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'Dating Out': Single Black Females & Interracial Dating

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Who knew the single lives of Black women would be making national headlines in early 2010? Coincidentally, Karyn Langhorne Folan's new book, "Don't Bring Home A White Boy: And Other Notions That Keep Black Women From Dating Out" released in February, came out just as the discussion was getting heated. Folan tells us why we should own the single Black woman conversation and why she wrote a book about interracial dating in the first place. ESSENCE.com: It's interesting that your book has come out during a time when the media is talking up the plight of single Black women. What do you think about the whole discussion? KARYN LANGHORNE FOLAN: I think a lot more Black women are becoming aware of the fact that when we start talking about things that matter to us--like trying to find love and meeting good men, it gets sort of twisted, like 'why are we spending so much time talking about it.' And when women of other races do it there's not a blip about it. Finding love is a concern for Black women as it is for other women. There are thousands of articles on this subject. It's a topic of interest to us. If you're single, you look for new strategies, there's nothing wrong with that discussion. Somehow Black women don't have the option to talk about dating and I resent the implication that we should be silent. ...It's a way of minimizing the female experience. When we talk about Black women's issues it gets shoved into the Black box, or it's a "problem." ESSENCE.com: What prompted you to write 'Don't Bring Home a White Boy' book? FOLAN: I spent some time looking at dating and I think that one of the solutions is that if we plan to extend our options, since White men are the largest group of men in the nation, it makes sense to [open ourselves] to White men. Let's look at some of these things when we're talking about dating so we can see ourselves being more viable--it's not, 'let's pile on Black women' or 'let's bash Black men.' It's not, 'I don't care about the Black community.' We don't get to talk about what Black women deserve as much as we should. I feel so strongly about what I see as the brilliant diversity of beauty and talent and energy and intellect of Black women and we don't ever get to celebrate it. Some of that is the larger media and some of it is that we get beat down all the time with what we aren't and no one is talking up what we are. And we are pretty damn amazing. There's still this image that we're unworthy or less desirable than other women and unfortunately I think a lot of us buy that. That's bull to me. That's only true if you think it's true. ESSENCE.com: When we asked ESSENCE.com readers what kept them from dating out, some of them said they were simply more comfortable with dating Black men who understand Black culture. What would you say to that? FOLAN: I think a lot of women like the idea of having children that look like them. I definitely felt that when it was time for me to settle down the first time and have babies; I wanted little brown babies. But you know what, that marriage didn't last. Race is not the binding factor that we think it is. And, in the end, the best thing that you can do is find a partner that you really believe will be a good father, a good provider, a good husband and all of those things, whether he's Black, White or whatever. That's the thing that makes families survive. ESSENCE.com: Your husband is White. How do you deal with the cultural differences in your family? FOLAN: My husband and I are kind of on a long-term cultural exchange program. There are ways that I see things that are completely different from his experience. That's actually the advantage of cross-cultural dating. Now, because he's married to me, and because he has a biracial daughter, there are things he sees that in a White household he wouldn't have a reason to think about. It's always good for us to be able to find common ground on particularly common problems. Because they're American problems, they're human problems. All of us have stake in this stuff. ESSENCE.com: What about the idea of feeling like we have a responsibility to date and marry Black men to preserve our "Blackness"? FOLAN: There have always been differences within the Black community, as much as we try to make it seem like we're all the same. What does Michelle Obama have in common with the girls competing on 'For the Love of Ray Jay?' Even ancestry is different, depending on where your people are from, so this to me is a crazy argument. Last time I checked, all of the genetic scientists were saying that we're all descendants of Black people in Africa. You're going to let one or two small genomes out of the billions of them dictate how you date? And the crazy thing is, if a White person said something about preserving racial purity, we would all be lined up with picket signs. That would be grounds for a march, yet we say that sort of thing. We have to be able to talk about this stuff in a fair and balanced way. ESSENCE.com: Does self-esteem have a big impact on branching out? FOLAN: Your self-esteem has a big impact on what you attract, not color-wise, but content-wise. If you dated Black guys who were bad to you, you're going to date White guys who are jerks. It always comes back to you and what's in you. I like to say, 'like attracts like.' You have to kind of deal with yourself and be cool with yourself first. Then you can dismantle some of those racial notions and some of those limitations and see what else attracts you. ESSENCE: What are ways to step out of your 'comfort zone'? FOLAN: I encourage traveling because I feel like a lot of Black Americans don't travel enough. What happens is when you travel, you will realize that you're seen as an American first and you feel like an American in a way you don't feel like an American if you never leave this country. It's affirming in a way. It's something that White and Black Americans share.
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A former law professor at Harvard Law School, Karyn Langhorne Folan in a fiction and non-fiction writer and the host of radio talk show, "The Book Squad" on WMET 1160 in Washington D.C. Her book "Don't Bring Home a White Boy: And Other Notions That Keep Black Women From Dating Out" was relesed in February 2010." Read More:
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