By 1976, most schools were integrated, white people weren’t alien to my generation. The lines were still there, I knew when I couldn’t enter a friends house , it wasn’t a big deal and I knew when they were forbidden to enter mine, it was about the friendship.
The first real crush was on a girl named Aggie. I was 16 and she and I were on the youth city council. She had long brown hair parted down the middle and wore round glasses like Billie Jean King. She was kinda plain, but what I liked about her,was her strength, she was smart and outspoken. At a conference in Southern California this white guy with an afro started chatting her up and I lost it. Didn’t know why at the time, but I couldn’t read or focus, I just felt hot and angry.
In college, I met a few black men who would only date white women, they had a list of negative things to say about black women. Many of these men had sisters, mothers, aunt’s and grandmothers they adored, it was something I never understood.
I dated women of different races. I understood the anger and resentment of some black women toward black men. From what I remember, my mother told me . Part of the tension between black women an white men came from slavery. White men could do whatever they wanted to black women. The first sexual experience for some white men was with a black women. She remembered at time when she her and sister both in their early teens was working for a white family. Walking down a hallway,a hand came out of a doorway and grabbed her sister trying to pull her into a room,she pulled back on the other arm until he let go. I naively asked why didn’t she scream or anything? She said to who? If it where they lady of the house they would be fired and if it were another male he might tell her if she didn’t comply she would be fired. ” In those days, your mama ,aunt or older sister would tell you try not to be by yourself” You just knew to avoid some places and never walk alone.
I’ve seen some black men ignore attractive black women in clubs. Abandoning them to woo some less attractive white women as they entered the club. As a result I fought against the type.
But its difficult, the moment I entered venue with someone other than a black women, I was placed in the them file. I would get the looks. I dated quite a few black women. But what do you do when there are few blacks available in the dating pool? In college, at work and organizations, I was often the only person of color. I’ve heard some black women say, they simply could not date out of their race, especially a white man.
I married a white girl……..
Early on in the marriage ,our interactions with white women and black men were curious. Interactions with white men and black women were often hostile. In venues where the majority of the patrons were white, men would bump into me, in dance clubs the music would change into non-dance able music. My wife experienced hostility from female family members, if there were other exchanges she didn’t say.
Outside of those few negative exchanges, we were your run of the mill family with children. We were married at a time where black men-white women couplings had become part of the fabric.
When we left San Francisco to Sacramento we noticed there were quite a few interracial couplings, more so than San Francisco. At a school play in the South Natomas neighborhood of Sacramento We spent more time looking around at the various couple and children then we did the actual play. For the first time, mixed couples out numbered the same race couples.
The Changing World and Ricki Lake
The standard of beauty was a woman with European features, anyone else was inferior. The further you were from that standard the less appealing you where.
Those images on TV and in the movies for the most part are of white women with perfect bodies. I believe where why some men of color abandon women of their race for what they perceive is the standard.
Now of course, this is idiocy but we are a visual world. Minute by minute, hour by hour, these are the images that average person sees. That’s why Clairol sells more blonde hair color than any other formula.
Then one day the world changed. Interracial relationships entered your homes through the back door on talk shows like Ricky Lake. Everyday, a new generation was exposed to black/white and other interracial relationships. Unlike earlier generations this generation is exposed to persons of different ethnicity on a daily basis.
There are fewer stories of having to wait outside. On episodic television interracial couplings became part of the story line. So interracial relationships weren’t viewed in catastrophic terms. Somewhere in Iowa, there is the cutest mixed baby.
Its a different world from where I come from
There are more images of women of color in the media than ever before. The standard is slowly evolving, images of attractive black women is common on TV. Interracial couplings aren’t foreign to this generation.
White men routinely see, images of attractive black women of television. Many grew up watching videos the world has changed. Today there are white man/black women couplings on television.
Still, dating white men is challenging for some black women. Unlike black men, history, tradition is still a factor. Disapproval from family and other black women is present today.
Black men and the double take
Last fall I drove from Atlanta to Birmingham, Alabama. In the Riverchase Mall where I came across a couple of White Men/Black Women couples. One couple in their 30′s were very affectionate, their affection didn’t go unnoticed. At one point I said to myself, Alabama?
I admit doing a double take when I see a white man and a black women together and being somewhat embarrassed by it. It’s simply rare. Most of my black female friends over thirty five readily admit the difficultly of dating out of their race, its something they are uncomfortable with. “With one woman saying her sixty something mother wouldn’t have it!” I could date a Mexican but that’s about it….. a white man? oh no!
For those women under thirty, its more of pause than an absolute.
For decades black men have been dating white women, and yet many black men are uncomfortable seeing black women with white men. I am unsure of the reasons.
Like my generation and the generation that followed, I believe the issues of race will continue to erode over time….