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To those of you who have read of my "adventures" and are wondering why I even bothered with the conversation, I hope you'll be stick around for my rather lengthy explanation. First, let me say it had nothing to do with how badly I wanted to have sex with "GIRL", because I honestly was not that physically attracted to her.
And "saint-like" patience? Nah, it was nothing so noble. It's more that I just can't tolerate people being so misinformed, or willfully ignorant, or oblivious, or (insert adjective favorite for white people here). I also really like to argue. Apart from that, I have a lot of pent up animosity towards white people, which such conversations allow me to expel in a more productive way, instead of punching a random white dude in the throat for saying the wrong thing to me. Which almost happened in a CVS the other day, but I digress. Point is, the conversation was somewhat self-serving, because ordinarily these thoughts are just smoldering inside my head, and it's nice to have an outlet.
I certainly cringed at certain people's accusations that I was a narcissist, and felt a pang of hurt at someone's suggestion that I just "leave WoC alone". Still, I felt no immediate need to defend myself, as it may all be true to an extent. It may help to give a little background on myself. For most of my life I was completely oblivious - one of those black dudes who spent a fair amount of his childhood in white suburbia - and needed to believe that peaceable relationships between me and the majority were possible. Racists were those far away people - distant in time and/or space. The discomfort I often felt from things people said to me, and the few instances of overt racism that I experienced were tucked away as isolated situations, not attributed to some greater institution. I also had some distance from other black people for all the "white people shit" that I was interested in, so I was in a strange sort of limbo between black and white, looking for a place to anchor myself.
It wasn't until I was well into my 20s that I had my "awakening", so to speak. Some of you may be surprised to learn that I am in my early 30s now, as I've given Moi and at least one other commenter the impression that I'm young. Biologically, no, mentally, no, but in terms of my experience with processing at all this race shit, yeah, I'm still a little green. My entry point into the broader critical race dialogue will probably answer a lot of questions regarding both my apparent narcissism and my relationship to white women.
As far back as I can remember, I've been physically attracted to white women, and only in recent years have I been able to attribute that to conditioning around the commercial beauty standard - the exaltation of white features, white hair, white body types, and the exclusion, fetishism, or condemnation of everything else. The most perverse thing about the standard is that the white women don't even need to be that attractive in their own right. I'm reminded of a scene from "Don't Be a Menace" (fast forward to 8:05).
Anyway, where I didn't find a connection with black women mentally, and sought it instead from white women, it had to do with my perception of common interests between us. I remember this crush I had on a black girl a few grades ahead of me: I was a freshman in high school, she was a junior. One day I was listening to some music on my headphones and she asked if she could listen to it. I didn't think she even noticed me up to that point, so of course I was enthusiastic about her interest in my music. She had the headphones on her head for about 10-15 seconds before kind of laughing and saying "Oh, this is white boy shit." That was typical of the kind of interactions I had with other black people at the time.
But wait. Before you start thinking that that was the source of the "psychic wound" that led to my narcissism, it wasn't. I had already come to terms with my distance from black people in general. That situation hurt only because it confirmed that I would have no shot with this hot girl!
So as you can imagine, the majority of the girls I pursued romantically were white - because of my beauty standard conditioning and the false pretext that I had nothing in common with black women. In case you're wondering, non-black PoC were scarce where I grew up, so options outside the black/white binary were limited. Anyway, I liked a lot of white girls, and pretty much none of them liked me back - probably because I was socially awkward, had geeky interests, demonstrated an aggressive indifference towards fashion, and was just all an around weirdo. These are probably the same reasons the black girls didn't like me, but with them somehow my differences were contextualized within my proximity to white people rather than a general social distance from everyone. So it was easy for me to develop the false idea that I would have a better connection with white women.
Mind you, these are things I've come to understand in my adult life. At the time I was clueless. From my pre-teen years well into my mid-20s, I had a long, painfully internalized, and meticulously indexed series of failures with (white) women, minus one brief relationship at 16 (to whom I lost my virginity). I think it was this one success that delayed the "realization" that I had in my 20s: that maybe the reason I was having so much trouble landing these white girls was because - gasp! - I was a black man.
I mean, it seriously never occurred to me, in spite of all of the evidence in the world that race was at least a consideration for these girls. I can't even remember what put the idea in my head, but when it came, my immediate reaction was outrage. My whole life had been spent at a distance from black people, and now here I was being rejected by white people because I was black!? It was at this point - when it affected something that was of deep importance to me (trivial though it may be in the greater context of discrimination) - that racism was no longer this distant specter, but something very real, very present, and very much affecting me. This was the psychic wound, I figure, because the shit hurt. Bad.
Whether it was true or not didn't even matter. Today I am just as willing - even more inclined - to believe that my failures were based more on my own social awkwardness than white women's racism, but it was here that the floodgates opened. I began to examine the events in my life past and present through a different lens. But it would be still be some time before the new opening was filled with any actual knowledge about whiteness, white supremacy, privilege, any of it. I continued to pursue white women (because it was what I was accustomed to, because I was still conditioned to find them more attractive, or maybe because I'm some sort of masochist), but with some serious caution and insecurity about my race and what that meant for my relationships with white people, which I had never felt before.
Ironically, it was a white woman (who had a history of dating black men, particularly "conscious" ones, loved listening to Common and Mos Def, smoking weed and "philosophizing" - you probably know the type) who introduced me to a lot of the critical race dialogue. She then proceeded to give me the run around for the better part of a year, but that's another story. Once I was exposed, there was no turning back, and ever since I've been thinking about blackness and whiteness on a much deeper level. I almost exclusively dated black women after that - and perhaps here some of you are cringing at the idea of me bringing all that baggage to an unsuspecting and undeserving woman of color.
Amongst those was a relationship of nearly 3 years, with a black woman of near infinite patience and understanding - such that she and I could even have conversations about things like my conditioning to the white beauty standard, in spite of how that must have impacted her, particularly with regards to how she imagined I saw her. Things ended for separate but not altogether unrelated reasons; I'll spare you the details. Thankfully, we are still close friends to this day. That relationship left me with some serious cognitive dissonance - between my persisting physical attraction to white women and my fully cultivated mental distance from them, which includes a rather agonizing awareness of my conditioning and a deep desire to purge it.
The mere prospect of dating white women sometimes feels like a betrayal of my own sensibilities, and in a way a betrayal of women of color. I feel like I continue to be part of some global problem in which WoC get passed over, because men in the West have been conditioned to devalue them while placing a premium on everything white. While I recognize that it is arrogant for me to imply that I am withholding anything so special from women of color, I'd like to think I have some good qualities to offer. At the same time, I am acutely aware of the baggage that I bring, too, which resonates with the suggestion that I should leave WoC alone. That comment hurt because there is probably some truth in it.
So why the hell did I go on dates with 9 white women? Well, the conditioning is not so easy to purge, even being fully aware of it. Also, I suspect they make up the vast majority of the women in my area using that particular website. Hell, maybe white women are more likely to use the internet for dating overall? In which case, as Moi has suggested to me, I need to investigate some other venues. Regardless, white women were the ones responding to me, and these particular girls at least seemed to be on the right page socially and politically. But as one commenter pointed out, and as I have come to understand and have personally experienced, alliances forged along common ideologies can easily disintegrate once the topic shifts to race.
The conversation you all have read was more or less me cutting right to the chase. That's pretty much my approach to white women these days. While I haven't closed the door entirely to them, it will probably require one of extraordinary awareness (of both self and other) and/or extraordinary humility in order for her to be a viable companion. But to be clear, I am not actively seeking out that one noble, right-minded, white woman who will allow me to indulge in my conditioning to the white beauty standard while also assuaging any feelings of guilt around betraying women of color through her enlightenment. Because fuck that. And in response to a particular commenter: No, white pussy is not that damn precious.
Finally, coming back to the charge of narcissism - I wouldn't say it's entirely untrue, but I'd like to think that I have evolved beyond the initial hurt that prompted my "awakening", and that I now choose to have race discussions out of a newly cultivated sense of militancy (and I use that word proudly), meaning that I do so proactively, rather than reactively. Perhaps it is as many of you have suggested: a colossal waste of time. Still, I suppose that so long as it also serves as a more productive outlet for the animosity I have towards white people - then it has some personal value for me. You see, because my awakening also made me acutely aware of the consequences of being a black man in America who would go around punching white people in the neck.
So that's the story. I cannot overstate how valuable your input has been - it was validating in places, quite illuminating in others, and downright hilarious throughout. Really, thank you.