Austin, TX Man Asks, “Am I the Black Woman’s Second Choice?”

First, thanks to all the men who have been writing me lately. I’m glad you’re listening and observing. Gap, meet bridge.

Embarrassed young man

I got this letter from a reader yesterday and it’s so important I moved it to the front of the queue. An Austin, Texas man is concerned that all the interest he’s receiving from black women is because black-on-black dating and marriage basically sucks.

Christelyn,
I read your site all the time now and truly appreciate the insight that you provide into a controversial subject.  I’ve been troubled by an aspect of interracial dating now for quite a while now, and I’m turning to you because I trust you opinion on these matters because you seem like a thoughtful person and you’ve walked the walk yourself.
I’m a 35 year-old white man living in Austin, TX, and I’ve dated black women sporadically since I moved here three years ago.  I had never dated a black woman before I moved to Austin, and I was stunned when a black female coworker called me “handsome” in my first month on my new job.  It never occurred to me that black women would even have the slightest interest in white guys, especially a Slavic/German (read: ultra white) guy like me. Since then there have been more than a few black women who have checked me out, started conversations, and generally flirted with me.  It’s all totally new to me, but I’ve rolled with it under the theory that black women are women and they all just want men in their lives, black or not.
I grew up in Houston and encountered very few interracial couples or signs that black women were interested in being with anyone other than black men.  During my life there I felt like black women considered white men to be something of a joke.  Houston has a huge black population, so I don’t think there’s a lot of motivation for black women to date interracially.  It actually seems to me that a major reason that black women in Austin seek to date white men is that their prospects for finding black men are limited given the local dearth of black men.  This has been something that has bothered me about having a relationship with black women.  I get the sneaking feeling that they would be happier with a black man.  One woman I dated even went so far as to admit that, “Of course everyone would like to be with someone of their own race,” oddly overlooking the fact that I was dating interracially by choice.  Many of the things I’ve seen and read on interracial dating have emphasized the idea that black women are starting to date interracially because there aren’t enough high-achieving, commitment-minded black men to go around.  I don’t want to be anyone’s backup plan, and I certainly don’t want to find out 5 years into a relationship that my girlfriend shot for Blair Underwood and settled for me.
This brings me to my question:  do black women really want to be with white men, or are we just the backup plan when they can’t find a marriageable black man?  Please be honest!  It’s better to admit the truth than to have a bunch of unhappy people foundering in relationships of convenience.  I’m not a beggar in the dating market, and I have other options.  I don’t have to date black women because white and Hispanic women don’t want me.  I date them because I want to, and the ones I’ve dated have been beautiful, fit, desirable women.  I want to be with a woman who wants to be with me as badly as I want to be with her, and I won’t settle for less.
Many thanks,
“J”
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J, you’ve asked a very important question and I really need to for you to listen to my answer and really take it in. It’s important in the case of non-black men dating black women to understand the historical context and barriers that lead you to ask this question. In most cases, it’s not that black women are looking to white men as a second choice or backup plan. Most never knew you were even a choice in the first place.
J, you said yourself, “It never occurred to me that black women would even have the slightest interest in white guys, especially a Slavic/German (read: ultra white) guy like me.” Well guess what? A lot, I mean, A LOT of black women thought (and still think) that a Slavic/German man like yourself would ever consider them as potential mates.
You have to understand the conditioning that goes on in black communities that discourage black women from expanding their dating options. Literally from birth, many black women are told that only black men will love them, because their dark skin and kinky hair is unpalatable to men outside the black community. They are told that white men are often only interested in them as a fetish, and while they will sleep with you, they’ll never marry you let alone take you out in public. Black women are also taught through the media that women who don’t look like them are more beautiful, desirable, and marriageable.
And that’s why this site exists. And that’s why I wrote Swirling. What you are witnessing, J, is a massive re-education and awakening by many black women, who might have been taught one thing, but are witnessing in real time, a very different reality. They’re seeing women who look just like them happily dating and married to non-black men, and this at first causes cognitive dissonance, and then curiosity, and then excitement to learn that the very men whom they were taught were off limits are a viable dating option for them.
As a woman married 12 years to a Slavic/German man just like yourself, I have to be honest, I thought at one point my husband would be black. Not because I applied some magical thinking to the black phallus, just because I was basically taught that it was the thing to do. But after dating and subsequently marrying my husband, I can say with certainty that if my husband would be run over by a truck tomorrow, I know my first preference would be a man that looked (and acted) similar to my hubby. Preferences are fluid, based on personal experience and emotions that are attached to those experiences.
Of course there are many, many black women who have stated on this blog that white men have ALWAYS been their preference, and non-black men who have said the same. But many of us have evolved from the exciting discovery that a group of people whom we thought were off limits to us dig us just as much as we dig them.
J, now go forth and swirl. ;-)