I think there’s some expectation for me to begin this response with some form of unwavering support to the original piece: ‘It is so cliche now to see an intelligent/ well-to-do African man with a white woman’ or some other biting statement, but the truth is that this type of response is so cliche… another
bitter angry annoyed black female blogger writing about black men and white women. It’s a waste of time and energy, doesn’t help anyone, and is such a bore. Although, I can relate to the sentiments discussed in the piece (and the scenarios as well), once we come down from the ‘ranting and raving’ on our soapboxes, I think there are some things to address as African women, with the role we play in ‘letting our men go to other races white women’.
My last longterm situationship ended last year and following the demise of the relationship, I had to take a hard look at the role I played in its demise. Not only because I don’t ever want to repeat the situation again, but also because I felt as though I let my fellow African sisters down. It’s a bit difficult to convey this feeling because
I don’t fully understand it myself I’ve never felt a particular sense of devotion to my fellow African woman. However, in some strange way I felt as though I let the past, present, and future African woman down. Namely on my part, I contributed to the stereotype of not being able to ‘hold your African/black man down’, ‘love and take care of him like he needs’… and accordingly, I was not able to help the world see what real (educated) black/African love looks like in the 21st century. Please note before you keep reading, the only thing I am addressing in this piece is me. I am writing this in hopes that it can help someone out there, because I think we do ourselves a disservice if we’re not learning lessons from others.
When a close black guy friend read the White Women guest piece I am responding to, he sent me this:
I don’t totally agree with the premise, but it was humorous. If I had to answer the question of what is the difference between the Black Woman and the White Woman, it is as simple as this: Black Women spend more time talking about “What I’m not going to do…” where White Women spend more time talking about “What I’m open to consider…” Thus, they get the man they want, because they’re willing to consider things where Black Women immediately put up the no and set the ultimatum for the Black Man to take it or leave it, and we see what he usually does…Leaves it.
What’s said above is spot on. From what I’ve seen, a lot of African women are brought up with very principled backgrounds, which leads them to an attitude of ‘I don’t do this, I would never do this, I only do this this way… take it or leave it’. Like the guest blogger mentioned at the end of her piece, “I am not moving to anyone’s country where I do not speak the language, cannot cook the food and burn every time I go outside unless there are ring(s) on it…take it or leave it.” Whether it’s from watching what has occurred in their own households (how the women in their lives didn’t compromise, or did compromise and got burned); or it’s from growing up in strong christian or traditionally valued households which have framed what they believe a lady should and shouldn’t do for a man… these things play into what women give up and give in for their men.
In my personal case, I held on to things, rightly or wrongly, which I believed trumped being with him. When I was eventually ready to lay aside “my ultimatums”, it was way too late. My point here is not necessarily about being principled about certain things, but it’s more about understanding the situation. We, African women, can’t get mad when African men pass us up (because of this issue) when
other white women are more willing to, for all intents and purposes, ‘sacrifice for their man’. And ladies, the amount of times I’ve heard (and said) ‘well if he loves me, he’ll oblige, and if he doesn’t…then he can get to steppn’ is beyond countless. And there is some truth to this, BUT there is also truth to the fact that you may not be giving him the chance to fall in love with you with all your barriers placed, so you can’t get mad if he doesn’t decide to stick around long enough to figure out whether he can love you.
Second thing, and this is a little paradoxical to what I just mentioned, is that for me, I didn’t demand anything in terms of commitment from the guy. And I think this is more common than not with black women. Though I wasn’t content keeping the relationship as it was, I thought because he didn’t say anything about things, I didn’t want to rock the boat… so we remained non-defined and that’s an equation which will never add up: Not requesting commitment + Having demands 1,2,3 now or before we are ever to take it to the next level = diaster. Perhaps what should have happened is a discussion of commitment and what that entails on both our parts, which would have also helped with the issue of ‘giving in’ and ‘giving up’. I think some African women put barriers in place because they don’t have the commitment they want or they are scared that they won’t get the commitment they want if they let down their guard. This is not to say the fear isn’t unfounded, but at the end of the day love is an art not a science… you go all in and try. When Beyonce said, ‘if you like it, then you shoulda put a ring on it’, I don’t think she meant neglect telling a man what you want in terms of commitment before the ring stage. And I’m not saying to do this to any guy, but this is for a guy who you believe is serious about a relationship with you.
Of course this is my one-dimensional take on things, and I have not exhausted the list of my faults in the relationship, but I think these two things stand out as dear lessons learned, which I thought I would pass on to my fellow African woman. So no Kanye, ‘he didn’t leave my a$$ for a white girl’, really he just left my a$$, period. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what color the new girl is, because it’s less about that than it is about what the two of you couldn’t do and be for each other. White women aren’t stealing African men as much as they are offering them something ‘WE’ won’t or don’t. Until we’re willing to change that, or at the very least acknowledge it, we can’t be mad when another bites the dust.
I must separately address this idea of not being African enough or foreign enough, because it’s so intriguing to me. I have to say that
unfortunately for me, I was privy to this guy’s thoughts about our compatibility after the fact… and I was indeed hit with the ‘you wouldn’t fit in with the fam’ chorus… so it was a little fascinating to see that family compatibility would exist with a white woman. However, the one foot in/one foot out explanation makes a little sense now. It is excusable when a foreigner acts as a foreigner, but when someone brought up in an African household acts as a foreigner, perhaps traditional families are less forgiving with this. This is definitely a topic to continue exploring… I wonder readers, what’s your experience on African men opting out of relationships with African women who are too foreign?
On an ending note, perhaps me and ms. guest blogger should be encouraging our fellow African women to become more open to scenarios such as the one on the right **KanYe Shrug** ->
Would You Date/Marry Someone Outside Your Race?*
The results of this poll don’t really surprise me, but as me and one of the co-founders of Bandeka were discussing: people’s ‘stated preferences’ are usually different from reality. Although people are more and more okay with the ‘idea’ of interracial dating and marriage, this doesn’t mean that they are actually getting into interracial relationships; also, in terms of interracial relationships, not all are equal. Take a look at this recent BET article discussing this exact topic:
According to a new piece from NPR, almost 7.5 percent of all marriages in America are now interracial. But not all interracial relationships are created equally: As of 2010, just 0.3 percent of white men in marriages were married to Black women, and just 0.8 percent of white women in marriages were married to Black men. By contrast, 2.1 percent of white men in marriages were married to Asian or American Indian women, and 1.4 percent of married white women had an Asian or American Indian spouse…
It’s a strange fact that whites and Blacks just aren’t getting married to each other at significant rates, despite the fact that the vast majority of both — 84 percent of whites and 96 percent of Blacks — support the idea.
*The original poll was posted on September 26th, 2011: http://loveafrican.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/would-you-consider-interracial-dating-or-marriage/