Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"Every Brotha Aint a Brotha"

Black women’s families had more objections to interracial relationships than
their Black male counterparts. Many relatives of Black women (especially male relatives) tried to protect their daughters/sisters/cousins from White men who
they felt would sexually exploit Black women. Given the history of White male
sexual violence against Black women this is not surprising. However, family
opposition also has the affect of denying Black women’s agency because their
judgment is held up to much more scrutiny than Black men in interracial
relationships.

Quote from RachelsTavern.com, a blog devoted to discussions of Race, Gender, and Sexuality from a Sociological Perspective

As a black woman in an interracial relationship, I am familiar with the discomfort often expressed by family members at the prospect of a beloved daughter/cousin/niece dating a non-BM. Though my family has come to love and respect my fiance because of his unmistakable love and respect for me, they certainly had more initial reservations about our relationship than they did about my prior relationships with black men.

Even more intriguing to me, however, is the issue of black male response to BW/non-BM interracial couplings, which it doesn't appear has been formally studied. The popular perception is that it is only envious, embittered BW who resent interracial relationships, while BM not only eagerly participate in such relationships, but liberally accept them regardless of who the participants are. This is surely the case where the relationship involves a BM and a non-BW.

But virtually all BW who have dated or married interracially know that BM are not nearly as accepting of their choices as they are of those of their "brothas." Certainly, sisters in the blogosphere know this to be the case, as even the briefest perusal of sites devoted to BW interested in interracial relationships reveals a consistent thread of hostility and anger from Damaged Beyond Repair ("DBR") BM directed at the very concept of BW seeking non-black companionship.

This hostility is expressed not only in outright attacks, but in subtler forms as well. Often, BM will simply insist that no other men are interested in BW, and that BW's efforts to date non-BM will thus fail. Sometimes they will encourage BW to seek BM from Latin America, Africa, or the Caribbean for relationships, instead of dating non-BM in their own communities. Often, dark hints are made of the "harm" that BW will suffer at the hands of Scott Peterson-type WM (who can also be found in abundence among BM, of course).

Often, the "brothas" making these complaints assert that they really don't care who BW date, but they don't want BW to criticizing BM as an "excuse" for our choices. However, as an initial matter, that doesn't explain why they would seek out blogs devoted to this subject in the first place, before they have any awareness that BM are even mentioned--obviously, no one goes to http://dateawhiteguy.blogspot.com/ unless they are interested in either dating a white guy, or interested in those who do want to date a white guy.

Secondly, our society is still largely segregated by race--socially, residentially and religiously in particular. That being the case, most adult BW who are seeking to date interracially will come from an experience of primarily dating BM--and no one can move forward into the future they seek without coming to terms with the past they are leaving behind. BW who want a different experience must figure out in exactly what way they want their future experiences to be different--which means they must look critically at their past experiences, and the people they shared those experiences with.

Above all, many BW most cope with substantial, well-documented social pressues if they seek to date interracially. Much of that pressure will come from other black people, male and female, who will deride her decision as "self-hating," "disloyal," and "selling out." For BW who have coped with less than respectful treatment from DBRBM, it is difficult for them to come to terms with the external pressure to conform to a version of "self-love" that often endorses standing by males who treat you badly, and decries pursuing relationships with men who will treat you well. Very often, the same family and community who stood by silently while their daughter/sister/cousin was being abused or exploited by a DBRBM will be quite vocal in their disapproval of her relationship with a good non-BM. Too many sisters learn the hard way, in the immortal words of Chuck D., that "every brotha aint a brotha."

As Halima of the Black Women's IR Circle has pointed out, many BW have had their internal compasses confused by such manipulations. They no longer recognize what their own interests are, and what behaviors they have a right to expect and a right to reject. Our community has become dependent on BW accepting a status quo that is essentially exploitative--that places disproportionate burdens and responsibilities on the shoulders of BW. And that is the real reason that so many "brothas" troll these blogs, full of vitriol and frustration: they see BW with options shrugging off the role of "mules of the world" and putting ourselves first for once. No longer are we content to wither away as a "reserve army" of spinsters and babymamas, ready at a moments notice to provide sex, support, mothering, shelter and anything else a DBRBM may require, with no expectation of reciprocity in return.

Unfortunately, as more of us free ourselves, the recrimination will only increase. Fortunately, what we will gain in meeting our own needs will far outweigh the momentary distress of an caused by an anonymous plaint.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Of course, one must never do active harm to one's family and community, but and whom one dates and marries is a personal matter: "loyalties to the race" have nothing to do with it.

It is mind-boggling, the way so many women do hold onto those old shibboleths of "loyalty to the race first," when their first loyalty should be to themselves.

Reading lots of critical race feminism since college sure cured me of that. Today, I teach it in my classes, and I research and write from that perspective.

To write from a perspective that ignores my race and gender means that I ignore myself, as though I were not important, and that will just not be happening.

I noticed you described yourself as a lawyer--have you read Patricia Williams, Diary of a Law Professor? She writes for one of the magazines, the Nation, perhaps, but the book was just amazing at addressing the intersections of race, gender and the law in the lies of black women. I read it back in the early '90s, and that was it...critical race feminism, then, now and forever!

Regards,

Pioneer Valley Woman

classical one said...

Great post, thanks for sharing your ideas. Your spot on about the Scott Petersen thing, I've read that sooo many places, I guess black men never kill their women.

whitemenforblackwomen.blogspot.com/

Sofia said...

I think we need to also acknowledge the fact that a lot of black women still feel uncomfortable walking down the street with a white man. I had a friend at uni who was dating a white guy and she told me once when they were sitting together waiting for a bus she sat on his lap then a group of black guys walked by and she went stiff and became self conscience. I have also seen a black woman move away from a her white boyfriend when she saw me and my sisters walk by, like we care what she does.

foreverloyal said...

Often, the "brothas" making these complaints assert that they really don't care who BW date, but they don't want BW to criticizing BM as an "excuse" for our choices. However, as an initial matter, that doesn't explain why they would seek out blogs devoted to this subject in the first place, before they have any awareness that BM are even mentioned--obviously, no one goes to http://dateawhiteguy.blogspot.com/ unless they are interested in either dating a white guy, or interested in those who do want to date a white guy.

You know, I hadn't considered that but it is really true, isn't it?

Evia said...

However, as an initial matter, that doesn't explain why they would seek out blogs devoted to this subject in the first place, before they have any awareness that BM are even mentioned--obviously, no one goes to http://dateawhiteguy.blogspot.com/ unless they are interested in either dating a white guy, or interested in those who do want to date a white guy.

The word is leaking out that some bw are waking up.

Many AA men don't feel on a par with non-bm and wm, especially, despite all of the bravado and myths about how sexually superior bm are. Many bm definitely don't want sistas to "discover" wm because down deep inside, many bm don't feel they can compete with and win against wm--for women. This is the reason for all of the scare tactics and their attempts to make bw feel that wm don't want us or only want us for sex or that wm are serial killers. They realize they must limit the number of bw who "discover" wm and other non-bm because if enough sistas spread the word (like only sistas can--LOL) that wm ARE good lovers, husbands, and fathers, then OMAGOODNESS, it's not going to be easy to get all of the sex with no strings from sistas as so many bm are getting now. They know that a brothaman is actually going to have to step up his game or work a lot harder to get no-strings sex or any attention from sistas then.

So, to me, it's not surprising at all what they're doing. Women are VERY important to a typical man. Although, so many bm constantly try to discount or totally deny bw's desirability and value, they KNOW how desirable we are. They see and hear how other men appreciate us as more non-bm are speaking up about our appeal.

So, bm are trying to hang onto their "guaranteed" females, their sure-thing sex supply and a supply that usually comes with perks and with few or no strings attached.

Aimee said...

Hi PVW!

I haven't read Patricia Williams' book, but I have read her column in the Nation, and I agree that she is quite thoughtful and insightful. And I honestly believe that at long last, more BW are realizing that there is nothing wrong with recognizing and acting in our OWN interests--that there is nothing "disloyal" about supporting each other. It makes me incredibly optimistic about the future for young black girls.

Aimee said...

classical one said...

Great post, thanks for sharing your ideas. Your spot on about the Scott Petersen thing, I've read that sooo many places, I guess black men never kill their women.

Part of the reason I decided to write about this issue is visting your blog, and noticing how many trolls are there trying to undermine and derail its purpose.

They are very actively invested in making it seem that there is no real attraction between BW and WM, and that such relationships are somehow "doomed." Fortunately I, and hundreds of thousands of others are living proof BW/WM relationships are alive, well and flourishing, and our numbers grow each day. We just continue to make our voices heard.

Aimee said...

Evia said...

Many AA men don't feel on a par with non-bm and wm, especially, despite all of the bravado and myths about how sexually superior bm are. Many bm definitely don't want sistas to "discover" wm because down deep inside, many bm don't feel they can compete with and win against wm--for women.

It's incredibly sad that in the year 2007, so many BM still feel such a distinct sense of comparative inadequacy and insecurity, especially in light of their constant complaints about BW's responses to their interracial relationships.

That insecurity is so obvious in the extreme protectiveness and adoration that many BM express for women like Kim Kardashian and Coco Austin--it borders on gratitude that WW who aren't porn actresses or obese would publically acknowledge a desire for BM. It's really unfortunate.

felicia said...

OMG Evia that's TRUE.

Every last word.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Sofia said...

"I think we need to also acknowledge the fact that a lot of black women still feel uncomfortable walking down the street with a white man."

That's because sista's are being made to feel uncomfortable, and often times by threatened blacks.

"I had a friend at uni who was dating a white guy and she told me once when they were sitting together waiting for a bus she sat on his lap then a group of black guys walked by and she went stiff and became self conscience."

She went stiff because most black guys are notorious for making BW feel uncomfortable and even threatened when they're with their WM. Especially if the sista is considered attractive. She was simply "bracing" herself for what might have gone down.

"I have also seen a black woman move away from a her white boyfriend when she saw me and my sisters walk by, like we care what she does."

That's because many BW have been condition to act in the same hateful manner as many BM towards IR couples. Specifically BF/WM.

Many BW have been conditioned to go against their own best self-interest, and to attack those BW who do.

It's an accumulation of repeated negative exposure to this kind of behavior that creates the defensive posture of some IR involved BW.

And this is a natural self-defense mechanism that kicks in when a sista feels the possibility of drama.

In-spite of this, thankfully more and more BW are expressing their freedom to love, date, marry, and have children by men of THEIR choosing. Irrespective of "race".

Which is a HUMAN right.

The "community" is simply going to have to get used this because NOTHING and NO ONE can stop two people who are truly in love with each other from getting together.

Including white men and black women.

Aimee said...

Sofia said...

I think we need to also acknowledge the fact that a lot of black women still feel uncomfortable walking down the street with a white man. I had a friend at uni who was dating a white guy and she told me once when they were sitting together waiting for a bus she sat on his lap then a group of black guys walked by and she went stiff and became self conscience. I have also seen a black woman move away from a her white boyfriend when she saw me and my sisters walk by, like we care what she does.
___________________________________

Welcome Sofia! It's true that many BW in interracial relationships feel some trepidation about the public response they will face when they are with their partners, because they have witnessed nasty comments and hostile glares aimed at other interracial couples.

But it's important to emphasize to sisters that over time, they will be less self-conscious and their discomfort will dissipate. Despite what it might feel like at first, everybody isn't staring daggers at you and thinking hostile thoughts, and even if they were, as long as they don't touch you nothing they're feeling can effect your life.

My attitude very quickly became that I really couldn't care less what people who wouldn't piss on me if I was on fire think about who I hold hands with.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

This is Pioneer Valley Woman, I introduced myself earlier. I'm a bw married to a wm.

I remember too, when I was younger, and I was hanging out with white male friends, that I felt uncomfortable on occasion. But eventually I got over it?


How? If you're happy with yourself and your man, why on earth should you care about complete strangers? I was so busy focusing on being with the man I was with, and what we were doing, walking, talking, whatever, that I had no time to care about who was watching us...

It's like being in a big city--you just ignore other people, for the sake of your sanity, otherwise, you can get dragged into their energy and in the case of ir relationships, their insantity.

If anything, my husband who is a renegade, himself, has a similar attitude. As far as he's concerned, strangers can just go and get lives of their own.

We live in a majority white area, and as a very handsome man, tee hee, we get stares from white women who wonder why he's with me. But when we visit my family, we get stares from people in the community where I grew up, mostly black.

After awhile, like Aimee said, you start to ignore it. It's obvious we're comfortable with each other, we don't care who knows it or is bothered about it.

If anything, we have gotten to the point that we can joke about it (privately of course): "Oh, Debbie thinks I stole her boyfriend," or "Elroy is pissed off.."

So don't worry about anyone else, just feel comfortable and happy to be with your partner...

Anonymous said...

Great post, thanks for sharing your ideas. Your spot on about the Scott Petersen thing, I've read that sooo many places, I guess black men never kill their women.

I think the point of that being brought up is to show that not only black men kill their women.

Anonymous said...

Too many sisters learn the hard way, in the immortal words of Chuck D., that "every brotha aint a brotha."

Chuck D also said "Pollywanacraka".

Aimee said...

Too many sisters learn the hard way, in the immortal words of Chuck D., that "every brotha aint a brotha."

Chuck D also said "Pollywanacraka".


True enough. For those of us who know our own motives, there's nothing upsetting about those lyrics.

Phoenix_Sun said...

Oh my! Just got back from my date with a wonderful WM I met originally at Sotheby's. We ended our evening with a stroll in Washington Square Park-for those who are familiar with New York City. He took my hand and it felt very natural. This is my first date with him after numerous conversations over the telephone. I really, really like him, he's a little older than me and is quite attractive. I've been out on two other dates with two different men and had a nice time with them but nowhere near the sparks and chemistry I have this man. When I see him my heart starts fluttering. Okay, I'll stop with the gushy stuff.

As we were walking through the park a couple of black men saw us. They were not pleased and proceeded to yell at me calling me a phony, light-skinned bitch. I was so embarrassed, my first reaction was to snatch my hand away from my date but he kept it firm and told the men to leave us alone. They tried to intimidate him by acting aggressive but he wasn't having it. Before any potential violence could ensue I steered us out of the park. It could have been a whole lot worse, we only had a few bystanders witnessing the whole thing.

He told me he has dated IR before and this is not the first time this has happened with some BM. He said he is tired of this bullsh*t. He is amazed at how some of them act like BW are their property and call them out in public. He didn't understand it. I told him I didn't understand it either but this is something I have lived with for so long. I thought of you supportive ladies and felt sad that too many BM fit the DBR prototype to a tee.

I was reading some of the comments on here about some BW feeling uncomfortable being out with their WM mates when other blacks are around. It is not an illusion in these BW's heads. My date is very eager to see me again. I was afraid this little incident would possibly turn him off. I made it clear that if we ever run into trouble again that it is best to get away from the situation right away. For the most part no one cared about us, it was just that one little incident, but it really made me upset.

I was wondering what you ladies would suggest.

Evia said...

I was reading some of the comments on here about some BW feeling uncomfortable being out with their WM mates when other blacks are around. It is not an illusion in these BW's heads. My date is very eager to see me again. I was afraid this little incident would possibly turn him off. I made it clear that if we ever run into trouble again that it is best to get away from the situation right away. For the most part no one cared about us, it was just that one little incident, but it really made me upset.

I was wondering what you ladies would suggest.


Phoenix Sun, don't let this bother you in the least. This might happen occasionally, but you handled it just right. You steered him away. It's a good thing he was sensible enough to not try to be macho with them. My husband handles it the same way. We just stroll right through them or right past them unfazed. We just put them on IGNORE.

This experience beautifully highlights the DIFFERENCE between how some bw may react to bm-ww couples and the way some bm react to bf-wm. These bm tend to get very hostile, threatening, and physically aggressive, which is a whole lot different than a sista rolling her eyes or glaring at a bm-ww couple. I've had some uncomfortable situations like this too where bm became loud and physically threatening.

You've just got to be determined to go for happiness--no matter what. No sista should cave in to this kind of public intimidation. This is exactly what the DBR crew would love--for you to stay at home ALONE and dry up.

It's so telling that they wouldn't dare do this to a bm-ww couple--probably would even want to give the bm a high-five. But they just can't stand the idea that any bw has "escaped." LOL!

Sounds like this guy could be a winner!

Phoenix_Sun said...

Thank you so much, Evia. Your words of wisdom is very encouraging and I'm glad I was able to neutralize the situation before it got any worse. You're right, these men would love it if their hostile public display sent me cowering back to being alone at home and sabotaging a potential serious relationship with this guy.

Yes, this man certainly could be a winner...blushing right now. He called me this morning and we have made plans to see other in the week. I'm thinking with my head though. The more I get to know him the more I find we are very compatible. He makes feel like a woman, I haven't felt that way in a long time. I was always the one in my previous LTR paying for meals and doing the bulk of the work and sacrifice. I was on my way to becoming a full fledge Mammy until I decided the to stop the madness and finally had the courage to get rid of him.

I just know this year will be my year. Thanks again for the support. :)

Aimee said...

Phoenix_Sun said...

As we were walking through the park a couple of black men saw us. They were not pleased and proceeded to yell at me calling me a phony, light-skinned bitch. I was so embarrassed, my first reaction was to snatch my hand away from my date but he kept it firm and told the men to leave us alone. They tried to intimidate him by acting aggressive but he wasn't having it. Before any potential violence could ensue I steered us out of the park. It could have been a whole lot worse, we only had a few bystanders witnessing the whole thing.
___________________________________

Phoenix, I am SO disgusted that some "brothas" dared to disrespect you and your date this way, for nothing more than being in each other's company. I've experienced the glares and snide comments, but no one has actually approached us with such open, threatening hostility.

However, something similar happened to a friend of mine years ago. While riding in a convertible with a white guy who was (ironically) just a friend of ours from high school, a group of BM from her neighborhood called my friend a "black, sell-out bitch" as they crossed in front of their car at a stop sign (interesting how they always direct their hostility at the woman, isn't it?)

As a sidenote, that friend is now married to a BM who works sporadically at paid employed while pursuing his "music" career, leaving my friend almost wholly responsibile for the support and care of their household and two young children. As of yet, I haven't heard about any of his "brothas" calling HIM a "sellout" or a "phony" though, for failing to support his family.
:-)

You are happy, and those "brothas" are not. You are entering a bright future, and they are not. They feel helpless to build the lives that they want; you have empowered yourself to go after exactly what you want and deserve. They value neither themselves nor you, and they are outraged that you dare place a higher value on yourself than they have (nothing but a "lightskinned bitch.") They have accepted their place, and now they want you to accept yours: underneath their feet. Of course, you will not.

This IS your year. You handled the situation perfectly: you treated an unreasoning threat like the nuisance it was, and went about your business of enjoying a lovely night with a charming companion. You deserve many lovely nights with charming companions, and you will have them. People who are enraged by that will have their rage, which they will eventually choke on. They don't have any power over you, and cannot stop you from having the life you deserve. Be alert to them, assess them as a threat, move on, then forget them.

Have fun, and keep us posted--we're here for you!

Anonymous said...

Hi Phoenix Sun!

So sorry to hear about what happened to you!

I went to NYU, and my department was right near the park. It was the early 90s, and there was lots of drug dealing there, and lots of DBM harassing young bw.

Rather ironic, there we were, trying to do something with our lives, getting an education, and all they could do was stand at the corner and harass strangers.

As the others were saying, ignore losers like that. Don't get dragged into their garbage. Hear them speak, make no eye contact, avoid getting too close to them, and just focus on being with your date.

He sounds great!

Best of luck,

Pioneer Valley Woman

Felicia said...

Phoenix_Sun,

Stay positive about the wonderful time you had with this new man.

Toss the garbage out of your mind. I know it can be hard but really, don't let scum take up your thoughts.

Those thugs are going to stay in that miserable ugly pit while you have a LIFE full of possibilities.

Plus, Karma is a you know what. Folks are CRAZY these days. They pull that obnoxiousness and vulgarity with the wrong folks and things could get ugly or worse.

Bernhard Goetz looked like a mild mannered guy but he was packing.

Anyway, we've ALL been there before and have our stories to tell.

Don't EVER let them get a rise out of you because that's what they really want. And tell that to your date.

These thugs have no actual power (or pride) and that's why they try to gain power by pissing off those who DO have something positive going on.

Misery loves company. They're just sad, bitter, and disturbed individuals.

When you don't react they way they want, but instead AVOID them and IGNORE them (it was correct how you diffused the situation) YOUR power is regained.

Because powerful people don't sink to the level of DBR folks. They don't lower themselves like that.

I wish you and this gentlemen much happiness and remember there are sistas who understand and who've been there.

Do YOU confidently.

Phoenix Sun said...

Thank you, Aimee, PVW, and Felicia. I'm loving the support!

I feel much better now and so does he. He had the same fear as I did. He was worried that I wouldn't want to see him again. I laughed and told him I was afraid he felt this same way about me. I am realizing there is a fear factor element that can thwart BW/WM relationships. One person thinks the other one will be turned off for whatever reason. At the end of day you're a woman and he's a man with the same joys and challenges as any normal couple would face. It felt really good to talk about these insecurities with him. We both cleared up a lot of unnecessary doubts.

PVW, I went to a small private college, but I did take some cross classes at NYU for credit. I have had some bad experiences in my late teens with the BM who roamed WSP. One street performer in front of a predominately white crowd used both me and my black female friend as fodder for his jokes. He made disparaging anti-bf comments about us and the crowd laughed at us. We promptly exited the park. Another time we were harassed by some black men to buy weed. They couldn't believe we weren't pot smokers.

I thought those bad years in that park were behind me, apparently some things never change. However, I won't let some undesirables dictate how I live my life or who I choose to involve myself with. The best revenge is living life to the fullest.

You ladies rock!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad, Phoenix Sun, that you and he are communicating.

Communication, open and honest, is so crucial for bw dating wm, even more so than bw dating bm.

In a relationship with a bm, everyone presumes you belong together, but not so of course, in a bw/wm relationship--historical and contemporary baggage conspire to interfere with you.

Because of that baggage, you will have to be strong enough to deal with the garbage, not only from strangers, but sometimes from relatives and friends who will tell you there is something wrong with what you're doing.

They are not inside your relationship and might not understand the dynamics, but they will criticize and judge.

There's nothing wrong with friends and relatives looking out for you, but remember that you think for yourself.

As in any relationship, open, honest communication with the man you're dating is what will be key: observe, listen, assess and discern.

Trust your gut instincts, and beware of the sh*t stirrers...

Regards,

Pioneer Valley Woman

gatamala said...

Sorry to thread jack, but I just found the silliest link ever

http://blacktown.net/menu.htm


don't take this weirdo seriously, all I can do is laugh.

Anonymous said...

I am so damned angry right now reading about that cowardly harassment from those creeps............


I will say no more.... I am TOO UPSET, so let me just say to all BW/WM couples, be strong, and ignore losers like that the best you can. They are nothing.

Anonymous said...

gatamala said...
Sorry to thread jack, but I just found the silliest link ever

http://blacktown.net/menu.htm


don't take this weirdo seriously, all I can do is laugh.

---------------------------------

Yes, It is silly and I laughed very loud

These black men/black women are very angry(LOL)

Buzz said...

I think I can add an interesting dimension to this discussion. I'm a WM, over 50, yes, older men have sexual feelings. Wow! What a concept! haha. I always found black women attractive, but no more so than white women. Further, skin color had nothing to do with it. I've met black women who were as black as skin color can be, and they were stunningly beautiful. But sometimes you just have to be sensitive to how others feel (like family and friends), even if you consider them thoroughly racist. It's not right or wrong; it's just the way it is sometimes. I think the best approach sometimes is just to be low-profile. Several times in my life I have had to reject the flirtations of black women because of the circumstances in which I met them. I could see that those women often took offense that I did not return the the flirtatious gaze. They probably thought that I was racist myself, when in fact, I am not in the least bit racist when it comes to choosing a gf or wife. Ladies if you see a white guy you like, try to understand him and his concerns. If you send him messages keep it subtle, and give him a chance to respond from a neutral place where he won't feel the wrath of his friends or family members. Subtlety is the key. In other words, give him a fair chance to respond openly to your opening. Hey the world is not perfect. Sometimes you have to deal with life as it really is, so why fight racism when you can just as easily go around it?