Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Southern-Fried XMBW!

Peace All!  Forgive me for that overly corny title.  Mary J’s Burger King Commercial (and spoof) has been too much my mind, and I don’t even eat meat, lol.  I mean, what the hell, Mary???

At any rate, I’ve again become receptive to the idea of interracial relationships.  It’s something I had no problem with when I was younger, before I moved to an area that was far less accepting of such relationships -at least at the time.  I’m not a person that typically places a whole lot of stock in what other people say if my mind is set on something, evidenced by my insistence on sporting grunge-style dress in high school well after my new classmates had branded me some sort of worshipper of the occult.

I looked something like this on the left (+ striped stockings and Docs), but apparently they saw something out of a Bergman film.

However, my challenging of this region’s social norms only went so far, and I admit that, at least in high school, my fear of further ostracism won many battles against my pride and reason.  In the past decade or so, this area has received an influx of non-natives, making the situation a little bit different, but not extremely so.  The area is more diverse, but people still tend to stay in their little groups and on their sides of town. Interracial dating can be looked upon here as something that people do in high school and college before they begin their real lives. I went out to lunch with a coworker (a White male about my age) recently, and afterwards we ended up in a nearby Whole Foods. Now, Whole Foods is one of those places where one expects to find diverse and open-minded, possibly hippie sort of people, right? Hell to the no. If you could have seen these people’s looks of utter disapproval and irritated eye-rolls, you would’ve thought we were making out on one of the friggin café tables.  Seriously, NC? Is that where we are in 2012?

Insert the Caucasian equivalent of "Oh, no they didn't!" here.

Don't mistake me; It wasn't just White people who were staring. I caught some  "up-downs" from a lot of different folks.  I admit, I was a little taken aback by this reaction.  Because I attend and work at an HBCU and live in a predominantly Black neighborhood, there are times when I forget some of the more subtle social aspects of the South.  And then I happen upon someone’s adorable chubby-cheeked child wearing a Confederate flag tee, and it hits me jokingly like, “oh, yeah, that IS where I live.” Now, fellow Southerners, I do not in any way mean to disparage the South, so please restrain your urge to flame me for having written this.  Instead, be honest, and admit that there is much to be desired in the area of race relations in the more rural counties (i.e. 80% of the South).  Non-Southerners and those who are southern migrants (e.g. do not have historical roots in the South), you are fully excused for not having noticed the aforementioned social phenomenon in your town of residence.  “Heritage, not hate” is indeed one motto that some people follow down here; “stick to your own kind” is another.  All of this is of course set within concept of Southern Hospitality and hyper-Christianness (like 3-4 churches/block).  Yep, we Southerners are some complex and oft misunderstood folks.

Against this backdrop, I, and many other Black women in the South and elsewhere are becoming interested in and are even actively pursuing interracial relationships in addition to traditional same-race ones – hence the acronym, XMBW, where  "XM" represents a male of any race or ethnicity pairing with a "BW", a Black woman. Some Black women are seeking to end the practice of dating only Black men for a number of historic and phenomenologic reasons: there are fewer Black men of marrying age available to Black women for various reasons, disproportionate incarceration rates among them; some Black men and women are intentionally excluding each other as potential mates for all manner of reasons;  the dating double standards in the Black Community…yada, yada, yada.

For me though, I just want to find someone with whom I can be my normal, nerdy, smiley self and build a loving, functional partnership.  In all honesty, almost everything else can go.  Feeling warm and fuzzy is wonderful.  Having someone you can’t wait to rip clothing off of is rather delightful as well. 

Continue. The waiter can't watch though, or he has to pay a hundred.

However, at the end of the day, the things that make relationships last are respect, loyalty, honesty (including honesty within one’s self), the ability to plan and work together, and genuine friendship and affection that will allow you to grow together. I don’t see that this is something that I can create only with someone of my race.  My ex (a Black man two years my senior) was handsome, funny, (no random kids, no felonies, no STD’s - just being real,) educated, in pursuit of his PhD, fond of my children, and more. He was nearly perfect on paper.  Yet, at the end of a very long affair which lasted over half a decade (yes, clearly I had taken leave of my senses), we realized we didn’t even really like each other.  Though I hadn’t realized it, his résumé had been too important me.  In the end, though,  all of his attributes seemed rather unimportant. It was a good experience even though it was drawn out.  It allowed me to see with clearer eyes, and after several years break, I resume dating with a more complete sense of what is important for me.

The connection is ultimately what's most important. (Click to watch.)

As to interracial dating in the South, one of the reasons why I’ve chosen to do some advertising online through various websites is because it puts one in contact with a wider group of people and because I’m sure some people find it difficult  to approach someone from a different culture.  Doing it online is a far less pressure-laden situation (in theory). In my next post or so, I’ll let everyone in on how that’s going.

Xoxo ,

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