white women

Response to White Women Part II

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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.

UPTOWN_barack_michelle_obamaWhat’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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Guest Post: White Women. Part II

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.

– – –

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.

Love?

Mayhaps…

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>

White Women.

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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

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