Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Can I effectively counter racism while dating interracially?

I am a 36 year old disabled woman who has been variously labeled "fat", "crazy", and "a hippie weirdo." I now try to embrace labels that others use in an attempt to "shame" me into being someone more "acceptable". I am passionate about issues of race/racism, criminal (in)justice, fat acceptance, and mental health advocacy. I blog at My Name Is JuJuBe and I am on the team at The Intersection of Madness and Reality

I think maybe I need to stop dating. Stop having sex. Stop trying to befriend members of the opposite sex. It is simply not worth it. I do not want to have to worry that any man I date or have sex with is dating me because of deep seated psychological issues. I do not want to believe that a man chooses to get involved with me simply because he has a conscious or subconscious belief in the superiority of a white woman. It is not healthy. I do not want to have to contemplate every contact I have with a man in order to figure out if he is dating me because of the color of my skin.

I always thought the men who date me do so because I am an open, good hearted person who is fun to be around. Now, I am starting to believe that it has nothing to do with my personality. It has nothing to do with my intellect. It has nothing to do with any characteristic that makes me who I am. Instead, it has to do with my race. I fought against this idea for the longest time. I did not want to believe that the partners I have been with were buying into the “white is right” idea foisted upon them by this society. But, when I hear the same thing from a million different sources, I have to consider it. So, maybe I need to stop dating Black men. And since I am not attracted to white men physically, mentally, or emotionally, that means I would need to stop dating entirely. I do not want to contribute to weakening the Black community or the Black family. I am a firm believer in Black love, and have always been pretty much against most interracial relationships, which it seemed MOST PEOPLE were involved in for the wrong reasons. But I always thought I was an exception to the rule. I thought that since I am a “conscious” white woman, and I do not date men who express a single minded preference for white women, somehow I was not doing any damage. But maybe I cannot think that way anymore.

I have been reading a lot of books and speaking to a lot of people who have made me reconsider the idea of my being somehow an exception to the rule that interracial dating is detrimental to the Black community. I used to argue until I was blue in the face that the men I dated did not fit into the category of a self hating Black man, that they were not dating me as an “escape”. I thought that since I do not participate in social activities with white people, I did not have to worry about taking a Black man away from his roots. I believed that since I prefer to spend my time in the company of Black people, that I would not cause my partner to elevate European values over African values. I had the (probably misguided) notion that I could find a man who was proud of and embraced his roots despite our relationship. I thought that if I was involved in the struggle to end racism/white supremacy, I would find a man who shared my same values.
I have heard a million comments about Black men and fat white women. But I tried to insist that the men I know and deal with on a regular basis just happened to like big women, that it had nothing to do with my race. But, since I have heard it over and over again, I have to consider that maybe men do not date me because they like fat women. Maybe they only date me because I am white, and they feel like being with a white woman is some sort of status symbol, or a way of escaping from the harsh reality of a racist world. Maybe the things people say about Black men settling for even fat, ugly women as long as they are white is true.

Maybe I shouldn’t allow myself to be an exception anymore. It is disingenuous to believe that I am so special that none of the pathology that is so common in interracial dating applies to me and my partners. I have to consider that maybe the people who say that I am committing an egregious act of racism by being romantically involved with Black men are correct. And as someone who wants to end racism/white supremacy, maybe I need to start by making this sacrifice for the good of the struggle.

I am a very intensely emotional person. My connections with my friends and lovers is extremely important to me. But, having to constantly wonder if I am the worst kind of racist for choosing to be intimately involved with Black men is killing me. It preys on my mind constantly. I become hypersensitive to every comment about interracial relationships, despite the (probably false) thought that “it doesn’t apply to me.” It does. I am no more special or different than any of those white women I constantly rail against. Nope, I am not special. And, in order to be an effective proponent of justice, maybe I have to change my ways. Anything worth fighting for requires giving something up. So,I think maybe I need to give up my ideas of being swept off my feet by a man, and instead concentrate on making the world a more just place.

Now, unfortunately, I am a weak individual. I know this from experience. So, although I recognize that this is possibly something I need to do in order to effectively fight for what is right, I do not know if I can. I do know this, I need to at least seriously consider it. Because if I am not willing to even think about whether I may be wrong, I do not even need to be in this struggle.