Are You Really Pro-Black If You’re Romantically Linked to a White Person?

A faceless Twitter user told me that I “hated Black men” and had “serious issues” because I’m engaged to a white man. I felt dragged because I’m really just trying to live, love and take care of my family.  But, the reality that some people would not be able to accept me or my pro Black stances as someone romantically involved with a white person was something I knew early on. My intentions are pure and my staunch support of Black progression is real, yet I still ask myself, “am I a hypocrite?”.  Am I truly helping my community? Is it possible for racial awareness and the realities of life’s nuances to overlap? It’s a series of question that unfold more and more as time goes on.

“Am I a hypocrite?”

There are ambiguous rules that politically and socially aware Black people must adhere to if they want to be seen as righteous by other Black folks. It does not matter if we want to be subjected to certain ideologies surrounding how our Black life should be carried out or not, because these standards are not for mass comfort. They are to create a sense of literal Black and White thinking and put people in categories, so that people are easier to understand (or demonize).  LSU student and writer Brooklen Farley wrote in a correspondence with me “I think Black people tend to reinforce binaries (especially Black men) and think that your significant other indicates your allegiance to your community.”

These rules, plus access to multiple of schools of thought (through upbringing, time spent on the internet, among other occurrences) can create cognitive dissonance in people as they try to mask their own being, while also trying to do what keeps their emotional anguish to a minimum.

“ARE WE, IN OUR RACIAL-SEXUAL SELECTING, INADVERTENTLY CONTRIBUTING AND REINFORCING A MUCH LARGER SYSTEM OF RACISM, PREJUDICE, AND SUBVERSIVE DISCRIMINATION?”

Of course, there are cultural differences that have reared their head in my relationship. A family member of mine was quick to comment on the different way Black and white folks interact within the home. I’ve given lessons on oiling the scalp and I’ve heard curse words in front of a white parent. It’s been interesting to say the least and I have learned many things. But, I honestly think my significant other and I work because of our political alliances, studies, willingness to discuss even the most difficult aspects of our experiences (as single people and as a unit, joint and separate), and queerness.

Heterosexual interracial couples have endured their fair share of scrutiny and literal policing. Queer couples have faced centuries of our own hardships. The two will never be comparable, because I do not place race and sexuality on different scales to see which side has endured more, and also because dating interracial is always a choice, while queerness is not. Futhermore, intersectionality must be considered when thinking about the struggles that can come with being pro Black, queer, and in a union with a white person. Eldridge Cleaver, member of America’s most famous Black nationalist organizations, The Black Panther Party, verbally attacked gay writer James Baldwin in Soul on Ice, Cleaver’s off-putting autobiography about his evolution. Cleaver saw Baldwin as a white-man-loving race traitor whose queerness made him less than human. Soul on Ice was written in 1965 and published in 1968.

In the years between the writing and publication of his book, Cleaver joined and became a spokesperson for the Black Panther Party. It is impossible to think that his mindset on queerness and how it relates to the desire for white affection was eradicated before speaking on behalf of the BPP. In 1970, BPP co-founder, Huey P. Newton gave a speech that was an attempt at working toward better relations between militant Black people, gay people (although he admitted he had less of a problem with gay women than he once had with gay men), and women. It must be noted that he maintained his stance that white people, even the most poor ones, were still racist.

“Sometimes I see people of color with white partners and I immediately begin to question their cultural integrity: “How down are they for their community?” “How many people of color partners have they had ‘before’ they started dating white people?”  This is a form of internalized racism I have learned. I am policing another person of color’s identity simply for who they choose to date….” -X. Rio, writer

The nullification of a Black person’s active work in undoing white supremacy because of who they date is inevitable. As X. Rio outlined though, it can be rooted in internalized racism, which then in turn nullifies that particular dose of criticism. Melaika Campbell, another freelance writer based in Baltimore, said “[p]ersonally, I believe when Black people decide to shun interracial relationships, they don’t understand that they are engaging in the same hatred they’re actively trying to fight against, and letting it consume them”.

I do not have a history of exclusively being with white people, my fiance is the only white, queer person I have ever seriously dated. All of my former, long term significant others have been Black. I didn’t decide that I was tired of Black men. I actually tried my damndest to create and maintain a healthy family with a Black man. It just all turned out differently than I expected. I know that not all of my close friends agree with my choice, citing the notion that “the personal is the political”. Regardless, I continue to fight for the end of racism and unjust barriers and also make sure that my partner does not uphold a white savior complex at any point.

This is highly personal, and admittedly somewhat confusing, because it forces me to consider subconscious choices, past experiences, and cognitive dissonance within myself. The answer to this question, for me, is yes, because I am here, deeply involved in the subject at hand. But even within that answer exists a gray area that will require continued thought and conversation.

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