Let me first say that a lot of people that read this are going to dislike me. I’d like to follow that up with I don’t care. A part of my journey to self-awareness, freedom, and healing is being completely transparent with others and especially myself. And transparency sometimes means talking about the uncomfortable shit. Also, in this morning’s motivational message the words that resonated with me were, “You are only angered by things you don’t understand.” This blog is for me. Am I angry at this? Do I not understand?
This is a topic that fades in and out of my life as circumstances arise and today it stands front and center thanks to my now strange friendship with one of my non-black friends.
I’m a Southern is woman through-and-through. You hear the term Southern Woman and the pleasant assumptions you can make about me are that I’m friendly, I can probably throw down in a kitchen, dance, drink you under the table, and you can bring me home to Mama. Yes. Now what about those not-so-nice things that we know exist in Southern culture like colorism and racism. I carry those things as well.
Let me back up and tell you what triggered this conversation. I currently reside in Seattle, Washington. It’s a “progressive” place or in other words a puddle of All Lives Matter bullshit. Interracial relationships are normal and non-black people throw the word “nigga” around like a football. Four years here and I still can’t remove the cringe from my body. I’ve tried. I’ve sat with it and tried to understand the “culture” they’ve created in the Pacific Northwest, but it’s gross on so many levels that sometimes I can’t breathe. I have a non-black friend that I work with. We probably would have never been friends had she met the old me. Being here I’ve tried to remain open to people and experiences, but this friendship reminds me why I stay in my circle at times.
I was sitting at my desk listening to a Podcast (Therapy for Black Girls). She comes up to me and asks what I was doing and I tell her. She then looks confused and ask “Do black women need a specific type of therapy?”
I blankly stared at her. It was my why are we friends moment. In that small amount of time I had several thoughts. One, this is why I’ve only had black friends. Two, is this a serious question? Three, do I look like the type of person that will unpack this for her or anybody else? Four, this is why, no matter how trifling men and women can be, I only date black.
This same friend has another black friend, which I learned is married to a white man that supports Trump. Maybe she thought we were the same.
I will say that, typically, I’d go into a blind rage and get on my soapbox. Instead, I simply said, yes, we do need special therapy and I don’t feel like I should have to explain why when you literally only collect black women as friends. It’s been about a week since that happened and there has been no apology, which speaks volumes to me. Like most non-black people she’s standing in her privilege not to learn or care about something that doesn't directly affect the person that she is.
When I lived further south of Seattle in Puyallup, I had two non-black friends. One was white and the other was Asian. I can remember the white one saying to me that she hated her job and wanted to quit, but didn’t feel like she’d be hired. She told me that I could go anywhere because I was qualified and had the experience. I told her she could go anywhere as well because she had something that I didn’t: privilege. Instead of going red in the face, she looked me in my eyes and said,” Christiana, I am so sorry, because you are absolutely right.” This is why we’re still friends. I will deal with non-blacks that have done their homework on oppression.
Let’s go on this journey. Hold on tight. My father is a black man that has always cared about being the best provider that he could be. In the beginning he was that. He bought my Mom a nice house and put me in a “good” school, which in society means white school. There was me and one other black girl in my class. And the nerve of my black ass not to like the other black girl because she looked “dirty” aka she was darker than me with kinkier hair. My dad was okay with his decision in the environment he chose for us until I came home and told him I was dating a white boy named John. All hell broke loose. It was the beginning of his race rants and I was old enough to receive and be molded by it. It was the first difference I noticed my parents had. My Mom was a radical in her own right, but not to the extent of my dad.
He and my Mom had their own problems that eventually led to their separation and divorce. I would be snatched from that environment and placed in the opposite. Now I was in a school where one white kid existed and I was taunted for talking like “white people.” My first friend was a girl named Brittany who could damn near pass for white. I was trying to find what I had already gotten used to (whiteness), even after leaving that school my next three friends were a bi-racial girl named Melissa and two white girls named Lauren and Amy. We were all on the same volleyball team. Well, not Amy, she was more interested in older boys.
In that time I had no idea how problematic the term “pretty for a black girl” was in my life, but I certainly learned as I tried to keep up. My hair was permed and I accidentally turned it green trying to dye it blonde. I hated my big nose, and I started starving myself to stay thin. I even had hazel eye contacts at one point. I couldn’t see beauty in myself.
I got real black friends after that. Black-black. They were artists and ready for the revolution. They wore natural everything (no I’m not bashing people who choose change and enhancements, but choose it for the right reasons). These were the people that helped me to discover the radical and the artist in myself. The people that taught me my black ass still needed sun-screen. The people that made me toss out my mom’s Tresemme shampoo. The list goes on. The world looked different, because now, there I was awakened and accepted for myself.
And once you are awake, there is no going back.
Now here is the double edged sword that is my father and how he always straddled the fence. He would tell my siblings and I about interracial dating and how wrong it was because of the privileges we’d never have. In the same breath, he once told me and my sister about his ex-girlfriend Jessica who was a white woman that he was so in love with. He’d make the comment that my sister and I would have had fairer skin had Jessica been our mother. Because again light meant right. The only reason he didn’t marry the white woman was because he couldn’t bring her home. My grandparents were not with the shits.
So there it was out of the mouth of my own father. It was his own bitterness that triggered the issues that my sister and I would have for the rest of our lives. Don’t worry, I’ve already asked my sister’s permission to tell pieces of her story. You’ll see why it matters in a moment.
She and I literally split paths. She dated black men for a time (light skin only) while I always went as dark as I could go. If you looked purple or blue then you were perfect! Eventually, after several toxic ass relationships, my sister left black altogether. I didn’t understand, but I understood. To me, she simply traded one evil for another. Black men alienated my sister, treating her like some well-kept secret because she was a BBW. She was also a black girl into rock and punk culture, which made them see her as weird. White men loved her size and her interest, but her blackness? That was a no-go when it came to bringing her around friends and family. So which one do you accept? Well, the white boys weren’t cheating or body shaming, only festishizing, which is a lighter blow.
I found a way to be okay with my sister’s choices, because I genuinely cared about her happiness and I saw firsthand the trauma that came from her dating black men. That wasn’t my experience since I “fit” the mold of what most black men went for, but trust me I wasn’t safe being specialized and treated like an object. I eventually discovered my love for the other sex and well, women can be just as fucking bad with their internalized hatred for themselves and whatever toxic masculinity has been instilled in them.
For my first girlfriend, I was her first black girlfriend. For my second girlfriend, I was reminded often that she’d never dated anyone darker than a paper bag. It was almost like she wanted me to feel lucky I was the exception. She was one of those niggas that would use “pretty for a black girl” like a new trend. And my weak ass always sought her approval. Thank the universe for growth. After her, I vowed to never date another person that had any type of attraction to non-black women. I steered clear of those types, even dated a woman that was Dominican and black and loved blackness more than me, until about six years ago when I met the woman that I would foolishly marry. I thought I could handle it, but she made it clear every time that she cheated with a Hispanic woman that I was not what she wanted. She too, would remind me that I was “too black” and I don’t mean my complexion. To her, black women were too mouthy and strong.
Guess what? She was bullied for being brown by her own family and projected her bullshit onto me. I learned that too late. She’d already done the necessary damage to my self-esteem making me feel un-pretty, undesirable, and well, too black. She always wanted me to wear my hair straight. She even flat-ironed it herself once and told me she used to do it for her white ex-girlfriend. I still remember the tightness in my chest and lump in my through as she ran steam through my reddish-brown strands. She required my nails be done at all times and loved, LOVED calling me ghetto. You know that thing loud black girls with colored hair are called, but white women are seen as expressive. Nice.
Me? I sat with all my own criticisms. I was that teenage girl again trying to understand why I wasn’t enough.
Why’d she marry me? This blog is long enough so let’s just say it’s all psychological, because after beating my self-esteem into oblivion she won’t even look in the direction of a non-black woman. I had to make her love me. I unpacked her shit for her and still loved her, even though she fucking shattered the image I had of myself.
Until this day, all she wants is for me to come back.
And I still attract those types, but I can deal with a black person that understands they have this struggle and they are working on getting to the root of it, because there is always a root. White acceptance and validation has become a part of black culture.
What I won’t do again in this life is to marry someone with this issue, because of what it did to me the first time. And forever is a long time. I’m committing to someone obsessed with self and blackness and shit, obsessed with me, even on my worst days. I won’t sit in fear that my partner desires something else, especially now that I’ve had the experience of dealing with someone just as radical as me. It was magical and I can’t go back.
This battle of black and white has been since the beginning of time and it’s ugly. We can talk about it. That’s okay. Because we don’t bat an eyelash at an Asian and an Indian in a relationship although it’s interracial. Why? Because one didn’t own the ancestors of the other and delete their history. They didn’t kidnap and rape them then capitalize on their religion and culture. They haven't created a system that they benefit from while an entire race suffers begging for scraps and seats at tables that they built, but are never invited to. These things are still happening on 2019 and you're an idiot if you don't see it. How are families being separated? The prison system, bogus charges. Blacks are still being lynched. White women can still accuse black men of rape and get away with it if she cries hard enough on camera. Four black boys were just held at gunpoint by a white woman while they were fundraising. Fundraising. Minding their own damn business.
I don't have the luxury of living without outrage. I'm too woke.
Which leads me to the why of this blog.
I’m not angered by something I don’t understand. I just choose not to do shit the hard way in life. I’m cautious about non-black friends and relationships because I’m not unpacking anybody else’s shit. I’m no longer accepting insecurities that aren’t mine. I’m not bringing non-black people to black spaces. We already don’t have a place to call safe. When I’m stressed the fuck out from race-related shit that happened in public or work, I want to vent to my black friends and partner. I also don't want a partner that at any given moment could exercise their privilege on me.
If the world were a place where non-black people and me shared the exact same struggles and failures on the same scale, I’d feel different. Then I’d only judge your worthiness to be in my life by your zodiac sign. Unfortunately, that’s not where we are. Getting back to my sister, she has been with a white woman (figure that out amongst yourselves) for the past four years. It’s the healthiest relationship I’ve ever seen her in, but guess where the fall comes? Her now ex-partner has a racist family. She had to sit with the very real idea that they would have kids one day and her babies would be mistreated by a sister that decided during a game of charades to point at my sister when the word watermelon popped up. Her boyfriend justified the joke by saying had my sister pointed at them if pumpkin spice latte popped up, it wouldn’t be any different. That’s just one story.
There is also a racist cop brother that finds justice in taking black men down on the street. Dead, not alive. Yeah so…
I close this with the confession that I am not against interracial relationships or friendships, but choose unproblematic people. This means non-black people that see color, because not seeing color is not seeing you as who you are wholly. Non-black people that understand oppression on their own. Non-black people that understand appropriation. Non-black people that aren’t treating you like a fetish. Non-black people that know when they aren’t invited. Non-black people that realize their privilege. Be John Legend: a black man that married a non-black woman, because that’s who he fell in love with, not just because she wasn’t black. Granted, Chrissy is hella problematic, but that’s John’s problem. He still advocates for his sistas and I stan. He was the ONLY black, male celebrity willing to stand up for the young, black women in that R. Kelly documentary.
P.S. SOME PROBLEMATIC PEOPLE ARE REDEEMABLE. I'M PROBLEMATIC SOMETIMES, TOO.