The wonderful thing about writing this column about my life and musings as a single/divorce/dating woman is that there is no shortage of ideas that women tell me they want to discuss. One such topic that women constantly ask me to write about is Black women dating outside of our race.
If you’ve been reading my columns for any amount of time, you know that I, for one, do not have a problem dating outside my race, country or native tongue, for that matter. As long as he is nice, we are (initially) compatible and he meets my oft-discussed checklist, I am going on that date.
As I discuss this topic more frequently, I realize that I am more the exception than the rule, because we sistas are a loyal bunch. Many sistas do have a problem dating “others,” and I cannot understand why, especially since our Black men have no problem doing so. A 2008 Pew Research Center Report revealed that 22% of Black males married outside our race versus 9% of Black women. That is one in five Black men, which leaves the single Black female (SBF) at home wondering where all the good men are, while our brothers are out there getting it in!
We have all heard the grim statistics facing the SBF. If you believe the hype, a SBF over 40 has a better chance of dying in a plane crash or visiting the moon than she has of getting married. According to 2007 census data, 43 percent of Black women aged 15 and over are in the “single and never married” category, while 23 percent of Whites in the same age group fall into that category.
Turning the tables and looking at the eligible pool of Black men, those statistics are even more alarming. According to figures compiled by the U.S Census in 2005-2006, Black men have the highest rate of death, incarceration and unemployment, and the lowest rate of graduation than any other ethnic demographic. If that doesn’t scare you into opening your eyes to date other races, I don’t know what will.
Now, I am not saying that you need to jump ship, catch the fever, and date solely men of other races. But what I am saying to my SBF sistas is: if you want to find a good, solid man, maybe, just maybe, we need to do what our brothas did long ago: expand our horizons and date other races.
Since dating outside our race is an evergreen topic, I have compiled my own non-empirical, non-scientific list of reasons why SBFs are reluctant to date outside our race. Without equivocation, the most common rationale I’ve heard is that we feel like we are betraying our race. Well, I say betrayal be damned! Is it our personal responsibility to date solely within our race?
After a few months of sitting at home staring at the walls wishing that Black knight would ride up on that white horse and whisk you away, while in actuality the Black man is out there dating Becky, drop me a line and let me know how that’s working out for you.
The second most common reason I heard is that White men (or non-Black men) lack “swagger.” To wit, I say again, swagger be damned! Swagger doesn’t take you on dates, swagger can’t engage you in conversation, and you surely can’t marry or otherwise have a relationship with swagger. As a SBF, surely you are fancy enough for one relationship, so leave the baggy pants-wearing, swagger-having man in the dust where he belongs, and get your date on with a nice, responsible man.
The third, and perhaps the most outrageous reason that I have heard sistas espouse for not dating a White/other man is the size of the package. Hey, don’t shoot me, I am just the messenger, and as a journalist, I would be remiss not to mention this, no matter how ludicrous this sounds. Here’s all I have to say about that nonsense: first, I am sure that that is just a gross generalization and second, anyone who excludes an entire race on such shallow misinformation doesn’t deserve a nice man — Black, White or other. Last, even if that is true in some cases, I will take one for the team and say that in my 40-plus years, I have encountered a Black man or two who were lacking in the size and girth department (sorry mom), so there goes that theory right out the window.
My advice is to take a page out of my heroine Diahann Carroll’s book, or even Halle’s book, and be indiscriminate when it comes to race, and just date. Date any and every man that meets your criteria, and date with no expectation other than having a good time. If dating outside your race is new to you, be prepared, because just like anything else that’s new, you may feel a little uneasy. You may even feel (or others may make you feel) like you are betraying your race, so stand your ground. When I first dated a White guy after my divorce, I actually did feel like I was betraying my race. I got the thumbs-up from sistas, and often got the stank eye from some brothas. Initially it bothered me, but I rationalized it in my head, and kept it moving.
Let me end with this: SBFs should approach dating the same way our Black men do… with an open mind. In an era where more Black men are in prison than in college, in an era when more and more Black men are marrying “other” women, I am begging my SBF sistas to keep an open mind and just go for it. You never know what you like or don’t like until you try it.