A couple weeks ago, the Gay Reindeer and I were sitting in my car, people watching and eating applesauce (don’t ask), when a conversation about Pittsburgh neighborhoods segued into gentrification, which then segued into the surreal experience of seeing White joggers trying to navigate past the hordes of people standing outside of liquor stores and check cashing marts, which then finally landed on a point she brought up: Those anonymous people hanging outside of those stores all day long—people who usually are middle-aged, Black, and poor—often serve as the neighborhood’s Shakespearean fools.
Perhaps they don’t seem particularly lucid or observant, and maybe their English isn’t the best, but they’re watching, recording, and assessing everything that’s going on in the surrounding area. And, if you ever have the opportunity to talk to one of them—like, seriously sitdown and talk—they have the tendency to provide plain-spoken insights and witticisms about the community and the people who inhabit it that would make you wonder if they were secretly undercover PhDs doing a years-long anthropological study.
Anyway, I’m bringing this up because this was the first thing I thought of when listening to Charles Ramsey’s entire interview. (Actually, that was the second thing. The first? That’s a really nice white tee he’s wearing. It must have been brand new.) Like a true Shakespearean fool, Ramsey’s appearance and “commoner” sensibilities belied the wit and bravery he so obviously possessed. And, also true to Shakespearean fool form, an off-hand, matter-of-fact statement made towards the end of the interview ended up being the most memorable (and insightful) thing he said.
(Paraphrasing) “If you see a pretty White woman running towards a Black man, either she homeless or she got problems.”
You know, out of all the interracial dating/relationship-related conversations I remember having, I can recall in-depth, nuanced, emotionally charged, and surprisingly sober discussions about…
1. The type of Black man who dates White women
2. The type of Black woman who dates White men
3. The type of White man who dates Black women
…conversations where everything from the way they typically look to the base reasoning behind their choices is examined and assessed with care.
But, there doesn’t seem to be that same level of discourse among us about attractive White women who choose to date Black men, mainly because we have a tendency to dismiss whatever attraction they may have for brothas as some sort of sexual fetish, a way of “getting back” at her family in some way, or a blatant cash grab.
Basically, if she runs to a Black man, either she homeless, or she got problems.
While this line of thinking is usually thought to be an indictment on White women—or, rather, the type of White woman who primarily dates Black men—it actually is a bigger insult to brothas. By believing that White women who choose Black men are effed up in some way, you’re also implying that there’s no reason for a normal, well-adjusted White woman to want to be in a serious relationship with a Black man.
Admittedly, I’ve fallen victim to this line of thinking as well. I’ve joked before about the type of White woman you might find at a predominately Black nightclub (I even have a name for them: “snizzles”—a term that derives from “snowbunnies”), but those jokes were rooted in a very real belief that something had to be wrong with a White chick who was into Black dudes. While I do believe that there has to be something wrong with someone who only dates outside of their race, I make concessions and justifications for Black men, Black women, and White men who do this that I never have with White women, and this lack of interracial dating-based empathy boxes me into a very awkward corner.
“If I believe that there’s something seriously wrong with her if she’s into me, that a decision to date a Black man is a seriously bad one, doesn’t that also suggest that I believe there’s something seriously wrong with me?”
I haven’t answered that question yet. Maybe I just don’t want to hear the answer. And, maybe I’m just not smart enough to be a fool.
—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)