Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Brown guilt

I was talking one day to a friend who is Indian American (as opposed to American Indian. Make sure you have these terms straight). We're both attractive, single, brown-skinned, dark-eyed women who are open to finding a relationship with a man. I was talking to her about men I'd recently dated, who included white, Black and Latino men, and said I hadn't found anyone I was particularly interested in. I mentioned one date who I tried to stay friends with, but platonic friendship hadn't worked because he wouldn't stop flirting. He was Black and highly educated (I like degrees).

My friend said it was good I wasn't dating him if I wasn't interested, but she also said it was good that I wasn't dating him because he was Black and I wasn't. She talked about how American racism kills, imprisons or otherwise socially destroys so many Black men that it's difficult for Black women to find Black men who can meet them where they are, educationally, professionally and socially. She said that if I were to have a relationship with an educated Black man, I'd be taking someone off the dating market who would otherwise be available for an educated Black woman and that wouldn't be right. 

I said, "Well, I married a white man. Didn't that take a white man off the market?"

She said, "No because white men aren't in danger like Black men are. There's no shortage of white men to date."

I said, "Oh."

I'd heard about the shortage of Black men for Black women to date, but never put in such bald terms with respect to me as a brown woman. At the time I had profiles up on the dating websites OK Cupid and Plenty of Fish and I was getting attention from Black and brown men (not as many white men). As my friend's words sank in, I began to feel guilty about all the Black men I'd gone on dates with. Should I stop? Was it wrong? Was I participating in some weakening of the Black community by dating Black men? Should I stick to my own kind, plus white guys?

The answers to these questions still evade me. I've gone back and forth about it and I guess my lack of romantic interest in anyone keeps me from having to truly face the question. I guess I'll find out where I really stand if I actually become romantically interested in a Black man. Until then, the question is moot, especially since I've removed my profiles from OK Cupid and Plenty of Fish. I got frustrated by men who were more interested in texting and messaging than meeting in person. 

I've puzzled and fumed over this problem of men who won't meet me in person. My current theory of what happens is that a man (of any color) is lonely and wants to meet an actual live woman in person, so he goes online and initiates a correspondence, but then either gets cold feet or realizes he doesn't really have time for dating, so he doesn't suggest meeting in person. But he's still lonely, so he keeps the correspondence going. On the other end is a woman who would like to meet in person and doesn't have the fear or time constraints he has, so she'd really like to meet in person! But he stalls and stalls and finally the woman moves on.

I got sick of that dance, so I bowed out. These days I'll just have to meet men the analog way: face-to-face, while living my daily life (although I'm sure I'll return to online dating after I've had a break from it).

So can any women of color, especially Black women, weigh in with an opinion about my brown guilt question? Or can any men tell me if I have the scenario correct about what's going on with a dating-website man who won't meet in person?


Apple said...

Refusing to date men just because they are black is the epithome of racist behavior, so it boils down to: do you want to do the wrong thing for the right reason?

Or is it even the right reason? Refusing to date men just because they are white is equally as racist. Of course it is the right of black women to behave this way but why should YOU limit YOUR love life to enable them?

Regina Rodríguez-Martin said...

Apple, I suspect you're not a Black woman, so you're not the audience whose opinion I'm seeking, but I'll reply to your comment. Yes, my concern about the priority of Black women when it comes to dating Black men is racist, but it's a reaction to the racist American destruction of the Black community/family. We all occupy a certain place on the matrix of social prejudices and racial dynamics and I'm trying to determine what position I'm comfortable with. Do I want to be an educated brown woman who took an educated Black man out of the dating pool so he wasn't available to an educated Black woman? I think I don't. If that's doing the wrong thing for the right reason, so be it.