We are not all alike.
Just as a man will tell a woman that he’s not like all the rest, I find myself having to show and prove to someone that isn’t black that I’m not like all the rest.
We are not all ghetto, loud mouthed, neck rolling mammies who grew up fatherless in the hood, with Ebonics being used regularly. So again, we are not the same and are definitely cut from a different cloth but sadly, when it comes to dating and even the most innocent of interactions with men from different ethnic groups.
For anyone wearing their rose colored glasses believing race really doesn’t matter when it comes to dating I’m here to tell you that in most cases, it probably does and after this Saturday’s random encounter, I was reminded that the act of stereotyping is still pretty common.
We often hear that we’re too sensitive or may be taking things “too seriously”, but after sitting through a session with someone who was fascinated at even the smallest of things relating to blacks was entertaining at times but soon after, became increasingly annoying as the number of negative associations were thrown my way.
The afternoon scene included two girlfriends enjoying lunch and tossing back a couple of drinks on the west side of LA and after a little shit talking with some guys about sports, one of them asks if he could join our table. We figured there was no harm here and welcomed his company, noticing this white man in his 50’s was either tipsy or just a little off.
As soon as he sits down he seems curiously interested by our interaction before chiming in and asking if we had any children followed by our age, which is when things started to get interesting. I thought he was going to keel over right there at the table when my friend said she was 44 and I responded that I was 40 so then he starts stumbling over his words before saying:
“Wow, you ladies look great because I never would have guessed you were older than about thirty five and damn- I don’t know how to say this without sounding silly and there’s no way of being politically correct here so…” I told him to stop being so dramatic and just spit it out and he says “I have a black girlfriend and she’s aging well just like you. I don’t understand how black people can look so young, what’s the secret?”
Does the fact that he’s with a black woman grant him a temporary ghetto pass to ask this kind of ridiculous question or continue using the phrase “black people”? We just laughed at his awkward compliment and I responded that it was simply because we had more melanin and left it at that.
This man was so proud of the fact that he had a sista and probably mentions this quite often, as if she’s some type of prized collector’s item. I bet he keeps count of how many black friends he has as well. We tend to hear comments about looking so much younger than our years all of the time, so a pass was given but this dude’s behavior was only going to get worse.
“So what about the fathers of your children – are they around?” I have to admit this question threw both me and my friend for a loop because we looked at each other before answering. When she started her reply with “my ex-husband is…” once again, he seemed shocked and replied “Oh, you’ve been married before” and then he’s stammering again about not wanting to say something that comes out the wrong way.
Suddenly, he’s this conscious concerned citizen asking why more black men weren’t present in the lives of their children and while I certainly won’t deny the statistics, I was struggling to understand when this went from a casual lunch with two ladies and a random gentleman had turned into some sort of social enlightenment.
A second pass is given and while his comments could be brushed off as pure curiosity, he was beginning to work our nerves and soon after we started phasing him out of the conversation.
Soon after, we’re talking and laughing about a story I was telling when suddenly our guy sits straight up and says “Wow, did you really just used that kind of word – did you say morphed?” I’m a little confused at first wondering if I had somehow misused the word but he was just staring at me saying how amazing of a word I had used.
Now he’s starting to annoy the shit out of me because he is really sitting across the table staring at me as if I had magically turned into a princess by using words that were beyond a third grade level.
By the time he finally got around to asking if I was interested in white men my patience was pretty damn thin and since he was so entertained at hearing our responses to everything else, why not go for that added shock value. I told him that aside from an encounter at a swinger’s event, I couldn’t really offer an opinion about white men other than his ability to relate was really important.
Next thing I know, he stood up and is walking towards me saying he wanted to find out and grabbed my face as if he was ready to plant a kiss!!!!
Okay, we’re done here – game over.
The mood at our table suddenly became quite icy and in a matter of minutes had settled the bill and stood up to leave before commenting his “presence was no longer needed” and thank goodness, because my patience with him was nonexistent at this point.
Here’s the moral to this story – this type of interaction is exactly what I’m afraid of when I think about possibility of dating white men or other ethnic groups.
Who wants to be in the position of having to explain things that most wouldn’t dare ask about to our faces or worse, finding myself having to prove that we all may not fit the stereotypes engrained in their minds.
Most of the time the same people saying we need to stop making it about race are doing just that – making it about race and even though what happened with this dude could simply be brushed off as a curious fella, we know it was more than that.
I’ve heard some of the dumbest things from men on these dating sites such as “I’m normally not attracted to black girls but…” or “You are a gorgeous black woman – are you mixed or something” and my personal favorite “I just love your skin”. So it makes me wonder if the reason they’re contacting me is legit or solely to fulfill some kind of fantasy.
I promise if others stop making it about race, we’ll stop making it about race.
Until there’s a cure…