Does Dating Interracially Make Someone A Race Traitor?

I have been thinking a great deal about the following commentary by one of my regular readers.

Then it shouldn’t matter if a person chooses to dye their hair a colour that isn’t attached to people of European decent, or if they want to have a slimmer nose, or if they want to have lighter skin. Why is that self hatred and not having children who will come out looking less black with all these features that will be altered by changing the genetic makeup of someone’s offspring not considered the same thing. It is the same thing regardless of why someone got into the relationship in the first place.

As many of you know I have been happily unmarried to the same man for over 18 years now. I am a WOC, and he is white.  We have two boys, “Mayhem” who is two and a half, and “Destruction” who is seven.  According to the comment that I posted, that would make me a person who suffers from self hatred. 

At issue is what constitutes blackness; is it the body that I inhabit, the behaviours that I perform or the relationships that I am in? Who gets to decide what is and isn’t authentically black?  These questions are problematic on their very basis as there is no such thing as a black identity beyond a shared darker pigmentation, and even that is often contested with a debate regarding hueism. The you’re not black enough charge, or the you’re acting white is a way of socially disciplining behaviour.   It is a threat of ostracism very similar to the shunning used in Amish communities.

When we consider that the concept of race was designed to justify the exploitation of bodies of colour, is it possible to claim that someone is being disloyal to a social construct?  The black identity that is being claimed is one that was enforced by our oppressors to create a difference where none exists.  To Claim solidarity with my ancestors struggle it  is necessary to recognize the pain of their journey, and  the lasting effects of racism. To uphold the false dichotomy of racial difference reifies the black/white binary wherein one body is of value and the other existing as insignificant.

To say that one covets whiteness infers that a POC hates black identity. Let us consider that the black identity in the western world is an extremely difficult one in that the body is constantly assaulted by forces that seek to marginalize and exploit.  When someone hates being black it is not the colour of the skin but the treatment that they receive from others that is detested.  It is believed that whiteness is the passport to equality in a society that is racist. Upholding whiteness as the ideal ignores the ways in which even this privilege can be mitigated by sexuality, age, gender, class etc.  Whites exist with a degree of privilege but the privilege is not universally experienced.

A relationship between a black man and a black woman does not necessarily guarantee a shared experience vis a vis race and or exposure to racism.  Yes they will share the same invisibility in the education system, and experience the same negative representation within the media, however the male will exist with unearned male privilege.  The relationship can further be problematized by class location which will of course lead to difference in access.  When we consider that each person enters into a relationship with varying frames of reference, the idea that maintaining “blackness” through appropriate mating is problematic.

Finally there is the argument that blackness constitutes a biological identity and that by choosing to inter-marry one is diluting the gene pool.  Again the difference between blacks and whites genetically is marginal at best. To claim that it is possible to dilute blackness in one generation of “interbreeding” denies the science of  human physiology.

I did not answer the comment from a personal stand point as I do believe that I need to justify any aspect of my life. No one sleeps in my bed but me. Instead I chose to look at the larger implications of blacks dating whites as it is the social reaction and not my personal lived experience that needs to be deconstructed.  Black identity is not a monolithic identity and therefore a recognition of the various nuances means a more inclusive blackness, a blackness that is boastful and self declared.  By body presents as black and I identify as black, and that is my right. My children who are biracial will probably identify as black mainly because their bodies overwhelming present as black, but they will be aware of their “white heritage”. It is not for another to say who and what is legitimately black, it is for the individual to accept or deny on their own terms. Just as it would not be appropriate to say to a heterosexual that they cannot declare themselves straight because they perform so-called non conforming gender behaviour, it is not appropriate to delegitimize blackness for a failure to conform to social constructed ideals of blackness. I am black, I am woman and I am whole, not because someone has said this to me, but because it is my truth.


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