Some of my friends like to joke about me ending up with a white partner in the future. I’m not sure why they find this so amusing. I haven’t considered the possibility for some years, and I can’t imagine anything altering my conviction. But perhaps what makes it such an interesting topic for them is an underlying disbelief that a person would make their love life so unwaveringly political.
But I have not made my love life political. It just is. And so is yours.
To be clear, there is nothing inherently wrong about being black and dating a white person. I am well aware of the fact that race is a construct, and therefore it can be reconstructed. But money is also a construct. And constructs have power, which is why they are embraced. White people have overwhelmingly embraced their whiteness—the same whiteness that is a constant threat to me and my well-being (as the determining factor in gentrifying neighborhoods and weaponizing the police against my community, among many other things).
There inevitably comes a time when every white person I come across proves they have invested in whiteness in ways that would be detrimental to me in a partnership. A white progressive friend of many years recently stopped talking to me because he was upset by the way I refused to shame people into voting. I have been organizing and calling attention to the violence against black and brown queer folks for years, but when he finally felt unsafe as a gay man in Trump’s America I was, irrationally, the one to blame — though there was no comparable regard for my oft-expressed unsafety. Meanwhile, his entire white family voted for Trump.
For white people, white comfort trumps black safety almost every time. Because of this, a white person having as great a concern for my struggles as they demand for their own is nearly impossible. A large part of my conviction not to date white people is the understanding that we live in a society where whiteness, thinness, and able bodies are idealized, at the expense of everyone else. I cannot refuse to consider how these unquestioned attractions to a societal ideal are part of what makes the world unsafe for those who continue to be ignored. So I commit to questioning them.
As queer people, we have a history of sexual prohibition that is often used to reject politicizing sexuality, but the opposite of prohibition isn’t indiscretion but discernment. Though it would be dope to live in a world where “love is love” and no one’s sexual pleasure has any effect on another’s suffering, that is not the world in which we live.
It is not an impossible world, but if we are to create it, white people have the responsibility to divest from whiteness, something most are unwilling to do. My friend probably avoided the same tense conversations with family about their support of racism during the holidays that he had avoided before the election. As he is the type of “white ally” I may once have considered dating, I can only imagine how many bullets I have dodged.
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