Sunday, May 31, 2015

White women, black men: The other side of interracial dating

The other night I had the strangest conversation with a 38-year-old Australian woman. My friend introduced her to me, and I was immediately a little taken by her.

She was congenial and chatty, with a distinct no-bullshit edge. Most importantly on a Friday night, she was a straight woman in gay bar who wasn't playing the I'm-such-a-fabulous-fag-hag-card and taking up way more space than necessary. (There are way too many of those in Sydney!) She was definitely my kind of girl.

And as it turned out, I was her kind of guy. One of the first things she told me was how attractive she finds black men. She wasn't trying to pick me up. As I said, we were in a gay bar...she had absolutely no ulterior motive and no shot with me. In fact, though she complimented my biceps, she made no direct comment on my looks -- unless you consider a compliment about "black men" a direct compliment to each one of them.

She was just making conversation, and she was doing most of the heaving lifting, so I let her proceed.

"I really find black people attractive. Actually, I find them more attractive than white people. I'm not sure why. There's just something more there. Don't get me wrong. I also like white men. I find them beautiful, too. But I just find black people to be better looking. The men are just hotter."

I was really starting to like this girl. There was something almost apologetic about the way she was expressing herself, which meant she'd spent some time thinking not only about her racial proclivities when it comes to sexual attraction but also how it must come across to black people. And her high praise included black women -- that underdog demo that, Beyonce aside, is often overlooked by whites with an up-with-blacks agenda.

She must have read my mind when she made the disclaimer about finding white men attractive, too. I hate any kind of exclusive or discriminatory thinking when it comes to race and sex, even when it works in my favor. I have no problem with racial preferences. It's the racial blockades by which I cannot abide. She was a chocolate queen, but she was open to other flavors. I couldn't ask for anything more.

Her openness, however, wasn't surprising. I can't recall ever previously having had a conversation with a white woman who dates black men about dating black men. But from a distance, I've noticed that when a straight white woman dates a straight black guy, it's less likely to be part of a pattern, her thing. Most of her exes will not necessarily be black.

Uninitiated straight white women who have yet to "go black" are probably just as curious. However, after their curiosity is satisfied, their long-term behavior is probably less likely to be racially motivated. Once they "go black," they're probably more inclined to go back. I have no scientific evidence of this; it's just a working theory. And I realize there are always exceptions.

Meanwhile, I find that with gay white men who date black men, it tends to be more of a trend. (One can probably say the same thing about gay black men who date white men.) You're rarely the first, and you probably won't be the last. Again, this is not a blanket theory. And there's no judgement here, only observation.

I once presented this idea to a friend (a white guy who dates black men exclusively), and he had an intriguing response. He said it probably has to do with the male emphasis on the physical. Men are driven primarily by physical attraction when choosing a partner, while with women, other factors can play just as vital a role. That might be why women are less likely than men to stick to a physical "type."

What my friend said made a lot of sense, but even if I was willing to accept this theory, I knew that it didn't make women any more color blind than men. After all, I knew the woman I was talking to probably never would have been having this conversation with a white person. Clearly I was first and foremost a black man to her...a gay black man. She probably wouldn't have been having the conversation with a straight black guy either. I couldn't think of a less likely way to get lucky.

Contrary to what many white people who find black people more attractive than white people think, most black people don't really want to hear about it. We'd rather be judged on our own merit, not the merit of our race. We'd rather pretend that you like us for us, not for that specific physical attribute that we share with every other black person. But this was not a pick-up, so I let her continue.

She then started to tell me about the guy she lost her virginity to 20 years ago. He was black, and they remain great friends to this day. Now here is where our interaction started to get a little weird.

She pulled out her phone and began clicking through photos. She wanted to show me one of him. I wasn't sure why. It's not like I had asked what he looked like. I was kind of curious, but I was more interested in seeing a throwback photo from 1995 than in seeing what he looks like today.

Once she found the photo she was looking for, she was on a roll. She showed me a succession of pictures of her now-40ish first-timer posing outside shirtless because, well, why not?

She looked at me expectantly. Clearly she wanted to know what I thought...or more accurately, she wanted my approval...or my respect...or something. Maybe she wanted me to know that she had done well. She not only loves black men, but she can pull in the cream of the chocolate crop, one who barely ages.

I was neither impressed nor unimpressed. He wasn't a bad-looking guy, but I didn't think he was any reason to show off to a complete stranger either. I wondered if she would think I was racist if I told her I didn't think he was all that. But wait, I'm black, too. I am under no obligation to find every black person attractive. Neither are white people, but I was probably in less danger of being labeled racist by an overcompensating white person.

So I said nothing. I just nodded. She could take that as a sign of approval if she wanted to. I'm not sure she even noticed. By then she'd moved on to new business: the nights she's made out with girls. I leaned in to hear more.

4 great songs about interracial romance/sex

"Society's Child" Janis Ian

"Brother Louie" Hot Chocolate

"Island Girl" Elton John

"Jubilee" 10,000 Maniacs

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