By Shannon Rogers, BB&W College Correspondent
Bridging the Gap: Millennial’s and Interracial Dating
Aisha, 22, Senior: “I asked him: “Do you even date black girls? Like, how does that work for you?”
When it comes to interracial dating amongst millennials, it’s clear much has changed about the dynamics of race relations and dating since our parents’, aunts’, uncles’, and grandparents’ courting years. However, the thought of interracial dating is still something of an enigma, particularly amongst young black women. Whether it’s a matter of not yet meeting the “right guy” outside their own race or not having had the opportunity, young black women are open and even eager to the idea of dating out, but simply haven’t given it much thought or been presented with the chance.
Some of the young ladies, like Aisha, were initially surprised by the invitation, especially when it was extended by white men versus Hispanic or even black men of other cultural back grounds.
Dorris, 21, Junior: “You know, I have [been approached by white guys], but I guess I never thought about dating a white guy. When he [the white guy] approached me I was looking around like, ‘Oh, you’re looking at me? You do that?’ I was a little thrown off. You know in the black community you just stay within the race. I’m open to it, but the right guy just hasn’t come along.”
“I think white guys may see our bodies and curves first. Maybe they view our bodies differently than white girls. I sometimes think they may view us as ratchet.”
Aisha, 22, Senior: “The first time I was approached by a white guy when I asked him if he dated black girls, he said he did, they just had to be a certain type of black girl. I guess he meant like: ‘Oh my god I go to Yale, I ride bikes.”’Not hood.”
“I have been approached by white and some Hispanic guys. I don’t think there’s much difference in the way they approach versus black guys. They tend to do what their peers/friends do as far as approaching.”
“I think white guys may hesitate with black girls hoping they don’t get a hood or ratchet black girl.”
Many of the young women said they wanted to date out, but hadn’t had the chance.
Jaeden, 19, freshman: “I want to [date out] I just haven’t had the opportunity yet!”
“Hispanic guys approach me the same as black guys, with either “Hey ma.” or “Excuse me miss.”
Shannon, 22, Senior: “I haven’t [dated out] I want to, but I haven’t been asked.”
Young black women who had dated men outside of their race, however, had much different responses in the way they thought other races of men perceived them as black women. All of them expressed an eagerness to date out again or for the first time. They talked about the differences in their experiences dating interracially versus within their race and what intrigued them about the men’s approach.
Alecia, Anisa, and Naima, 20-22, Juniors: “We’ve all dated white guys.”
“It was a breath of fresh air.”
“It was like listening to a Katy Perry song as opposed to listening to 2 Chainz.”
“We were going on hikes and picnics. Well, we went on a picnic; we didn’t go on a hike!”
“We would definitely do it again.”
“Their approach was more laid back and calm versus ‘Come chill with me, come chill with me, come chill with me,’ making me feel like I don’t have a choice. Not saying all black guys are like that, but the white guys just came off as if they had good intentions.”
“I feel like they viewed me with a crown where black guys see a stripper pole.”
“White guys are very respectful and appropriate. They know when to do things and when not to. Like grabbing your ass in a store or in front of your family, for example! White guys do that behind closed doors.”
Crystal, a twenty year old sophomore, had a lot to say about the interracial dating scene at her HBCU. She shared her own experiences as well as what she observed as far as the dating behaviors of her male peers.
“You’ll have more luck asking the guys here. They’ve just about all dated out.”
“They [black guys] want these foreign and white girls with “black features” and “white attitudes.” They think it’s the best of both worlds. They also want the girls to be pure [not having a reputation] but will date around with all of their friends. However, if the girl were to do that amongst his friends she’d immediately get a reputation. As soon as the girl messes up, the guys know about it.”
“I feel that guys outside my race see me as intelligent where black guys see me as intimidating. The guys that have approached me outside my race were respectful and laid back. Their intentions seemed good.”
“I’m talking to a guy that’s mixed Hispanic and Italian now. We’re just talking for right now, so we’ll see how it goes!”
In response to the young women’s views on dating out, several non-black men shared their experiences with interracial dating and their perceptions of black women. In contrast to the young women’s mixed feelings and responses on interracial dating, all but one of the young men I spoke to had dated out and seemed willing or eager to do it again.
Harry, 23, Grad: “I dated a black girl once, and it was positive. We dated for two years.”
“I was just really confident in approaching her. I just kept it real and was myself.”
“The first thing I notice is smile then body (butt then breasts).”
“I don’t know why black girls don’t date out more.”
John, 18, freshman: “I dated a black girl; it was the best ever, you feel me? It only ended because I moved.”
“Nah, approach isn’t different. If I’m interested it doesn’t matter the race – I’m going for it!”
“I like confidence and talent in a girl and a nice butt.”
“I think black girls think black guys are ‘bigger.’”
Roy (East Asian), 22, Senior: “I’ve never dated a black girl, but I like them, and I want to.”
“How I would approach? I would just compliment the girl on how nice she looks and try to start a conversation with her.”
“The first thing I notice? I don’t know; just you. I like a pretty face though.”
James, 26: “I’ve dated out. It was positive and negative. It was a big difference.”
“I just do what I do for all girls as far as asking out.”
“I notice eyes first.”
“I guess maybe black girls who don’t date out just don’t want to. I don’t really know.”
Seth, 25: “Can’t give it to you brief. Color doesn’t matter; it’s the love for each other. Everybody else’s opinion is what makes it hard. Like black guys would always run their mouths in public. We always had to defend our relationship. It is definitely a new thing all the way around but I don’t care. I don’t see skin color so it doesn’t matter to me.”
“If you feel like you wanna be with the man no matter the skin color, then nothing else matters. Love tunes everything else out.”
“As far as the relationship, it was a blast. Loved every minute we shared.”
“But seriously [I notice] teeth. Black women tend to have some of the most beautiful smiles. Skin tone does it for me too. It’s just beautiful.”
“Maybe society, parents, the media; there’s all sorts of reasons. It’s like a kid coming out of the closet; the attraction has always been there, they may just be afraid of what everybody else thinks.”
The dilemma it seems that both young black women and young non-black men have in reaching each other is a lack of understanding of one another, or a lack of opportunity.
Young non-black men who have dated out and were open and willing to do it again or even for a first time, had never given much thought as to why black women do not date out as often as their male counterparts, other non-black women, or perhaps themselves.
While young black women who had not dated interracially have filled in their own blanks with skewed ideas of how men of other races may perceive them.
Young ladies like Jaeden and Shannon who want to date interracially, have not yet been presented with the opportunity.
Despite the mixed responses, misunderstandings, and boundaries, one thing is clear; both millennial non-black men and black women are willing to cross racial boarders to find the “right one” the only thing that can bridge the gap between the groups, is reaching out to one another.
About Shannon: I am a twenty-one year old business administration major with a minor in entrepreneurial studies at Bennett College. Bennett College is an all female HBCU just down the road from A&T, a very prominent HBCU, known for having the best engineering program for blacks in the country.