A friend of mine often gets labeled a self-hating negro. He’s black, young, vocal about issues that need to change in the black community, and as you may have guessed from the title of this article, married to a white woman.
He’ll often rant about how ridiculous the assumption is and I tell him from the outside looking in, I can see how people would draw that conclusion. Yes, he does a lot of good things in the black community, but not everyone is aware of them. And when all you see is a black man with a white woman who exposes a lot of issues about his people, it tends to scream modern-day Uncle Tom.
I thought about his experience more as I read responses to Brian White’s recent comments on black women and stereotypes. While some were in agreement with his stance, the majority of those who didn’t argued that he has issues with black women, as evidenced by his non-black wife. While I wasn’t in agreement with Brian’s generalizations about what “the majority of black women” act like, the questioning of the legitimacy of his argument because of who he’s married to made me wonder whether your ability to speak out on issues in the black community is trumped when you date outside your race?
When it comes to Brian, I think the most damaging part of his interview was the wording. It’s evident he has an issue with how black women are portrayed on TV—as many black women do—but the problem is that he presented the portrayals as true-life representations, and seemed more interested in proving that point than suggesting ways to combat the stereotypes or identify the many women who don’t fit those images—besides Taraji or Gabrielle. There was certainly an underpinning of “my mom and sisters aren’t crazy but the rest of ya’ll black women are,” in his responses, but if he was married to a black woman would that change the message? Would it have been better received?
As more black women begin to date outside of their race, I wonder whether this type of “he’s got a white woman anyway” dismissal will come back to bite us. Will black women’s comments on the black community and black men come to be dismissed for self-hating because they’re romantic partner isn’t black? Is that a fair assumption?
In general we tend to look at black men dating outside of their race as a way to get away from black women and black women dating outside of their race because there are no decent black men left. Those are two very different reasons and ones that garner different reactions. We say “go girl, and forget black men” when it’s us dating interracially but we think, “black woman issues” when it’s a man doing the same thing and from that point on, they are severely limited in their ability to critique black people in general. Are black women headed down that same path?
I can admit I’ve been guilty of it. When I wrote an article about repairing relationships between black men and black women, one women went off terribly about black men and how they’ve mistreated her and aren’t worth much and when I saw her husband is white, I immediately disregarded her opinion. In that instance, I took her stance and her choice of a partner as evidence of her hatred for black men and proof that she couldn’t make a legitimate statement about them that wasn’t based in that disgust. More than being rubbed the wrong way, I thought, you’ve given up on black men anyway, why do you care about relationships between black men and black women?
It wasn’t a fair reaction but it’s one that’s typically put on black men and has the potential to come right back on us as we broaden our dating pool. It’s also something I’ve thought about personally. If I were to date outside my race would it be odd to be so down for my people yet not have one of my own on my side, but as things currently stand, it seems black women get a pass.
Does having a white woman automatically make you dismissive of black men’s criticisms about black women? Do you think black women will soon fall into that same group or do they have more freedom to be critical while dating interracially?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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