Unclaimed Treasures

Let’s End the Sexual Segregation of Black Women

By Fannie Banks-Wells
Are black women too segregated to get the love they deserve?
We now know that 70% of black women are single because there is a dramatic shortage of black males but why are we keeping ourselves separated from other races. According to social studies researchers, black women are a very conservative group when it comes to dating outside the color line but should we now color outside the lines?

“ I’m not the ugliest woman in the world. And if I was, I’d still deserve having a man of my own.” Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now, Maya Angelou

“Girl that man has gotta thang for you!” giggled Denise as she whispered into Loretta’s ear. The two women worked together at a law office. Loretta a black woman who worked as a staff attorney and Denise was a paralegal. Loretta shrugged off her friend’s giggling and tried to only focus on her mountain of work to prepare for an upcoming trial. As a brown-skinned black woman in her late thirties, Loretta did not date much and that was not by choice. The black men she knew such as other lawyers, seemed to be only interested in the hook-up culture she was not fond of. Loretta only desired a 7 day a week relationship vs. just a Friday night one. She loved the look of black men, especially the real chocolate-looking guys. Since her teenage years, she has yet to have a satisfying relationship with a black male counterpart. She knew that her coworker Denise who is also black and married thought that she should flirt and engage with Nathan, the Filipino man who also worked at her office. Loretta knew it was true Nathan a first-generation Asian American born to immigrant parents, did find her to be very attractive as he always complimented her on her office sense of style. She overheard Nathan one time describe Loretta as being sweet and beautiful when he thought she was not in earshot. He often winked and would make comments like “I eat dinner alone a lot and I would love to have someone like you to share meals with” as Loretta blushed like a fifteen-year-old girl. She contemplated, “not only do I have to deal with possibly dating someone at work which is a hazardous notion but also would we even get along,” she thought. “ There are huge cultural differences,” Loretta thought “isn’t there?”

Statistics show that since the 1970’s black men are one of the biggest male groups that date and marry outside the black community (Pew Research Group,2015).

It is only recently more single black women have begun to color outside the black lines as well. I have had three female blood-related relatives marry recently and none of them chose black males. Their selections were due to the fact that initially, no compatible black males were around, and because the non-black men they choose they now adore.

“He won’t satisfy you sexually,” (I have heard this comment made by black men over and over and women in interracial relationships know this is an invalid statement) a black male acquaintance of mine, told me this when I told him that I will consider coloring outside the black lines as well. “You are supposed to be there for us and you are supposed to have our back”, he said. Yes, I have heard this over and over and over as our black males expect the black women to stand by them even when they at times do not stand by us. As a black woman, I now understand why Malcolm X said in a speech, “The most disrespected person in America, is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman”(speakola.com).

We are neglected when a racist criminal justice system removes potential boyfriends/husbands out of communities only to become part of the prison system. We are neglected when African American men fall in love with images of caucasian women perpetuated by the media and insist that only a fair-skinned woman will do for romantic engagement. We are neglected when black women are raised in middle-income homes and acquire middle to high incomes, only to not find a lack of compatible male counterparts. Due to that neglect, we need and deserve all of the companionship, adoration, and affection we can possibly stand.

“I wanna be with my people”

“Just try it you might like it,” I said to my girl Regina. Regina came to my place for lunch and I served my amazing Curry Chicken Salad; a dish that Regina has never tried. As a home cook, I often try recipes outside the African American classics, such as collards or yams that are candied. “I am not very adventurous when it comes to food or things in general” Regina admitted to me. “How do you know if you like something or not if you do not even try it?” I said. One bite of my Curry Chicken Salad and Regina went back for a second then a third helping.

“I arrived at the conclusion that if a man came along who seemed to me to be honest and sincere, who wanted to make me laugh and succeeded in doing so, a man who had a lilting spirit — if such a man came along who had a respect for other human beings, then if he was Swedish, African, or a Japanese sumo wrestler, I would certainly give him my attention, and I would not struggle too hard if he caught me in a web of charm”.Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now, Maya Angelou

I recently read a wonderful book called Is Marriage for White People?: How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone by Ralph Richard Banks. In the book, he states that the single black women he interviewed that are reluctant to sexually integrate were due to cultural concerns. The black women admitted in some cases that non-black men had expressed romantic interest in them but they did not respond to those men because they felt that he might understand their “blackness”. The Author also talked to black women who did cross color lines to find a compatible mate and were honest that in the beginning, the interracial union had a few initial impediments. For example, one woman in his book stated that she had to educate her Japanese mate about why she covered her hair with a bonnet at night. Another woman had to educate her white man about black slang. But what touched me about these stories, was that in each case the man had a genuine interest in the black woman’s life enough to begin to learn about her African American culture. I have always thought that what makes life worth sticking around is learning something new and could that something new in your life possibly be learning about the habits and lifestyle of a new man’s culture?. Many black women have found that while learning about their new man’s family/community customs, they also began to dig him, want him, love him and that could be you and me too! My main takeaway from this book was that even when racial/cultural differences between lovers exist, if lovers shared the same values and/or life outlook, then a union could be solidified. Instead of us being fearful of pursuing a relationship with that Filipino or white guy that is clearly smitten with you, maybe we can look at a race that does not match our own as an opportunity to see “how the other lives”.

“I can wait for a dream come true or let a real dream come to me”.Urkel in the TV sitcom “Family Matters

If you ever watched “Family Matters” in the 1990s, you are familiar with the character Urkel a lovable nerd, the public could not get enough of. Urkel was crazy for Laura Winslow who would not give him “the time of day” for the most part. Then came along a character named Myrna Monkhouse played by the stunning late actress, Michelle Thomas. Myrna romantically pursued Urkel and he resisted at first because of course he could not forget about Laura. I will never forget the episode when Urkel decided to stop resisting Myrna’s advances. He stated that he had waited so long for a relationship with Laura Winslow and now he realized that he could wait for Laura, his dream come true or he will let Myrna another dream come to him. Black women are often raised to look out for “our own”. We are often told at a young age that our black males need us and that our loyalty and support of black males are essential to the race. I agree with that sentiment as black women we must take every opportunity to support our black male youth and men in any way can. However, when it comes to our intimate/romantic lives, some black women today and in the future can no longer afford to be the sexually segregated women we have been in the past.

Wang, Wendy (2015), Interracial marriage: Who is ‘marrying out?Pew ResearchCenter,https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/urls_cited/ot2015/14-981/14-981-9.pdf

Malcolm X: ‘The most disrespected person in America, is the black woman’, Speech to women — 1964

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