Should Black women re-consider dating White men? Should we hand over our maintain-the-race banners in the name of “self-preservation”? Karyn Langhorne Folan thinks so and she has written a book about it. Don’t Bring Home A White Boy was written, Folan says, after her controversial op-ed piece on the subject in the Washington Post received an “overwhelming response.” This one of those hot button issues in the Black community that never fails to get a rise.
Black women have historically refrained from “going White” for many reasons, including: they don’t want to be perceived as “selling-out”; they don’t want to abandon the race; they are not attracted to white men; and they don’t think White men are attracted to them. Just recently John Mayer , the popular White singer and heart throb, reinforced this last perception by stating to Playboy Magazine that he had a “David Duke” penis when it comes to Black women, in that, it just was not attracted to Black women. Mayer’s admission really reinforces this perception that Black women are not valued romantically or sexually by White men. But Folan, who is married to a White man, says that this is simply not true and Black women need to stop trying hold onto to this inaccuracy (and others, like the “myth of one voice” among Black folks). She says instead of putting up personal barriers to men of other races, Black women need to be open to finding men who love and cherish them no matter the race or ethnicity.
According to the statistics, Black women are maintaining the race all by ourselves, since Black men have been dating and marrying others in much larger numbers than we do. The Washington Post, citing a 2008 population survey, said about 73% of Black/White marriages are between Black men and White women. We have long dealt with the reality that Black men are much more interested and more willing to date outside of the race. This has been a sore subject for many Black women who feel that their commitment and loyalty to the race is not reciprocated.
This is a moot question for me because I am long-time married to a Black man. But it’s an interesting one to consider for my children. Admittedly, as a young parent, I wanted my kids to date and marry Black. But in my many years as a parent raising children in a predominantly White environment, I discovered many things about the world and the precarious place in which this Black-only stance put me. For one, I realized that we often confuse racial differences with socioeconomic ones. In many, many ways, my children have more in common with their White counterparts than with Black kids their age. We Black folks who are raised and exist in middle-class surroundings don’t really like to admit this because, again, we sound like we have sold-out or are trying to pass. But in many ways it’s true. Few of my kid’s Black friends, for example, connect with my kid’s classical music backgrounds or the fact that they play lacrosse.
Secondly, I want my kids to find their heart’s desire in all area of their lives. I want them to find their soul-mates. AND I want them to be clear about who they are and where they came from. I don’t feel they should have to sacrifice their histories for their hearts, nor their hearts for their histories. I want them to be proud of their race and ethnicity, AND I want them to find a person they truly connect with. If that person is outside of the race, so be it.
Thirdly, I have worked very hard to counter-act society’s standards of beauty and intelligence and over-all value. I don’t want my children to be “White struck”, that is, believing that “White is always right” or that all things that are good about the world are related to being White or White-like, and all things bad are associated with Black folks. The messages in the media overwhelmingly communicate this perspective. And the Black/White relationship question is inextricably connected to this and to notions of Black self-hate. So even though I say I don’t mind if my kid’s soul mate is not Black, I want her to look among her own for that person, too.
Fundamentally, I believe that if my kids are solid about themselves, I can trust their choices whatever they are.