Monday, March 01, 2010

When Are We Going To Start Telling White Girls to Date Outside Their Race?

Laurel, Md.: Isn't it funny that almost all of biracial children are beautiful? It's almost like God is trying to tell us something.


Karyn Folan: I agree 100%!
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Let me just start by saying that I've been married forever, so I don't have a dog in this fight.  No, let me take that back.  I am the parent of two one-day-to-be black women, so I actually do think about these things.

The Washington Post featured yet another article suggesting that black women have sad and sorry lives that can be made better if we just find ourselves a good white man. Karyn Folan, author of new book about interracial dating (by which she clearly means black women dating white men) offers all sorts of advice and insight from her research in response to reader questions, including the exchange above.  Her responses to questions reminds me a lot of the kind of conversations in interracial romance groups (as I continue my research into contemporary AA romance).  The notion very much seems to be that somehow readers of IR romance are more progressive and open-minded and just plain smarter than readers of AA romance.  Folan seems to think the same thing.  Because she's gone and gotten herself a white husband, she somehow has figured out something the rest of haven't. 

But the thing is, she's not special.  Nor are IR readers.  Snagging a white man doesn't make you smarter than the rest of us.  It just means you snagged a white man.  And counseling interracial dating for black women does nothing to address the systemic problems that lead to discrepancies in the education and economic status of black men and black women, nor does it do anything to address the fact that being single and 30 doesn't make black women special.  Not every "problem" that black people have is a pathology.  Not every problem is an actual problem.

6 comments:

Holly said...

I agree totally Consuela! You hit the nail on the head. I hate to hear these white women saying their babies are so "beautiful" because they are mixed. The truth is that this just falls into the same category as slave days when lighter skin people weren't treated the same as the darker ones. If mixed children were all coming out darker shades the white women wouldn't be so quick to call them beautiful. The truth is that they only feel that way because most look like tanned white children. They lose most of their black traits and makes it easier for a mom to deal with them. No one ever stops to consider all the stress these relationships put on their mixed children either.

Anonymous said...

Um, which marriages ARE or have EVER been about helping anyone get an education? Last I checked, the purpose of any marriage wasn't to solve whatever sociopolitical agendas you're going on about. Marriage about uniting with someone you love, making a life promise to them, and creating children together. Where did the Washington Post article say that having a White man would make life "perfect"? What I read is, if you're a professional Black woman looking for love and marriage with a man on your level professionally and educationally, you'll have a better chance of finding one if you choose from a wider pool of men. I have no idea where you got "having a White man makes you smarter" from. That wasn't said or implied in the article. Your post is full of straw men. How intellectually dishonest of you.

Conseula said...

Dear Anonymous--Before accusing me of misreading, read a little more closely yourself. I didn't say that the WP article suggested black women would be more educated if they married white men. I said that it was yet another in a long line of articles that suggest black women who date white men are more enlightened than black women who don't. I'm merely suggesting that they aren't more enlightened. There's nothing special about dating a white man and there's nothing special about being a single woman. We treat a fairly common predicament--grown, educated, successful women having trouble finding a life partner--as if it's some grave problem that needs to be studied earnestly and urgently because some of those women happen to be black. And the answer, of course, is marrying a white man. Where are the equivalent articles, appearing over and over and over again, counseling 30-something white women to to date black guys when the pool of white men proves less than stellar?

Marry whoever you want. Find love wherever you can. But don't suggest to black women (and nobody else) that interracial dating is anything other than simply interracial dating.

Anonymous said...

I was referring to this part of your article:

"And counseling interracial dating for black women does nothing to address the systemic problems that lead to discrepancies in the education and economic status of black men and black women"

Your argument against interracial relationships seemed to be that they didn't help to fix systematic discrepancies in education for Black men and women. I'm saying NO marriages fixes or CAN fix educational discrepancies. That's not the purpose of marriage.

Conseula said...

Again--not what I said. Those who counsel interracial dating argue that black women can find suitable mates (because black men without professional degrees and a certain income are unacceptable) if they only open up their hearts to white women are missing the point. The point is not that black women have closed their hearts to white men. The problem is that we continue to live in a society suspicious of and hostile to black male success. That's the problem that needs addressing, and is in fact a real problem. Not being able to find a husband at 35 might seem like a real problem to that woman who can't find a husband, but it isn't a special problem. It's a problem shared by lots and lots of women of varying ethnicities, but it's only black women who are continually, in various national forums, told they can solve this problem by dating interracially.

And for the record, I'm not against dating interracially. I've dated interracially. I absolutely agree that you should open up your heart to whatever love the universe sends your way. But dating interracially doesn't make you special or even particularly interesting. And it isn't the cure for what ails black America.

Ryan Hauck said...

If mixed children were all coming out darker shades the white women wouldn't be so quick to call them beautiful. The truth is that they only feel that way because most look like tanned white children. They lose most of their black traits and makes it easier for a mom to deal with them.
Wow, I couldn't disagree with that more. White moms call their interracial children beautiful because THEY LOVE THEM. And interracial children *are* beautiful, just as children of all races are beautiful. Biracial children happen to be beautiful in their own way (no matter the racial mix) that stands out because in many ways it's still exotic. As for biracial kids being "tanned white children", every--and I do mean every--black/white biracial child I've ever known (and I know many--in my religious community, interracial marrying is extremely common) has their fair share of black traits (including the most obvious: tightly-curled black hair).
To imply that white mothers declare their biracial children beautiful only because they still look "mostly white" is wildly inaccurate and insulting.
No one ever stops to consider all the stress these relationships put on their mixed children either.
I disagree; I think lots of people (parents) stop to consider this situation. The solution, however, is not to place the burden on an innocent child, nor on parents to procreate within their race. The solution is to open the hearts of our society (and its subcultures) to accept individuals regardless of their color.