Thursday, July 30, 2009

Can Jungle Fever Drive You Crazy?

“One is very crazy when in love.” --Sigmund Freud

I said that this week I would throw out all the theory and just speak from my experience. So, here goes.

Not too long ago, I had lunch with three of my colleagues, all of whom are black women. Early into the lunch, the conversation turned to another colleague who was absent, a black male who after getting divorced from his black wife of nine months was making a very valiant effort to love every white woman in the world. And they were not at all happy about this development.

Now, I know when to keep my mouth shut, so the whole time I just kept my head down. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a salad that fast. But suddenly I heard nothing but silence. Their conversation had ceased.

When I looked up, the three of them were looking at me with such looks of derision on their faces that for a moment I looked around for an exit.

One of them finally spoke.

“Look at that, y’all. The cat seems to have gotten this soulbrother’s tongue. He’s unusually quiet on this one. Maybe he’s got a white woman bone or two in his closet.”

I sensed that a trap was being set, but I didn’t know how to avoid it.

“Well, I see nothing wrong with inter-racial relationships if that’s your thang, but I have never been in an inter-racial relationship of any kind.”

The trap was ready to snap shut now.

“You’re telling me you spent your early twenties in Europe, and you never had any type relationship with a white woman? Who you think you talking to? Boo-boo the Fool? Samantha Sausagehead?”

Laughter and high fives all around. The trap was sprung. I was caught in the snare. Where was that waiter with my drink?

“But the women I had relationships with when I was there were not white. They were European, German and French mostly.”

Now I faced three blank Negro-man-please stares. Only then did I realize the paradox of my statement, and tried to explain. But they were not having it.

What they could not understand was my explanation of my conception of whiteness. When in the United States, my conception of whiteness is subtended by a history of discrimination, of degradation, of oppression, of violence. For that reason, it becomes hard for me to imagine entering into a romantic relationship with a white American woman.

Not that I hate white women. I do not. Not that I don’t find white women attractive. I do. Lately something has happened to white women to make their behinds swell exponentially. But I cannot imagine giving myself over to a white woman like love, true love, requires one to do.

And when I speak of love, I’m talking the real thing. Not that infatuation love. Not that lustful love. But that Al Green “Make you do right, make you do wrong” love. That love that makes you give yourself over to another. That makes you drop all pretense, lower all facades.

Sigmund Freud once wrote something to the effect that if insanity is the condition of one being out of one’s mind, then love is the very first instance of insanity. To love is to vacate your mind in order to reside outside yourself with the mind of another. (Or something like that.)

In other words, love makes you vulnerable. Very vulnerable. Love makes you crazy.

The history of violent racism in this country causes me to put my guard up, to always be looking over my shoulder. To always be wary. I find it very difficult to drop my guard, to allow the vulnerability requisite to enter into a relationship with a white woman.

But notice I said “I find it difficult,” and not “never.” I stopped saying “never” a long time ago. Because the moment we utter never, the situation arises that will severely put “never” to the test.

I guess I’m just an old romantic. I actually don’t believe we consciously choose who we fall in love with. I think that love can irrupt in the strangest, most unlikely places. I believe that you simply meet a person. You get to know that person. And little by little you share small fragments of your mind, your person, with the person until finally one day you look up and you’re completely out of your mind. You’re absolutely crazy.

So, if I ever had to choose another mate for life, and should that mate perhaps be white, I would have to really go crazy, absolutely crazy. She would have to drive me out of my mind.

But isn’t that what we’re all looking for anyway? Someone who is so very special that they ultimately drive us absolutely crazy? Someone who will drive you out of your mind?

What are your views on inter-racial relationships? Are you in an inter-racial relationship now? What do you have to add to the conversation?

And please come back tomorrow when we will look for the bones in your closet.

Other blog articles of interest:

Max Reddick, “Black Mothers, Black Sons, and Little White Girls.

Von, “Are You Still Black If You Marry White.


Keith said...

Great post. This is definitely a subject that can have a lot of heated debate on all sides.

I worked in retail some years. I was usually the only white employee at the store. Most of the other employees were black women. Many of them had a lot of problems with black men dating white women. I never knew that before. We did have a white girl once there who liked to date black guys. They made that girl's life a living hell until she quit.

I'm a white guy. I generally date white girls, but I have dated girls of other races and religions. My last girlfriend was Jewish.

I have no problem with interracial relationships, but I know from personal experience sometimes it' been hard. Cultural issues are one thing. Different people often see the world differently. We have different life experiences. There's also the issue of how your family and friends react.

I do have cousin who is married to a black woman. She's his second wife. His first wife's also black. They had one child together. I think he's always only dated black girls. I know he got a lot of heat over the years about it from blacks and whites over the years.

md20737 said...

You would have to lose your mind to claim a white woman. You go by soulbrother, you could not defend your self with anything but insanity lol

Ok now I am going to be serious about it. I have never dated outside my race, I never wanted to. But with the trend of black men & women thinking its ok to be a baby momma/daddy other races are a viable option for companionship. The family structure is damn near non existent in black communities. Single parenthood is so widely accepted its a surprise when you tell people you had both a mother and a father if you are black.

I cant stand a black man who only prefers white women. I dont care if you want to date outside your race,its cool to explore. But if that is all you prefer that signals a self hate issue to me.

The biggest bone I have to pick with black men who prefer white women (notice I said prefer not date white women) is that the reasons/excuses for dating white women usually include putting black women down. As a black woman myself I refuse to be the object of ridicule and scorn. I have not done anything to you, so I will not be generalized in that category. Tearing down black women to defend your love of white women only widens the gap between black women and men. If that continues the divide between the black man and woman will become permanent. When we cant lean on one another for support that will be the end of us. If black people cant and wont tolerate each other, who will tolerate us NOBODY!

But I am not against interracial dating just dont tear down black women to defend it. Man up and say I love a white girl, the end!

Lala Jackson said...

I find it really interesting that you brought up the difference between the 'white american' woman versus the white european woman. It is something I have struggled with quite a bit.

I am a german/native american woman who grew up in Hawaii, where "white" is an extreme minority (as is is everything except variations of Asian). There, people will yell in your face if you call a Korean person Chinese or make some such horrible mistake. Its kind of like when I was going to school in Miami and had to learn to tell the difference between Colombians and Venezuelans, Cubans and Dominicans... it was just taboo to be wrong.

But no matter what, in either place, I've been white. If I offer up the true ethnicities that make up my background, its dismissed.

I got used to it in Miami, but it still bothers me back home. I cannot really name why.

And yes, I'm dating a black man. Why? Because I see so much of myself in him. I cannot get mad at him for even the little things that annoy me because I see where he's coming from - I'm the same way. So in the end, it ends up being chemistry and personalities that mesh. I've also dated white americans, black americans, black caribbeans, black africans, indian caribbeans, indian africans, muslim africans, muslim americans... its run the gamut.

But I can also understand when people get irritated by seeing those who seem to date a certain race almost as a status symbol - whatever status they're trying to attain. We've all seen the 'white american' girl with the permanent corn rows, purely baby phat wardrobe who spends every day trying to be 'black' - whatever that means - perpetually dating black men. I feel like that then becomes the stereotype of any non-black woman dating a black man though, and thats not true.

I'll also offer that my mother has raised objections to my being in an inter-racial relationship, and yet has never said anything to my older brother who is about to marry a Japanese woman. It is interesting what qualifies as inter-racial and what people turn a blind eye to...

Kim said...

I've never dated outside my race and I have nothing against IR relationships. My sister's husband is white and they have been happily married for 17 years and she could not have found a better husband and father if I had picked him myself, but I think the issue is when you exclusively date outside of your own race and make all types of generalizations about the women or men of your own race as the reason and this seems to be more common among black men.

Neva Cross said...

About 30 minutes ago I was asked out by a very attractive Indian man. Tall, beautiful dark skin, and the most gorgeous green eyes I have ever seen. He as sked me out several times over the last year. I always resist. Why because he is a year older than my daughter. I would do the same regardless of his race, it is my personal discretionary practice. Had he been a white man who was a staunch George Bush supporter, I would have vacated the premises even fast being thoroughly convinced he didn't recognize that I am black or didn't notice the Gay friend with me or see the Obama bumper sticker on my car. The problem is not that he is melanin challenged, it's that he is obviously thinking with the lower head or sufferering from temporary insanity. Had this been my Cambodian friend, who has also asked me out a number of times, I would still have resisted as he is Buddhist and I am decidedly Christian. The point to all of this being that over the years I have found socio-economic factors to be a much bigger issue in relationships than race.

I am a divorced Black woman who dates, and has been dating for the past 14 years in the Metropolitan Chicago area. And yes, where you live has a LOT to do with the acceptability of, and opportunities for inter-racial dating. Growing up I rarely lived in areas that were more than 10% minorities, my university was less than 5% African American. For several years when I lived in a different state and worked in IT in the Newspaper Industry, I never had Black co-workers, I never even had black peers at any of the 200+ accounts we had. Given most of my life was work and business travel, it was virtually impossible to meet and date Black men. My next job, there was one black man whom I befriended and was close to. He was Gay. They next job, both black men were married. And my final job before going independent, there were no black men at the company or among my client peers. I don't use this as an excuse for dating outside of my race, but note it as a reality for many Black professionals, living in upper middle class areas, or are geographically challenged.

Statistically, Black women who date/marry white men are vastly out-numbered by the reverse. I am not sure why this is the case, as I have had a vast number of them ask me out so there seems to be no shortage of interested men available. What makes me crazy is the men who want to date me simply because I am Black, or consider me "exotic". Thanks so much, but I really don't want to become part of your "fantasy woman" scenario. By the same token, men who take it for granted that I will date them because they are the only available Black man for miles annoy me to no end as well.

Most of all I try to avoid "haters", those folks who make disparaging remarks about those from any group. Two examples, I was sating a Chinese/German man for a short period of time. I had men, black and white, comment to me that Asians are known for their small members and didn't I want "more" than that. My response was, there are over 1 billion Chinese folks, whatever they have must be working just fine. The second group has been Black women who decide that my white boyfriends are a much better catch. They have oten told me that they are tired of Black men's BS and want to start dating white men. I tell them, underneath the cultural differences, men are men. it doesn't matter if your ice cream has sprinkles, caramel sauce, or hot fudge, the calories are still the same.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. I just had this conversation with someone yesterday. I have dated white and believe me I know all about the prejudice associated with it. Black women dating white men still causes mass gasps. But I have seen so many black men date white women. It doesn't bother a bit me when it's sincere. Either way I do think love is love. We all want to find that one person that we completely connect with but what if the packaging is different? I know some interracial couples that epitomize love. I can only hope to have a love like them. The same with same race couples. My viewpoint is love is love. Like you mentioned if you find that person that makes you absolutely crazy lol should race really matter?

Orchid said...

I think that idea of love, that it should "drive you crazy" is to outdated and unhealthy lol. I think love is a conscious choice. All the feeling we feel are temporary. The choice to stay after all those chemicals are gone, the honeymoon is gone and you are seeing his or her flaws with new eyes, after the butterflies and angels are long dead, now THAT is love. I chose to be with my partner, he chose to be with me. He waited until the butterflies in my stomach were long dead to really show me how much he loved me, and it is beyond...waaay beyond in my opinion, the infatuation and the craziness most people call love. lol so full of myself.
you remind me of when I was young and stupid (still am, just a bit older now...3 years older lol and you're not stupid!). I actually, thought I could never get into a relationship with a Black American man. I thought I was only attracted to Caucasian men. That was because the people who often brought me down in high school and commented about my dark, dark skin and how ugly it was, were black boys. It wasn't until later that i realized that, yes, i don't like black BOYS, but I LOVE black men. I love any man who is mature and sees the beauty I see in my kinky hair and my dark skin.I found that, and he so happened to be a Caucasian man. Going back to what I said about love being a choice, I think it's good that you never said never (though you found the love of your life so the never would apply to any other woman lol). Any person who can choose to challenge his or her own misconceptions and connect with people with a pure open heart, will find a love purer than anything he or she has ever experienced. That is my opinion. I hate to sound cliche, but the tone of our skins are so much less important than the journey we are going on together, this journey called life.

RainaHavock said...

i have never been in an inter-racial relationship dont know if i ever will but most likely it would be a non-white man. Have ive seen white men who are cute yes in hollywood but as a relatioship i highly doubt it. That's my preference if someone doesnt like too bad. i have a good friend whose boyfriend is white and they are so good togther. We do have control over who we fall in love with after the fact we choose rather to go on them or not. I have nothing against them but those blacks who have to say shit like "black women are so bossy" or "black men aint shit. white men are better" those the kind of negros i want to slap the mess out. I dont care who you are with you dont have to be ugly and mean about it.

A. Spence said...

I think the act of being in love..not just loving someone but being in love makes you crazy. Regardless of what race they are.

I'm a hopeless romantic and want everyone to find love regardless...

CurvyGurl ♥ said...

To be honest, I've never really met a white guy that I've had that kind of connection with. If I did, it probably would take me by surprise. Nonetheless, the older I get the less focus I put on one's differences when it comes to love, like A. Spence said, I just want everyone to have the love the desire/need.

Great points as always.

Keith said...

Hey there. Make sure you stop by my Sugar & Spice blog for my Friday post. I gave you some awards. Your blog is awesome. You definitely deserve it. Have a great Friday and weekend. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I processed this issue long and hard before deciding to include a chapter on interracial relationships in my second book, a non-fiction social commentary, because the topic hits very close to home. In college, I made the decision not to be involved with a white man romantically as my personal protest of slavery and the raping of female slaves. Raised by Jamaican immigrant parents, I didn’t discover racial differences and effect of slavery in America until I went to college. Once educated, I was appalled. I knew I could not go back in time and sought control and retribution. My initial stance was quite militant but as I evolved I became more tolerant of others’ personal choices while maintaining my personal position.

My sister is married to a white man and my opinion has caused great difficulties in our relationship. While engaged, we traveled to Jamaica and she informed my paternal grandmother, a product herself of an interracial relationship, of her pending union. My grandmother asked my opinion and I told her I was not in favor of interracial relationships. She replied, “Me neither. Da children dem come out confused.” My sister was devastated by the matriarchal disapproval.

When my system became pregnant with the twins, my niece and nephew, she informed me that based on my personal views I would not allowed to be around them “unsupervised”. I was floored! Me, the person who loves children; me, the social worker who conducted supervised visitation professionally; me, her sister who always had her back was considered a danger to her children? My father dropped to his knees distraught and in tears (I had never before seen that man cry) and pleaded with her not to make that decision. He asked, “You’re grandmother, a mixed child herself, held the same view. Would you do the same to her if she were still alive?” My sister affirmed she would.

Our children, born fourteen days apart are very close. My sister and I, not so much. This is how I conclude my chapter on interracial relationships: What I think my sister failed to take away from my perspective is just that, it is mine and mine alone. I do not judge others for their personal decisions because I have not lived their experiences which formulate their choices along their journey of life. I can only bear my cross and trust, it is heavy enough without any extra added burden. Do I hope my son marries a beautiful, intelligent and self-aware black woman? Yes. I suppose my reason for wanting this is that I view who he chooses as a counterpart as a reflection of himself and in that, I am perhaps looking for the validation that he loves himself as a beautiful, intelligent and self-aware black man, the man I am helping to raise him to be. Will I still love him if he finds these qualities in another spectrum of the rainbow? Always. I will just have to trust that his choice is based in love and not the byproduct of the invisible, yet ubiquitous, colorline.

uglyblackjohn said...

I like a lot of white women.
Really, I like a lot of women... period.

But it is usually based on looks, personality, religion, fitness level then race.

If I had to choose between a bunch of hoodrats and a badd white girl - I'd choose the white girl.
If the choice was a badd Black woman and a bunch of girls from the trailor park - the Black woman wins.

But I won't date a white girl here in the South.
I have a hard time feeling as though they understand me as their equal.
In Cali. - they know that I am.
Here, race seems to be a diminishing factor concerning anyone's social standing.

Anonymous said...

I have recently started dating white guys, like the past two years. I have always been attracted to them. I am basically attracted to men of all races. I just decided that I was not going to do the loyalty thing anymore with black men. I know that sounds crazy but it's how I feel. I honestly don't think black men have that loyalty to black women when it comes to dating anyway and I don't think they should. I really think you should be with who you want to be with. I wish people would not put so much focus on how negative it is to be in an IR relationships. It is such a waste of time. I also think I like European white men better because they don't have as many racial hangup as American white men do. Atleast in my experience. So I don't have a problem passing them up. Since I have been dating white guys all of them except for one has something ridiculous to say about blacks, like,"If we don't work out, I bet you will go back with your people." WTF does that mean? So many ignorant comments. I have to remember that alot of whites have only been around other whites and they have a certain way of thinking. I just don't like that ignorant mess. I really think it has to do with the region of the US I am in.

Lyn Marie said...

What a great topic!

The topic of IR dating has been an argument in my family off an on for years. I am a product of an IR (dad-Black, mom-White)but I have a hard time dating White men. The White half of my family is always on my case for not dating White. To be honest I think stereotypes, experience and history get in the way of dating someone White. I know intellectually that I should hang all of that on all White men but I do. I also think that often in White American the expectation of beauty and size also prevents me from considering a White man. I am an Amazon (in stature) and that seems to be the opposite of what White men seem to like, but that could just be the media influence.

I do have to agree with with everyone that mentioned Black men dating White women at the score of Black women. I also hate and I really do mean hate it when White women try to take on some ghetto fabulous attitude and language to date Black, especially if they grew up going to country clubs! I find that insulting.

I think finding, true love is a difficult task, so if you find love in or with someone who happens to be from another race I say great but lose who you are to fit some arbitrary role.

Reggie said...

Yup, this conversation sounds familiar. The sistas always seem to hate on the brothers that choose to take part in an interracial relationship.

Personally, I've never dated a woman outside of my race, but tomorrow is another day and I refuse to hate on anyone who chooses to love......anyone else. Life is too short and love isn't guaranteed. So when two people find each other and choose to love one another......for whatever reason, they should take advantage of the opportunity to share in that greatest of human emotions.

What I am wary of, are people that claim or seem to hate their own...and I know that sounds harsh, but it is what it is. I'm not sure that I can understand anyone who can look in the mirror and hate what they see........but they're out there.

Me, I start with the man in the mirror....and I love that motherfucker to death!!! My father used to always say that if you look at any woman long enough, you'll see something that you like; and although I don't agree with that does have it's merits.

Anonymous said...

Reggie don't come with that bullshit. I don't know how many black men I know who down black women just because they want to date a white woman. I will not deny that there are some black women who talk down about black men while dating out, but don't act like such a damn victim. That is exactly what you sound like. That is such a major turn off and why so many black women I know are so disgusted with black men. So many of you act like victims and think everyone owes you everything.

Kim said...


I don't see myself dating outside my race but I definitely feel you on the loyalty thing

Anonymous said...

I like dating outside my race more than within. Other races of men hold my interest more. Don't hate black men just like men of different cultural backgrounds and different races. There are about 6-7 black women to every black man. So I won't be missed if I continue to date or or marry out. I think more black women should practice that option. Black men are not the only men in the world and they sure don't have a monopoly on desirability. Black men or also not making black women their only option. I feel comfortable saying that about most black men. They are not thinking about what a black woman thinks of their dating options. They just date who they want and marry who they want. I think that is how it should be for everyone. It's not enough black men to go around anyway. So to all the sisters waiting around on your black king you better open yourselves up to more or risk being by yourself. Which is okay, but if you don't like being alone then don't keep waiting on Brothers. Especially the sisters that have great careers and their own homes and no kids. Get out there and explore the world. You will be amazed at the abundance of men you run into who want you. Don't just limit yourself to white men either. It's your life ladies live it for you.

*MaRiNa* said...

I was in an interracial relationship and it was the most passionate relationship I've had up to this day. I generally try to understand people and why they act the way they do but it was only at the age of 25 that I discovered all the stereotypes concerning IR (I guess that the homogeneity of the society in which I grew up was one of the main reasons that kept me in ignorance the previous years, as far as races/racism and all that are concerned). I think that the hard part about being in an IR is to fight the sterotypes that surround it. During the time I was in that relationship, I constantly felt like I had to explain my motives/reasons for being in it. Was I really in love with him or did I just want to have some fun with a black man? Or I remember when a black female friend of mine asked me if I'm the one who usually pays when I go out with him. I didn't know if I should laugh or get mad when I heard that, but still, it got me thinking and examining things that weren't even an issue in reality. Being in love is something magic, can happen anywhere and with anyone, beyond races, religions, countries. But I guess that when it comes to IR, couples should be more mature and confident to make it work than couples of the same race. But um...shouldn't we be talking just about the human race?

Anonymous said...

There are so many reasons for or against IR relationships. I agree with everyone who frowns on the purpose of status and also the exclusivity of dating only a particualr race. I live in Western Canada and while black is not a prominent race, we certainly have our share of Asian and Indian influence. Now, just because I'm Canadian doesn't mean I don't have any racial issues. Ignorance isn't beyond any of us. All we read about Muslims is that they're backwards and evil, or that everyone from the east is a terrorist or a wife beater.
Mostly because I've lived in small towns that are 98% white, I never dated interacially. Since I've moved to the city though, I have had a few IR relationships. I dated a Muslim guy who was the sweetest guy ever, but had issues bringing me around his family. (I'm a white professional and a single mom.) And I am currently dating a black man and we've been togeteher for nearly 4 years. I honestly think that what we have is so much more beyond skin color. This is what Freud is talking about- what we have makes us crazy.

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