm… good.
White boy: <starts to lay his mac down> So—
White girl: Look. Let me save you some time. I didn’t come all the way to Africa to meet white guys. So, thanks but no thanks.
***drops mic. exits stage left. done.***
I appreciate her honesty. After all, if she spent $1500 on a plane ticket to spend a semester in an African country where the ratio of white women to black men is 1 to a bajillion, then why should Katie waste her time on Ken when she came for Kwame? The discussion concerning white women and their love of African men has been discussed ad nauseum in every black relationship blog on this earth. However, this is not about the white woman’s obsession, and its not even about African men just dating white women. This is about African men overwhelmingly marrying them. This is about the lengths that white women will go to keep them. This is about asking, are we —namely returnees seeking to date men of our own nationality–doing
something most things everything wrong?!
Disclaimer: I can’t be mad at love. I recognize that it
don’t matter if you’re black or white can be colorblind. And in todays pseudo post- racial society it seems only right that we would be very taste-the-rainbow-esque given our status as post- apartheid, post-black-president-in-the-USA, post-MLK- on-the-mountain-top intellectuals. But as was discussed in a previous post, the overwhelming rate of African intellectuals marrying white woman has really given me and my comrades some pause. Take the following real life, real world scenarios:
Scenario 1: Tricked ya!
I walk into a bar with bff slash roomie. The roomie notices a classmate in the corner who is very much an African man with great credentials (above 6 feet, nice dark skin, beautiful smile, ivy league degree(s) and a sense of humor— you know, standard fare.) He brings up his wife. I ask my roomie who this lucky Michelle Obama-esque woman of high standard and… of color could possibly be. I obviously needed to get her take on finding— oh wait. She’s not black. Oh… she’s moving to Ghana you say? Oh no, he’s moving to the US to be with her even though he wants to be in Africa?! Oh cuz she said she may or may not move to Ghana depending on how she feels in the morning?!
I don’t get it.
Scenario 2: Comin’ for ya!
Walk into a gathering of a friend. Start talking to a friend of a friend. He’s flirting. I’m flirting. Everyone is having a good time. Suddenly he has to leave to go skype with his girlfriend. Bummed… but at least there’s a woman involved. Most likely an Akua who is getting her masters in the states and will be back in Ghana in the next year. Only to find out… her name is Ashley, not Akua. She is from Texas actually, and she will be moving to Ghana next year even though she has never even visited the country once. Ever. He says they might get married. He’s still trying to decide though.
She’s coming either way…
Scenario 3: Promises and Pipedreams…
Guy breaks up with a friend, says something about misaligned values. Says he’s met someone. But of course he has. Because living in Africa as a smart, eligible African bachelor undoubtedly means connecting with hoards of pretty, intellectual African women that are teeming on the continent. So how awesome was it to find out that she isn’t a pretty intellectual African woman, but rather a white woman. And not one of those ‘homegrown white African’ types, or one of those ‘white women on the continent because they are committed to the plight of all Africans and not just the men’ types either; but your ‘I move to Africa
primarily for my African man’ types. Again, with no ring. No vows. No promise of a functioning, long-term relationship. Not even a modicum of excitement on his part for being with her.
Conclusion: Is it US?
White women seem to do a better job of marrying our men then we do and they are more than happy to relocate across the world and/or say they might relocate to ensure they get who they want. So what’s wrong with us? When Beyonce sang, ‘if you want it then you shoulda put a ring on it’, she was throwing a catchy tune and some iconic dance moves behind a motto that has gripped the heart and mind of many an African middle class, well-educated woman. Because truth is…
I am not moving anywhere for a man that hasn’t committed to me in some long-term capacity.
I am not moving anywhere for a man that has strung me along for more than half a decade.
I am not moving anywhere for a man that is with me out of convenience and not out of genuine desire.
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…
I am also NOT currently dating an African man, so I suppose there you have it.
You might say… or maybe you wonder… hey, that’s just some of the guys, it’s not all and it’s not even most. But truth be told, it is a
critical mass large enough number. If there are maybe 10 guys who meet the minimum bar of intellectual, down-to-earth and mildly attractive, at least 5 of them are dating or married to white women. Is this a legit statistic? No. But based on my personal sampling in the experience of my time here in Ghana, it seems pretty accurate.
Speaking to a Ghanaian man seemed to shed a new light on the situation. According to him, the returnee is the worst type of mate. The white woman is an outsider and acceptably so. The Ghanaian, born-and- raised is the prize and highly desirable. But the returnee is the lukewarm, mediocre, watered down version of the prize. A guy would much sooner bring a white woman home because her ignorance is excusable but the returnee’s one foot in America, one foot in Ghana situation makes them a bit like a house divided—it just can’t stand.
So herein lies the dilemma…
Is it that we are not Ghanaian slash non- Ghanaian enough?
…That we don’t compromise (never mind the paradox of our compromised identity)?
…That we are so quick to lay down all the things we won’t do that he can’t see all the other great things we offer?
The bit about our identity, to me… doesn’t even make any sense slash is its own spate dialogue. So maybe I’ll address that in another guest post (my fingers are itching for the dada b v. returnee version of real world/ road world challenges—blog style).
But the one about compromise gives me the shivers. Explain to me in what world it would be okay to ask women to compromise on values that are very much the ones your own mother raised you with and still has?! Perhaps this shows you the stark contradictions and very real gender dynamics at play in Ghanaian culture. As women we are supposed to compromise on our ideals, dreams and expectations in order to ensure we can have a family with a man who complains about this very problem in his parents’ relationship. I wonder what kind of life these white women are giving up to live in Africa slash pretend to consider this option? How many of them wanted to go to law school, or raise their kids in Nantucket or be closer to their parents or
have Justin Beiber looking babies? Our parents taught us (men and women) that the holy trinity of life priorities is: Education, God and Family… in no particular order. So excuse me if the mix of these things requires:
1. A commitment to a career or livelihood that I cannot abandon on a whim or hope that maybe if the sun rises in the west one day, you may propose and/ or commit. My father sacrificed his everything to ensure I get some degrees and a useful job in the world because that’s his legacy, and my apologies in advance for wanting to honor that. Does this mean Career Rules Everything Around Me? No. It just means you better be talking kids and white picket fences before I consider any such diversions.
2. An expectation of love, desire and full commitment instead of a relationship of convenience based on shallow markers of compatibility. We have all seen those sad, tragic relationships, especially amongst African couples, and that’s just not the life we are about. We have also seen functional black relationships brimming with love and pride in one’s partner, and that’s what we want: Black. Love.
3. A Christ-Centered value system that means that many of my actions and choices will be based around my relationship with my God. The same Christ Centered values your mother lives by and probably tried to instill in you. However because you are a man, somehow the fruits of the Spirit become elusive.
Am I saying that we returnee women are perfect and just sitting there flawlessly waiting for hoards of Ghanaian men to throw stones at our windows and whisper sweet nothings in our ears?
Hell yeah. No! Am I saying that white women compromise their values for African men? No. I am pointing out that they don’t have the values we may have because they were not raised by the parents we were raised by. The same parents that the African men were also raised by. All I am doing is crying foul for the hypocrisy of the situation… asking us to compromise on values that we got from mothers very similar to those of these African men is unfair.
Compromise is important, but no one should have to compromise his or her character. No one should have to compromise his or her values. No one should have to neglect twenty some odd years of upbringing because there may be a fairytale-esque ending in some distant (unknown) future…
Or maybe they should. <KanYe Shrug>