“Colours.” Those Brits are so fancy, aren’t they? Skip the Lifetime Movie and take a read. Every flick is SO formulaic. You KNOW she/he gets it in the end anyway. Sorry…did I spoil the movie for you?
Sample Chapters: One Love Two Colours: The unlikely marriage of a Punk Rocker & his African Queen. Buy the book here.
Margaret â€“ First Impressions of Bobby:
I should explain that, prior to Bobby, I had only ever dated Nigerian Yoruba (my ethnic group) men, and so couldnâ€™t understand his strange English eccentricities. He was very much a step into the unknown for a woman used to the Yoruba way of doing things.
After my long-term relationship with my previous boyfriend failed, I became totally disillusioned with all men. I seriously looked into becoming a nun. Yep, it was that bad. I had signed up to the â€˜all men are bastardsâ€™ school and did not want to know them anymore. But then Bobby had the nerve to ask me out. I answered â€˜yesâ€™ to his question at the time, it was early morning at work, but spent the whole day regretting it. What have I done? I kept asking myself over and over. Yes, he is a nice man, yes, I get on with him, butâ€¦
He was white!
On this point I should explain that I had been asked out twice before by white men but had refused their invitation. In my head I kept on imagining they only wanted me as an â€˜exotic experimentâ€™ or a sexual plaything. So the two men in question were given short shrift. In all honesty, I actually felt insulted by their suggestion.
Looking back now with hindsight, I realise my hostile reaction was prompted by the myth that African women, who go out with white men, are prostitutes. I used to work with a Congolese woman, and she told me African women, who date white men in the Congo, all wear fake hair, have long nails, short skirts and high heels – classic prostitute garb. Taken by itself, this could be dismissed as an innocent, albeit ignorant, comment. Only this was not an isolated case. I heard similar words from Africans whose country of origin was not the Democratic Republic of Congo.
However, I do empathise with them because I once shared similar beliefs. For I myself was brought up to be a proud Yoruba woman destined to marry a Yoruba man and have his children. So no, I could not do it; I could not cross the colour line. At the time, I tried to pass it off as a cultural thing and not the prejudice it quite clearly was. But then, along came Bobby.
The irony is I had purposely moved to Enfield, North London, from Brighton so that I would meet more Nigerian men. And here I was arranging to go â€˜outâ€™ with a white man – and a camp punk rocker at that! What would my parents say? Come to think of it – what would anyoneâ€™s parents say?
Bobby: Sex chapter:
So, why then am I attracted to Margaret? What is it about her that puts a spring into my genitalia? I should confess here that I never found her attractive in a sexual sense when we first stepped out as a couple. In fact, my confession needs to be extended, as I never found black women remotely attractive. It sounds funny to write this, I know, but that was the truth for me growing up. I have tried to rationalise this now, and can only imagine it was because I was never around black people in general. Stuck in my own private white environment, I never saw black people as being part of my life. I had no negative feelings towards them, they just never entered my world. Instead my teenage years were spent lusting after white icons such as Glynis Barber (Soolin in Blakeâ€™s 7) or Elizabeth Sladen (Sarah in Doctor Who) rather than Naomi Campbell. But then Margaret entered my life and a brave new world opened up.
Although not a â€˜hot babeâ€™, Margaret was pretty enough in a plain Jane type of way, but nothing that really stirred the loins, although her breasts were impressive and her mouth blossomed into a chubby entrance to joy. It was only when I got to know her character and saw her compassion for others that I noticed a feeling of desire towards her. Recognising a winning lottery ticket when it came up, she responded to me in a physical sense and our relationship deepened. It was her soul, though, rather than her body, that provoked this reaction.
Nowadays, I seem to have gone full circle, as I do not find white or Asian women attractive. I cannot explain it in adequate words, but for me only big-bottomed black women (not that they all possess large gluteus maximus) hit the spot. So, how come my opinion changed regarding the beauty of black women? My â€˜crossing over to the dark side,â€™ as my mate David Nunn terms it, happened a few years into our marriage. It was a cold February and Margaret had departed for Nigeria to top up her sun tan. During the month she was away, my sex starved eyes had a tendency to flit over any woman my mind deemed attractive. Somewhat to my surprise, I noticed they were all black and mainly West African. How strange, I thought to myself and tried to rationalise it out. So why am I only drawn to these women? For me it is not primarily a sexual motivation. No, it is the general character that I have found in West African women that I find attractive. Not for them inane conversations about celebrities or what clothes to put in the washing machine. In my experience they are more spiritual, serious and more understanding of the suffering that goes on in different continents. It is the basic resilience and humanity that attracts me to these women.
That is not to say they do not talk about washing machines and mundane trivialities, just that they put them into the correct perspective. After all, if you have an extended family to support back â€˜homeâ€™, what is going to be more important to you, a net curtain or a plate full of food on the table? By way of contrast, I find too many white women are only interested in tabloid tittle-tattle and soap operas, seemingly ignorant of the world around them. A generalisation I accept, but one I see every day of the week.
Then again, perhaps I am drawn to black women as Margaret has been the only woman who has shown me any affection? Maybe, because of this, my brain has eliminated white and Asian women from my heart, penis and eyes, as I have never enjoyed satisfactory relations with such women?
It may even be down to the fact that I have been surrounded by black women for these past few years with only a sprinkling of white and Asian females to aid my diversity.
It is quite obvious to me that I am now so immersed with the beauty of black women that I fail to recognise beauty in others; I have succumbed to the idea that â€˜black donâ€™t crackâ€™ and can never envisage a situation where I would shack up with a white lady. I guess, at the heart of it, I just love the smell of cocoa butter on a womanâ€™s skin! I suppose my one dimensional outlook on beauty is not healthy in the long-term but all the above are contributory factors for my unconscious decision.
Equally, I have a lot of single black female friends, who would like nothing better than to nurture a home for a loving man. Instead of a man they come home to four empty walls. I may have a degree in economics but anyone with even half a CSE in Maths should be able to work out this equation. But no, instead of looking elsewhere for partners, we seek solace in the Church and believe in the myth of the strong black woman. A woman who takes her lot from life and perseveres in the face of adversity. The Maya Angelou, if you like; taking crap from people and rising above the petty narrow mindedness of others. The irony is I have heard many black men say they admire the â€˜strong black womanâ€™. Until, that is, they find themselves drawn to the blond haired lady from the local club or pub. This â€˜strengthâ€™ is then put away in the box labelled â€˜keeping it realâ€™, whilst the reality of lonely â€˜sistersâ€™ passes them by.
So, how come mixed marriages are not more common? In some ways they are. According to the Office for National Statistics, via their census of April 2001, 219,000, of the 10.3 million married couples who completed the census, were classified as â€˜inter ethnicâ€™. Patterns of â€˜inter ethnicâ€™ marriage were broadly similar with one exception; black women were less likely to marry outside their ethnic group. Whilst 48 per cent of black men born in England married a woman from outside their ethnic group only 33 per cent of black women did. The census in America showed a similar outcome. So why the discrepancy? Why do black women appear so reluctant to date outside of their race?
I have already covered some of the issues regarding this – slavery and the sexual myths. Other factors also come into play. A black female friend of mine said she would never date a white man because she wouldnâ€™t know what to do with him. She felt it would be a step into the unknown.
Another black lady – who was asked out by a white male friend of mine – replied that, although she liked the man in question she could not do it because of what her family might think.
My old friend, David Nunn, had problems of a similar nature. He was dating a Nigerian origin woman for six months. During their entire relationship, the lady in question had to keep their liaison a secret, as she was scared of what her parents might say.
Yet another lady, (Keisha, an ex-friend of Margaretâ€™s) could not do â€˜itâ€™, as her mother warned her at an early age she could never date a white man. She was told that, however bad a black man may treat her, she must accept it, as she is a black woman.
One of Margaretâ€™s black colleagues was also told by her mother when she was a teenager, to â€˜never date either a Rastafarian or a white man.â€™
Our near neighbour Sheena, whilst herself being open to dating outside of her race, was gently reminded by her uncle that she was best off not having a white boyfriend.
When news of Margaret dating me first broke at work, her friend, Sylvia, was working with a young black lady. Unfortunately for her, she did not realise Margaret was one of Sylviaâ€™s closest friends. She, therefore, put her foot in the proverbial â€˜itâ€™, when she told Sylvia that Margaret was wrong for going out with a white man.
I give all these examples to prove, albeit on a local level, that many black women do have an aversion to dating white men. So, is this resistance justified? No. Although I can understand some of the objections, as in the first two examples, they are still wrong. I would actually find it easier to accept if they just said, â€˜I donâ€™t find white men attractive.â€™ By giving these excuses, the women are helping to keep barriers up in society.
As for the â€˜I must suffer because I am a black womanâ€™ bit, how is this taking forward issues that affect black women? Sorry, but why exactly should they have to suffer? Given that black men are dating outside of their race so much, why canâ€™t black women follow suit?
Margaret also informs me that a lot of black African women are put off dating white men because we are perceived as lacking in one important area: religion. To be fair this is true. For whatever reason, a lot of white men are not religious in the same sense that many black women are. I can at least understand why people object on these grounds, as religion can be too important to be compromised via the fragility of human emotions.
Another reason to object, is the notion that some white men seek black women as partners to prove their anti-racist credentials, that they are â€˜colour-blindâ€™ and contributing towards racial harmony – by dating someone who is non-white. Of course, if this was the case, who in their right mind would want to step out and be patronised by a liberal whitey type who was feeling guilty over the slave trade? You can imagine the conversation, â€˜oh my pretty ethnic girl I am so sorry for the crimes my ancestors committed against yours in the past, please forgive my poor white soul and let me worship your black beautyâ€™. Sorry, but this is ridiculous, not to mention deeply offensive. Most black girls I know would prefer to dress up in a fancy number from Primark, rather than wear the sackcloth and ashes conferred on them by the white liberals.
Black peer pressure also applies its squeeze on black women who are tempted to stray to the â€˜white manâ€™. Margaret had a classic case of this within the past year. She was talking to a black teenager named Simone and the subject of relationships reared its complicated head. Simone inquired of Margaret if it was true that Nigerian men looked after â€˜theirâ€™ women better than Caribbean origin men. Margaret, as is her way with any young woman, told her to forget about men until she was at least twenty-five!
Poor Simone, unused to Margaretâ€™s feminist style rantings (my wifeâ€™s dream job would be penis amputator!), persisted with her line of questioning. Margaret told her not to believe everything she had heard about Nigerian men. She went on to say that Simone should consider dating other men.
â€˜You mean someone who isnâ€™t black?â€™ asked a wide-eyed and incredulous Simone.
Margaret merely said, â€˜You should keep your eyes open to any colour.â€™
Simone considered for a second and said, â€˜No, I couldnâ€™t go out with a white man, I love my black â€˜brothersâ€™ too much.â€™
Margaret didnâ€™t answer and merely gave Simone one of her â€˜donâ€™t mess with Auntie Margaretâ€™ looks.
To deflect attention away from her, Simone changed tack and innocently asked Margaret who she was married to. Margaret smiled and showed my handsome picture to her. Surprisingly, Simone smiled back.
Why all the smiles? Was it a picture of me in my birthday suit, proud and erect for all to see?
The reason for the all round bonhomie was that Simone was actually dating a white Frenchman at the time but was too scared to admit it! It was only when Margaret played her hand and revealed me as her husband that she confessed the truth.
This is so sad, how many other black women are hiding white men as partners around the country? Are we doomed to be forever lurking in the shadows, only coming out when the coast is clear?
Simone went on to tell Margaret that she had also experienced the stares and kissing of teeth from other black women when out with her boyfriend. This was the reason for her not coming clean about her â€˜Jean Paulâ€™. It was only when Margaret admitted that she, too, had joined the â€˜Milky Barâ€™ club that she felt confident enough to do so.
Peer pressure. Pah! As they say in France.
It seems that, everywhere one looks, black women are imbued with a fear of the â€˜white manâ€™ when it comes to finding a partner.
I see that even the humble email has its part to play in the racial dating game. My wife received an email this year entitled Love the Black Woman, Respect the Black Woman and only date the Black Woman. It included the following lines;
Only a Black Woman: Can make a black man and his non-black date feel nervous without saying a word.
Only a Black Woman: Can be admired and fantasized about by men of other races.
Only a Black Woman: Can make other women want to pay plastic surgeons and tanning salons hundreds and thousands of pounds for physical features she was already born with.
Only a Black Woman: Can be the mother of civilisation.
Propaganda bullshit! Although its main vitriol is aimed at black men who stray away from â€˜sistersâ€™, the email has only one message; segregation. I dare say that many readers of this book have probably also read such a mail. Quite clearly the words of Love the Black Woman are meant to act as a defensive mechanism to promote the notion of black female strength and beauty. I have absolutely no problem with this, and indeed have tried to do the same with my writing in this book. But, the people who swallow this part of the email confuse black female strength as being anti to those of us who do cross race. How many more times do I have to read about the â€˜fantasyâ€™ myth? Why is this crap still believed by so many? If you extend this then, surely, I should be seen as a â€˜fantasyâ€™ for black women?
My brother-in-law shed further light on why black women are reluctant to date white men. He told me many Nigerian women talk to him, asking for help in finding a husband as there is a shortage of Nigerian men in England. He always suggests to them that if they cannot find a Nigerian they should consider dating a white man. Without exception, they donâ€™t entertain this as an option. White men are so far off the radar; we are just not thought of as potential boyfriends. Indeed, we are just not recognised as sexual beings at all. Instead, we are seen as a race of latent homosexuals with a penchant for clasping onto motherâ€™s apron!
He then went on to tell me that the women he speaks to canâ€™t even understand why white men would find them attractive. Well, all I can say by way of response is; wake up, â€˜sistersâ€™ of the world, â€˜weâ€™ do!
Eventually, though, this reluctance to â€˜cross overâ€™ will change. If the statistics are correct and half of black men are marrying outside of their race, it stands to reason there must be a lot of single black women and white men knocking around in England. Through circumstances beyond their control they are being squeezed into the same lonely corner.
As a consequence, the next few years, I believe, will see an explosion in this type of coupling. You only have to check the personal ads in the local paper for confirmation of this. Certainly, where I live, many black women are now requesting white men as partners. Crucially, most of the women are over the age of thirty. It is almost as if these older women have given up waiting for â€˜black loveâ€™ and so are looking further afield. This is progress but I still find it difficult to understand why so many young black women are averse to dating white men.