Sex and dating between white men and black women
Each time, he had a rebuttal that probably sounded cleverer in his head. “You better not let your parents control your life like that,” he said, with a derisive laugh. Of course, I didn’t realize I’d made that choice until I reflected back on my last year in men. But it’s the latter who always seem to require an explanation for all of the above, and also for why I lived at home as long as I did and had an early curfew, and why meeting my parents isn’t as simple as pencilling in a Friday night dinner.
“Don’t be like other brown girls.” This from a man who had opened the date by telling me he’d never been out with “a brown girl” before, so he was excited to check that off his list, as if I were an item on a sample platter. And it wasn’t entirely based on Trent; the long list of Trents, Daves and Andys who came before him contributed to my decision, too. As a Pakistani-Canadian woman in her late 20s, there’s a pressure to never move out of home, to have children, to opt for an arrangement, to maintain the “back home” quo, where dating of any kind and pre-marital sex is considered deeply taboo. Sometimes it feels like even the way these men say my name—the practiced pronunciation, and the inevitable request for definition—is a slight, and that’s not because it’s wrong to ask (it isn’t). I wouldn’t, after all, inquire about the ethnic origins of a James or a Michael. Something tells me those conversations aren’t happening in the same way with our other halves.
They don’t generalize, they ask questions, and come from a place of wanting to understand rather than assuming they’ve got it down.
But whether that effort is made or not, I find myself unable to get past why I always have to be the half carrying the heavier load simply because I was born with it, hoping I can pass without the texture of my life being used to dismiss me as not much more than “a brown girl.” I grew up feeling as though I needed to be ashamed of living outside the Western default, whether that was for hiding my “smelly” lunches in elementary school, committing to my unibrow throughout middle school or keeping my legs covered during the summer.
Sure, relationships are work and naturally, dating is, too.
But I so often feel a border between me and my potential partners—is it any surprise that I’ve started to wonder if it’s worth bothering?
If it’s not just simpler to work with what you know?
At first, conversation flowed—we talked careers, food, travel, friends, family. He didn’t quite follow, which is understandable, so I tried to explain: “It’s a cultural tradition.” “They define love and marriage differently than the American way.” “It may not be for you or me, but it was for them,” etc.
As a black woman dating a non-black (and non-white) man, I’ve become more and more aware of the way in which these stereotypes So much of the discourse surrounding interracial relationships seems to center on black and white couplings.
These are the images we see most in the media — cis white men with black women, or cis black men with white women.
And evidently, I’m doing the same thing in my dating life.
To put it simply, I’ve been the token person of colour at school, at work and in circles of friends. I think that’s why I find an innate sense of comfort and recognition with dating a fellow minority, whether they are a part of my culture or not. But because that need is mutual, it’s met with a distinct understanding that feels akin to seeing someone familiar across a crowded room.But the feeling that I need to be pardoned for my background before I can find connection with a potential partner is something I’m finally throwing away.