I recently interviewed with a young, Ethiopian graduate student who is working on a theory about black women involved in interracial relationships. Among other observations, she and her colleagues note that rainbeaus, and white ones in particular, tend to gravitate to a certain “type” of black woman. Surprisingly, (or not) most of them aren’t bombshell, weaved-out Beyonce types. It’s quite the opposite. But I’ll have more on this later when she finishes her graduate project.
Funny thing, while she was interviewing me, I was interviewing her, because she said something that that stuck out to me. When I asked her what inspired her to do this project about black women in interracial relationships and marriage, she said it was because of the behaviors of her African American friends–one in particular–who is accomplished, good looking, and perpetually single and doesn’t want to be. This was my big chance to ask, “Do you find that there’s more openness to interracial relationships with African women than their African American counterparts?” She said yes. In her culture and family (very wealthy and high on the food chain) suitable partners presented to parents are sized up by class and educational accomplishments, not their melanin levels.
However, she added one caveat: African women are often more open to all races unless they “become black.”
I can’t remember what I was chewing, but I almost spit it out when I heard her say that. I grabbed my pen and notepaper and started scribbling.
“Becoming black,” according to her description, was to essentially be smuggled into the black American experience and adopt the history and the plight black people experienced as a result of slavery, Jim Crow laws, and the “prison industrial complex.” She arrived in the U.S. during her high school years, and it was there, done by her 11th grade teachers, that she became racialized, she said. Kind of like when Adam and Eve realized they were nekkid. “As a result of the indoctrination, I co-opted anger that wasn’t mine. I became angry at everything, and would look for racial injustice everywhere.” She got mad at the brothers in college for not dating the sisters. She’d visit friends and family to look for racism under every rock and crevice.
This student would have been lost of all that “racialization” had she not started traveling internationally. Opening her eyes to a world of other races, colors and creeds made her realize that we share a “common humanity.”
Guess the Guardian of All Things Dark & Lovely lost a recruit, who realized being angry about everything would only hurt and limit her and her happiness.
The whole idea of “becoming black” is intriguing. I don’t think racialization is exclusive to African immigrants, though. I think it happens to black kids, some raised in diverse areas, some raised around the majority of another race who don’t have any particular problems with white folks until someone tells them they’re SUPPOSED to. Heck; it happened to me for about 3 seconds while I was in high school.