Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Why More Black Women Are Dating White Men

It looks like Black women have found a way to resolve the problem with the shortage of Black men. Black women have begun to expand their options, within recent years, by dating outside their race.

Statistics show that more Black women are dating White men. Black female/White male marriages went from 27,000 in 1980 to 80,000 by 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The reason for this increase in more Black women dating White men may be attributed to educational attainment, says Renea D. Nichols-Nash, author of Coping With Interracial Dating.

"A study revealed that the number of Black women earning degrees increased by 55 percent since the mid '70s, but 20 percent with men," says Nichols-Nash, a journalism professor at Arizona State University. "Women who go to college and graduate want someone with the same educational level or more. Black men just aren't there. That could be one reason why more Black women are dating White men."

Nichols-Nash says that opportunity, environment and availability also play roles in why so many Black women are crossing the color barrier.

"You must look at the pool of men and where you're from. For instance, I live in Phoenix. The Black population is 3 percent. The pool is very small. Then you must take into consideration who you would date. You're competing with those few. When you expand your options, the pool gets bigger. Why limit your options by closing off a whole race. You might miss Mr. Right. Black women need love too. If he's White, he just happens to be White. Deal with that."

Nichols-Nash also says that some Black women date White men because they have no other choice. Black men, for whatever reason, she says, tend to shy away from Black women of status.

"Some men don't perceive certain women as your average woman anymore because of their experience or education," explains Nichols-Nash. "Some Black men will look at you a certain way. They know that you have a lot going on and that they can't play games. Sometimes its harder to attract Black guys when you have a lot going on for yourself."

Oscar-winning actress Whoopi Goldberg found this to be the reason why she dates White guys. Black men, she said, have a hard time dealing with a Black woman with power. Past beaus for her have included White actors Ted Danson and Frank Langella. She's often been criticized because of her high-profile interracial relationships.

"First off, I have dated Black men," she told Newsweek. "But a woman with power is a problem for any man, but particularly a Black man because its hard for them to get power. I understand that, but I have to have a life, and that means dating the men that want to date me."

The media have played a role in more Black women dating White men, according to Brenda Lane Richardson, author of Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, a book that depicts successful interracial relationships.

"A lot of our behavior is shaped by what we see in the media," explains Richardson. "There used to be a time when there would be an African-American movie with an all African-American cast. That's changed. Today you might see an African-American family with White neighbors or family members working with Whites... There's so much more mingling that people start to think its natural. If we see it in the media, people will think this is what the world is like and start to believe it."

In 1981, she began dating Dr. Mark Richardson, a Swedish American. They married in 1984. She says that she wasn't looking to cross the color line when she met her future husband. She asked God to send her someone to love.

"Love happens. It just happens. I was not looking for someone White," she contends. "I asked God to find me someone good for me and my son. I didn't ask God to send me a Black man. You don't ask for particular physical qualities. I wanted someone to love who had deep faith in God, was kind, had a sense of humor and values similar to mine. Those are the kinds of requests you make. I didn't sit down and say in a letter to God to only send me someone Black. If I had sent that kind of letter it wouldn't have been delivered. You have to ask for love. I didn't come out of an experience where I didn't' want to be with a Black man. I wanted to be in love. That's what God gave me. Love comes in many different colors."

Encountering stereotypical thoughts from others has been one thing Richardson has experienced frequently since she wed Dr. Richardson, who teaches graduate students at an Episcopal seminary.

"Just because you fall in love with someone of a different race doesn't mean that you're against an entire race. It doesn't mean that Black women scorn brothers...People will assume you wanted someone rich so you married a White man-as if all White people are rich. Its just like when Black men date White women, people assume that White women will be ignorant and poor. None of this is true."

It isn't hard to figure out why so many Black women are dating White men says psychotherapist-author Julia A. Boyd.

"White men are asking us out," she chuckles. "We're looking at our options. If someone asks me out, I say 'why not.' More women are willing to broaden their perspective. Most of the time when you're sitting at home and complaining that no one asks you out, its because you aren't willing to expand your horizons."

Boyd, who authored In the Company of My Sisters and Embracing the Fire, says that another reason more Black women are dating White men is because Black women are beginning to open themselves up to love regardless of its color.

"Most of the time we're only looking for men in only one camp. We don't notice who is in the other camp. We're only looking at Black men and complaining. We're not noticing that White men may be noticing us and want to meet us. Don't limit your options based on ethnicity. When you're open, you'll notice that a lot more men are noticing you."

Boyd recognizes that a select group of Black women date White men because they profess to being "fed up" with being hurt by Black men. These women, she says, go to the other side of the street hoping to enter the promised land; they convince themselves that White men won't hurt them and will treat them better than Black men.

"Don't hold your breath," warns Boyd. "Its not about color, but about the man. White men can act foolish like Black men. They can all cut up when they want to. If you're jumping the line for that, stay where you are. There are no guarantees. Its more about personality than color."

The bottom line, says Nichols-Nash, when it comes to dating, Black women are exercising their options. "Black men have been ding it for a very long time. Its always in media. Now we're doing the same thing when it comes to dating."

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