The White Man Can’t Save You

I swear people must think Black women are some of the most pathetic creatures on the planet. Every where I turn I am bombarded with media images that seem to say we are sad and lonely or else we are sex crazed hoes who are thinking with our vaginas and not our brains and thus contributing to the planet’s overpopulation problem. I guess the only happy Black women on the planet are First Lady Michelle Obama and the queen of daytime talk Oprah Winfrey. Actually  there are plenty of happy well adjusted Black women, but if we focused our images on these happy Black women I guess nobody could earn any cash exploiting those of us with fears and insecurities.

The newest self help remedy for college educated Black women is apparently to get a white man. In the last year or so it seems there has been an increase in the number of writers and self help folks suggesting that for the lonely Black woman waiting for her Black knight in shining armor that what she really needs is a White knight in shining armor…frankly its starting to annoy me.

Now I know there are some who may say, wait a damn minute the name of this blog is Black Girl in Maine? A name like that pretty much might be a tip off to the fact that since I live in very white state, there is a good chance that I have a white partner. Yep, I do. I have been married to the resident white man going on 13 years so many might ask how dare I talk shit about Black chicks hooking up with white men. Truth is anyone who has read my blog any length of time knows that I am not a cheerleader for interracial pairings. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband, our kids and my life but the truth is interracial relationships require a lot of work. Frankly all relationships require work but when merging two ethnicities together to create a family, especially when those two groups bring great historical baggage it is not something to do lightly.

I am all for relationships that happen naturally, in my case. I had sworn off white men after a brief marriage in my late teens to a white man that produced my son and one of the most acrimonious divorces ever. Yet God and the universe decided to play a joke on me since I said I was done with white men, my current husband was brought into my life 15 years ago. We were co-workers who often chatted at the water cooler, and the truth is I didn’t see him as anything but a work buddy. In fact when he asked me out on a date, I said hell fucking naw. Only saving grace for the Spousal Unit was the fact my mom said hey why not? So I said, why not?, I didn’t have any plans that weekend besides the man did ask me out in a beautifully written letter (my hubby is a writer) and included a pound of coffee beans. (He knew my passion and vice was good coffee) So I said why not and the rest is history. No, we did not fall head over heels in love but we are both children of the working class and have personalities that are complimentary.

I am sure a few of you are saying well that sounds good, why shouldn’t another sista have that? The fact is despite how good we are together, the nastiest arguments we have ever had to the point of threatening our relationship and our family have almost always centered around issues of race. Early in our relationship, he lost people he had considered friends and while our families have more or less accepted the other it was still an adjustment. It’s often the day to day shit that causes problems. Racism is a fact of life and there are times here in Maine and back in Chicago when I come home after encountering shit and he just can’t get it. There have been times in raising our daughter when things have come up and he had to work very hard to get it.

One of the degrees I hold is in African American studies and there were times many years ago that the deeper I went into my research that it took a lot not to get pissed at the Spousal Unit. I wanted to become a professor of African American studies but for the sake of our family I had to let it go. Maybe I am an asshole but I could not study what I was studying and come home and sleep next to a white man without giving him the side eye.

I just read this piece that gave what I considered rather superficial reasons for dating white men, in many ways white men have far more advantages than Black and other minority men there is no denying that. On the other hand those advantages came at the expense of others. To put it plainly, white men got a head start in this society. Hell, even my husband who hails from working class roots acknowledges that. Our fathers were both blue collar workers yet my father in law thanks to his union supporting him and a few other breaks that white guys get was able to create wealth in the form of real estate whereas my father who at one point was a teamster got jack and was always the last guy hired, first guy to be let go.

It is my opinion that interracial relations can work but they require both partners to have the willingness to get emotionally raggedy when it comes to issues of race and be willing to do the heavy lifting. I have known more than a few white folks who frankly are not willing to acknowledge their own privilege and for the Black partner in those cases they simply must become a white person in Black skin lest they threaten the relationship.

Look, at the end of the day, date whoever you want to date and love who you want to love. But to seek out a specific group because we see them as the cure for all that ails us is well frankly silly. Yes, that white man may not have any baby mamas, a jail record and is gainfully employed but you need to enter such relationships with your eyes wide open.

If I were to give dating/love advice to a single Black woman I would say love yourself, find happiness within you and generally when we are happy things happen.

15 thoughts on “The White Man Can’t Save You

  1. Just for the record, I’m a white woman. I worked with many black women and they bled the same color blood as I. We were friends, not just co-workers. The nation has come a long way from where we were but we still have a ways to go. I agree totally with you on interracial marriage. Go in with eyes open because there will be hurdles to overcome. Blessings to you…

  2. I married a guy who is neither black nor white but very very Americanized. It’s been interesting. We’ve had to do that scary work of building trust to the point where I could stop feeling defensive and afraid when he’d blithely question my experiences, and he had to learn to stop thinking he knew everything – that my experiences are not something he would have read about at Slashdot.

    There have been many times when I’ve felt grateful for not being married to a white person because we *don’t* have that heavy historical baggage to contend with on top of all the other challenges of being in a relationship. The external pressure appears to be non-existent: if anyone has ever disapproved of us being together, they’ve kept it to themselves.

    Although we’re both POC, race has been more important to me as an identity than it has been to him. We’ve had different experiences in terms of race, and my parents talked about race very differently than his did. He walks around with “model minority” privilege, which makes for me having a different relationship to my blackness than I had when I first met him.

    It’s been a positive experience for me in that I’ve been able to talk about race and racism in very deep ways with him, and learn from a perspective that is neither black nor white nor activist – something I have little opportunity for in general.

  3. One thing that is SO refreshing (and really makes me not feel crazy) about you, your blog and especially your posts on interracial relationships is the HONESTY.

    I halfway hate admitting that I was in a long-term relationship with a white guy, because there are all these “things” people put on me that just don’t work.

    Chief among these things is that I think white men are better. I don’t. I happened to meet a white guy and fall for him. The end. Now that I’ve been in an IR, I can also add that the extra struggles race brings to the relationship are REALLY close, IMO, to not being worth it. A good friend recently asked me if I would date another white guy and I took a long time to answer. Ultimately, I said he’d have to be one special white guy — he’d really have to understand some things that most white folks I know just don’t.

    I give a high-five to any couple who can navigate those waters in a healthy way. However, I see way too many black women in IRs who can’t be honest about what that means and who, instead, choose to veil it in puppies and rainbows and “it’s the outside world with a problem, not us…” type b.s. that leads folks astray.

    So thank you for your honesty, it means a lot to me.

    • Thank you. Your words mean a lot. In the blogosphere especially I feel like I am the lone wolf saying this stuff. I see sistas talking about dating/marrying white men but no one ever says there are issues. Like you said its often stated as others may have issues but we are fine. Really?

      In my real life, the black women I know who have partnered with white men have faced many real issues that very much threaten their relationships. A dear friend of mine was married to a white man for 15 years, they eventually divorced and in the end it came out that he could not deal with talking about race issues and they were raising kids!!!

      Obviously I am not one to say don’t be with white men but for me I could not be with someone whom I could not talk about issues that shape my very essence. Yet even with the ability to have those talks it’s hard. It’s why I think saying date white men is not the answer because in some ways you are trading one set of issues for another set that is equally as complex and a great deal more emotional.

  4. And let me sidebar on this topic right here. Why is that the Black women here in Maine act as though if they look white ppl won’t know they are Black? Now I’m not asking you to give me a high five and a fist pound however don’t break your neck or temporarily blind yoself not to look in my direction. Bitch they knows you Black okay! Frig me. End rant.

    And as another Black woman formerly married to a white man, yeah, I understand what you’re saying Miz Shay. I think it’s harder on the kids though. Yesterday I was talking to my son about reading this book addressed to young black men and he told he he was only half black. And I said yes that’s true however you are what society perceives to to be unfortunately. Truth be told my side East Indian genes and his dad’s side Native American one kicked in and my son looks like he should be working in 7-Eleven. But his mother is Black and I need to prepare him for the reality of that. Even my two other gloworm children are going to have to prepare for that. Some things and people will change when they find out your mother’s black.

    • Danielle, I hear ya sis. You know how I feel about most of our peeps up here, 😉 As for your kids they are still young and right now they see things in a very literal sense. My son is 18 and when he was younger he was very clear that he was biracial though he had the benefit of having spent the first 6 years of his life around my family specifically my Dad and brother which helped shaped him. The older he got though especially when he hit around 15 and started looking like a grown man, I think that’s when that deeper level of racial understanding started to kick in. Yes, you are biracial but there are no half a white guy privileges when you look brown. That lesson hit home at 16 when he got stopped by the cops a few blocks away from my house here in Maine.

      You are right even if the kids don’t look discernibly Black things change when folks know your Mama is Black.

  5. Excellent post Shay. Lots of food for thought. Thank you for your honest perspective. You are a lone wolf, unfortunately. A much needed voice.

    And I love the new blog layout!

  6. This is a very interesting subject. This topic would make for a very good book.

    What if you collected testimonies/stories from an assortment of black women who have seriously dated/lived with/married/divorced white men? It could be very helpful to young (or not so young) black women who are seeking to date/marry “out”.

  7. All I see is a bunch ob Black female hatred. “Bitch”?

    Sistas, Black men are perfect. Don’t you know that? (Saecasm).

    Same stuff, different sight.

  8. Great post. Many of these women online are trying to sell books and probably aren’t really married inter-racially. No one who I know personally who are IR married spew such hatred about black men and the black people.

    They just use their blogs to bash BM who have disappointed them in the past. They should really seek therapy.

  9. Thank you for saying this. I just read this piece.

    As someone who has and on-again-off-again relationship with a wonderful (white) man, I laugh at these blogs fawning over white men. As I said on another board, talking about broadening your horizons is one thing. Turning white men into a messiah is another.

    Like you Shay, I study race and because of this dating a white man isn’t always this “utopia” that people want to make it into. When we first starting dating, I grilled and skewered him every way to make sure there were no latent racist tendencies. We still have very intense discussions about race. The only reason why we’ve made it is because he’s European, very liberal and very open-minded.

    Still, I’m very honest with him about some of my feelings toward white people–and white women. Dating a white man doesn’t make these issues go away. It doesn’t s suddenly make you “post race”. If anything, it really challenges your understanding of love AND race, your “loyalties”, etc.

    Telling black women to date white men isn’t going to increase our self-esteem or reverse the anti-black images with which we are bombarded.

  10. I find your blog interesting. I can’t say I disagree with your perspective or out right agree.
    This is old but I will post regardless
    A lot of the blogs I’ve read do have a few posts or sections dedicated to saying black men are more likely to be in this category, and it can be easier to be with white/asian/Indian/etc. men because of that fact. To me it seems like a lot of black women reaffirming what they secretly fear and have been taught to think is wrong. We often hear comments of “losing a “good” black man” to white woman, in the media we almost NEVER see a black woman with an asian man, and black men and women are often told they are self-hating. Actually worse yet, bi-racial people are often assumed to reject their parents if they date outside their parents culture or race, or are accused of “rejecting blackness”. A lot of these blogs try to justify and reaffirm behaviors that are condemned even if its only in a womans head.

    Someone made a comment about a dating a white man brought historical baggage and that white privilege can make white men ignorant to black culture. To the former I say all races have some form of baggage, its luck if you encounter it or not. To the latter, well yea in a way its true. 1) If you can’t talk to your man about a certain topic, race namely, something is wrong in your relationship(unless its a truly touchy subject like a dead relative). 2) Many white people are not aware of their privilege or how black people are REALLY viewed. Going into a IR it is a consideration, particularly a serious one. 3) Sometimes I think black women assume a white man interested in them is going to be culturally awkward in a cute way or “the new agey liberal white guy”. It seems like some women are just shocked that the liberal white boy doesn’t understand the view points of why scholarships should be awarded based on race. 4) If you can’t talk about the differences in racial viewpoints or the fact that you, and your potential offspring, will be treated differently you shouldn’t have an IR. I have had to repeatedly remind my Sig-fig that not all bi-racial people “look black”, I have had to accept that his feels like as a white person he feels like he is stigmatized by others who suspect him of having secret racist thoughts or motivations. The problem with a lot of blogs is there is hardly a balance between Race being an important component out of several in a serious relationship. Saying you love each other is grand, but if your gonna have a baby and your spouse can’t stomach the thought of having to comfort that future child after he/she experiences racism…or answer race questions a kid may have…then at least kids should be off the table.

    My relationship with my white boy(hehe that sounds funny in my head honestly) is based around our mutual interests and personalities as extremely nerdy relatively introverted people. It is about mutual interests; comics, video games, music, etc. Something I don’t share with most black men, and the ones I do I tend to be related to, they’re gay, or their too douchey to be more than friends with. My love for my boyfriend developed due to these interests, and I so happen to be attracted to white men intrinsically. That said there is another aspect to all relationships.

    Let’s face it only in the last 80 years has marriage REALLY been about love and not business, and strategically it makes sense to seek males not only on an emotional level but on a socio-economic level as well. Black women generally are proven to be more ,at least, more numerous in terms of finding success than our male counterparts. At Universities and the work place it is simply more likely to meet a white male on the same level as a highly educated and/or well paid black woman.
    For example, I go to a predominantly white school, and the fact is the majority of black males on campus are only there due to the good will of the school, the schools desire to be diverse, and have a basketball team. Everyone knows this, and I think it does more harm than good because then all people assume that the remaining quarter of the black men are their for that reason. Every class where I had a black male student who fell into that majority he did not display the intellectual interest and ambition I look for in men. I feel part of this is because at times it is awkward to be one of the few black people in the room, and our culture tends to develop certain traits in the school system for black boys, but I digress. Regardless their lack of ambition was best exemplified by NOT doing assignments or participating. These men could not hold up a basic conversation in the classroom when it was based on their own opinion and common sense. Seeing this from different black men makes me less attracted to the men of that particular group of black men(the basketball players), which leaves a smaller pool from me to look from.
    That said I will convey this. While I did not meet my beau at school, the chances of my dating a white male in that environment are high. I will admit my relationship with my white beau, who did not even finish high school but has a GED, can be harder at times because I have differing intellectual interests and have a liberal education that can make me forget that he and I are from different worlds educationally. But he possess a confidence in common sense, and while shy if asked a basic question or his opinion he’ll answer. Which is probably a product of some of his white privilege, despite his awkwardness and socio-economic status. White priviledge affords him a self confidence that he is not totally aware of. I do think about his being of a lower socio-economic class, his family situation, his education, and lack of career prospects…and it is scary. Yet as compared to the black men who attend my college, are attractive, but have a lackadaisical attitude without the “common sense confidence” (that is so easily instilled in white males) I find no attraction. I believe my beau could pick himself up after falling down, but I don’t get that sense from a large majority of the black men I am surrounded by. Strategically, if a black man came along with my interests, that common sense confidence, and education with career prospects….my beau would have a run for the money. But thats not considering emotion.

    At the end of the day its just about people. Can a human being from one culture tolerate and be self confident despite other peoples assumptions about their preference for another culture. And can those human being deal with those issues as mature adults.

    I wrote this at 5:12 am without sleep I apologize x.x

  11. Wow can’t believe i actually took the time to read this. If you and your hubby argue over “race” then i suggest you both grow up. Relationships should be based on love in its purest form but mainly on a mutual relationship with Christ.

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