White Boy, Black Girl, Me and Interracial Dating

Watch this first:

Ha. Ha. I laughed too! I laughed not at the film nor its message of love—err—attraction is colorblind, but I laughed at the swastika. I laughed because it undermined the film’s true potential to some crazy guy with a crazy belief. When that happened, the film and its purpose were reduced to an odd ball in an ironic moment. And, I laughed. I laughed because irony is funny, but more importantly I laughed because the film makers sought to explain the conflict by overstating it. The film should have ended with the man silently ruing on the train. This might have resulted in understating the conflict, and one could argue that understating this film’s conflict would have resulted in it being too subtle and perhaps missed. That may be true. However, I am of the fan of the subtleties, and more subtleties in Impasse might have given the film a level of depth it missed out on. When those two people exchanged glances, one immediately knows of their unspoken tension. He wants her. She wants him, but there is something that hinders them. James Baldwin’s 1965 Ebony article most clearly articulates that tension:

I have often wondered…what white Americans talk about with one another. I wonder this because they do not, after all, seem to find very much to say to me, and I concluded long ago that they found the color of my skin inhibitory. This color seems to operate as a most disagreeable mirror, and a great deal of one’s energy is expended in reassuring white Americans that they do not see what they see. This is utterly futile, of course, since they do see what they see. And what they see is an appallingly oppressive and bloody history, known all over the world. What they see is a disastrous, continuing, present, condition which men- aces them, and for which they bear an inescapable responsibility. But since, in the main, they appear to lack the energy to change this condition, they would rather not be reminded of it.

These two could not get pass that history. Recently, I have started dating non-Black women. Most of these dates have been with white women. In fact, I recall joking with a friend about one date inparticular. She, a white woman, and I went out on a two hour date and never touched upon race, gender, or any other intersectional mode of discrimination. This baffled me. On a superficial level, I was afraid she might go running for the hills. (Truth is, most non-“Minorities” do not like to engage in racial dialogue. Baldwin does a good of explaining why.) Several times I wanted to bring to it up, but like Baldwin I was trying to be as assuring as I could that I am not hung up on things as silly race; however, I—and most “minorities” I know—am! How can we not be? Everyday of our lives we are reminded of how different we are. That’s what Impasse initially communicated to me. These are two different people, from seemingly different backgrounds. These are two people who could not break through glass that is consistently present. These are two people who wanted to dialogue, but could not…then the swastika happened! The swastika allowed people to divorce themselves from the male character and thus from their own prejudices. It allowed people to think “he’s racist, and I’m not. Therefore, I would have talked to the person across the aisle.” Well…yes and no. No. You may not overtly express your prejudices in the form of tattoos or verbally, but yes, you do harbor racist* ideas and beliefs. I do not as much blame the individual as I do society as a whole, because we are all products of our society and its ills. The individual is guilty of not purging these racist thoughts and tendencies from one’s consciousness. Denouncing or shaking one’s head at overt racism is much easier than actually purging one’s thoughts. It is a life long commitment to justice, freedom, and equality. For fun, let’s assume that one is able to purge racist thoughts and actions in order to approach a person of different race. That’s only step one. One still must be able to accept and appreciate the other’s culture. One reason why Black people live in Black communities is because we are fairly confident that the barber down the street knows how to cut our hair. Mind you, I am not saying a non-Black cannot do as good of a job. There is a certain understanding that need not always be explained or taught. It’s just part of one’s culture, and all culture is learned behavior. One reason China Town exists is because the residents know where find to the best Chicken Feet in town. We date people of the same race for the same reason. When I first considered dating outside non-Black women, I had to ask myself if it is really worth it. Not so much for myself, I know I am willing and able, but for the other person. I had to question whether she would be open and understanding about our differences. For example, will she understand why I speak differently when inquiring about a vacant apartment over the phone than talking to Jamal at the liquor store. Will she understand why I distrust the police? Will she not be put off by my almost daily laments of America and its hegemonic groups? Will she not be offended, but understand what I mean when I speak about “white privilege”? Hopefully, she’d speak out too! Will she understand that I don’t have a favorite band, but rather a favorite group or artist. Will I understand her when she fasts for Passover? Will I understand where she’s coming from when she speaks to her family in Spanish around me? These are some of the thoughts that paraded through my head during the first four minutes of Impasse. These are the same thoughts I think every time I consider sending a message to women of an ostensibly different race, ethnicity, culture, and/or community on OkCupid. Once sent, I hope that she is as willing as I am to loudly and overtly confront history and help liberate, promote justice, and fight for equality. My fear is that one of us may become what bell hooks describes in her essay “Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance ” as ‘spice’. That’s why I laughed at the swastika. That’s why Impasse disappointed me. Those first four minutes articulated feelings that I had never seen expressed so silently subtle. Then the film makers pulled a Jay-Z and explained themselves. Let the art speak for itself. *Please feel free to substitute racist/race with homophobia, sexist, classist, ageist (…etc.) throughout the entire piece. ________________________________________________________________________________ Not too long ago, I was on a “date” with a Black woman, and we lamented about our dismal dating situations in LA. She explained how most of the men who approach her not worth while (undereducated, disrespectful, and the what-not). I expressed that due to a dearth of progressively thinking Black women (who date Black men), I’m going to cast a wider net in hopes of meeting non-Black women. She disapproved. “What about me,” she asked. I shrugged.

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6 thoughts on “White Boy, Black Girl, Me and Interracial Dating

  1. John Iadarola says:

    I entirely agree with you about the movie, from the moment I saw that he was bald I understood where it was going. It made it a bit ridiculous, it overstated the conflict with that. As if someone with enough hatred for separate races, enough so to proudly show a disgusting symbol, would gladly sit and trade flirty glances with someone. That said without the obvious indicator that it is about race, the movie could have just been about the barriers that society and ourselves put up for strangers in general. I see a white woman on a train and we exchange flirty glances I probably won’t speak to her, just because my confidence will tell me not to. So I think the filmmaker had trouble because he wanted it to only be about race, unfortunately he went with the most overt way of explaining that. Also you have a typo at the bottom of paragraph three, “these are saw.”

  2. Katrina says:

    I think the swastika actually did the opposite of what the film makers were trying to accomplish. As a black woman, I take no pride or ease in the fact that someone who harbors racist, sexist, bigoted feelings would happen to find a black woman attractive. In fact, when I acknowledge the history of black women being exploited as sexual creatures, I’m actually more concerned and defensive as “attraction” or curiosity simply does not automatically translate into understanding or giving a damn.

  3. 2nd Ave says:

    So you are telling me that the young man is not a Hindu? I totally missed the message. But as we explore the topic of attraction we soon realize that everybody can be attracted to anybody but many outside paradigms pevent them from persuing these attractions. In my own dating experiences my own racial paranoia, if I call it that, makes me skeptical of any white woman who dates me that they may have ulterior motives, that this just maybe a phase they are going through. As we continue to progress, if we do call this progression, I pray for a day where my kid’s kids will never be able to relate to the horrors my parents and grandparents endured and live a lifestyle that all races are available to date without aprehension.

  4. Racy JC says:

    People always concentrate on potential difficulties interracial couples have, but nothing about how rewarding it is to learn about other cultures through your interracial relationship.

    We launched a blog recently, Racy JC. It focuses on dating within different races and cultures (Asian, Black, Indian, Jewish, Latino, among others) and approaches these issues in a new, honest, real, and non-PC way. Please check it out!

    http://jcdaviesauthor.com/
    social media: jcdaviesauthor

    And never forget intercultural dating is great and you can do it! Racy JC

    • leedowell says:

      Thank all of you for reading my post, and a special thanks to those commenter.

      In response to JC’s comment, I agree. Many times we only look at the “potential difficulties interracial couples have.” Lest we forget, those difficulties are real. Those difficulties, if not addressed and understood, can hinder the growth of an interracial relationship.

      I wish not to discourage interracial dating. Instead, I want interracial dating to help progress racial/cultural issues; however, merely dating someone of a different race/culture does not accomplish this. It takes a concerted and active effort by both parties to confront prejudices and stereotypes and combat ignorance in hopes of building a better more accepting, tolerate world.

      Let me make this plain, my goal is to eradicate all intersectionalities of oppression. Race just happens to be one of them.

      Yes. I too can date interracially. I know this, and I am open to doing so. Again, the question is not whether I can, but will I be subjected to ignorant, insensitive comments and actions by the other?

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