Jasmin was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago in a big family of 7 sisters and no brothers.. After graduating summa cum laude from a prestigious private university with a double- Bachelor's in Spanish and Psychology, she moved to the Bay Area, where she now teaches bilingual second grade. She and "Z" have been in an interracial, interfaith relationship for 2 years.
Ankhesen emailed me and asked me to write a post on unicorns, my qualifications being that I’m dating one. If you are expecting this to be a post about “How to Get You a Wonderful White Man™ Too,” stop reading now. However, if you want some advice on how to distinguish good eggs from bad ones when dating inter-racially (specifically, White men), see below.
1. Do a self-inventory.
In my not-so-humble opinion, this should be the first step of any piece of dating advice, always. Whether you’ve dated inter-racially before or this will be your first taste of “something new”, you need to have an honest conversation with yourself (or a friend you trust) about the value you attach to the attentions of White men. Do you think you are more attractive if a White man says so than if a man of another race says the same thing? Are you looking for a White man to prove your worth? Honestly, if every person who actually needs this advice would stop right here and actually follow #1, I wouldn’t even have to keep writing. But they won’t, so I’ll continue with questions you should be asking yourself.
2. In what context does he reference his race?
If he makes a lot of comments along the lines of, “White people (like me) do this, while Black people (like you) do that”, drop him, quick. First, that crap is annoying to hear all the time. Second, a man who makes a lot of references to how different you are (along racial lines) is probably mentally patting himself on the back for stepping out of his comfort zone, and that makes the relationship more about him and his “openmindedness” than about your actual connection.
3. What do the important people in his life think of our relationship?
If his family has nothing but negative things to say to or about you and you all are still seeing them on a regular basis, he needs to go. You can’t choose your family and all that, but if he’s subjecting you to their presence knowing nothing good will come out of it, either he values their feelings more than yours (and that obviously doesn’t bode well for the relationship in the long-term) or you’re an unwitting participant in his rebellion phase.
This is probably an unpopular opinion, but when it comes to friends, if he wouldn’t dump them under any circumstances, that’s a red flag. (This applies in intra-racial relationships too, FYI.) Unfortunately, I’ve known some Black women reluctant to say anything even when their boyfriends’ buddies were being blatantly racist, and my question was (and still is), “What would it take for you to say this is unacceptable?” At the very least, his friends shouldn’t be talking any crap about your relationship to his face, because they know they’d be completely cut off (and probably punched in the face). Do not date a man who would not defend you to the same extent he would defend a woman of his own race.
4. Which one of us calls out racism when it happens to us?
The correct answer is: both of you. He may come into the relationship not knowing much about racism or microaggressions, but if after a significant amount of time he’s giving you a blank stare when you complain about someone calling you “Nappyhead” in the grocery store, only one of you is actually in a relationship--and it’s not him. The way I see it, I deal with racism, colorism, and systematic disadvantage at work all day (I work in the public school system; Lord help me); why would I want to come home to the same sh*t? You shouldn’t have to tone down your inner “Angry Black Woman” in your own space.
5. Am I his girlfriend or his “Black girlfriend”?
This is my pet peeve with *some* parts of the BWE movement (besides the glaring fact that seeking male attention as ultimate validation is the opposite of the definition of “empowerment”)—there’s this big push to “bring White men over to the dark side” and “prove to them that sisters make good girlfriends and wives”. I blog about swirl—at least I used to—because I like taking a tongue-in-cheek viewpoint on a topic some people take so seriously, but I’m not the freaking Grand Poobah of Black Women Dating White Men, and I’m really tired of this “The Secret”-like movement to find the key to White men’s hearts. 1) It’s degrading and 2) I and other BW I know that are dating White men don’t want a f*cking cookie for being “the Black girlfriend”. I don’t give White men a pass on this either (see #2), but I find it especially disappointing to hear Black women saying “how lucky I am” that a White man finds me attractive. /soapbox
I 100% agree with Ankhesen that White men need to be having conversations about dating Black women amongst themselves.* That’s not happening anytime soon because dating is a buyer’s market for men and there will always be a woman (or 2, or 20, or 200) willing to put up with foolishness. However, you don’t have to be that woman, and you don’t need advice from Steve Harvey, BWE bloggers, or even me, really. You just need to know yourself (Go back and read #1 and start working on it. Seriously.) and use that information to look for a compatible partner, regardless of race. If you find a compatible partner who happens to be White, uphold the same standards you would if it were any other race, and even if you don’t end up with a unicorn, at least you won’t risk your time, energy, or self-esteem.
*My boyfriend, Z actually wrote a guest post called, “What White Men Should Know About Their Black Girlfriends”, found here on my blog.