What’s Wrong with Having a Preference, Anyway?

Is it wrong to prefer one race (other than your own) over another?

Brenda met her first love when she was 12. Butch was 13. During those innocent first days, they teased and frolicked under the lazy Georgia sky, holding hands, long looks, smiles. Butch’s father, wealthy man that he was, made light of it. “I was part of a community who came to work on his large farm. [The crush] was okay. He thought it was cute.” After the harvest, years passed without them seeing one another, but they exchanged occasional phone conversations–nothing too heavy, just shooting the breeze. But when they came of age–that time when one touch and a certain look can spark something that often can’t be stopped. Passion grew from anticipation, the wait until they could see each other again, perhaps after they finished the day at their separate, segregated schools. After all, it was the 1960’s. Brenda, 16 at the time, was (is) black. Butch, 17 then, was (is) white. A scandalous mix, yet, they dared. “It was the first time I ever felt love stirring in me. When I looked into that boy’s greens eyes, I fell in love, and he loved me too.”

Butch’s father, once patronizing of their childhood crush, now demanded a stop to it. Meeting, kissing, loving was forbidden, so they conspired to meet in secret with help from Oscar, a black farm worker who smuggled her onto the property. “I still remember what I wore the fist time I was alone with him again.” Green mini skirt with pretty white flowers, Roman-style sandals.

Making love for the first time remains a vivid memory, even after 46 years. Following a few more secret meetings, she became pregnant. They plotted to run away together, somewhere…where? There was no place to go. Brenda’s mother, so afraid of her daughter being harmed, arranged for her to quickly marry a black man, putting an end to Butch’s foolhardy scheme for escape. The forced marriage, then, the miscarriage. Three years later, the divorce. But the timing would never come again for her and Butch. So in the 1970’s, she’d marry again, to a blond-haired hippy who gave her the Scribner name. Sadly that relationship would also end in divorce.

Brenda has never had a preference for any other race except Caucasian, even when it was hard, even when it didn’t work out, even when it could get her killed. “I used to wonder why God would give me this preference, but I know in my heart it’s because he knew I could handle it–even in South Georgia in the 1960’s.”

For me, this touching story highlights that for some, dating outside their race isn’t a Plan B. Yet, much of what we say and hear these days is “well, black men didn’t want me so I went with so and so.” I’m just wondering out loud–how many of us in interracial relationships are in it not because it was a second choice, but the only choice?

How many out there have only ever wanted one type of man of one type of race? Is there something wrong with that?