I’ll admit: I’m hesitant to date black men.
This doesn’t mean that I won’t date black men or I’m solely interested in white men, which are the automatic assumptions when black women express disinterest in dating black men. It’s simply that I’m primarily trying to protect my emotional well-being and, more recently, perhaps even my physical well-being.
Now, some people—both black men and women—may take offense to that, but this has more to do with the oppressed male black narrative and how we have to uplift black men rather than actually trying to understand why I or others may feel this way.
Although I’ve primarily interacted with black boys and men, I’ve gone to school and have befriended boys and men of other racial backgrounds. More times than not, black men are the ones who have objectified and sexualized me; more times than not, they’ve felt entitled to my time and body. And, maybe that doesn’t seem like a big deal to some of you, but as someone who has been sexualized and objective since I was at least 12, that’s a huge deal to me. So much so, that I changed the type of clothes I wore to detract attention from me; that I take the long way around or not go somewhere at all if it means someone may approach me; that I play my music as loud as I can someone I won’t hear someone talking to me.
I feel uncomfortable and unsafe.
There are some who may feel that I’m overreacting, but as a black person, imagine a white person suddenly calling you a nigger because you didn’t say hello back to them—this is what it’s a like as a woman, especially as a black woman. When you ignore them or don’t hear them, they go from being polite to verbally assaulting you and/or physically, which sometimes results in death.
So, yes, I’m afraid.
There is also the fact that of all of the racial groups in America, despite being a minority, black women are more likely to die at the hands of her black male partner—whether that be boyfriend, fiancée, spouse, even an ex—than any other group. Now, before people start down that stereotypical road of how she should’ve chose better (which is disgusting and victim blaming), even the educated, well off brothers are apart of that statistic of killing their partner. Even they harm black women.
That’s a terrifying.
The same men who black people swear (will) protect black women are the main ones who harm and kill us.
When black women speak out about this violence, we are told and/or socialized to endure it at all costs. If we go to the police or get help from others, it’s seen as a betrayal of black men.
Even if you disregard domestic and street violence against black women, there is also the fact that there are black men who try to control, oppress, and police black women. I’m tired of hearing how I need to submit to a black man and that is the only way the black community will recover and grow strong. Submit usually means being a stay at home wife who cooks, cleans, takes care of the kids, and ready for sex whenever. If she is working as well, even if it’s more hours and/or money, they still want her to do all of those things, in addition to providing a lot of emotional labor that is not reciprocated.
Hair is never just hair with some of these men either. Regardless of its state, length, and authenticity—even color, there are many men who feel entitled to comment on a black woman’s hair and tie her worth it. If she’s skinny, he wants her to gain weight; plus sized…lose weight. Lord forbid if she wears what she wants to wear without it being a statement on her sexuality and why he has the right to disrespect her because she doesn’t ‘respect’ herself.
There is this fetishization with the perfect black woman all while putting down other black women that these men entertain whether they are single or in a relationship. You begin to wonder if they want you for you or if you’re just an idea that they’re chasing after because you’re the “good type” of black woman.
Because I’ve had men do that to me and I don’t appreciate someone only being interested because an idea rather than who I am as a person. I don’t appreciate other black women being knocked for something either being themselves or molding their behavior into what they believe men desire. Hell, women are criticized for being just like the very men who criticize them.
The are black women who openly and blatantly disrespect black women, so much so, even other men from other races who noticed and questioned this behavior.
Or if a black woman comes forth about her rape, she is accused of lying and trying to hurt a black man. If it’s true or leaning that way, we’re told to disregard that this black man is a rapist because “da white man” wants to hurt him, even though he did was immoral. We implicitly tell black women that their pain—our pain—isn’t important, despite the fact that over 60% of black girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. It’s not just the rapists that are troubling, but the lengths that black men will go through just to defend the rapist as well. Yes, there are false accusations, BUT there are far more legit accusations than false ones, especially against the same men by women don’t know one another.
Lastly, I’m not going to be forced to deal with struggle love. There are many black men who have their finances together, but there are others who the black community tries to pressure black women to take on because “he’s trying” or whatever other excuses they have for him. Trying or not, no one should be pressured to date someone due to what other people want. And, usually, when black women are guilted into dating these men, they struggle more in the short and long term.
Here’s the thing: I don’t need anyone to tell me “not all black men”, because I know it’s not all, but it’s enough. There are enough black men who are apart of this system who either harms, makes black women feel unsafe, or tries to diminish them and if they aren’t actively apart of it, they support it. And, as a black woman, you don’t know whether or not that black man is one of those men.
So I say this, if you want to black women to choose better, let me add my own caveat: choosing better doesn’t mean not choosing black men, it just means making decisions that doesn’t negatively impact your physical and mental well being and that you feel comfortable with.