The Swirl: Interracial Dating

Those who know me well are aware that I have no problem with “The Swirl,” better yet Jungle Fever. To make things plain and to satisfy the need for correctness amongst the poligeeks, I’m talking about Interracial Dating. There’s some sort of consensus today that interracial dating is not at all a taboo and in fact it’s something to celebrate. For some of us, this is true and for others it’s far from a reality. Attitudes toward interracial dating are definitely dependent on demographics like age and location but can also be defined by contextual characteristics like tolerance and education. While attraction is one of the most dynamic pursuits of a human being, there is this idea that it is something that can’t be controlled and just happens; yet in retrospect, through society it is one of the most manipulated interests of human beings.

Every day there are people falling in love and giving the world beauty by redefining the meaning of true love without the bounds of color. It’s empowering that research has shown that 83% of Millenniums approve of interracial dating. While this particular figure only highlights that among black and whites, studies continued to reveal that “roughly nine-in-ten say they would be fine with a family member’s marriage to a white American (92%), Asian American (93%), a Hispanic American (91%), or a African American (88%)” (Pew Research Center). It seems that Asian Americans are doing the best at sweeping us all off our feet, but surprisingly or not so much, African American’s are the lowest in opinion among races with Hispanic Americans trailing not so far behind.

While I’d love to explore the topic with every race and sex, for the purpose of keeping things short and to add personal perception, I’m going to talk about interracial dating among black and whites in heterosexual relationships. I’m hoping I don’t lose some of my audience here with this direction because there’s something for all of us to learn. It brings me joy on the day we commemorate our Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that Millenniums have trumped the attitudes from just 25 years ago with the almost 50% disapproval of interracial dating among black and whites (in 1987). Through openness, education, and humility we have affirmed that there be less Emmett Tills’ in the world. However, while the shift in numbers is worth celebrating there is still a depreciation going on. I say boldly that white women can easily find embrace in the arms of a black man, yet we cannot say the same for black women and white men so effortlessly. I can feel the vulnerability in stating this, so let me be clear — Yes, I understand the discrimination in regards to interracial dating for both men and women can be the same; I understand that entirely, but the attitude among white men towards black women is a lot more complex than that of black men and white women.

A piece from Racist Review (a social science disciplined blog), defines it as “the phenomenon of black women’s consistent exclusion by white men.” So what’s the hostility? Findings showed that white men involved in a study possessed negative views of black women and attributed them as “culturally defunct, domineering, welfare queens, and unattractive unless representing a white aesthetic.” A responded is quoted as sharing his notion of attraction and black women by stating, “Just the term ‘black women’ conjures up thoughts of an overweight, dark-skinned, loud, poorly educated person with gold teeth yelling at somebody in public. I hope that doesn’t make me racist but honestly that’s the 1st thing I think of.” Perfect! (That’s me being sarcastic.)

So this is the part where we try to play the blame game. Black men before you tip-toe out of this issue understand the many questions here at hand. Perhaps the accusations belong to the white men who believe in their very own ignorance, or to the black women being products of the stereotype, or does it involve the many black men who disregard their role in making notes of this prejudice? Understand, this isn’t about blame at all, it’s about understanding race. Society has taken individual and environmental characteristics and has constructed them into stereotypes. You know that. But when you combine race and attraction there is the manipulation that society provides. Black women are then understood by limitations of experiences and wisdom, as any other race and sex, which leads to the complexity in regards to interracial dating.

This stereotype of black women is not just understood by white men. So while I say that white women may be able to effortlessly allure black men, understand that attraction may just be enchantment — a satisfaction from steering away from the social constructed black woman and inheriting something ‘better.’ And the same goes for black women and their interest in white men. Fortunately, the beautiful thing about love is its sincerity. So yes, embrace The Swirl, but understand attraction as another mechanism of society bearing manipulation and social constructs.

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