Yup, I used to be one of them—the black woman who would throw dead fish eyes and hella shade in the direction of African American men who dared high-step with white women draped on their arms. It didn’t matter who they were or that I didn’t know them from Adam or that they might have really liked each other: If he chose her, I took it personal.
It felt like an affront, see? Like black men who chose white girls over ones who looked like their mamas were making an indictment against African American women, saying under no uncertain terms that we were not good enough to date them or wear their rings or birth their babies or spend their money. To live in their happily ever after.
Plenty of sistahs had my back on this—would hold war councils discussing the latest brother to fall over into the white side. We’d spit out their names: Quincy Jones. Charles Barkley. Kobe Bryant. Tiger Woods. Taye Diggs. Terrance Howard. Ice-T. The list runs deep. And then we’d shake our heads and swear on our future kids’ eyes that black men, especially the well-to-do ones, couldn’t handle black women. Our strength. Our attitudes. Our low tolerance for the bull.
And then, well I grew up.
Somewhere along the way, I worked out in my mind that human beings—black men included—have the right to love who they love, and even though there are some screwy people out there who choose mates of different races for superficial reasons, that’s not everyone’s story. They have the right to love.
We all do.
I think I embraced this line of thinking when I truly fell in love—when I recognized, for the first time in my adult life, what it meant to really be committed to someone. It is not for the faint of heart, commitment not even in the most ideal situations. Not even when you and your mate have little differences that outsiders can point to as superficial evidence that your union is somehow contrived. Falling in love and staying there is tough work. And I’m much too busy trying to make my relationship last to really give a damn about what some black man and his white mate are doing in their bedroom.
Which is what I was screaming at my computer last week when I read this bizarre story about Keith Bardwell, a white justice of the peace in Louisiana who refused to grant a marriage license to Beth Humphrey, who is white, and Terence McKay, who is black. Bardwell told the couple he doesn’t marry interracial couples because their marriages usually don’t last and interracial kids wind up being rejected by both races.
I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way,” Bardwell told the Associated Press. “I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else.”
He added: “There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage. I think those children suffer and I won’t help put them through it.”
And after reading that, acknowledging how utterly ridiculous this man is, and throwing up a little in my mouth, I silently asked for forgiveness for my long-held ignorance on interracial dating. I got a mental image of my daughters, smart, pretty, sweet, strong brown girls who might, one day, have the courage to fall in love without a care in the world what color their mate’s skin is, or what anyone else has to say about it.
From me, their mother, my babies would get nothing but my love and support.
After all, what right would I have to pull a Bardwell and presume to know what is right for my girls and the people they choose to love and the life that they ultimately create together?
None at all.
Love, you see, is the place to be. And my girls deserve it like they do air.
No matter the color.