“I only date black women from now on.”
That is what an old acquaintance said to me as we bumped into each other at the gym and got chatting.
I was taken aback by his statement. Some time ago, I had briefly met his girlfriend – a beautiful, petite white girl and they seemed to have a good vibe between them. Curious, I asked him why he's decided only to date black women from now on. His response:
“Because only a sister can truly understand what a brother is going through.”
After he said this to me, it occupied my mind for the rest of the day. Are black women the only type of woman who can understand what it means to be a black man? Then I realised that this isn't the first time I've heard this. A few brothers have told me this before. But for me, it wasn't sitting right.
Before I go on, a little disclaimer: I’ve got nothing to hide. I am in a relationship with a white woman who is Italian and is the mother of my daughter. In the past, I have been with black women, but my decision to be with a white woman has nothing to do with me no longer finding black women attractive. The sisters are as fine and sweet as fresh honey. But, in my case, I just never met a black woman who was compatible enough with me.
In my personal experience, and I am sure it's the same for other black men who are dating, engaged or married to women outside their ethnicity, they wouldn’t agree with the statement that only a black woman can understand a black man.
And any black man who believes this is setting himself up for disappointment.
Black women understand black men better on a cultural level
This post is not arguing against black love. So please don’t throw any salt at me, my brothers and sisters. Nor am I putting mixed relationships above black love. Whoever you chose to be with, love is love. What I am arguing against is the belief that only a black woman can understand a black man which is untrue when we think about why two people fall in love in the first place.
Now, I’ll concede that, on a purely cultural level, then yes, a black woman may understand a black man better than other ethnicities. I am a Yoruba Nigerian man, so a Yoruba woman will completely understand why I love jollof rice, pounded yam and Supermalt. I could bet my life that she’ll be able to cook egusi soup better than a Polish woman too.
But ‘cultural understanding’ is the only trait where black men can say black women will automatically be superior to any other ethnicity of women. Even with this argument, it will only apply to a black woman raised in the same ethnic group as him. I hardly doubt a Nigerian man will have a lot in common, culturally, with a Jamaican woman, if you see my point.
Class and personal beliefs are more important than skin colour
There is an excellent observation from one of the central characters in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s brilliant novel Americanah (which I’ll be reviewing soon):
“A white boy and black girl who grow up together in the same working-class town in this country [England] can get together and race will be secondary…”
The above quote is poignant and accurate concerning my own experience. In America, I would guess this wouldn’t be the case since race is such a big deal over there. But in England, your class is your societal mark, so race usually takes on a secondary role. A working-class Ghanaian boy from Plaistow probably won't connect so much with an upper-class, privately-educated Ghanaian girl from Fulham. He would probably have more in common with a white girl who grew up in the same area and went to the same school as him.
" What I am arguing against is the belief that only a black woman can understand a black man which is untrue when we think about why two people fall in love in the first place. "
When it comes to people we form a strong bond with easiest; it is often (but not always of course) with people that share the same or similar values as us and have been through comparable life experiences.
Even if a man moves up the classes in English society, he’s more likely to have more in common with a woman, irrespective of her race, if she came from the same class as him and moved up as well. They are more likely to share a similar worldview having both come from the same social background and both experiencing social mobility. Race is an afterthought.
I remember, during my days as a single man on the market, going on a date with a highly educated, posh girl who was Nigerian. We struggled to give our conversation any spark, even though we were both Yoruba. Later, when I went on a date with an Indian girl I had met on tinder, we developed a quick rapport because she had grown up in East London like myself.
Also, and I am aware this is a generalisation, but there is some seed of truth to it, women tend to date and marry upwards. So, if you're a working-class Nigerian boy who is a plumber, then it's highly unlikely you're going to marry a Nigerian woman who is a barrister or even have much in common beyond the fact that you’re both Nigerian.
Black women and women, in general, go through a different life experience than men
Black women are beautiful, bold and strong but black men should be careful to not automatically assume black women will understand the issues black men face just because their skin colour is the same as their own. Bear in mind, the experiences black women go through are a little different than what black men go through.
While both black men and black women are more likely to be victims of racial bias and racism, I’d argue that black women's experiences of racism and prejudice are worse just because they are women.
Black women have their unique issues just as black men do. While black women might be able to emphasise with the struggles of a black man, it doesn’t mean that she will by default just because she has melanin in her skin. Back to my earlier point, a black woman born into wealth will not understand the struggles of a black man born into poverty.
I am not claiming to be some Lothario that has dated every race of woman on this planet. But I've had my fair share of experiences, and I believe that it is a woman's character a man should assess rather than the colour of her skin.
Of course, we all have our preferences. Many black men are only attracted to black women or desire to marry a black woman because of cultural and personal reasons and who am I to tell you that's wrong nor am I saying it is. Do you, of course.
But black men should not fool themselves into thinking that just because a woman is black or just because a woman is from the same ethnic group as him, that she has some innate ability to understand him and no other woman from any other race can. Dating a woman only because she's black, under the assumption that she'll automatically understand you more since you're a black man, reduces her to the colour of her skin rather than the individual person that she is.
And in my opinion, love should never been so skin-deep.
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