If ‘The Hunger Games’ has Jennifer Lawrence, then ‘The Woke Games’ has Jesse Williams. Each oppressed black person battles to affirm their social consciousness amidst a world of chaos (read: a world before and after Donald Trump). This is dedicated to the girls who take off their wigs in Facebook posts with a caption that reads “ripping off the shackles of slavery.” This is for the boys who wear a dashiki and caption it “Afrika with a k.” This is for the black vegans who talk about the enlightenment of casting away animal carcasses for real soul food, the kind of food that wipes away your transgressions and elevates your mind – leaving people scratching their heads like “damn, all that from a tub of hummus?” This is for the black people who are feeling really good about their wokeness right now and honestly, they really should.
It’s a struggle being woke and black out there. Crying into your iPhone as you think of the Congolese who were forced to mine the contents, or hiding as you slip Shea Moisture products into your basket, hoping no-one sees you and forces you to re-watch that disastrous media campaign. And so, when I realised that the vast majority of my favourite black bloggers were in relationships with white men, you can imagine why I thought I was being paranoid. I could not help but wonder if I was falling into the trap of being hypersensitive, and hyperaware about all things race.
I concluded that it could only be a coincidence.
It all began with the first black blogger in whom I noticed the phenomenon sweeping the nation.
The first blogger is a beautiful woman who owns a head wrap line (I have purchased three. No need to discuss the shipping costs from America to the UK). She is a creative who graces Instagram with each artistic post. It was in one fateful post in which I saw her with her white bae. He is rugged and bearded. Not enough hand clap emojis to comment.
And then there was another. Literally another beautiful head wrap line owner, whose artistry is magnificent. You question whether she’s a painter in her spare time, as each picture looks delicately crafted as if dipped in some kind of melanated honey. She’s an avid reader and one imagines what it would be like to be her best friend: “Shall we read and chill? Sure. But first, let me head wrap.” These fantasies will forever be a goal.
This queen also has a white bae. And then there was another. And another. I was left questioning why all my favourite black bloggers are dating white men?
I have compiled a list of reasons why I think my favourite bloggers, a.k.a. black queens, are dating white men. It’s not an exhaustive list, but I hope it’ll shed light into the myriad of reasons they’re with #whitebae.
Are woke white men more appreciative of black women than black men?
A common debate that has been going around has been regarding whether black men are just interested in one type of black woman: fair skin with loose curls. You can’t forget about that traumatic video asking young black boys what kind of girl they’re looking for (“light skin, curly hair, big ass”), triggering feelings of inadequacy and a grotesque reminder of what we have to deal with on a daily basis. This video, although disgusting, wasn’t in any shape or form shocking.
Could it be that woke white men are more inclined to appreciate darker-skinned women than black men? With the onslaught of societal pressure to conform to only one version of beauty perhaps black men, with their own pressure, are averse to women who represent beauty that is continually discredited.
Realistically, an answer to this question is only ever going to be anecdotal. How can one possibly answer whether black men are more or less appreciative of black women, without interviewing thousands of black men and women?
What I do know is that, as black women, we have to convince ourselves that we are beautiful 10 times before we even leave the house. We are constantly in a pattern of uplifting ourselves, boosting ourselves, complimenting ourselves and it can become exhausting. “#Queen #Blessed #MelaninMagic.” If we’re not going to say it, who will? Black women with darker skin and kinky hair combat feelings of inadequacy from society and from within our own communities, due to the pervasiveness of colourism.
Is there a surprise, then, that for many black women a #whitebae might be exactly what you’re looking for? Someone who appreciates you and is in awe of your beauty and looks at you as though you are a painting in the Louvre. Of course, you could question fetishization and exotic othering, but it sometimes must be nice to feel as though you are the original black Mona Lisa.
2. There are no black men who are attracted to us
It’s no secret that black women are the least desired subgroup on dating sites. Although it’s upsetting and frustrating, there’s something a little empowering about being seen as the least attractive group – the bottom of the barrel if you will; making each boy who swipes right a small victory against the tyranny of racism – snatching them into our black female lair, luring them in with each fluff of the afro.
There is an Essence article titled “Top 7 reasons why single black men don’t approach black women.” Perhaps I am the perfect example of the problem in thinking I am too good for the pitiful responses that black men are giving for not dating black women. Maybe I was born with an extra dosage of sass but when black men say “black women aren’t supportive enough” or “don’t seem fun enough,” this only evokes a scoff and an eye roll.
When we sit around with friends and lament that “there are no black men around,” maybe we should be saying “there are no black men around who are attracted to us.” Again, something empowering about being rejected by your own race.
3. Internalised racism
The number of dating sites matching white men with black women seems unnerving to me. I recognize that people have a preference when it comes to looks, but to only seek a person from one race amidst a history of a structural power division should not be exempt from arguments of internalized racism and self-hate. When I hear a non-black person say they are not attracted to black women “as a personal preference” it is hard not to take this as a personal blow and an attack on my race at large. When preference is coloured with years of viewing black men and women as inferior and not worthy of attraction let alone love, it is difficult to prove that preference is simply preference and not awash with racist undertones.
And so, when black women specifically seek out white men, it is similarly difficult to prove that it is solely a preference and not as a result of internalized racism and self-hate. If you are told on a daily basis that people who look like you are unattractive and undeserving of love, a natural reaction would be to seek out that which is being denied to you as a form of validation of self-worth. To determine whether a love interest is a result of internalized racism would be near to impossible. How do you separate love from…love?
4. It’s just not that deep
No-one is suggesting that we are post-racial (words that should have you flogged) but maybe it’s just not that deep. You realistically date those who are around you, and maybe those people happen to be white. Even more so, you fall in love with a personality and that is devoid of racial boundaries. Of course, it’s not us versus them, but it’s easy to fall into dream-like states of a back race with beautiful power couples en masse.
However, in the search of #wokebae, does he even need to be black? As we all know, you don’t have to be woke to be black, and blackness does not equate to wokeness. Many articles I’ve read about interracial couples depict a random love story with an unlikely pairing which is just as romantic and tear jerking as any love story between two members of the same race.
So why are all my favourite black bloggers dating white men?
Each of the vibrant women most probably has their own distinct reason, and I wouldn’t be surprised if each of them responded with “it just happened” and “you don’t pick who you fall in love with”.
How boring. Wouldn’t it be more fun if they were like “mama needed some white chocolate.” I guess I’ll just keep dreaming.