…or Black men, or Black women, or Asian women, or Latino men. In short: you don’t owe anybody an explanation for who you love.
Over on Gawker, writer Ernest Baker waxes poetically about why he dates white women.
In “The Reality of Dating White Women When You’re Black” Baker expends more than 2,600 words to explain that he dates white women not because of some deep-seated issue or because he’s a self-hating Black man (his words), but because he was raised in the suburbs around white folks.
Most people have it wrong. I’m not a “black man” who “dates white women.” I’m a person. I have my own unique experiences and some of them include having dated women who are white, but because interracial dating is such a historically tense and loaded subject, it’s hardly ever looked at with any understanding or compassion for the people personally involved. The concept of a black man in a relationship with a white woman is a “thing” that people have an opinion on, and that opinion comes with an entire set of stereotypes, fueled by racist ideology, a complicated past, and sometimes even pop culture. Kanye West once rapped about how successful black men will “leave your ass for a white girl,” and then put himself into that box by marrying a white woman, furthering the pervasiveness of flawed, generic ideas about interracial relationships.
That swath of generic ideas has an actual impact on culture and society, too. How many jokes have been made at Kim Kardashian’s expense because of her history of dating black men? Twenty-two-year-old virgin psychopath Elliot Rodger just killed six people in California and left behind a paper trial of racially charged sentiments like, “How could an inferior, ugly black boy be able to get a white girl and not me?”
After discussing Emmett Till and OJ Simpson, Baker asserts that people continue to make a fuss about of interracial relationships, but they’ve never been a big deal to him. And just in case people wonder if he’s “rejected” Black women in favor of white women, Baker assures readers he hasn’t.
The thing is, I have to consider that while I’ve hooked up with women of other races, just about all of my girlfriends in life, since I was 13, have been white. What does that even mean? Am I secretly one of those black guys who thinks white women are better and hotter and I’m just not ignorant enough to admit it? I’ve never gone out of my way to reject black women; I just have way higher success rates with white women. I went to a black high school and I wasn’t on any of that thug shit and I’m not saying all black women want thugs, but at my high school, a lot of them did and they didn’t really care about me. And that’s fine. I wasn’t like, “Oh my God, black women don’t want me,” because I’m not entitled to any woman. But there were white girls at school who were fucking with me and that’s who I went with.
Despite claiming that he “never thinks about race” when he’s dating a woman, Baker then wonders if he’s been “brainwashed” by Eurocentric beauty ideals. While he says he has “hooked up” with women of all races and is “legitimately attracted to the features of black women, and Latina women, and Asian women, and Indian women,” Baker admits he “definitely [likes] the straight, light hair and fair skin and colored eyes you get with a lot of white women.”
He adds: “Let’s be real, blonde hair and blue eyes are fucking attractive and thinking that doesn’t mean you’re a piece of shit who gives those features inherent value over the features of other races,” Baker writes. “Rihanna is hot and so is Blake Lively. Lupita N’yongo is hot and so is Allison Williams. Sue me for not allowing my race to limit what I find attractive.”
Bakers essay is long, rambling, and at times contradictory, but it boils down to this: he likes white women because they like him.
AND THAT’S PERFECTLY FINE.
Here’s the thing: When it comes to dating and relationships, it’s okay for people to have preferences. If you don’t like Black women, or Black men, or Latinas, or Asian men, cool, do you.
The problem comes in when a person throws entire swaths of people under the bus to justify their preferences (or worse, tries to convert others to their point of view), or in Bakers case, writes 2,600+ word diatribes trying to justify a preference that doesn’t need justifying in the first place.
Though Baker sets out to place the blame for the difficulty of his interracial dating “reality” on prejudice, it seems like he isn’t wholly comfortable in his choices and is looking outsource his ambivalence (or guilt?) to others.