I'll never forget the day my then 13-year-old nephew told my family that he was dating a white girl, all hell broke loose.
The heavens fell and mountains moved as my mother and sister rolled their eyes into oblivion with disappointment. Now, to be fair, there were also rumors that the little girl's parents were witches, which was disturbing to say the least, but the real kicker was the fact that my nephew thought he could date interracially without catching any flack from the black women in my family.
Fast-forward to my junior year in college, when I brought home my boyfriend, who was very much white, and only caught sh*t about it from the men in my family. My mother and sister, who both had given my nephew hell for dating a white girl, said virtually nothing about my newest partner.
It's 2018, and although racial tensions have never been higher, I would like to think we've evolved far past the societal rules and concepts that existed when Emmett Till was alive. Black men and women alike are no longer beaten and persecuted for pursuing romantic interests outside of their race, and have the freedom to select a partner in whomever they choose.
Yet still, interracial dating is a vibrant subject of debate in our country. One that even celebrity TV host, Sherri Shepherd, has encountered in her own personal life. In a recent interview with The Breakfast Club, Sherri revealed that her preteen son was not interested in black girls. She told the hosts that she discovered this revelation after having a conversation with him about the girls at his school. She said:
"I am going through this thing, he likes these girls and … there's not that many little Black girls in his school … 'cause he came in and he said, 'Mommy, I like white girls' … The little Black girls get mean with him," she says of her 13-year-old son Jeffrey Charles Tarpley. "Like, sometimes they don't wanna speak. Sometimes they act crazy. And he's like, 'Why they act so crazy?' And I'm like, 'I don't know.' So I keep trying to tell the little girls to be nicer so he can come towards you. But the other girls see him and they go, 'Hey, Jeffery' and they wanna feel his hair."
She also said that her son mentioned that black girls "moved their neck" when they talked to him, implying a defect in their attitudes and way of expression.
When Sherri asked what to do about her personal conundrum, Charlamagne suggested that she surround him with more positive male figures while Angela Yee's solution involved presenting him with more representation of people that look like him. While both of their suggestions are valid, I'd like to propose a different remedy to Sherri's "problem."
Our societal views will remain tainted if we don't address misinformation and cut it down at the root. Sherri's "problem" is not in her son's wanting to date outside of his race, but in his innate negative perception of women of color.
Before we even have the chance to have our first menstrual cycles, we are labeled as angry, bitter, or as Sherri's son would say, "mean." There is a preconceived and false notion that black men date white women because of some defect that exists within women of color.
The truth is, love is love. And Sherri's son finding love in a young girl that is not black is not a problem to be resolved. The underlying mindset that black women can be fit into this infamous box of stereotypes is the real issue at hand.
Until we start addressing these truths and confronting falsely perceived ideologies about race, how can we really progress as a society?
When men make declarations that shun and ostracize black women, it's a reflection of how they feel about themselves. For this reason, when a man tells you he only dates one race of women, just know to run in the other direction.
I've been with a few white men that claim to only date black women, leading me to perceive there's a box he wants me to fit in, and if I do not, he may become disinterested.
To some, this distinction is preference. To me, it's discriminatory and perpetuates a need for some serious self-reflection.
All in all, Sherri's son is a preteen and this mindset is one he's sure to grow out of. The comments to his mom can't be taken literally, but are proof that it's time to change the way we think about race and interracial dating as a people.
We no longer live in a time where black men can be killed for pursuing a woman outside of their race. This change in times also means that it's time to get rid of stereotypical and inaccurate racial stereotypes that plague us from childhood.
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