Just before ringing in 2017, news broke that tennis great Serena Williams was engaged. Prior to seeing the pictures, I knew her husband would be white. Namely, the years preceding William’s engagement encompassed white men, or black men of a lighter hue. Williams’ selection of men who oppose the aesthetics of the man who raised her, symbolizes the complicated battle blacks endure to love themselves, let alone one another.
Williams joins the number of black female/white male couples that populate twenty-first-century popular culture. From YouTubers Jaime and Nikki and Gabe and Babe, to actresses Condola Rashad and Zoe Saldana, the contemporary world places black female swirling at the forefront of popular culture. To this, I want to state that I get it.
The heckling Williams received for being a black woman in what the western world silently deemed a space for thin, blonde white women, mirrors the very dynamic faced by countless black female bodies cast throughout the black diaspora. We as black women consistently face criticism for not having white skin, small features, or for having too many curves. The weave empire proved black female insecurity a goldmine—capitalizing on the demons hovering over the black woman who does not have long, thick locks. As a black woman, it is easy to fall into the nurture of western society and question your own beauty.
Moreover, romantic endeavors with white men prove a reactionary measure to deeply embedded wounds cast and festered by a white supremacist society. No, this interracial union does not erase the wounds, but now those hypnotized
by western society won’t see what they’re conditioned to see as shortcomings—they’ll solely see two things: cute babies and status. Women who engage with white men incur a degree of insurance that their children would assume privileges denied to them as black women without the ability to “pass” as white or a fetishized race or ethnicity. This dynamic creates a pseudo- privilege to the black woman who can not physically escape blackness, but desires an escape, no matter how small for their children. Those granted a sense of freedom, however, see these unions for what they are—cowardice.
Yes, to put it bluntly, blacks who opts to engage with those outside their race or African ethnicity operate from a position of cowardice. Black love is hard. To love black is to choose to endure not only your plight with racism but your partner’s plight as well. To love black is to opt to run through the flames of white supremacy, not for a thrill but to maintain a collective integrity. Yet contemporary society works hard to present interracial couples as bearing the burdensome backlash from the black community. However, it is the black couple who endures systemic backlash. It is the black couple that proves a threat to white supremacy, as it blatantly states that the white man’s ice is not colder. After all, there is nothing more haughty that a black who dares to love themselves.
I’ll be honest, as a black woman, my dealings with love have been a battle— a battle that becomes more complicated with each “accomplishment.” As conventionally successful women, Williams, Rashad, and Saldana undoubtedly faced romantic troubles due to their acquired success.These accomplishments symbolize white supremacy as they are often afforded to the black woman as a blow to the black male ego. These women like countless other black women may have faced opposition from black men holding them to European standards, standards that vehemently opposed their aesthetics. Accessing the battles that black love often incurs seduces many into a selective amnesia that somehow cast black love as a larger burden than white supremacy, not a facet of its wrath.
Interracial dating is yet another means to seduce the black collective to forget all that is necessary to elevate us as a group. In this same spirit, many Williams, Saldana,
Rashad, Nikki and Gabe supporters will argue that their white spouses gave them love where black men gave them drama. However, the truth is these women gave up. Simply put, they symbolize a beacon of black women who acquiesced to white supremacy by saying yes to the descendants of white men who once owned their ancestors–or benefitted from their oppression. This perspective is not uncommon, yet strategically surfaces as a product of black female/white male relations. See, these relations easily cast the white man in a position similar to what movies and books teach young children. Stories like Cinderella, Snow White and Rapunzel all feature a white man as “prince charming” —saving the day and rescuing the female protagonists from obscurity or even worse, a quotidian lifestyle. In selecting white males, black women not only resume this narrative but cast themselves in the role of the “beautiful” white women who dominate these stories. However, there is a reason why none of those princesses where black women saved by white men–white men can not save black women because it is her disenfranchisement that fuels his privilege.
Furthermore, the black female and white male dynamic functions to forget that these unions are nothing new to the western world. Black women have been concubines to white men for centuries. These contemporary manifestations manifest many of the original attributes namely the unions function to castrate black men and fuel white supremacy.
Black female and white male unions function to designate the demographic that once raped and owned black female bodies, now love them. They function to differentiate the white slave master from from the contemporary white men, begging the masses to forget the slave masters were also “just white men” allotted the very privilege that hovers over his contemporary manifestation. The unions function to suggest that had consent been legal, many black females would have consented to being with their masters. While this may be true, it does not illustrate love it illustrates the depth of a white supremacist ideology. Thus, in its work to alleviate the burden of slavery on the American, black female and white male relations actually work to illustrate that this consciousness is virtually as
non-existent as our collective progress.
In essay “The Psychopathic Racial Personality” Black psychologist Dr. Bobby Wright brilliantly states the following:
“ Blacks kills Blacks because they have never been trained to kill Whites, therefore it is outside their experience. Historically, the Europeans system has encouraged the killing of Blacks. Because Blacks have been lead to believe that they are part of the psychopath’s system, they simply follow the practice” ( Wright 3).
In a similar sentiment, blacks have also not been trained to love blacks—-they have been extensively trained in direct and indirect methods to love whites. Black women have also been trained to covet western beauty and thereby lust after the traditional concept of womanhood that solely applied to non-male whites. Moreover, the black woman and white male dynamic compartmentalizes a myriad of issues, issues that demonstrate that the change implied by this union is not forthcoming but prevented by the many veils of contemporary culture. The black female and white male dynamic is merely another detractive measure placed in the contemporary psyche to render a series of behaviors that afford the masses the necessary tools to remain unconscious