Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Keeping black women in an unproductive conversation loop

Once again the issue of interracial dating made an appearance in one of the local black papers around where I live. When I picked up the paper, I felt transported back in time. This magazine was still recycling the old conversations we had had in the 20th century. The article on interracial dating and other related reporting were once again focussed on interracial dating as 'something black men do and black women complain about'. Black women were positioned again as trying to bring black men back to the fold and griping about loosing out to other women while black men were positioned as the cynosure of all female eyes.

I asked myself then, 'Why are they still stuck in the 1985 conversation?'. You see this set format dictates the ensuing script, the one which requires a black man talking about how lovely his nonblack partner is, and a black women bitterly complaining about black men abandoning black women for white women.

I observe this same 'stuck in a time warp' format over and over in mainstream TV. When Jerry or Ricki or any of the other daytime talk show hosts want to do a show on interracial dating they ask black women to file into the 'complainers' corner and ask white women and black men to go over to the defense. As I explained in 'Supposing I wanted to date a White Guy...?', this effectively 'traps' black women's image in the forlorn, discarded, unattractive loser category, and places her white female in the sought after, universally attractive category. A reluctance to move this script on denotes a comfort with the roles assigned to each and the fact that dividends accrue to other groups from black women being low positioned.

Indeed, the fact that after many years, it doesnt occur to folks that things have moved on and we need new stories and new view points, testifies to the fact that there is a 'status quo' need to keep black women's image in the unattractive category. This is also in line with the general media theme of presenting an unappealing image of black women.

So what about black media, and why do black women get kept in the 'forever bleating over black man' loop. Well its simple really, this 'framing' keeps black women looking at interracial dating as something wrong, something for black men, and something they have to fight to win black men back from. Trapped within this loop of thinking means black women never get out of seeing interracial dating as a negative thing, and indeed shunning it in their personal choices to remain consistent (yes black women show themselves to be very worried and particular about being moral and consistent in their belief systems and this is often used to secure them in place). Job done!

So it has been identified that best way to keep black women from getting any ideas about interracial dating is to keep the focus and framing and the age old conversations going.

Also black female journalists continue to be unthinking, framing their writings and journalistic investigations to fit in with this formula (never bothering to analyze what effect keeping things the way they are has on black women). But this is no suprise really as many continue to believe that the black female's only preoccupation should be serving the fight for the black community, and this should be the only organising precept for black women's lives, actions and choices.

Years ago I met one of the black newspaper editors in a book signing event and spoke to him at length about the book etc. He nodeded in agreement at the points I made and as we were about to part company, he said to me, 'I suppose you want a mention in my column'. I said 'Yes of course please do'. I must add here that I dont believe that black men can be fairminded in this respect. I believe that most are self serving, and out for themselves. I believe that they have been so spoilt and catered to within the black movement that now, the average black man continues to view issues in terms of all he can get out of it, and is unfit for considering anything beyond himself particularly anything as far removed from his immediate gratification as 'black uplift'.

And guess what, this editor proved me correct because after waiting for weeks for him to honor his promise, the article he finally trotted out months later was still the same old drivel centering on black men and their choices with the necessary accompanying picture of a black male in a romantic clinch with a white female. Once again it was about focussing black women on black men and their interracial activities and thus getting black women all caught up in the whole unproductive discussion about, 'Why do black men date white women' and 'How do we get our black men back'. These folks have been succesfully 'mind guarding' black women from a productive consideration of interracial dating particularly as something for them also.

See the aim here is not to somehow find a solution or bring about dialogue, it is about keeping black women occupied in fruitless concerns so they dont move on or off with their lives. Indeed most of these male editors are sitting on necessary conversations and ideas just to keep the status quo in place, and I am not just talking about the area of relationships. Many of us are wondering why the black community is going down the drain. It is indeed going down because the class of black people in charge of communicating life saving information are either trying to maintain the big fish in a little pond situation and are thinking, 'If I release this information or this finding etc, things will move on and out from my domination and control'.

And to add, I feel very sad for black women who invest the level of trust and hope they do in the black man being fair and considerate towards them. If they really knew how these men operate and that the only thought in the vast majority of these men is 'getting theirs', many of these women would have a heart attack. I can never trust black men with moving the interest of black women on, even if they get themselves a sex change. Selfishness and opportunism have become the key features of black male politics and it is as clear as day to observe, that is apart from those desperate not to see!

Get clued up about interracial dating with the Interracial Dating E-Book

Send your questions to (I will try my best to give a reply/answer)


SMH said...

Folks who are not open to IR will always respond to this 'hot button' issue and get spun up and remain stuck. Fact is finding a solution - eliminates ratings. No spun up people no show, article etc. no rating no revenue. Folks are not thinking and asking who gains from this way of thinking - they are reacting and remaining stuck.


CW said...

'Why are they still stuck in the 1985 conversation?'

That's what I'd like to know...However I do suspect that one doesn't get far when forced to keep going 'round in circles...


Anonymous said...

What newspaper was it? I might pick it up and read the article.


jazine said...

I think this goes beyond not being open to IR in general. The dynamic that exists between bw and bm regarding this issue is very distinctive than just being anti-IR.

Although this dynamic has been challenged, due to the efforts of bw being more vocal and getting involved with non-bm, the BC still likes to prop up this old binary system: bw being in a default position of lack, while being at the their wits end trying to cajole bm to come back "home" from the clutches of ww. It's not a mere coincidence that bw and wm mating was totally barred from the discourse.

I will always cringe at how bw in the United States (I don't know the situation in the UK, Halima) shot themselves in the foot by being all too compliant with the media to depict themselves in a very unflattering light. All the shouting from the rooftops on the talk shows from the 90s about nothing but a bm, wm aren’t sh*t compared to the bm, etc. I’m not surprised that quite a few bw are having a hard time treading IR waters.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for another insightful article Halima.

I am glad that you pointed out that BW need to stop looking and expecting for BM to be fair.

@ Jazine

I remember those shows and while I was only a kid I think that did a lot of damage. I think it makes nonblack men hesistant and gave the green light for BM to act a plumb fool.

When I used to go on youtube before it got really bad - you could see videos of BW saying this and I know BW who say this garbage now in real life.

LorMarie said...

Great Essay! What I find completely frustrating is black women who simply will not move on. Exactly what is the appeal of black men that bw would limit themselves to them? It's been 20 years and I still can't figure it out. I'm not saying black men are what the cat dragged in. I'm saying that they aren't any more sexually appealing than white, Asian, or Latin men.

This is something I will definitely ask a bw when I get the chance.

Anonymous said...

Things are women are dating out. I used to care now I dont. They love to feel like we are angry and sad.

Taylor-Sara said...

Great Post Halima!
This is what I keep wondering as well! Many times I will post on something and bm will be nowhere close to the conversation, and almost like magic, some bm will jump in talking about how bitter bw are that they don't have them! Excuse me! I am stumped as to why they are supposed to be so great. They have NOTHING any other man does not have, and they are certainly nothing special....

Selena said...

Great post Halima. I'm beginning to see more bw/non-black men each day!

Cdnblackchick said...

I agree with you and your bloggers. Too much energy is being spent, especially by bm, to broadcast falsely that we are not marriage material.

We have always been strong and we need to change our mindset about our dating options. I am expanding my options because I refuse to settle for crap. However, I know this road will not always easy. To some men, we are invisible. We need to be out there for them to know that we are interested.

Khadija said...

To me, this just reinforces the fact that BW need to "clean house" across the board. We need to take a fresh look at who it is that we trust to: (1) provide the "news" that we take in; (2) give us advice (about anything); and to (3) provide advocacy for our interests.

So far, the vast majority of the individuals that we have entrusted with these tasks have betrayed us. However, this continued betrayal is only possible because we continue to place our trust in these people. And for the most part, these people that we've entrusted are self-serving BM and BM-serving BW.

It's long past time to clean house, and sweep ALL of these folks out of our minds and out of our lives. We all need to make a deliberate effort to seek out life-giving, life-enhancing sources of information, advice and advocacy.

Also, more of us need to take up the challenge of BECOMING sources of life-enhancing information, advice and advocacy. This is what Halima and a few other BW are doing with their blogs. I challenge the audience to do what they can to join this fight for the future of BW and Black girls!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Anonymous said...

Blaming Black women for everything seems to be a really contagious disease that can even be found in the most unlikely of places. Try to figure out where I mean.

Anonymous said...

People attempt to paint Black women in that same light even in quotidian interactions. I've had folks of various racial backgrounds ask me what I think of BM with WW when they find out I'm with a WM. They're always surprised when I reply, "Nothing," because they're expecting and desiring the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth that they believe every BW exhibits over the thought of a BM with a WW (or any non-BW).

cool_splash1 said...

Something I found out recently is that bw don't even own media that is geard toward them. I am talking about magazines like Ebony, Essence for example. That makes absolutely no sense what so ever.