2008-05-30

Racial Hierarchy and Acceptance


As you have noticed the past few days on this blog and others, there has been a HUGE break down in discussions, and it comes back to the Africans and Non-American Blacks vs. American Blacks. How it came to this I don't know. It has been an ongoing issue that occurs time and time again on the IR blogs. It is been argued ad nauseam.

I am going to touch on the reasoning why I feel this issue keeps returning from the African American perspective.

As I have said over and over again, there exists a hierarchy in this country based upon race and class. It isn't just based upon white and black, but various cultures in between. Typically blacks within American culture are seen as "other", with white being the norm. Typically speaking if a non black man is interested in dating IR, it is typically what Yan describes as ABB: Anything But Black. A lot of cultures and races have adopted this notion as well, including black men.

With that being said, it is refreshing to see blogs that focus on white men and black women relationships, not for the relationships themselves, but because of the hierarchy, black women are made to feel that ABB is what rules in the dating scene, including with black men. Those black women who date IR are definitely considered "other". We don't fit the mainstream beauty ideals, we don't fit the political and racial ideals, and we typically are seen as invisible. The blogs give you a place to appreciate the fact that there are those that see the beauty ideal outside the box. It is refreshing and then the bad stuff comes along.

On one hand you have those black women who are angry as hell at black men, who feel white men are the answers to all their problems. You have white men who go through the bashing of white women. Then you have the sore spot in between, the non-american vs. american black woman.

As a black woman who was born and raised here in America, I am painfully aware of the racial hierarchy, I grew up with it, I still see it. I see it with whites, asians, hispanics, it runs the gamut of people believing and accepting that blacks are "other", we aren't as intelligent, we are criminals, we are less than those of other races. Then we have the cultural aspect. I think that many people believe that the black american culture is one of lament and apathy. That we don't encourage education, but sports and music. That we are a culture of thugs and criminals. I would like to say it was media blame alone, but there are other factors, such as american blacks themselves buying into the hype. I think that in regards to the non-american black vs. african american, some non american blacks believe this as well. This is where the non american black vs. american black really takes off and causes a raw spot on both sides.

For the most part I stay silent, but since I have frequented these IR blogs, there have been comments made from both non black men and non american black women. The discussion of african american women's attitudes towards IR dating and race. Comments about american blacks holding on to the past. Our vastly different value system. It as if everything the african american culture brings is negative, and those who aren't part of that culture fall outside these generalizations, and again the hierarchy is exposed. There is again something better than the african american woman, and even if it looks like the african american woman, it is vastly different and free of any issues or concerns.

The comfort zone of knowing you have found a group of people who think like you, an african american woman open to IR relationships has been shattered, as the usual ABB mindset has expanded, but only slightly, and again that expansion and willingness to date a black woman excludes you, this time because of a history you have nothing to do with, and perceived stereotypes of your culture. It is another slap in the face.

American black women are damned. We are damned for not looking like white women. We are damned for a perceived culture. We are damned by most white men, and many times we are damned by SOME african american men, again for not looking like white women, for our perceived culture and stereotypes, and now because we have dared to think and believe we could venture outside the race for companionship. We are damned by those who believe and feel they have an advantage over the african american community because they were able to pick themselves up by the bootstraps and succeed in this country, without ever really acknowledging the actual success that many african americans have experienced.

That is the raw spot I think many african american women have in this discussion. This discussion resurfaces, because it seems the comments are repeated often, and are usually overlooked by everyone and accepted as true, except from african american women.

Maybe the solution for white men is to date non american black women, but I honestly don't think dating non american black women exclusively will make IR relationships any easier, as if american black women come with their own baggage, there has to be other cultures with baggage of their own. Colonialism and the slave trade did not begin and end with America. Colorism isn't exclusive to America, otherwise skin bleaching products and the preference for lighter skin would not be world wide. Even if there is no racial baggage, there is a possibility for cultural baggage. Case and point is there is no simple answer for IR. IR will be a different type of relationship no matter what country or culture you come from.