“He is my King, he is my one,
Yes, he’s my father, yes he’s my son
I can talk to him, ‘cuz he understands
Everything I go through and everything I am…”
-Angie Stone’s “Brotha” from Mahogany Soul
It’s no secret that black women love their black men. Erykah Badu’s “Orange Moon,” India.Arie’s “Brown Skin” and Angie Stone’s “Brotha” are just a few poetic examples of the adoration, admiration and loyalty sistas have for the brothas. We share a biological and historical bond like no other. Is that the reason we feel abandoned and betrayed when African American men choose to date and marry a lady who doesn’t look like us? What happens when we decide to flip the script and look for love in other places?
According to the Pew Research Center, 14.6 percent of all new marriages in the United States in 2008 were between spouses of a different race or different ethnicity. In addition, 22 percent of all black male newlyweds married outside of their race, compared to nine percent of black female newlyweds.
“I’ve spent a good amount of time away from home when I was in the Navy, so my mind and interests are a lot more diverse than most,” says Dean Cantave of Chicago. “For that reason, I don’t mind dating people of other races. I spent several years overseas among other cultures, which has brought me to a greater appreciation for people.”
The 30-year-old business entrepreneur says he doesn’t believe African American men put boundaries around the circumstances of dating.
“We choose women, not specific or particular women,” Cantave says. “It’s not about race with us.
“I think there is a stigma among black women when it comes to being subservient and submissive to black men,” he adds. “I think black men want a complement, not a woman who doesn’t add value to them overall.”
Cantave says he strongly believes this dating stigma is more apparent in black women than in any other race, and black women discuss this topic more than any other ethnic group.
Tiffany Jones, a program coordinator of a non-profit organization in Chicago, moved to Chicago in her early 20s, and says race was a controversial topic as she grew up in and around Rochester, N.Y.
“The black guys I was interested in as an adult were already in relationships and mostly in relationships with women of other races,” she says. “So I said to myself, ‘If they can do it, why can’t I?’”
The 36-year-old admits she’s heard some of her male relatives refer to black women as “controlling” and “suffocating.” Jones adds some of her uncles dated and married women of other ethnicities.
“It is freeing to me because it shows my family is open-minded,” she says. “They want me to be with a guy who’s going to be right for me.”
Bottom line: Black women who want to be in a relationship want to be understood. It is also human instinct to want to feel loved and accepted, especially by the ones whom we feel we can relate to the most.
“As a race, we as black people have succumbed to a stereotype and embraced something that isn’t wholly true,” she says. “We feel like we have to act a certain way to be black and it affects our dating choices.”