Dating White or Dating Right?

I am a black woman who has only seriously dated black men. I am still single, but I am not insecure, co-dependent, stupid or a ho. I’m sure many women find themselves in similar situations, but LaShaun Williams is not talking to you in her recent post, “8 Reasons to Date a White Man.” Here are the reasons:

1. They open wide instead of down low

2. Not looking for someone to take care of them

3. Attend and graduate from college

4. At least attempt to marry before making babies

5. They don’t glamorize ignorance

6. Financial planning and stability

7. Have the ability to look beyond your past

8. Don’t take everything as a challenge to their masculinity

Williams declares that even though she is married to a black man, black women should date white because “some things about white are right.” Even if we ignore the facts that 1) Williams doesn’t self-identify her race  and 2) she is speaking about an experience that she is not living, her argument is problematic: essentialist, decontextualized, insulting and, well, just plain wrong.

Williams initially assumes that white and black men are fundamentally different. She privileges the white experience when she declares that white men are more honest, self-sufficient, intelligent, financially stable, secure and accepting than black men. I am utterly dismayed that a woman writing about black relationships in the 21st century, who is married to a black man, would describe black men as inferior. Yes, black men face challenges in the areas she mentioned, but so do all men. I am horrified that her premise is based on essentialized categories and not the experiences of real people.

Williams writes as if there were no context for understanding the black male experience. Somehow these men are personal failures, as opposed to individuals caught up in various matrices of oppression.

All men in our society are gendered to be protector/providers. Jackson Katz notes that when men cannot fulfill these social expectations many of them rely on a tough guise that masks their emotions and conceals their frustration about failing to adhere to cultural norms. The tough guise could manifest as aggressiveness, violence, apathy, risky behavior or the ignorance that Williams notes. More black men than white men don a tough guise because they face greater challenges to their ability to protect and provide than do white men. Attending underfunded urban public schools that lack the resources to channel boy energy into mastering the fundamentals of reading, writing, and arithmetic is poor preparation for attending and graduating from college. An inferior education leads to higher unemployment rates, which make it difficult to support a family.

Fathering children one cannot support isn’t ideal, but unprotected sex is a result of high-risk behavior which stems from the apathy of feeling like a failure. When little else is going right, having children is often seen as an accomplishment, and being a father proves that one is hetero. Atlanta mega-church Bishop Eddie Long’s virulent homophobia and the recent reactions to charges that he forced male teenagers into sexual relationships with him reminds us that being publicly gay is one of the worst things a black man can be. Black men have different experiences because of their race, but these problems are not limited to black men and these scenarios do not describe all black men. Men of all races deal with the restrictions of masculinity and can fall prey to the tough guise and its domino effects.

Williams insults her readers when she assumes they would neither be aware of nor care about these contextual issues. She especially insults her female readers when she writes

Promiscuous Black men think they deserve to settle down with virgins and allow past relationships to haunt the present. Not White men. They have no problem turning a ho into a housewife.

Williams essentializes single black women as hos who desire to become well-kept housewives.  Furthermore, Sophia Nelson’s recent response to the No Wedding No Womb movement contradicts Williams’ depiction of black women who desire marriage before children.

Finally, Williams is clearly wrong on two accounts: 1) Black women don’t need to be convinced to give “vanilla a chance.” Black women can date anyone of any race. Black women who want to stay down for their brothers should be respected for their choice. For those who want to date outside of their race, why is white the only acceptable alternative? I suppose other men of color fail to measure up to her almighty white standards as well. 2) There aren’t eight reasons why black women should date outside of their race. There’s only one: common interest. A date is not a lifelong commitment. If you have something in common, no mater what color he is, go out, have a great time, learn something about yourself and someone else in the process. It might be the best way to eradicate these heinous essentialized notions. One date at a time.

Photo by Flickr user CG_2SoulArtist under license from Creative Commons 2.0.

Comments

  1. What?! LaShaun Williams serves up a load of you-know-what. Thank you for calling this out. Her assertions are insulting to everyone and potentially quite damaging in so many ways.

  2. "I am not..a ho" – do we really need to continue using this word? We are only hurting ourselves by using it–we are denouncing sex as something wrong, something dirty, something un-lady like, no? Being a sexually active woman should not be shameful…

  3. She also assumes anything on her list is absolutely true about white men. Not one of her points is a given for men or women of any race. You have to take each individual as they are, her argument is simplistic and offensive.

  4. Selene Serene says:

    As a white woman who has also dated black men, and been married twice to white men, I see all eight reasons as stereotypes. I know many white men who do not fit that stereotype. Take a poll, (a fair poll) and I think you will find that men are men regardless of color! Some make the grade as partners and some do not!

  5. Aren't you being too much of an apologist for those black men who are deliberately irresponsible?
    Defending Eddie Long was the icing on the cake!

  6. Janell Hobson says:

    Hmmm, it's interesting, Ebony, that you pinpointed to this particular article as it seems to be one of numerous articles that presume to be about interracial dating but, when you start digging and check out the comments they invariably attract, they are nothing more than Black-Woman-Black-Man verbal swordfights. The White Man or White Woman as "alternative choice" (note: no other racialized figure of the opposite sex applies) only highlights the angst, frustrations, and paranoia that seem to shape and inform how black women and men have been conditioned to view each other.

    Meanwhile, no real discussion is pursued concerning interracial relationships (of various mixes), only the racial angst that has encouraged black women and men to feel they can't challenge the heteronormative paradigms that have been established to alienate their relationships – from slavery through Jim Crow on to our present times.

  7. randomthoughtsfromcali says:

    Please cease associating LaShawn William's piece published in Madame Noire with me, Christelyn D. Karazin (I am also a MN columnist but NOT the author of "8 Reasons") and the No Wedding No Womb movement and Sophia Angeli Nelson. NWNW is in no way affliated with Ms. Williams. I will be contacting the editors of this publication shortly. Nelson is an attorney, so I will also contact her regarding this false association to discuss what further action to pursue.

    • I am sorry if you misunderstood the article. I do not associate NWNW with Williams and I claim that Nelson’s response to the NWNW movement contradicts Williams.

  8. There are some white men who embody the 8 reasons as well. I somewhat take offense to the above. While there are many black men who are irresponsible, there are white men who do the same. I personally know white women who have sons, brothers, fathers, and husbands, ex-husbands who fall into the above category and are just plain irresponsible. It's just not publicized as much. There'snothing wrong with interracial marriage if it happens for the right reasons. However, disparing anyone (white, black, or otherwise) to justify your interracial marriage shows a lack of integrity.

  9. Wow. As always with tough subjects to discuss, like Race and Sex in the USA, people have very strong reactions. When it comes to matters of the body, mind, and heart we are sensitive to critique and at times even growth past such a good feelings as romantic-love can be painful. I know I have grown from Dr. Utley's work as well as the articles she references. I hope that healing, peace, and love come as a result of this dialogue.

  10. snobographer says:

    Based on my vast experience with white men, that whole list is B.S. but items 2, 7, and 8 are absolutely laughable.

  11. How about the black men (often famous, eg. Tiger Woods) who marry white women? Are they proving something? If I were a black woman I'd resent it terribly. I'd think: doesn't he think I'm good enough for him? To fall in love with someone with whom you are compatible, with similar backgrounds, interests, etc., is certainly to be valued. But somehow, I think a lot of inter-racial marriages are based on other criteria.

    • You are wrong. Most interracial relationships ARE based on love.
      Those who are in an IRR do not go to websites and read articles such as "8 reasons…" We are out there living our lives and do not care about silly internet feuds between BW/BM or IRR.
      Again, we are out there and "race" is a none issue for most of us it rarely comes up in a discussion.
      So why don't you go out there and ask US instead of basing your "facts" off of people on the internet who probably never have been in an IRR.

    • Most marriages are based on common interest, also the fact that most people want to forget is the Tiger Woods is a multitude of different races. Growing up in a multicultural home is bound to open up your attraction to others. Would you be upset if his wife was asian? Technically he is part white so can you say he is dating outside his race, or are we going by the outdated and ridiculous one drop rule?

  12. For those who want to date outside of their race, why is white the only acceptable alternative? I suppose other men of color fail to measure up to her almighty white standards as well
    […]
    There aren’t eight reasons why black women should date outside of their race. There’s only one: common interest. A date is not a lifelong commitment. If you have something in common, no mater what color he is, go out, have a great time, learn something about yourself and someone else in the process. It might be the best way to eradicate these heinous essentialized notions. One date at a time.

    Too much truth.

  13. When did white become right?????

  14. Patrick Arnold says:

    Im a white man that lives in N.E Texas … I must say no matter where we come from it does not matter we as people should get over the pass and the color of ones skin and start looking at what is on the inside of one another .. Times has changed and they are going to keep changging so lets all change with it … everyone talks about color on ones race .. SO … so lets move on and forget about that pass …
    And by the way Im 37 years old and when I was in high school I was seeing a black girl which when we got out of the 12 th Grade we was planen on getting married .. That never happen because her mom and dad came to my house and pulled her and I mean PULLED her out of the house telling her she was not to date or married any white person and that we would never see each other again …. and that is what happen but let me remind everyone it happens in every race not just whites / blacks but all …

  15. There’s certainly nothing innately stable, wealthy, faithful etc about me as a white guy, and I sure hope no lady of any race connects with me because she thinks there is.

    But I do resent the widespread belief that I would be perpetuating the archetypes of slavery if I were to date a black woman. I asked black friends about this possibility when I started dating, and they were horrified! They say this is a raw nerve among African-Americans because it recalls an era when black women had no power to say no to a white man.

    But I wonder how I’m responsible for that when my ancestors weren’t even in this country then. And even if they were, it’s still be 140 years after Emancipation and 50 years after Brown.

    It would be disrespectful to the African American woman herself, to think she can’t take care of herself. And it would dis me as well.

    So tell me: is it okay for me to flirt with/date African American women?

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