At a time when our nation has elected a demagogue as its 45th president, now more than ever black people must ask themselves, “How do we get free?” How do we prevent the hatred of us that literally built this country, and still permeates it, from destroying our peace of mind, our sense of self-worth, and our spirits? There are many ways to get there, but companionship feels like a temporary fix—something that may feel good in the moment but ultimately is a distraction to the fight that matters most.
A conversation about equality focused solely in the context of attraction is as appetizing to me—a black country boy from the South—as unseasoned chicken. A debate about racial progress tied mostly to interracial relationships feels as fruitless as ordering a virgin daiquiri at a taqueria. Love is beautiful, but it is far more limited than many seem to recognize.
That is not to sound insensitive to the pain that comes with being rejected for no other reason than the hue of your skin. Nor does it suggest that those who have to contend with sexual racism should just shut up and move on. By all means, put folks in their place about their preferences. Point those who only seem to see beauty in whiteness to a racist bias.
But know this: We are more than our bodies. We are bigger than our desires. We need to find value in ourselves independent of others, especially those who have no idea what it’s like to be us.
Our community is as polarized along racial lines as is nearly every other sect of society. So the sight of interracial couples in media, entertainment, or our lives is warming but not necessarily the kind of equality many of us clamor for. Because sometimes, those interracial couples include one minority looking for validation in the eyes of one part of the majority.
Loving v. Virginia invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage nationwide, but it did not end racism in America, just as an influx of LGBTQ interracial couples wouldn’t end our division. It can be helpful, but it also stymies the battle by reducing it to the superficial.
I don’t need a white man to make me feel whole, so I don’t care about the racism behind his choice not to date me. The same goes for the one who fetishizes me but considers me beneath him. Should I meet a non-black man, and there is a spark, may it last as long as it’s supposed to. But I need to know he sees me as his equal. Because I live in a country that’s long shown its contempt for me, I don’t want another man’s validation. I want to be free.
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