I was talking to a black friend the other day about relationships. She’s single and hoping to find a partner at some point this year. She is willing to put the work in to achieve this goal, and I applaud her for that. But here’s the thing. She’s only willing to date a black guy. As she continued on, lamenting the relative scarcity of a good black men, I simultaneously bit my tongue and rolled my eyes. Why? Because in 2012 I find it shocking that us black women are still limiting ourselves when it comes to choosing a mate. If you find a good man, one who treats you well, why does it matter if he’s white, or black, or brown, or purple? This boggles my mind.
Through my years of what I call equal opportunity dating, I’ve heard variations of the same phrases over and over from my sista friends and family. There’s the standard: “Your boyfriend is cute… for a white/latino/non-black guy”, the more creative: “You guys look like a United Colors of Benetton Ad!”, and the outright ridiculous: “You are so adventurous for dating out!”
I’m not upset or disgusted by these sorts of comments any more, just a bit disappointed that us sisters, educated, talented, and multi-faceted as we are, are potentially missing out on some really good men because they are not the right colour.
But what the heck does this have to do with travel, you ask?
My German liebling and I in Paris
Well, I think part of my openness to date men from all walks of life stems from my exposure to a variety places and cultures when I travel. The beauty of seeing the world is that, as a consequence, I continually have contact with people who are diametrically opposed to myself; people whose race, colour, and creed make them different to me in every way possible. These foreign environments lead me to interact with people, male and female, that I ordinarily would not have come to know had I stayed in my bubble back in my hometown. I roll in different social circles when I’m abroad, circles that cut across race, class, and economic status lines.
Often, living and travelling to places where there are not many black people means that those I align myself with encompass all colours of the rainbow, and I am better for this. I learn about the “other”, I grow, and I flourish whilst creating a new “normal” while abroad. This extends to my dating life as well. I am open to dating men who are unlike myself because I see it as an opportunity to learn about an unknown culture and enjoy all the positives that these innate differences can bring about. Such a beautiful thing!
Another thing: travel forces me to consider the multiplicity of my own identity. For instance, I am not just a representative of black people when I travel to foreign lands…I also bring my Canadian-ness, my Western-ness, and female sensibilities to the table. My upbringing as a child of Jamaican descent also colours my world view and the way that I think.
In other words, I am a multi-dimensional sister who is discovering the world and all its jewels. So why would I uphold a one-dimensional view when it comes to who I date?
Has travel or exposure to other cultures and races in general made you more open to dating interracially? What have your experiences been?