Friday, August 10, 2007

Women of color ask: Is it all right to date whites?

So if all races of the world are free to date or marry anyone they choose, why is it newsworthy to note that black women are now, more than ever, choosing to date men outside their race?

I read an article recently about black women reassessing their options and rethinking their reservations about engaging in interracial relationships, and I was surprised. Yeah, the pickings for eligible black men are slim, even slimmer if you want one who's college-educated, slimmer still if you want one without a criminal record and darn-near impossible to find one without children!

To be honest, I've only ever dated black guys because that's pretty much all who ask me out. Well, except for that one time in ninth grade when a white guy asked me out on a date - but that situation was different, because I wasn't allowed to date until I was 16. I told him exactly that, that I wasn't allowed to date so ask me again when I turned 16. But I think he moved away, because I don't remember ever getting that date.

It's kind of crazy, though, how black women hold themselves to this allegiance to black men, when the truth of the matter is that many black men are not stepping up to the plate and making themselves worthy mates for us. And if they are, they are few and far between, especially since so many black men are or have been incarcerated.

According to The Associated Press, "blacks in the United States are imprisoned at more than five times the rate of whites, and Hispanics are locked up at nearly double the white rate." The study, which was released by a criminal justice policy group called Sentencing Project, also found that the Midwest and Northeast have the greatest black-to-white disparity in incarceration rates.

I decided to do my very own unscientific assessment of the interracial issue by polling some of my friends. Since it seems like a community taboo for black women to date outside their race, I just assumed that black men held the same idea of only dating black women. I was mistaken. I asked five of my black guy friends if they had ever dated women of other races and four them said yes without hesitation in a matter-of-fact tone. When I asked five of my black women friends the same question, only two said yes.

How to account for this? According to the AP report, Howard University psychology professor Kellina Craig-Henderson explained "black women are socialized to stick by their men.

"Modern black women agonize over breaking male-female bonds forged in slavery and strengthened through the Jim Crow era," according to Craig-Henderson. So, as black women we stand strong (being the pillars our men can lean on), proud (of our history and accomplishments as a people), and alone.

In what way is it fair for us to try and maintain the idea of the "strong black family" when many black men date whomever they choose without regard to the same notions?
I've never been opposed to dating outside of my race. It just seems like it makes sense to date or marry someone who understands your history and culture without having to explain it to them.

But my Daddy always said you can't help who you fall in love with. So only generous, kind-hearted, God-fearing gentlemen need apply, regardless of your race.

Rashida Rawls may be reached at (352) 867-4132 or rashidarawls@ocala.com

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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Bye!! and good luck to you all.