Monday, January 18, 2010

A Sister writes from Iraq

My name is Miriam Harper and I am currently in Iraq. I am 33 years old and in an IR relationship. I find that in the military there are very many IR relationships. So many people from all different areas and races get together because it's hard to find someone that relates to the type of lifestyle that you have being in the military. I am originally from the South and if someone told me that I would be dating a white guy from New England years ago, I would have laughed in their face. I can say that I'm not your average "urban African American girl"; I listen to a lot of Rock, I am a classically trained violinist, I am Vegan, and as far back as I remember I have been classified as a "Oreo", and that was hard for me.

In my relationships with black men I felt that I had to give more of an effort because there was something that I was lacking. Before I joined the military I had only dated black men, and every one of them cheated on me and treated me worse than the ground they walked on. I love black men, but I am no masochist. My job in the military is intelligence reconnaissance, and a lot of black men in the military feel threatened by intelligence, but my boyfriend loves that about me.

This is best relationship that I have ever been in. He's a wonderful man and truly treats me like a queen; but sometimes I can say that it makes me self conscious when were in the city and black men yell out comments directed at me for being with him. When we are in restaurants people stare. I guess I don't understand why the black community feels like I should be ashamed? I have been reading your blog and it makes me feel like I'm doing the right thing for me, but how do I stop feeling embarrassed, and ashamed for being with a wonderful man who loves me from the top of my afro to the bottom of my feet?
Signed sister from Iraq

Hello my sister from Iraq. I am honoured to hear from you and I pray that you stay strong. To answer your question about how to stop being embarrassed, let me say that when you hold firmly in your heart that you are doing the best thing for you and you are with a man who cares about you as it ought to be, then over time, the need to 'please your community in your relationship' will fade. Yes the uncertainty and shame of letting down your community and all that stuff will fade.

You are not strange in your reactions, remember that all her life, a bw learns to put others first (mammy). It might not have been told you directly but in many ways we grew up around women and copied their actions which sent a message to our subconscious that in everything, we must strive to please our community and not take anything out of life for ourselves (this was seen as grand selfishness!). Dating out is one of those things that marks a woman out as being self-caring in our community ie we are not focussing (obsessing) about bm or worrying about how we can help them get their act together, and we are not into the notion of holding the forth for them and self-sacrificing etc etc but we are claerly taking a slice out of life for ourselves. Such a bw becomes a targer and is then pilloried for looking after herself and not putting her whole self into mammy-type concerns.

Black men and black people in general, are aware that bw labour under this burden of 'duty', and that is why they can make comments to try to 'turn you back to your senses' i.e yelling at you in public. Trust me, white guys don’t make comments at ww in this way, they might glare or beat up the black guy but because they don’t see ww as some sort of caretaker of white society(this notion has all but disappeared apart from in white nationalist organisations), but see them as simply persons in their own right, wm don’t have any basis to shout out like that. Bw are expected to be mammies and anyone acting out of this role is immediately brought in line, and that’s what these people are trying to do. So decide in your mind to 'love the socks off’ your guy and watch yourself grow stronger and stronger in your resolve!

Another thing I suggest is to talk to him about this issue. Yes that’s right, open up to him. If you feel that your guy is mature and interested in you and your experiences, tell him about this particular dynamic in the BC. It will make you two bond even more and imagine the comfort you can derive from him taking and squeezing your hand in that moment of need as he says to you, "I am here and I will defend you'. So dont suffer alone.

Revel in the affection of your man. And I love the line from the song of the 70's band 'Smokie', 'Lay back in the arms of someone you love'. It just means rest in it, delight in it, don’t fight it. Let it take over!

You have experienced the worst kind of relationships and you know the difference. Yes, you deserve healthy love sis, so hold tight!

Feel free to email me any more questions and comments and know that there are a growing number of bw who’ve got your back on this one!


Char said...

To the Sister from Iraq - I am in the same boat as you. I am a Southern "Oreo" married to a native upstate New Yorker. We met while stationed in the Navy. We have been together for 8 years and married for 2. The military communtity has a high rate of interracial marriages because we are trained to look at the person beside us as a comrade who could possibly save our lives. I was tought that everyone was "Navy Blue". I have always had an open mind when it comes to race so it wasn't that big of an adjustment.

Anonymous said...

To the Sister from Irag...I can relate to your post about IR dating. Your comment about "had to give more" or half to "over compensate" in the relationship. Even though my dating experience has been african american men, the best IR experience goes back to a Navy deployment in 92. To this day, I can remember the vibe that he and I shared.It was the one experience that I didnt feel pressure to "jump through hoops". In the process, I (as well as he) experience the "taboo" of dating white guy. The funny thing was that it was black men from my own ship. These were the guys who I worked with and never gave me the time of day. BUT when I started dating a white guy, they all put a spotlight on me. "We noticed that you going out with "white guy" and want to know why" questions daily. It was on the third time I was approached with the question, I said to one "Because he asked me". He was getting the same nonsense from the women (of all ranks and race) on his ship too.
Its funny how some black men only notice you until you date in the IR circle.
After empty relationships with my "brothas", I've decieded to open my dating circle to dating in the IR circle again.
For the first time since 92, I feel that I should be open more to increase my chances of finding the best relationship for me. Do this day, I will always remember dating Chris P. was the best relationship I ever had. It still makes me smile and laugh.

Carmin said...

Ladies, you know I am probably the oldest person responding to this comment and in this blog. I am 49 years old and I have dated the gamut of men. First, allow me to say that I love Black men. How could I not love Black men? My dad was a Black man (Cuban but Black), my precious son is Black, my brother is Black and my adoring nephews are Black. However, I have dated one White man and my best friend at this time is a White man.

The reason I broke off my relationship with the one White man I dated is because he was cheap - that's it - cheap. When I say "cheap" it means he thought dinner at Taco Bell or Burger King was suitable dining and that Red Lobster was exclusive dining. He was a decent, kind, loving and supportive man. He had no hidden agenda. He did not cheat.

Here is what I have learned during my 30 years of marrying and dating. People are people. People are a product of their environment long before you meet them. The odds are stacked against Black men in society. This is not an excuse for Black men who lie, cheat and commit any other manner of evil toward Black women. White men have the same problems that Black men have: children from other relationships, unemployment, drug addiction, etc. However, (and Black women just need to do the math and get real) we are the minority in America and because Black people are the minority, there are more suitable White men than Black men to date. Factor into the societal issues surrounding Black people in general and Black men in particular, Black women are facing a crisis in the relationship realm. If Black women are serious and sincere about wanting a loving, kind and committed relationship with a man, they are going to have to come to grips with the fact that the man who captures their heart may be wrapped in a different color of skin.

Carmin Wharton, Author
Lessons Learned: While Looking for Love in All the Wrong Faces

Anonymous said...


I find it interesting that you relate your dumping what by your own description was a great-if-frugal white man, yet you don't say anything about the narrowmindedness bespoken by your action. I guess, as a fellow writer and a white man, I can probably say it best by quoting a black man: "I ain't saying she's a gold digger, but..."

Janet Hammonds said...

I love my iraq man he is loving caring and what more can I say he treat me like a queen

Janet Hammonds said...

I am 30 and I been dating my iraq guy for a year and I am in love