KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – I’ve always had a difficult time fitting in; never knowing where I belong in social circles. I have recently come to terms with the notion that I will always be a drifter… floating from crowd to crowd. Nevertheless, a pill I have yet to swallow is how hard it can be to date as a young Black woman.
For most of high school I didn’t really date, I had the odd crush or two but that was it. One of my crushes was a boy in my class, we hung out for a few weeks, but something in my gut told me to run the other way. Simple things, like wanting to touch my hair all the time or telling me how nice my skin was in all it’s chocolaty glory. Those may seem like compliments to some, but to me it felt like my skin was the main attraction. My suspicions turned out to be correct as a rumor quickly spread that he only dated “ethnic” girls. After that I never spoke to him again.
Once I got to the eleventh grade, my peers made dating look so easy. But I continued to face the question, do I date Black or do I date white? A few months into that grade, I met my first real boyfriend. I guess you could say I “chose” white.
Being in an interracial relationship tends to invite lots of questionable remarks like how cute my “mixed babies” will be or how perfect their skin will be. You may consider those to be just lighthearted observations, but they altered the way I view motherhood. I already feel worry and stress about how these hypothetical kids will be judged for not being Black enough or picked on for being “mixed”. Will the world gravitate towards them for their “ideal” skin tone rather than their beautiful personality?
Mainstream society hyper-sexualizes Black women. We are depicted in films as the “hoe”, the “stripper” or the “baby mama”. Music videos portray us as scantily clad, twerking, sex fiends who date pimps and shake it for everyone. Intentionally portraying Black women in dehumanizing roles tells men that it’s okay to fetishize us in addition to adding fuel to long-standing stereotypes of what they should “expect” when dating a Black woman.
A few months ago I received a message request on my Instagram page from a guy I used to go to school with. After chatting me up for a bit he said, “You know, I’ve never been with a black girl before.” I was absolutely stunned! I felt so cheap, so used, so degraded. How do you even respond to something like that? Do men only want to date me because I’m Black? Was I a way to check off a box and tell their buddies they got with a Black chick?
I ponder what my future will hold. I long for a day when I will be sought after, not for the color of my skin, but for my character. Will I date Black or will I date white? I don’t know… All I know is that as long as I stay true to who I am that I will attract the right person; somebody who doesn’t see me only for my skin.
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