Thursday, October 11, 2012

DBTWP 7B: Reverse Racism and Interracial Romance

In response to one of my posts on reverse racism, The Professor said:
I don't really think this counts, I wouldn't exactly use the phrase "reverse racism" for it, and I'm hesitant to even mention it, but I (who am white) sometimes catch shit from some of my (black female) friends about "stealing their man" because my partner is West Indian. I think they're mostly joking, but sometimes (mostly when we're not entirely sober) there's some real vitriol behind it that makes me uneasy. Now, I am IN NO WAY comparing that to actual racism, but its still not ok.
I know that many white people see interracial relationships as reaffirmations of a post-racial America, and are surprised to find that many people of color are cool to the idea.  They expect to catch flak from bigoted white people but  are caught off-guard when POCs start criticizing their relationship.  Alas, just about all I know concerning your situation comes from skimming through my ex-girlfriend's Essence magazines over a decade ago. That's more than enough to know that this is a really loaded subject and that many black women have strong opinions about it.   While I wait for their thoughts, I can tell you my experience as half of an interracial couple in mid-to-late 90s New York.

Diane and I occasionally got dirty looks and passing comments from black men.  We were never physically accosted or assaulted, and even the glares weren't all that common: it certainly wasn't an overwhelming theme that pervaded every facet of our existence.  I can't recall any black women, or any white people, reacting negatively to us.  I'm not saying that we never saw white racism - I remember Diane calling out shopkeepers for following her around on a couple occasions, for example - but it wasn't focused on us as a couple.  They were worried she was a thief on account of her skin: they weren't chastising us for miscegenation.

Like you, this isn't anything I would call "reverse racism." For the vast majority of people we met it was a complete non-issue.  And I can certainly see where a white man with a black woman triggers a whole lot of painful history in the black community.  From the plantations to the quadroon balls and beyond, there's a long history of white men raping and exploiting black women.  And the same men who craved black female sexuality were terrified of black male sexuality and took violent steps to make sure their womenfolk didn't cross the color line. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I've seen more reports of open hostility and white racism from white women with black male partners.

I've heard several describe being called "nigger lovers" for dating or, in one case, talking to a black man.  I've also heard discussion amongst white guys on the subject. Invariably these conversations revolve around how black men are oversexed and over-endowed.  (Straight white guys are fascinated with large black penises: they find it nearly as interesting as the animals gay men insert into their rectums).  Then somebody explains that's why the girl in question likes black men even though they treat their women -- yes, it's always "their women" -- like bitches and hos. For some reason this combination triggers latent white racism in a major way.  I'm wondering if you or other readers have experienced this firsthand?