Sunday, August 5, 2007

Questions and Answers

Halima and Evia have recently blogged on the importance of sisters "spreading the word" to each other about the world of options available to us, and the crucial importance of empowering ourselves to go after those options as the birthright they are.

I want to address a related topic, for those sisters who have already stepped out to exercise their options, only to find themselves faced with the stern disapproval of not only strangers, but sometimes their nearest and dearest.

I come from a family that has always had tremendous racial pride, but has also put the well-being and happiness of the family above all else--so while they were somewhat surprised by my interracial relationship, their ultimate concern was whether I was being treated as I deserved. Once they were reassured on that score, they were were as happy for me as my fiance and I are happy together.

I know some sisters don't have it that easy, and must cope with family, friends, and acquaintaces who are challenging, unsupportive, and even hostile to their relationships. Any relationship requires nurturing, and healthy communities invest in healthy relationships, which are the foundation of a thriving and ascendant people. It's a shame that instead of being supported in their positive choices, from which all around them will also reap the positive benefits, too many sisters instead face isolation, scorn, and stereotypical questions like these:

1. I thought you were "pro-black"?

While the people who raise such questions rarely define what they mean by being "pro-black"--other than either being with a black men or being alone--for me, the response to such a query would be fairly straightforward: I was born black, I will die black, and I will live every day in between black. I love my blackness and I love black people--indeed, I love humanity, with all it's flaws and foibles. There is no contridiction between loving my black self and loving a smart, funny, confident, sexy, honest, strong and compassionate white man. It is because I love myself that I recognized that the quality of this man and the love we share are a crucial component of building the life that I want and deserve.

2. Don't you feel like you're betraying your ancestors?

To me, this question has never made anymore sense than asking "aren't you betraying all the women who've been raped and beaten by men when you date men?" I am a heterosexual woman and I am attracted to men--I don't somehow "honor" women who have been victimized by rapists, abusers and murderers by shunning good men who treat me well. In the same way, I do not somehow "honor" my black ancestors who suffered through slavery and discrimination by shunning good white people--and yes, they exist.

Additionally, this question is rooted in a mentality that views racism as an evil that is simply inflicted on blacks by whites. It does not acknowledge the role that black people can play in inflicting racist discrimination on each other--in particular, the way in which DBRBM openly denigrate, abuse, and discriminate against BW based on their race and sex. Would it be reasonable for me to judge all black men based on the discriminatory acts of DBRBM?

3. Can he really understand you?

Better than anyone ever has. Just as in any couple, we have differences as well as sharing commonalities. I personally could not be with a man who was not empathetic. I know that it is certainly possible for a white person to be in a relationship with a black person--perhaps even to "love" a black individual--while still being racist. I couldn't be with such a person, anymore than I could be with a BM who hated my skin, my hair, my features. I've never been with a man who has been through exactly what I have been through--that would be impossible. Luckily, a person doesn't have to have had your experiences to be able to relate to them, and to understand your struggles and triumphs.

4. Couldn't you find a black man?

Probably--but I didn't. I found this man, and instead of rejecting him in the hope that I might find a black Mr. Right someday, I decided to live my life for today. It has not been my experience that incredible people with whom you experience intense chemistry pass through your life on such a regular basis that walking away from makes sense. Life is short.

5. What if all of us started dating white? Wouldn't black people disappear?

Considering that black people in Africa and throughout the diaspora, significantly outnumber white people, it seems unlikely that interracial mating between blacks and whites could result in the disappearance of black people; if it could, we would have disappeared a long time ago, since miscegenation has been going on since the concept of "races" first evolved. It seems that the greater danger to the our community here is the growing numbers of BW who are living their lives entirely alone.

Obviously, there are usually no "right" answers to such questions for the people asking them because they oppose interracial relationships for BW, and perceive a danger in them that they don't perceive, say, in BW suffering in bad relationships with BM or no relationships at all. I don't think for a second that a sister owes an explanation to such people; but part of the purpose of questions like these, whether the person asking is conscious of such purpose or not, is to intimidate. Whether we choose to answer them or not, all that matters is that our responses reflect our own confidence in, and happiness with, our choices. Nothing will help "break more sisters out of jail" than seeing the joy and serenity that love and freedom brings to a well-lived life!

As a sidenote, everybody check out "More Black Women Consider 'Dating Out'"
http://abcnews.go.com/US/WireStory?id=3447674&page=2. Evia, Roslyn Holcomb, and the role of blogs in encouraging sisters to expand their options are all prominently featured!

31 comments:

foreverloyal said...

"Fear of a Borg Life" is what I call it, this threat people make about you trying to erase yourself/the black community by marrying "out."
It's funny but zabeth and I posted about pressures regarding "the community" on August 3rd, each of us unaware that the other was simultaneously addressing the issue.

pioneervalleywoman said...

As usual, Amy, you are quite fierce!

I have heard these types of questions, some more so than others, and I'll address them.

Considering Evia's typology of women who date interracially, I have always been a type 1: believing that I should not be limited in the racial background of the men I dated. The primary criteria for me, as a heterosexual woman, was whether a man was a good man--a kind man of integrity, faith, values, who respects others and is considerate, etc., all the good qualities that I admire (and wish to cultivate in myself) in the people I like to have around me. As far as I was concerned, guys are guys, and those qualities are not limited to a man's color!

But here is what was interesting. I told my dad that I would have no problem whatsoever with dating and marrying a white man, provided he embodied the above qualities, and that we had similar interests, respected each other, etc.

My dad thought whites and blacks could never be similar. Race and history negated any similarity. He thinks differently now, of course, since he has come to know my white husband.

And yet, I still get this sense, in talking to my parents on occasion, they ask whether we are getting along! My husband and I, we laugh about it. Of course we do, we are considerate, loving, caring, and appreciative of each other. We make communicating and working together our greatest priority!

As for being pro-black, I teach, research, write, think about questions that relate to African Americans--my life is dedicated to the cause! My being dedicated to teaching, researching and writing is not diminished by being with a man who is white, especially when he admires and supports my work. But he admires and is supportive of me in general, in all my endeavors--academic, spiritual, or whether it is in the mundane aspects of every-day life!


2. Don't you feel like you're betraying your ancestors?

I am not betraying my ancestors, when they were women who were vulnerable to sexual assault and being the playthings of white men, just because they were black and female. I honor them by marrying a man who respects me, loves and cares about me, by having an honorable relationship, which in previous times would have been built upon exploitation, or which would have been hidden away in shame.

3. Can he really understand you?

Of course, he has never been black, and his experiences are different, but we are human beings first of all, not of different species, and humans live the full range of emotions and experiences. He might not have experienced my blackness first hand, but he can empathize.

Don't forget too, that dating and marrying a black woman, my husband has experienced a greater level of scrutiny from whites, and blacks, including my relatives, that he never experienced before when he dated white women. So he is affected by blackness too, and by being a renegade white man who has the guts to marry outside of his race, knowing that others would judge, and have judged...

Regards,

Pioneer Valley Woman

Jan said...

Hey Aimee:

Great post!!

I have an observation about the word miscegenation.
It is a vile term especially when the origin is reviewed-- it was allegedly coined by U.S. journalist David Goodman Croly (1829–89) in a pamphlet published anonymously in 1864.
If you google the darn pamphlet, you will see why this word and the furor engendered by said pamphlet makes it almost at par with the 'N' word!

These are the synomyms: amalgam, bastard, combination, composite, compound, cross, crossbreed, half-blood, half-breed, half-caste, incross, miscegenation, mongrel, mule, outcross
Antonyms: pure-bred- WOW!
Tis indeed a vile word! :)

Aimee said...

Hey foreverloyal!

"Fear of a Borg Life" is what I call it, this threat people make about you trying to erase yourself/the black community by marrying "out."

It really is a threat, isn't it? You can recongnize it as such when DBRBM trolls come to these blogs and ominously warn "you will no longer be welcome in the black community!" (as if they are "spokesmen" for the "black community").

But they're really trying to convince us that we're going to lose ourselves. It makes me wonder--what must it be like for your sense of self to be so flimsy and weak that it could be obliterated simply by marrying someone of another race? Or, for that matter, sustained simply by marrying someone of the same race?

That's why Evia is so correct about the importance of all of us making our presence known--I'm glad you're blogging too girl!

Many people see BW/WM or even BW/non-BM relationships as more marginalized than just about any other, and it is that stigma and the fear of isolation that probably stands in more young sisters way than any other stumbling blocks (you get older and you just don't give a damn what people think about much of anything!)

Sisters have to know from an early age there's plenty of us out here. We come from all walks of life, hold a variety of opinions on a variety of issues (go back to the last post and see me and Evia discussing feminism and porn and homemaking, lol!), all over this country and the world. There's is nothing "marginal" about us--we had many choices and we made the best choices for ourselves. In other words, this a perfectly NORMAL choice for them, too. I'm so happy that the word is getting out.

Aimee said...

Good morning PVW!

pioneervalleywoman said...

Don't forget too, that dating and marrying a black woman, my husband has experienced a greater level of scrutiny from whites, and blacks, including my relatives, that he never experienced before when he dated white women. So he is affected by blackness too, and by being a renegade white man who has the guts to marry outside of his race, knowing that others would judge, and have judged...

This is a key fact that is often overlooked. "Skin color privilege" is not simply about the color of your skin -- it's also about the extent to which you are willing to cooperate with and endorse an entire system of white supremacy.

That's what makes it possible for black people to cooperate in the perpetuation of institutional racism, even without holding the reigns of power--most white people don't hold the reigns of power either. Their power is relative-- and they must invest in the system in order to maintain that "power." The more the openly they reject the principles of white supremacy, the more tenuous their own access to such "power" becomes--i.e., is a white man pulled over by a white cop treated the same as other white men when they see his black wife? Does he get the same attention from sales clerks or the same consideration when they apply for a home loan? These are the "privileges" of which we speak, and they are not necessarily irrevocable.

Aimee said...

Jan said...

I have an observation about the word miscegenation.
It is a vile term especially when the origin is reviewed-- it was allegedly coined by U.S. journalist David Goodman Croly (1829–89) in a pamphlet published anonymously in 1864.
If you google the darn pamphlet, you will see why this word and the furor engendered by said pamphlet makes it almost at par with the 'N' word!

These are the synomyms: amalgam, bastard, combination, composite, compound, cross, crossbreed, half-blood, half-breed, half-caste, incross, miscegenation, mongrel, mule, outcross
Antonyms: pure-bred- WOW!
Tis indeed a vile word! :)


Welcome jan!

I hear you--another one of those words like "mulatto" and "octoroon" that arose from our country's rather twisted racial history. Thank you for reminding me to be aware of language--it is important.

August 5, 2007 8:32 PM

pioneervalleywoman said...

Good morning, Aimee!

I addressed the significance of race privilege, because so many seem to have a one-dimensional understanding of it in the context of b/w interracial relationships...of how it affects the person of color, not of how it affects the majority race person. It's good you mentioned too that blacks can participate in white supremacist efforts too.

This relates well to your earlier discussion (which I was so glad to participate in) of gender privilege in communities of color. All too often, gender is seen as an issue only for majority race communities, and that men of color can not be sexist.

Yes, I'm glad to see and participate in blogs like these. The narrative others have developed about us has no basis in our realities. If we don't speak for ourselves, our stories (narratives) will always be presented in voices that are not our own.

Regards,

PVW

Evia said...

The narrative others have developed about us has no basis in our realities. If we don't speak for ourselves, our stories (narratives) will always be presented in voices that are not our own.

So true!! Very often people want to engage me to talk about a "stereotype" of black women, and I have nothing to say because I have never met any black women of the type. Needless to say, they get hot with me when I tell them that I don't know and never have known any women like the type they present. LOL!!

I AGREE so totally! We must tell our own stories in our own voices.

pioneervalleywoman said...

Yes, they will present us as whatever they want, and we will hang our heads in shame, because as Amy reminded us, "we are always to blame..."

We push the men away, we take their jobs, etc....

PVW

Ahmad said...

Great post! Men can replace "man with woman" and it would be the same. Likewise, anyone of any race could use your list to rebuff critics of their dating choices.

caligirl94117 said...

Aimee,

It looks like you have a troll in the house@6:05 p.m.

Aimee said...

Ahmad said...

Great post! Men can replace "man with woman" and it would be the same. Likewise, anyone of any race could use your list to rebuff critics of their dating choices.

Hi Ahmad!

It hasn't been my experience that men face the same level of scrutiny of their choices in these matters that women do, and very few people face the kind of scrutiny that BW do from other black people; but I think it's true that anyone who is faced with judgments from others of decisions that they've already concluded are best for them should be ready to confidently express their sureness and satisfaction with their choices.

I think if you know your motives, understand what's best for you, and have clearly demonstrated that you have such insight in the way that you live your life generally, the people who care about you should respect that.

Aimee said...

Hey caligirl94117!

LOL@It looks like you have a troll in the house@6:05 p.m. I suspect you may be right, but I try to give the benefit of the doubt at the outset. I hope all is well with you!

Anonymous said...

Aimee said...
Hey foreverloyal!

"Fear of a Borg Life" is what I call it, this threat people make about you trying to erase yourself/the black community by marrying "out."

It really is a threat, isn't it? You can recongnize it as such when DBRBM trolls come to these blogs and ominously warn "you will no longer be welcome in the black community!" (as if they are "spokesmen" for the "black community").

Right! As if intelligent, self-assured, non self-sacrificing for the "greater good" BW were ever welcome in the black "community" to begin with! The message these DBR trolls are sending is if you stop being a thankless, BM worshiping, beast of burden mammy mule, you'll no longer be welcome.

I say good riddance to bad rubbish. There are more than enough of these BW in the "community" so why the fear? My absence ain't a blip on the radar screen.


But they're really trying to convince us that we're going to lose ourselves. It makes me wonder--what must it be like for your sense of self to be so flimsy and weak that it could be obliterated simply by marrying someone of another race? Or, for that matter, sustained simply by marrying someone of the same race?

Tell me about it. It's obvious a good number of black folks are talking out of their other hole when it comes to this nonsense about us "losing ourselves." They're afraid our blood, sweat, and tears - and an automatic safety net/refuge - are going to be lost to THEM. That's what they're afraid of.

That's why Evia is so correct about the importance of all of us making our presence known--I'm glad you're blogging too girl!

Many people see BW/WM or even BW/non-BM relationships as more marginalized than just about any other, and it is that stigma and the fear of isolation that probably stands in more young sisters way than any other stumbling blocks (you get older and you just don't give a damn what people think about much of anything!)

This is true. And that's one positive thing about aging.

Sisters have to know from an early age there's plenty of us out here. We come from all walks of life, hold a variety of opinions on a variety of issues (go back to the last post and see me and Evia discussing feminism and porn and homemaking, lol!), all over this country and the world. There's is nothing "marginal" about us--we had many choices and we made the best choices for ourselves. In other words, this a perfectly NORMAL choice for them, too. I'm so happy that the word is getting out.

I'm happy too and it's LONG overdue.

pioneervalleywoman said...

Anonymous 11:43

It's so interesting, the kinds of arguments you are making.

I recall my father, years ago, when I said to him I had no problem dating interracially, making arguments which in retrospect can tie in with what you are saying.

It is important to note that my father has since changed his mind, because what was an abstract discussion years ago is not as important as the current realities of my life--married to a white man who is a good husband.

In any event, my dad said that in his view, blacks and whites could have nothing in common--racism made it so.

There was a war going on, whites against blacks, whites trying to keep black people down, so how could he accept one of them then stepping to his daughter?

(Interestingly enough, all his arguments about black people were always framed in terms of black men--black men's experiences defined black people's experiences)

But in thinking about black men getting white women, he saw it as a matter of black men taking spoils from white men.

What is important however, is that he said, it might even be better for a black woman to remain single than to date and marry a white man.

Race loyalties, being on the right side of "the battle," next to the brothers, was what mattered, not the individual needs/experiences of black women.

Evia said...

What is important however, is that he said, it might even be better for a black woman to remain single than to date and marry a white man.

I've heard bm suggest this on many occasions. It's either that or they're suggesting that multiple bw enter polygamous marriages with bm--except that the wives would be expected to work outside the home and bring their salaries to the husband--of course.

pioneervalleywoman said...

LOL, ROTFL!

Evia,

I forget about that one. Glancing at my bookcase, I recall Jill Nelson (journalist) in Straight, No Chaser: How I Became a Grown-up Black Woman wrote about that in the D*ckpolitic chapter, page 114. In the chapter, she spoke of the day she had to part ways with black nationalism.

It was 1979, and she was at a black nationalist rally, and Queen Mother Moore explained that because men are going to be dogs, and there are not enough men around, women should man share and support polygamy as an ideal option.

Nelson said that was when she realized that black nationalism as an alternative to the women's movement made no sense. Even though the rhetoric romanticized black women, it really was misogynistic.

Yet today, we still support a misogynistic agenda, don't we? In polygamy, the stakes are so much higher, and some women still do it.

We don't learn do we? Isn't there that saying, that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but thinking that things will change...

Anonymous said...

I just read the NY Times artice that you referenced in your articles of interest. It was very eye opening and telling!
Aimee, please put pictures on your blog. It will make it easier on the eyes :)

D said...

Wow!

Very nice post, Aimee - well balanced, confident in yourself, and I could say several other good things.

foreverloyal said...

Aimee said
But they're really trying to convince us that we're going to lose ourselves. It makes me wonder--what must it be like for your sense of self to be so flimsy and weak that it could be obliterated simply by marrying someone of another race? Or, for that matter, sustained simply by marrying someone of the same race?

Exactly. I think it stems from the idea/expectation that a woman will mold herself to adapt to her husband in whatever way possible.
I spoke in an earlier blog entry about this as it relates to the preservation of culture.
If a woman is only an annex of her husband, that argument has some degree of weight. But if a woman is her own person, one half of a team, not so much.
I have the same interests and culture as I did before I got married. Marriage for me was not about shedding an old identity and existing henceforth only as "Mrs. Dh"

Anonymous said...

pioneervalleywoman,

I am SO glad you ignored your daddies hypocritical and ultimately anti-BF bull-sh*t.

Anon @ 11:43 NAILED what "community" members REALLY fear.

And it sure as hell isn't us "losing" ourselves.LOL

That's for sure.

Aimee said...

Anonymous said...

The message these DBR trolls are sending is if you stop being a thankless, BM worshiping, beast of burden mammy mule, you'll no longer be welcome.

I say good riddance to bad rubbish. There are more than enough of these BW in the "community" so why the fear? My absence ain't a blip on the radar screen.


I find this curious too. Wouldn't it be easier just to find one of these "good BW," marry her, and build one of those "strong black families" with that "black love" they're always threatening/promising us?

I work not far from Newark (may those three young people RIP), and that city is chock FULL of single sisters who "don't want nothing but a black man" and have the kids to prove it. Even the mayor (who is not from Newark, and went to HS with my brother-in-law) is single. These sisters would love to marry "in," so why are they worried about us marrying "out"?

Aimee said...

Anonymous said...

Aimee, please put pictures on your blog. It will make it easier on the eyes :)

Thanks for the advice--I'm working on it!

Aimee said...

D said...

Wow!

Very nice post, Aimee - well balanced, confident in yourself, and I could say several other good things.


Welcome D--and thanks for your kind words!

Halima said...

(Interestingly enough, all his arguments about black people were always framed in terms of black men--black men's experiences defined black people's experiences)

But in thinking about black men getting white women, he saw it as a matter of black men taking spoils from white men.

What is important however, is that he said, it might even be better for a black woman to remain single than to date and marry a white man.

Race loyalties, being on the right side of "the battle," next to the brothers, was what mattered, not the individual needs/experiences of black women.


This rhetoric is being repeated today PVW, but it is never explicit because maybe folks know that they can push bw only so far, instead folks duck and dive the question of bw finding companionship or put you on hold if you ask them a direct question, but when you add up the sum of what they are saying it is the same; bm or nothing.

i remeber on a radio interview some time ago the female radio presenter (a PHD in education), said a similar thing to me, i was lost for words!

“Supposing I wanted to date a White Guy…?”

twentysomething said...

I just want to let you guys know that this blog is awesome:) It is so uplifting. I recently attended a Bible study series that was very disappointing. The entire jist of the series was uplifting the black man and accepting that you as a black woman may be single all of your life. They brought God into it by saying not all people are meant to be married. But interestlingly enough, the people we were concentrating on, the ones meant to be single, were black women. We even watched this video with all this stats about how over 50% of us will never get married because of black men being incarcerated, gay, etc. To make matters worse out of the small percentage of us who are going to get married those women cannot not be educated and self sufficient. I could not believe they used Oprah and Condeleeza as examples of what happens when you pursue a career that intimidates the black man.

I left that discussion feeling soo down. I mean I am that woman, 28 year old lawyer, self sufficient, takes trips abroad with girlfriends, into cultural events.

But then I had to regroup. God created ALL men. How dare I allow them to give me a husbandless existence because of the blessings God had given me. I have always been attracted to all races of men. Therefore, I pray that God sends me a God-fearing, loving, motivated MAN.

caligirl94117 said...

@twentysomething,

I am so sorry that they did that! You surely set your mind right on their nonsense. I hope you'll seriously start church shopping.

I mentioned this on Halima's blog, but it is shameful the way that black churches are aiding and abetting this rising tide of singleness while every other faith traditions sees marriage as a necessary and critical part of faith life. How can black churches expect bw to remain single AND celibate for life? That's setting people up to fail! We were naturally made to want husbands. Jews get matchmakers, Catholics consider marriage a sacrament, and I believe muslims place a high value on marriage as well. Black churches, fail young men and women by not incorporating the sanctity of marriage into faith so that young men and women expect to marry. How can this be achieved if marriage isn't promoted?

caligirl94117 said...

"Therefore, I pray that God sends me a God-fearing, loving, motivated MAN."

Please pray AND act. It's unlikely that you'll increase your opportunities to meet a variety of christian men if you exclusively attend a black church. Most of them are filled with women, married people, or men who are too young or too old for you.

I've found that the white/multiracial churches tend to have very active singles ministries. Even if you don't meet a man, at least you'll meet people who believe they'll be marrying someday.

Latasha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
twentysomething said...

Thanks Caligirl!

Aimee said...

Welcome twentysomething!

It is truly outrageous that a CHURCH of all places would encourage you to forgo intimate companionship and the possibility of family, as well as positive achievement because of the possibility that it might "intimidate" men! This is the institution that guided us through slavery and Jim Crow, that provided the institutional foundation for the Civil Rights Movement--and NOW they're telling bright, beautiful, accomplished young women to live life alone and be ashamed that they've worked hard and uplifted themselves, their families and communities? How shameful!

I'm glad you had the strength and wisdom to see through that mess. Too many sisters are led permanently astray by some of these jackleg con men, and end up bitter and confused. Go out and keep living your life to the fullest, and when good men come your way who are worthy of your time and attention, enjoy their company to the fullest! Keep us posted!