In 2018, it feels surprising that dating outside of one’s race is still an issue. If you think about it, though, interracial marriage was not legalized until 1967 with the Loving family in Loving v. Virginia. Do the math and you’ll realize that was barely 51 years ago.
As a Black woman who does not limit herself to one race, I find that there can be beauty to interracial dating, but also a whole lot of complexity. I mean, let’s start with the simple nuances of dating in this day and age. Race aside, millennial dating can truly make you want to pull your hair out. The “talking phase,” the “situationships,” and the pervasiveness of dating apps make everything more blurred and inorganic than ever. After the oh-so-merciful match, boys (I call them boys intentionally) can slide into your DMs and say anything from “hey gorgeous” to “you’re so hot you can melt a cheeseburger.” But there’s another classic line for Black woman: “I’ve never dated a black girl before.” Here comes the exotification.
The intent of a comment like this is to state that because of the color of your skin, you already come with a different experience. But instead of your experience, it’s an experience for the guy. Black women have been exotified since slavery, and these notions have carried throughout the current dating experience. Rather than being interested in dating the person themselves, people become intrigued to date their race or ethnicity. When that comment is brought up early in the conversation, it’s pretty much a red flag that the person’s intention is not to date me, but “the black girl.”
It’s a red flag when the person’s intention is not to date me, but “the black girl.”
Another complexity that comes with interracial dating is the constant explanation of your identity as being Black, being a woman, and existing at the intersection of being a Black woman. When you’re in a committed, long-term relationship, these conversations happen based off the mutual respect and intimacy the couple has for each other already. The complexity becomes not necessarily a bad thing, but rather another layer of the deep relationship. In the early stages of dating, though, these conversations can be taxing and can feel like emotional labor.
When dating someone who’s also Black, your experiences are understood in both a verbal and non-verbal way. There really is nothing like Black love. It’s rooted in so much history, blood, shared experiences and feelings that are simply hard to explain. You don’t have to describe your experience or the fear of being questioned.
There really is nothing like Black love. It’s rooted in so much history, blood, shared experiences and feelings that are simply hard to explain.
I have found that dating outside my race, specifically white men, has also been interesting because as a Black woman, everything that is happening in society directly affects me. Reproductive rights, wage gap, poverty issues, racial issues, and women issues — all of it. There are virtually no issues that my white partner will have to face constantly the way I will, and this can cause a rift.
Rather than saying “I don’t see color” when this rift comes, my hope is that white men will learn to rise to the occasion and validate their black partner’s existence and struggle. Validate that they have and are living a different experience based off their skin tone. Invalidating someone’s experience simply because of ignorance (or the decision to be color-blind) only continues to harm Black women’s identities and existence.
Despite these very real hurdles, though, I think it’s important for people to understand that dating outside your race does not invalidate you — nor should you be shunned within your community. Your desire to love who you want to love should be based on your heart and nothing else.
Dating outside your race does not invalidate you —nor should you be shunned within your community.
Interracial dating has a beauty and complexity of its own. It brings in an experience that is diverse and beautiful in ways that are unimaginable. Love is all about accepting that person and the gifts that they come with. Regardless of your romantic prospect’s race, love freely and prioritize compassion and respect.
Learn more about Bridget Kyeremateng here.