Watch this first:
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.