Thursday, January 5, 2012

Do Black Women in Afros Date White Guys?



Do Black Women in Afros Date White Guys, is written by Halima Anderson, the blogger who also writes, Black Women's Interracial Relationship Circle. It is not an accident that the URL for this blog is dateawhite.blogspot.com. I am going to tell you upfront that I have not read this book, nor do I have any intention of doing so ever.  I am writing about it based on the synopsis that can be found on her blog.

Synopsis

"Do Black Women with Afros date White Guys?"

About the Book
Are you a white man who is beginning to think about what it could mean to date a black woman?
Or, have you had a puzzling experience with a black woman or two and would like some idea of their views on white guys? Do you want to get clued up in general about their feelings on race, on relationships and even on interacting inter-racially? Could you do with a bit more understanding of black women by exploring key social realities for them as a group and the social expectations placed upon them by their communities and by the wider society?

If the answer to any of these is yes, then this book will get you off to a good start!

The aim of this book is to lay a knowledge foundation that will assist genuine white men in a better understanding of the black women they interact with socially, and the many reactions they might encounter, so they can forge successful relationships and friendships with black women.

Written in an easy question and answer format, the book is also interspaced with full chapters dealing with issues like; why black women and white men appear disinterested in each other, how to get connected, the background on the current fraught relationship situation between black men and women, how third parties affect interracial dating, racism and working through your own issues around race. 
What a pile of essentialist crap.  First off, I don't understand how Halima Anderson, a Black woman, would think for one minute that it is appropriate to lump Black women into a group to sell a book.  This book makes it appear that we all think alike, and share the same experiences, simply based on the colour of our skin.  All women of colour may confront racism, but identities such as class, ability, sexuality, or age, greatly change how we perceive the world, and how the world perceives us.  As a cis woman, I can guarantee you that my experiences are different than a straight Black trans woman.


A man who believes he can understand Black women from reading this book, is a man I wouldn't want to date.  The relationship between White men and Black women is complex, because of the history between the two groups.  There is a long history of sexual violence, oppression, murder and purposeful character assassination that goes on to this day.  White men still hold the keys to the castle, and still refuse to acknowledge the humanity of Black women. A simple look at how Michelle Obama has been treated since becoming first lady speaks volumes. None of this is to say that there aren't White men currently engaged in the struggle to decolonize their mind, and deal with their privilege, but even the most dedicated White man, has still been raised in a culture that supports his race and gender privilege.

No one book is going to solve the problems between Black women and White men, and even if it were remotely possible, I don't think that Halima Anderson is the one to write it.  The following is an excerpt on a piece she recently wrote about the movie The Lady.
I repeat, that I am happy that this idea of the white male with his lecherous eye on minority women is being challenged because black women can burst free from a sordid category that they then get trapped in by such rendering, indeed by definition black and other minority women can then only occupy the place of victim, pawn, collaborator in a white man's sick fantasy never as his love and lover. Mainstream has been happy to keep us locked in this category because they are always mindful of pandering to the white female contingent, indeed let a white woman write a book about boinking a whole team of minority men and she gets to feature on a mainstream media program, feminists salute her as an empowered and sexually liberated woman and dare us to 'slut shame', however a black woman writing the same and no one would touch it, because it would then be 'Oh what a sad misguided woman being used by white men who fetishises black skin,' she would be a 'self hater,' a right wing tool...etc etc

Yep it is a rendering of the situation where only white men can occupy the fetishist role and thus minority women can only be pawns and victims. One thing which black women have often been slow to understand is that by piling white men with negative terms and by trapping white men in an unsavoury category they too quite easily trap themselves in an unsavory role/category too.
Wouldn't you like to live in her nice imaginary world, where Black women, and in fact all women of colour are not fetishized by White men?  I have had countless experiences of this, and I am sure that there are many women of colour who can tell the same story.  This isn't just some random stereotype to keep White men and women of colour apart, this is based in a very specific history.  It seems that Anderson is more than willing to blame the media and women of colour, before stopping to consider the role that White men play in this equation.  Who does she think controls the media anyway?

Anderson actually sees empowerment for women of colour to come from our ability to couple with White men, and I see this as highly problematic.  If White women are still fighting to be understood as the equal of White men, what hope do women of colour have in emulating this failed project? It seems to me, we would be better off attempting to dismantle White male patriarchy, than sauntering down a path in which we deny the continued oppression we face on a daily basis.  Anderson's approach isn't about empowerment, it's about offering ourselves up for further oppression.  In a word, it amounts to collusion. Anderson should hand out business cards that say collusion is my specialty with each book sold.

It's clear to me that Anderson sees White women as the enemy, and they are understood to be such not for their complicity in maintaining White supremacy, but because they are understood to be competition for the White men she longs to date. White women are just as capable of fetishizing men of colour, a fact that has been well documented, and so I fail to see the point of her argument.  The other factor that she has failed to consider is that all women, by the nature of patriarchy are subject to slut shaming, and it is performed by all men regardless of race and in some cases sexuality.  White women may not be the natural allies of Black women, but neither are White men. 

I have said it before, and I will say it again, the first love of a Black woman's life has to be herself.  Bagging yourself a White man does not prove your worth, nor does settling for any man for that matter. This book is yet another twist on the stereotype of the terribly lonely Black women willing to settle for anything, for the sake of not being alone.  It disgusts me that after all of the time Black women have spent actively trying to combat this terrible narrative, to see one of our own seeking to make a profit from it and selling us down the river in the meantime. I wonder if Anderson finds it cozy up there in the big house?