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.

Honesty and Race..how honest can we be?

Today’s post is inspired by a local buddy of mine, who had a Facebook status update that said “Most white people are too scared of appearing racist to be honest”. I must admit this has stuck with me since reading it and I thought maybe it would make for a good discussion on race. By the way to the friend whose status update inspired this, I hope you don’t mind that I stole your thought as inspiration for this post.

Now I must admit I am of mixed feelings when I think about this because the truth is as a society I don’t think we are mature enough overall to have true dialogues on race. Yet the bigger question is how do we get there? Personally I can say that being part of an interracial marriage for over a decade has inspired many discussions on race. For me there is no way to be married to a white man without discussing race. Is it a stumbling block for us? Yes and no. There are times when we clearly bring who we are to an issue, and have to sometimes agree to disagree. Though many times the Spousal Unit will admit, that in being partnered to me and part of raising biracial kids that he has had to leave the comfort of his white male privilege to really get an issue. I also can say that sometimes I am inspired to put down my own assumptions about whites and understand his perspective.

I think for me when it comes to racial discussions, especially those that occur between whites and blacks in the United States, that too many times the white perspective is seen as right and the black perspective is not viewed as valid. One only has to look around in the blogosphere to see examples of this, hell Beer Gate this summer with the Cambridge cop and Professor Gates showed how differently we view the world. For many whites, Gates was either a pompous ass professor or the victim of unfortunate circumstances, with a fair number of whites not seeing the situation as that big of a deal.

Yet on the Black side, we saw it as a huge deal, just one more example of the systematic bullshit that happens when you are Black in America. If you think I am kidding, ask yourself why a sitting president of the United States felt compelled to speak up? Because while Barack Obama may be the president he has spent enough years as a Black man in America to understand that what happened to Gates is just routine business as usual and all the degrees and money don’t stop you from feeling the weight of oppression and bullshit when you are Black.

I think that by and large honesty is a good thing but I think in order to get honest, whites need to be willing to temporarily relinquish their privilege at least mentally and attempt to have empathy. If that does not happen, then you are not going to have a real discussion.

My viewpoint for me is supported by the fact that personally the best interactions I have with white people tend to be with working class, lower class and blue collar whites. Those that the only privilege they often have is white skin, I could go on and one with anecdotal stories about connecting with whites who initially I am nervous around because they look scary to me, in many cases I admit and its my bias that white men with shaved heads that look like skinheads or bikers scare me. Yet just last night I was out and came across such a man at a local eatery and ended up having a delightful conversation.

I admit that sometimes such folks can be scary but I also think that for some of these folks they are aware they don’t have much privilege aside from white skin and in some cases its easier to make a connection.

For Blacks I have to say if we want to engage in an honest dialogue that we too may need to put aside some of our bias and assumptions when it comes to whites though I admit it can be hard.

Yet I will say that in the quest to be honest with one another, it’s also important to be respectful. Take the age old issue of Black hair, yes my hair is different and its ok if we are friends to ask about it but remember I am a human and that maybe being singled out does not make me feel comfortable.

So while honesty is a possibility and there are plenty of whites and black engaging in honest and real discussions, we need to enter them being thoughtful before they can proceed.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue!

Everything but Black

One of the subjects that I rarely ever write about on this blog is the fact that I am married inter-racially, yes the Spousal Unit is white and I am Black. I think part of the reason is that there are many far more competent bloggers who write on the subject and also that I have been married so long that we are just an old married couple as far as I am concerned. Back when I was young, I sort of got caught up in the whole we are interracial thing and honestly at this point, it just is, sort of like the way I wear my hair naturally specifically I have dreadlocks and its just a part of me. No need to dissect it…it just is.

I also raise my kids so that while they know their Pops is white, the fact is that they will be viewed as Black most likely, back in the summer and fall I wrote at one point about how elder boy who is now 17, refers to himself as an Half-frican. Yeah, that’s what he calls himself and frankly I got no beef with it. He’s old enough to know that white privilege does not extend itself to him just because his Pops is white….sorry, it just doesn’t.

That said and I will admit maybe its because I am suffering from PMS (sorry for revealing that but its my reality and I am old enough that I don’t feel the need to hide it) but it just rubs me the wrong way when I stumble across other Black women many who are partnered to white men who decide to breakdown their racial makeup.

Look, what Black person in America ain’t mixed with something? Shit, we (collective Black Americans) have not been purely Black since we were brought to this country. Otherwise how the fuck do you think we come in so many different shades? Look, we run the gamut from Whoopi Goldberg to Vanessa Williams and everything else.

Yet sometimes I encounter especially online, women of color who many might be called Black, who feel the need to tell you they are 1/4 crawfoot native, 1/8 this, 1/16 that…..look, its cool to know where we come from, in fact I wish I knew more about my own background. But I sometimes think some of these folks do that shit, to deflect from being plain old Black, after all its not exotic enough to just be Black. I know, because when I was a young woman, I did that same shit, claiming native this and that. Yeah, there is some Native American, Cherokee to be specific in my family as well as Mexican but those numbers are so small that really when I thought about it, I realized I was doing it more at that time because I was not proud to be who I am which is a Black America. Thankfully I am over that shit now. Now you ask me what I am, and I am going to tell you, I am Black. Plain and simple.

The other part of this that rubs me wrong is that many of these same folks will marry inter-racially and then have kids and tell you little Jonas is this and that, which may be true but it seems they are trying to avoid calling their kids Black in any way. Yes indeed, I have seen this too. Problem is you see the kid and even though little Jonas may be fair, half the time you can tell little Jonas is not pure white. Nope, you got Mama bringing her color issues to the kid. I’m sorry that is just wrong.

Obviously, I got no beef with interracial pairings, I truly believe love knows no color but at the same time, I think we do our kids and partners a disservice when we lack self love and instead latch onto whiteness because we are uncomfortable with blackness. For too long whiteness was the only standard of what was good and beautiful and times are changing but too many of us have not gotten the memo. Instead we choose to live withoutdated notions instead of changing the standards. I think its one of the reasons so many Black women love Michelle Obama, now that America has a Black first lady and the world stage knows she is a gorgeous we are willing to publicly acknowledge that Black is beautiful, thing is Black has always been beautiful.