Is it safe for me to date white women?
I remember waking up next to this white woman I had spent the night with, we always had a lot of fun and the sex was good. There was a level of understanding our own bodies that made it easier for the other to move with and understand each other’s movements. It felt easy yet connected, simple yet intense. ‘This does not happen often’ I thought, looking at her when she fell asleep after our Sunny Saturday afternoon sex. I looked at her again and started to feel connected to her, but I didn’t like that feeling.
I started to sense that she was feeling comfortable with me, safe with me. She would wrap her legs around mine, her head resting on my shoulder and her arm covering my breasts and belly. I was happy that I was able to make her feel so comfortable, that she wanted to stay the night. Yet, that feeling she had, I questioned if I would ever receive from her. My gut feeling told me ‘no’ and it was at that moment that I knew we had to stop our meetups.
This was a little over two years ago before the Black Lives Matter movement went mainstream after George Floyd’s horrific death. Before really diving into the uncomfortable conversation that I had to have with myself regarding dating white women.
My family has always been open to interracial relationships and I took pride in that my family was able to do this. Receiving everyone with open arms, my aunts standing in the kitchen for hours on end cooking traditional Cape Verdean dishes, laughing loud, dancing in the living room or outside in the garden, having music on the background. Who would not freaking love this! There is no hatred allowed in the house. I had to come to understand that growing up in this type of home was a luxury in itself.
I would pride myself on thinking that even though a person has a different color or culture, I would still be able to love them. The pain lies in learning that this was and has never been reciprocated. Black people and especially Black women have been on the bottom of the barrel, forgotten by others and even their own kind. Used and misused, hurt just to be hurt again.
I found out during these last months that I have set my expectations so low when it came to the white women/non-binary fxlks and also light skin POC fxlks, that I have dated and it made sense why I did. If they did not call me names or stereotype me, I was satisfied. I thought: ‘great, a normal human being’. I would not raise questions regarding their thoughts on their privilege, because why make it difficult, right?
During the summer months, when the BLM was very much on every channel and all over social media, I started to realize how little white people actually had to do to be passed as an ally and for Black people to actually allow them in their lives. During the movement, I dived into this crazy reflective period. It was like I had no choice, the Universe forced me to see it and everything came up. I thought about all my white friends, teachers, and former colleagues. I thought about how they treated me, what I liked about them, what I disliked about them, the conversations regarding race, life, and life experiences.
Together with a friend of mine, I started reflecting about our childhood and how much of our self we often had to lose in order to gain friends. As both our parents wanted us to have a good education and life, we moved to the suburbs, which automatically meant a white neighbourhood. As a kid, I loved making friends and playing with others, but there were often times where I felt I had to change who I was, even in the slightest, to ensure that they could really trust me and allow me to play with them. It hurts to know that my little Black self had to change who she was, just to play on the streets.
It makes sense that many of my thoughts and actions I had around my white friends, would be similar to my actions I would have when dating a white person. The similar thought would get back into my mind, ‘Well, they are not calling me names or stereotyping me, but there were always things I saw, I felt. Their biases, their fears of talking about race, their discomfort, and the ease in which they would brush off the conversation and act like it never happened.
‘So, I like you, I want something more’ is what I would hear from a white woman or some similar words to that and I always wanted to keep it casual. I never went into the why. It was with the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement that I couldn’t go around that question anymore. I had to face the uncomfortable and painful question of why, when it came to white fxlks, I could never take it further.
My friend explained it… White people aren’t safe. Even though she said it so bluntly, we both went silent…safe…Is that why I have been scared for that next step, safety?
But what was the type of unsafety that my body/ ‘my guts’ apparently knew so well? It felt like the same unsafety where my gut would tell me to not go into a dark alley at night, the same unsafety to ‘act straight’ in a mainly male hetero space. I thought back to the conversations I had with white fxlks and the way they brushed off difficult conversations regarding race.
For me, it was not the physical unsafety, but the emotional unsafety with white fxlks in general and the white women/ non-binary fxlks I dated. The global Black Lives Matter Movement, even though strong and historical, triggered me so much, it almost drowned me. It made me wake up during the nights feeling anxious. During some mornings I would cry in bed, get up, get dressed and go to another Black Lives Matter protest because it was and still is the only place where I felt that collective pain, yet the strong healing by just being together.
The movement triggered deep emotional traumas I experienced all my life at the hands of white people. Every day I had to see comments from old colleagues and classmates asking me how they could be a better ally, asking me for books to read as if, when it came to Black Lives, Google suddenly stopped working. Other days I would get texts from white women on my Instagram page stating that I was handsome and spam liking all my freaking posts. White people are not safe. They are not safe from my emotional wellbeing and it can escalate into physical harm if a white officer suspects I am holding on to something illegal or a white person simply doesn’t like how I look.
The Loving vs Virginia case, stating that interracial marriage was allowed by the Supreme Court of the United States, had a crazy side note to it. Richard Loving was sentenced to one year in prison because he married a Black female woman. After going to court, the state ruled that a white male could marry anyone, it was seen as his right and the current law did not allow him that. Note: He was a he, he was male, and he was white. There was never any thought about the Black woman, Mildred Loving, it did not matter if she was Black, Asian, or of any other ethnicity. They did not care about her rights, she barely had one as a Black person and a woman. The state ruled against the original law because a white male was involved in the case, and they simply did not want to take his rights and his privilege away.
I question how many people know about this important side note. Also, what if it was a Black man and a white woman, do you think this would still be the same case, or an Indian man and a Nigerian Woman living in the US? Note here, I am not even talking about Queer relationships…
It kinda fucks with your brain, right? Well, at least it fucks with mine. I thought about this important side note and reflected it on my own life and the dates I had. I had to ask myself, ‘what if they just want to have a relationship with me because it’s their right, their privilege, nothing more? What if it was never about me, what if it was never about my color because that is what it is right? Love is love, love is blind, but I am Black. So, what kind of love do I get, how does mine look like? Do white people know they are losing their privilege when they date a Black person, just because of their skin tone?
We live in a world of single identities. Yes, Chimamanda Adichie states that there are dangers to just knowing a single story and giving someone a single identity, but the facts still stand, history still shows that ‘Black’ is a single Identity. Black is my single identity. Yes, I am an individual with thoughts, feelings, but I. am. Black. and the people who hold the power are white, and I have had them around me all my life, they loved me, disliked me, hated me, spit on me, worked with me, made love to me, hit me, made me feel non-existent, held me, had sex with me, licked my face, massaged my body, had parts of their bodies in mine, fell asleep on me, hugged me, cried with me, cried about me. But the question is, did they ever make me feel safe? Well, let’s just say, the amount of white people that made me feel safe, I can count on 1 hand and none of them were the women and non-binary fxlks I dated and that’s all I know. Did they try, Nah, not really, cause they had to deal with their own privilege and well, it’s just easy to keep it casual, right?
With the knowledge I know now, will it ever be safe to date a white person? It is complicated, when it comes to relationships, I might really like that white person, but everyone knows that you will one day meet the family and friends. What if they aren’t on the same page, what if they say some shit that can emotionally affect you, those fucked up racially filled white daddy jokes, that are ‘just jokes’. Nah, I cannot do that, it feels like allowing myself to be in a weirdly abusive/ not heavily abusive, but still a type of abusive relationship. I have to ask myself if I would want this for myself and the answer is pretty damn clear.
Loving Vs Virginia case here
Chimamanda Adichie Ted Talk
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