This morning I opened my e-mail to find this:
Direct your gaze to the upper left-hand corner. Did a Black Big Beautiful Women dating site just send me a St. Paddy’s Day promotion?
Let me explain. A few years ago I did an online dating experiment. I was 30% legitimately interested in meeting someone and 70% interested in entertaining myself with the inevitably disastrous results. I posted a limited profile on just about every dating site that seemed semi-reputable, including one where you had to check a list of adjectives about yourself, which I suppose is how I ended up on a Black BBW Singles site among many others whose mailing lists I can’t get myself off of no matter what I do. I’m not sure exactly where the line between regular-sized and big and beautiful is but most guys place me on the big side of it while the rare men who fetishize big women don’t consider me big enough. Whatever. I sure am black, so BBW Singles it shall be. What I am not is encouraged by anything involving St. Patrick’s Day, and I’m sure that 99.99% of my fellow Black BBW’s feel the same. So no, this promotion doesn’t do anything for me and actually has me kind of miffed.
Let’s be real here. I’m not able to fully identify with any ethnicity except for my own, but I do have a very close Irish friend. She is really Irish as in from Ireland, not from Boston or what have you. When she hears Americans refer to themselves as Irish in any way she rolls her eyes and replaces her usually cheerful face with a blank stare. “I am Irish. Those people are Americans.” Italian people do the same thing to “guidos,” and African people do it to slave descendant black Americans. As Americans, we like to live these hyphenated lives and identify with some culture that pre-dates that whole United States thing. It’s part of what makes us different on the world stage while also making us look kind of foolish at times.
While St. Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in Ireland, Americans use it as an excuse to get as drunk as possible, dress like leprechauns, and run through the streets with no jackets on while singing Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” until they can’t sing it no more. That is not Irish. That is American. Sure there’s a St. Patrick’s Day parade, but the legions of drinkers taking to the streets dressed in all green do so for four or five nights surrounding the actual holiday, obscuring most of its cultural value with a constructed version of something real — sort of the Irish-American version of Kwanzaa, just way more fun.
Back to the topic at hand. I can’t begrudge anyone a cultural experience or a night of drunken revelry, but you won’t see me out there. I tried to go out on St. Patrick’s Day a few times in my early twenties and every reason that black women are few and far between in Irish pubs reared its ugly head: my hair was touched many times, people spilled beer on me and stepped on my feet without excusing themselves, and of course I was the only black chick as far as the eye could see and the handful of black guys in there wouldn’t even look me in the eye. Everyone was so drunk and gregarious that I spent most of the night talking to guys who looked like this:
I can’t work with that! Yet after a few hours surrounded by douchebags with green spray-hair and beads I’d always convince myself that I could! Ten years into the game and I am finally sure that I cannot, I will not, and my white friends can go have a blast without me.
For the record, I generally love Irish bars. My policy when traveling is to always find an Irish pub because no matter where you are in the world there will be an English speaker in there and some good beer. But there’s always someone messing up a good thing, so when I’m stateside I have to be way more choosy.
I’ve come to realize that I’m a grown black lady and some things just aren’t for me, St. Patrick’s day being one of them. And shame on whatever dating site sent me this promotional e-mail, both for refusing to honor my request to remove me from their list and for having the nerve to present such woefully poor targeted marketing.