Two things happened recently. 1. The writers at Racialicious produced a great series on interracial dating from a variety of perspectives. 2. I shelled out money for ancestry.com. I mentioned researching my family history to BeckySharper a while ago, but I was hesitant to do it because my family never talks about genealogy — it’s one of those unspoken topics — and I’m perpetually on a student budget.
Anyway, I did. Here’s what happened:
- I traced my family’s African-American roots as far back as the 1700s. At the very least, the U.S. Government kept immaculate slavery records. I was able to find everything on everyone.
- I didn’t find any of my Native-American roots, but I didn’t expect to because I’m sure none of them had social security numbers or were counted in census records. I wasn’t entirely bothered by this since my mom told me oral histories when I was younger. Native Americans love their oral history.
- I discovered traces of Caucasian ancestry. I’m pretty sure this is why my family doesn’t want to talk about genealogy. I related to Ken in Part 1 of the Mixed Race Panel when he said, “As my parents are Southern and things of their generation were very black-white, no acknowledgement of mixed-race ancestry ever took place until I started researching genealogy.”
”It is a little odd for a mixed race person that looks Black. I think many people expect us to only think, act and identify as Black and the assumption is that we will greatly favor Black or White partners.”
I agree. I was raised to only identify as African-American because that’s what most of my family is. Most people who meet me assume I’m Cuban or Dominican because of my hair. When I was younger, my parents urged me to date only African-American men. While I was attracted to them, they have never attracted to me. However, I get hit on by everyone else, especially white and Latino men.
My family is surprised that I married a black man and, to be honest, I’m not surprised that they’re surprised. My husband is of African descent, but we look nothing alike. He looks like what anyone would expect someone from Sub-Saharan Africa to look like, while I look like this. On occasion, people will think that we’re an interracial couple, which is always a bit humorous to me considering the number of black latinos in the world.
My only qualm about being multicultural in this day and age is that it is often exotified. I know this is no surprise to many and the subject is discussed at-length in the posts. In part 2 of the black panel, Andrea says:
In quite a few of my past IR relationships, especially with White men, I was “their first time” or some validation of how “not White” (meaning “not boring/status quo/racist”) they are. It’s gotten to the point were I simply ask if this is their first time dating interracially, especially dating a Black woman. This lets me know what I’m getting into or am up against.
I always avoided men who wanted to “experiment” because it made me feel more like a science project than a human being. On the rare occasion that African-American men do find me attractive, they’re the ones who say, “I only date white women, but you’re pretty” or “You’d give our children nice hair.” I avoid them as well, because they are simply saying that they only find me attractive because I fit into their white-washed beauty standard.
On some of the other panels, people discussed the perception of women of color with white men. From part 2 of the Asian Panel, N’jaila says:
A man of color with a White woman is seen as progress, a Woman of color with a White man is seen as regression.
In part 2 of the black panel Panel, she continues:
I’ve always felt the perception was a Black man was with a non-Black woman because she desired him so, a Black woman was with a non-Black man because she was desperate.
My family still buys into those mentalities as well. I’m sure there’s a reason why my family doesn’t talk about our white ancestry and I’m sure my mom was a little disappointed each time she found out I hooked up with a white guy. With other minorities, she has the “Oh, it’s okay, they’ve struggled too” mentality that is mentioned in some of the posts.
While I found some comments on the White Panel to be a little too forced — ”I’m not racist, I made out with an African-American guy once!” is akin to saying “I’m not racist, I’m have a black friend!” — I thought this comment from part 2 was interesting.
I’ve had to cut off too many white friends and associates (90+% of them women) who were all for interracial dating when it was one of them doing it, but had a complete fit when a white man was interested in or dating a woman of color (especially if that woman had a darker complexion).