Saturday, May 19, 2007

BM-WF

“I want all the white women they wanted but were never able to get.” This attitude shown in Soul On Ice is exactly the attitude that many believe is the incentive for all black males that seek or just happen to become involved with white women. This, of course, is not true in all instances. The decision of aligning oneself based on personal beliefs versus that which is usually associated with one’s race is a choice that has plagued black Americans throughout history. Stereotypes are at the ready for black Americans but there is one that is more damaging to the unity of the race than any other; the exaltation of the “White Goddess.” The history behind the relationship of the black man and white woman is too strong and the internal struggles caused by such a twosome too dangerous. A right of citizenship, the right to pursue happiness, has been provided to African Americans. However, there are some aspects of this blessing that are not further needed to advance the race. The right to pursue one's individual choices in life pertaining to interracial marriage should be handled responsibly and done with the solidarity of black America in mind. Its importance should not be at the top of the black man’s list but it should be taken into consideration because they should be aware of the message being sent by this action. This action shows that some do not find their own race worthy of their standards. Those that believe and follow this brand of logic have, in the past, usually been the ones wreaking havoc on blacks. The argument is not being made that all decisions should be based on who one thinks is watching and what understanding is being taken from those actions, but this one should. In order for blacks to reap all benefits of being citizens, black men must push aside a right given to them to do just that. Although post Civil Rights America has afforded blacks the right to marry whoever they want, black men should not marry white women because it disrupts the solidarity black America must have in its quest for justice and equality.

White woman = freedom

Black woman = slavery

The white goddess became the black male’s declaration of freedom to the white masses. Along with the glorification of white females came the degradation of black females. Black males slacked in the protection department. Because of this lack of protection, black women began to question their worth to not only their communities but to their men. It seems as though they figured the key to a man’s heart was by looking like a white woman.

When white men felt the interracial relationship scene was getting out of hand, they did the same things they had done when presented with problems regarding the politically powerless black race in the past (Black Codes): passed laws to ban it. The law was finally repealed in 1967 signaling the opportunity to explore their rights to freedom in a way never before possible in the United States. This new found freedom allowed the black man to pursue a desire his ancestors were not afforded.

The black race has the most severely skewed sex ratio (females being the larger group) yet black males not only are the most open group to interracial relationships, they engage in interracial marriages the most. Realizing the power of white physical assimilation, companies began to market products to aid in the process. Skin bleaching products, hair straightners, and other like items became a staple in black communities. Money entered the picture and solidarity crumbled. Black companies exploited their own women: their daughters, wives, and mothers, to not only please their desire for white looking women, but to make money. The constant bombardment from public arenas that the new black was to look white continued the devaluation of the black female. Once black women start trying to look white, men start marrying them in record numbers. Today the black woman conforming to white standards of beauty is not hard to find. Colored contacts, dyed hair, relaxed hair, and other unnatural physical alterations are the norm rather than the exception nowadays. Now of course if you go up to a woman on the street who is black as night but has gray contacts and blonde hair in she will deny wanting to look like a white woman. She’s just trying to look like her favorite superstar who is trying to look like a white woman. The pervasion of the trend leads the black man back to the white woman. A black woman with white features is not hard to come by so one must run back to the white goddess. The imbalance of males to females makes the black woman, who marries interracially at the same rate as other groups other than the black male, sink to new lows to attract males. Solidarity is weakened by the corruption of relationships. The saying “it’s so hard to find a good black man these days,” is not far from the truth. These good black males, those whom decide to pursue endogamy, are hard to find and therefore act with a freedom never seen before. Cheating, lying, and bad behavior is dealt with more often because if a black females leaves this good male, she sees her chances of finding another one, if she finds another one, slim to none. Black women are forced to be more sexual to garner attention. This survival tactic breathes new life into Jezebel. Black women are forced to compete in an environment that does not facilitate healthy relationships and no healthy relationships equals lack of togetherness in the community. Without a working relationship between sexes, no group can attain solidarity.

The more education a male receives, the more likely he is to engage in an interracial relationship. This changes what black males strive for by signifying that dating a white woman is a by product of success. Also apparent is the successful black male, though entertainment or otherwise, indulging himself with white women.

Just a couple quick examples:

Kanye West in Gold Digger– “And when he get on he leave yo ass for a white girl.”
Also him having a white woman playing his girlfriend in the Touch the Sky video...you know...the song about success more or less.

The show Adventures in Hollyhood on MTV – Who is Juicy J going on dates with? What race are the women they give to him as a "gift"?

Nothing is morally wrong with black male-white female relationships, just that the black identity should guide one away from them. This same battle between individual and group identity happens when it comes to black republicans. It is safe to say that most blacks are democrats. Black society believes that this political party has their best interest in mind. Those blacks who chose to identify with other parties, especially republican, are then thought to be acting outside of their race’s best interest. The suffering black identity, due in part to the relationships it has failed to discourage, is not strong enough to deter these relationships on its own.

The black males’ admiration of white women is of course a stereotype. One that prevents the group solidarity necessary before a group can operate effectively from a bargaining position of strength in a pluralistic society. Black behavior should not be guided to not conform to stereotypes. That is not the purpose of not conforming to this one. The individual relationships themselves are damaging to some individuals but the primary concern is the harm done to the whole. This union is not the only with the potential to cause a raucous. The homophobic black community would be none to welcoming to gay or lesbian marriage. Marriage should not be used to express solidarity but it can be used to show commitment to your race.

Without solidarity there is no political power and no way to grasp all things entwined in freedom and citizenship. By simply acting with black solidarity in mind, one can improve black America’s chances of fully achieving our rights of citizenship. There are many aspects in which blacks can change the way they behave in doing such but this appears to be one of the easiest. This right that was afforded us was good when first supplied. It allowed us to fully illustrate our power in the disproval of the stereotype by performing it. Unfortunately now it is out of hand and is reverting and giving the stereotype more power than before. Black males may not be able to control who they fall in love with but they are able to control who they put themselves in a position to fall in love with.

24 comments:

Brik said...

Does the same "problem" exist if the black man dated puerto rican or dominican women in record numbers, or is the an issue only if the women involved are White or of european descent? Is it considered an interracial marriage if a black man dates a non african-american woman (clearly more a culture than a race) who is racially black? Beans, this site spews a ton of invective that seems misplaced considering the bloggers are freaking Yale students for Christ's sake. One could of always gone to Howard.

Brittani said...

What does Howard or Yale have to do with anything?
People are people. People have opinions. And these opinions lead people to believe that we spew invective, spit knowledge, or whatever it may be. Where is this place for invective?

Anonymous said...

Black women aren't the only race that changes the way they look you know. Women of every ethnicity dye their hair, wear colored contacts, and attempt to change their skin tone. Black women may try to lighten their skin tones, but white women also try to darken theirs. White women also by brown contacts, perm their hair and dye their hair every color (black included). White women also get lip and butt injections, what race would you say they are trying to look like?
You choose to look at things one way, and one way only. It's sad that you are fighting racism, by becoming racist.

Camille said...

" The homophobic black community would be none to welcoming to gay or lesbian marriage. Marriage should not be used to express solidarity but it can be used to show commitment to your race."

If marriage is going to serve any sort of purpose in the struggle for Black civil rights, then it needs to be accessible to everyone involved. As long as queer black people are so disenfranchised within the black community, a divisive tool like marriage is not really effective. No matter how down I am with black solidarity, if marriage is the weapon of choice, count me out (well, I have no say in that anyway in all but one or two states).

Also, I'd like to see us push this discourse a little further. White men aren't revered as god/esses quite like white women, but white men chosen as celebrities are very different from black male celebrities, too; I think a lot of this has to do with who's defined as beautiful. Where's the black equivalent of Tom Cruise? How many black male celebrities make the People Magazine Most Beautiful list? (Only once has a black man been named their Sexiest Man Alive, yeah Denzel). These beauty myths exist for men just like they do for women (probably not as strongly as for women, but they are still there)--therefore we can talk about it outside of heterocentric confines. If white women are revered as goddesses and black women are denigrated, how does this play out in interracial lesbian relationships? How would it play out in a queer polyamorous relationship? See, we get way more questions about this and angles to view it from outside a hetero frame.

Good post, but let's keep pushing the idea a little further.

Melay said...

anonymous,

I think that the point Brittani is trying to make is that many women of color fall victim to the beauty standards that white supremacy dictates. It is one thing for a white woman to want to get a tan, butt implant, collagen implant in her lips, etc. When a white woman chooses to changed her looks as such, she is not doing so because she is degraded constantly in the media for the origins of her aesthetic. She will never be called junglebunny or a nappyheaded ho, because she is white. And even when she decides to take on a few "black" physical characteristics, she will be heralded for trying something new and exotic, while black women with a completely black aesthetic will be pushed to the margins of beauty. Also, I have never come across a white woman, or anyone for that matter, who sought to tan themselves so dark that they would actually look black. Trying to look "exotic" is not ascribing yourself to black beauty; to the contrary tanning is the pursuit of racelessness or the exotic ethnic ambiguity that has long been a problematic fixture in Western ideations of the other. Tanning, is not equal in ANY way to skin bleaching, which is a deliberate act to take away one's race.

When women of color react to the historically pervasive pressures to deracialize themselves, I think we have a problem in the ways in which we approach beauty and race. There are many pieces on the topics of colorism and the adverse affects of white standards of beauty on women of color: "The Bluest Eye" "Yellowman""School Daze"

I also suggest that you look into the paper bag test, the ruler test, the Venus Hottentot, the rise and fall of Josephine Baker. I would love to discuss these topics with you, as I think that they will lend themselves to a better understanding of beauty's race politics.

Also, please be weary of using the term racist as a synonym of prejudiced. Racism is the domination of a form of prejudice, thus connoting an assumed level of power for the prejudiced party. Please post an explanation of how Brittani's post is racist.

Anonymous said...

melay -
First of all, I want to apologize for the use of the term racism. It's a strong word, but I think this post in particular caused some strong emotions. I feel that racism does go both ways, and that it’s not always best to jump to conclusions about people. What got me going in particular was that Brittani feels that it is wrong for blacks to marry whites. If a white person were to make those remarks, it would be considered racism, no matter their reason behind saying it. If this sentence came from a white person, I definitely feel that they would be called a racist: "Marriage should not be used to express solidarity but it can be used to show commitment to your race."
Brittani mentions: "Although post Civil Rights America has afforded blacks the right to marry whoever they want, black men should not marry white women because it disrupts the solidarity black America must have in its quest for justice and equality." Wouldn't interracial marriage be a step towards equality? Wouldn't it actually cause a more of a melting pot? I personally see a place where there is a freedom to mix ethnicities as a better place than that of a place where each ethnic is aiming to achieve racial segregation in the homes of America. I know that black men primarily marry white women, but don't you think that over time this may change and black women will start marrying white men?
She makes it sound as if it is black men that make that choice, but I think white women have a role in it too. I’ve been around white women talking about black men, and they openly drool over black men. So I think the other side of this could be simply that white women are open to the idea of dating men of other ethnicities, and are therefore pursuing these men more.
As far as black women changing their looks because they are degraded in the media, I think this is a fight all women have to go through. Whether it is obesity, height, hair color, or freckles, crooked teeth, and facial hair, women of colors strive to be what the media thinks they should be. But words like junglebunny or nappyheaded ho, are going to get a lot more attention than words like fatty, freckle face, white trash, or ginger. Black women aren’t alone with the struggle against the media, unless they choose to be.

Brittani said...

Anonymous,
I never said it was wrong. If that's what you think you clearly misunderstood the argument being made. If a white person made this statement and had an argument similar to mine, I do not think they would be called racist.

I do not believe in the melting pot. I believe in the fruit salad.

White women marry interracially at about the same rate as all other groups other than black males. So you may see white women dating interracially but there are more white women than black men to go around.

I suggest you reread the post without writing it off as an attack and see it for what it is. A suggestion, an idea, an observation, and an opinion. This is a black justice blog. Shouldn't we be challenging people to think outside the box? To look at things from a different perspective without writing it off as racist? Stop letting mainstream society tell you what is right and wrong. I will not allow the past to place a fear in me to say what I believe becuase of how some may perceive it. You may not appreciate the argument but you should at least respect it.

Brittani said...

Camille,
I was saying a black male marrying a black female is showing committment to the race. Not to be used as a weapon. I did not consider same sex marriage being used for solidarity nor am I sure that I could argue that it should be. I agree that marriage should be accessible to everyone. What I meant was when a black male brings a white female to a black community (in this case and assuming the male is from a black community) it sometimes causes some noise. The same happens when a black males announces his plans to be with another male (again assuming he is from a black community). The purpose was to say both situations sometimes shake up black communities. It can be unwelcoming to both situations. And yes, the homophobic black community is a problem. One which stems from many many things which I will not get into right now.

Melay said...

anonymous,

"Whether it is obesity, height, hair color, or freckles, crooked teeth, and facial hair, women of [all] colors strive to be what the media thinks they should be."

I think that the root of much of our disagreement can be derived from the aforementioned statement. While I do not believe in racial essentialism, I firmly believe that the double consciousness that people of color in this country experience is the apex of a psychosocial difference, which you continually dismiss in your comments. In "Souls of Black Folk"- a book I hope you read if you haven't already- DuBois asserts the doubled identity of the people of color in this country, a notion that precludes a freedom from race consciousness that white Americans are privy to. I am not disregarding the difficulties that all women face at the hands of patriarchy, but I do take issue with equating dark skin with crooked teeth or the term nappyheaded ho with fatty. Most of these "imperfections" or physical aberrations are not intrinsic to one's race and in many cases- save for freckles- can be altered. This difference is at the heart of double consciousness-- All women may strive to be what the media dictates, but women of color are striving for something that they can NEVER be. And the consciousness of that difference- that is the double consciousness that black women face.

So if I were to be called a fatty, I could diet my life away knowing that I physically can become rail thin. But if I'm called a junglebunny--well, there's nothing I can do about that.

Anonymous said...

Re: hair straightening.

It is problematic to continue to assign political meaning to one's aesthetic choices, such as the way we, black women, wear our hair. While I do think many of us still subscribe to ideologies promoting European looks as standard, I do not think the proper way to counteract that is by rejecting all relaxers/straighteners and deeming those who do straighten as 'buying into the white aesthetic.' Some of us straighten our hair, because we like the look and the versatility, not b/c we have strong aversions to afros or looking like a 'jungle bunny.'

Brittani said...

I do not think that all women who straighten their hair are trying to look white. Just clarifying.

AllNatural said...

I have to be skeptical about the motivations of Black women who straighten their hair. What are they trying to look like, if not White people?

Let me clarify- I am not mad at or judgmental of any woman who chooses to straighten her hair, nor do I feel superior for rockin a natural style, but I think it is naive to pretend that this decision of whether or not to straighten one's hair would even have to be made if Black beauty was TRULY accepted and valued in today's society, by Whites and Blacks alike.

The truth is that in these days, permed Black hair has become the rule for women, and natural hair the exception to that rule. Hence, Black women who choose not to straighten their hair must be making some sort of statement, or they must be particularly strong or independent. Why can't they just be happy with themselves and how their hair grows? Because that's unheard of. It relates back to the subject of the original post, which is that it's hard out here for a Black woman when Black men are constantly being bombarded with messages about the superiortiy of White women- and Black women who look like them.

Anonymous said...

First, why should we even question the motivation behind something as superficial as a hairstyle? Why?

Second, more and more, Black women are deciding not to perm and are going natural. It's not a faux pas to have an afro, dreds, twists, kinks, etc. and whoever believes they're making some thought-provoking, awe-inspiring statement by refusing to straighten thinks way too highly of themselves, b/c sorry to say but it is not that serious any more. It isn't the 60's or 70's, so to all those who think their mini-afro is showing solidarity with the 'revolution' please believe that your clothing and hair are not the huge political statement that you thought they were.

Third, your comment "Why can't they just be happy with themselves and how their hair grows?" can be applied to anyone, regardless of race, who alters their hair, via heat, chemical, dye, etc. I hardly think you would say that a person with locs that were died blond was self-hating?

By associating straightening with self-hate, you're just doing the same thing as those who stereotype Blacks with natural hair as 'rabble-rousers'/'anti-establishment.' Stop injecting so much meaning and substance into something as trivial as hair.

Re: hair straightening, white beauty ideals, and black relationships
The fracture between Black men and women is far far deeper than having the image of White Barbie as the beauty ideal for the past 40-50 years or so. Honestly in this day and age where a lot of Black men are looking for some super voluptuous woman with a fat a**, which many White women do not have, we cannot overly simplify this dialogue and say "Black men don't want us b/c we don't look like skinny Becky next door." Since when was Becky known for having a 26 inch waist and a 38 inch bottom? We have to go deeper.

Naima said...

"Stop injecting so much meaning and substance into something as trivial as hair."

Historically, hair has been as much an aesthetic marker of race (and at times moreso) than skin color. The issue of hair has been central to African American identity and culture; to simply dismiss hair as "trivial" is to misunderstand the past and present of race politics, aesthetics, and consciousness in this country and throughout the nations of the Diaspora.

Mark said...

from Metropolitician, a mixed-race Korean-African-American Ethnic Studies grad student living in Seoul(http://metropolitician.blogs.com/scribblings_of_the_metrop/2005/06/on_the_supposed.html)

obviously, Metropolitician is examining a very different situation and a very different set of historical conditions and contemporary issues than Brittani, and one cannot examine their two posts side by side as opposing reflections on the same phenomenon.

While I can't justly or resposibly compare these two reflections in a brief comment, I do think they represent two interesting view points in what's not only an issue of BM/WF, but the wider issue of interracial relationships that concerns all racialized populations and affects each population in unique ways.

glad I heard about the blog and look forward to following it!

Some selected clips from metropolitician's post:

"I get a sense of how developed one's thinking is on the subject of identity politics from being privy to listening to conversations about the horrors of interracial white men with Korean women. The reason I even get to hear this is because most Korean Ams who know me tend to think I'm an "insider" in this respect and generally don't self-censor around me when they point out a "gross white guy" with an overly-happy-to-be-there Korean girl over-enunciating her English "r's" and overdoing her dipthongs. Since I'm Korean-Girl-Approved™ by virtue of the fact that I "have a Korean mother" and am a "real person of color" by virtue of the fact that my "half-Korean" status comes from a Black man's sperm and not a white man's, I'm "down." Actually, in most states in the US, I'm still "down by law." MC Shan would improve..."

"In the last couple of weeks, I've been having such conversations with friends' friends and other random Korean American people I've randomly socialized with, and have had to endure again the oft-repeated lament about "another" Korean girl with a "lame" white dude.

Do I disagree that there are a lotta lame white (and other) dudes who snag some groovy Korean girl way above the level of their abilities back home? Nope. Don't I see a lotta more weirdos in the ex-pat population that at home? Yep – a lot! Don't I look when I see an international/interracial couple pass by? Oh, yeah – I always catch a furtive second look. But do I categorically disapprove? No way. Why would that be?

Because this "politically correct" fretting and "concern" that it's "problematic" is just intellectualized cover for racist hatred of "miscegenation." That's it. Nothing more. When I hear such talk, I get frustrated that they don't just call "a spade a spade." It is a superficial and flimsy cover that masks a simple racist revulsion and racialized paternalism felt when considering "white" cock entering "yellow" pussy, which is then compounded by and refracted through many Koream males' own gendered experience with racial otherization back in the US.

Hey – I understand it. It makes a certain kind of sense. I understand the sentiments, since I have them myself, buried deep down in my psyche. I lived in the same nearly psychotic obsession with race in American culture, an inevitable psycho-cultural pattern informed by hundreds of years of intense fear, loathing, tension, and guilt over the supposed "races" to which we all allegedly belong.

Except that when these feelings come rising up, I filter them through some informed thinking on the subject, a little bit of logic, and some always useful thought experimentation that generally involves me stepping into someone else's shoes.

So when – as is sooo often the case when speaking with Korean American males who don't utilize some similar sort of filter to compensate for personal complexes and nasty prejudices before putting mouth in gear – I am at a restaurant having a perfectly pleasant-yet-insipid conversation about the new Star Wars movie, the fact that Xbox 360 is going to be high-def, or how much I hate certain of my bosses, when an interracial couple passes by coming back from the buffet counter and a Koream guy who I don't even know well starts going off about his emasculization and barely hides his disgust at even seeing such a couple sitting together...well – it just plain spoils my dinner.

Because – let's be real – people don't get all up in arms and hot under the collar about marriage demographics, outmarriage rates, or any other sociological minutiae. Well, maybe sociologists or other dedicated academics might, but not the Koream guy going on and on about it across the table from me in the Sizzler's. And hey, even academics spewing on about it really aren't that concerned for "the people" or the "minjok" or other notions of "racial purity." Waitaminnit - even if they were, they'd be racist, too!

Just say it, just like old school Southern white dudes do/did – "I don't want to imagine them fucking MY women!" I'd respect that more than the bullshit, pseudo-intellectualized rationalizations that are generally (and poorly) bandied about in public. They just barely keep the discourse seemingly respectable, even though to a well-trained and critical mind, the origins of such sentiments are as plain as day.

On and on I have to listen to Korean American men moan about how much the white man has taken away their masculinity, about how they've been maligned in the media, or "their" women are the object of the white man's common, heterosexual affection.

Man, I agree with ya. What you say is 100% true, dawg.

But fucking GET OVER YOURSELF, already.

As a fat brown man with curly hair and chicken legs, I'd love to for once be ASSUMED to be intelligent when I walk in a room. I'd love to have had the financial privelege to have even considered coming to Korea to explore my identity issues before graduating from college. I'd love to have money to burn in Kangnam bars, or hang out in Korean-exclusive joints. I've only been on a sogaeting a couple of times in my life, but most Korean women don't want to meet someone like me on purpose, and I don't blame them. I can't play basketball, don't rap, and my dick is not even near to being inordinately large.

Anonymous said...

"Historically, hair has been as much an aesthetic marker of race (and at times moreso) than skin color. The issue of hair has been central to African American identity and culture; to simply dismiss hair as "trivial" is to misunderstand the past and present of race politics, aesthetics, and consciousness in this country and throughout the nations of the Diaspora."

Key word: historically. Yes, hair has been an important part of race dialogue for forever. However, I honestly feel like it is time to move on. When we continue assign/recognize so much political and social importance to our hair we further buy into the commodification or the brand marketing, rather, of Blacks in this country. Not everything we do, be it from wearing our hair kinky to straight needs to be dissected and examined under the lens of "Is this Black enough?." It just further perpetuates stereotyping on both fronts, IMO.

By discounting the importance of my hair style choice, as a Black women, takes nothing away from the 'movement.' Instead, I'm just trying to reclaim what has been taken away from me...my individual right to express my gender and race how I see fit and to not have everything I do/say/like be assessed for whether it displays Black pride.

Melay said...

thought people might be interested in this article on skin bleaching in india: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/30/business/media/30adco.html?_r=2&ref=worldbusiness&oref=slogin&oref=sloginhun

Anonymous said...

I was admitted to Yale AND Howard. I was also admitted to Harvard and hold degrees from Howard and Harvard. Try not to cast aspersions if you don't have a grip on their ramifications.

Brik, your username must be descriptive of the substance utilized to shape your skull. If you think THIS is invective, I suggest you toughen up before your fantasy world doorknob hits you in the backside on your way into the real world.

You're an asshole.

Anonymous said...

Did a black man or woman write this? Seems like a female. I've never heard of a "white goddess" before- and in my experience of living in the south- black men have little to no interest in white women and want a strong black woman.

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