How important is representation in relationships? Is there a need to see stronger, committed black couples celebrated? A friend of mine believes that dating outside of the race is a betrayal to the entire black community. She is adamant that she must find a good, black man to marry and produce beautiful black babies. In this era of “wokeness”, the rhetoric is black consciousness and embracing all that is innately beautiful about being black. So, in step with that, I believe her quest is primarily driven by the need to conform to societal pressure rather than her genuine desire to be with a black man.
Ideally, love should see no colour, race, ethnicity, or even gender. The heart wants what the heart wants, well so we have been told. If your heart wants a white man or woman, who am I to judge? Should I feel slighted or offended by your choice? I think not! The whole purpose of civil rights and human rights was for equity and access; to give the freedom to choose. And with that freedom, to live with the consequences of your choice. Black love undoubtedly has its own issues and challenges, especially in a society where it is rarely applauded. However, is it really a betrayal if I love outside of my race? Why do we feel so offended by interracial relationships? Is it a reflection of our own insecurities manifesting in the bitterness towards interracial couples? And why is this anger mainly directed to black men and white women? (Another discussion for another post).
There is a stark difference between what we perceive and the reality of the situation. And although in this generation there is a universal acceptance of mixed-race relationships, there are still murmurs and latent discontent in the inner layers of the races. Interracial marriages are not as commonplace as we might believe. According to the British census conducted recently, only one in 10 cohabiting couples in England and Wales involve two people of different ethnicities. While this was over 30 per cent increase from the last census in 2001, it still only represents a small percentage of the population. A similar statistic exists in the US, where one in 10 marriages are between two people of different races or ethnicities. Clearly, there are still many people who think like my friend, who may never date outside of her race.
I want us to celebrate love; in whichever form, it is displayed. Some would argue that black people are too tolerant and compliant, thus allowing interracial marriages to be prevalent. I beg to differ. Many of us would not even look in the direction of a non-black, much less consider going on a date with them. A couple friends of mine claim that they “just feel a connection to black men/women”. When swiping through dating apps, we tend only to like the black faces, regardless of whether they are a match or not. Is it instinct, or is it discrimination? Doesn’t this type of behaviour fringe around prejudice or bias? We have been pleading for equality and inclusion, yet we are discriminating against “the others” (non-blacks). Hence, limiting our potential dating pool.
With that said, I am also a victim and a perpetrator of this behaviour. I must consciously decide to swipe right when I see a white face. I must talk myself into it, but I want to change that. I am disappointed with the selection of black men – all the good ones are either married, in jail, or not interested. So, if I am to be married with kids in the next five years, I need to open my dating pool. My selection process needs to be as diverse and inclusive as the hiring process that we have been fighting for.