I Don’t Have Jungle Fever! I’m in Love…

Ever since childhood, I have crushed on men of many different cultures and races. For example, my first massive crush at age 9: my sister’s 15 year-old Mexican boyfriend. The first person to really teach me about sex at age 13: Prince in the movie Purple Rain. (Prince these days refuses to subscribe to racial labels probably because of his rich racially mixed ancestry.)  My first kiss at 17–yes, I was a late bloomer? White.  My “first” when I was in my second year in college, a year after Spike Lee‘s film Jungle Fever came out? Black, but one in a small handful living in Palo Alto on the other side of the tracks —the white bourgie (or “boo-zhee”) side. My first husband at age 28? White and grew up 5 minutes away, even though we met in college. And then there is my boyfriend of more than six years, who self-identifies as Black, but like most Blacks in the US comes from a mixed cultural and racial heritage.

I have noticed, especially when my boyfriend and I are out in public, that some Black women and some white folks do not approve of our relationship. When I introduced one dialysis health technician (who is Black) to my boyfriend, she looked him up and down, rolled her eyes in disgust and then walked away. She then took an unscheduled hour long break, without passing the baton of vital information about me to the unlucky person left to hook me up in her place. I say unlucky, because this person ended up putting the needles in backwards, so instead of my blood pumping into the machine to get cleaned, it rapidly flowed out of my body into the saline bag. Not good.

Unfortunately, since moving to image conscious Los Angeles from accepting San Francisco, things have been very different. My boyfriend and I witness angry and outrageously judgmental behavior more often than not.

To all the judgmental naysayer types I say, “You don’t know sh*t!”.

Like, do they know that my boyfriend carried the emotional burden of being with a sick partner; and sat with me for nearly every four hour dialysis treatment I had, three times a week for close to a year? Do they know that when I was diagnosed with kidney cancer, he stayed by my side in the hospital day and night, as he did a month ago, when I had a kidney transplant? Or, do they know that he, not me, took a plane alone to baby sit my nephew for two days, so that my sister could have a weekend away with her husband?

Do they know that we sat together, with his family, in intensive care for two days and painfully and helplessly watched as his father slowly struggled towards what would be his last breath?

One woman went so far as to tell me that my boyfriend wasn’t really Black if he was with me, a white woman.

What puzzles me is don’t these folks realize how much they contradict themselves?

Before I met my boyfriend, he hadn’t had a serious relationship for nearly six years. Where were all these Black women then? None of them were clamoring at his door or lining up to be with him. According to him, he was always shunned by these racial purists. Growing up in a white community, he was never Black enough for them. They called him an an Oreo or Uncle Tom–black on the outside and white on the inside. To them he was a sell out. Not even acknowledging the complexity of external cultural forces that shaped who he is.

For me it is clear that this judgment and hatred comes from being rejected. And why do you suppose? Maybe these types bring this outlook on life to other areas of their lives as well? What man, or woman, would want to be with someone that hates on a first impression, and carries rage around on a daily basis. IMHO, it is also an easy excuse to get out of engaging in self-examination, a very painful process. Who wants to really examine what their role is in not being able to be in a relationship? But every person that is in a loving relationship will probably tell you that introspection and acknowledgment of their part is the key to their relationship success.

I’ve also heard the other side from different men who dismiss Black women as potential mates for being too demanding, nagging, ungrateful, etc. I’ve often corrected said men, highlighting that not all Black women are that way and that their kind of thinking is narrow as well. And, I’ve met different men who do see me as a hood ornament. Let’s just say that I didn’t pursue relationships with these men. And no matter how desperate I have been at the time to be with someone, I get the hell out and fast, when I realize that a man is objectifying me for any physical trait–like my red hair, my boobs, my feet or my white skin.

I can honestly say, I have never been with anyone to shock my parents. In fact my parents thought I was gay until I became engaged. I was a very private person because I didn’t want them meddling in my business. When they met my current boyfriend they were just as skeptical as when they met my first husband. I knew both would have to gain trust and respect by showing how committed they were to me. And in time, my family grew to love them both for who they are, not for the color of their skin. Sometimes I think my family likes by boyfriend more than they like me. I kid. But there is something to be said for the way both of our families love and care for each of us and each other.

My point is that there is a HUGE difference between some…and ALL.

Yes, some white women date Black men to get under their parent’s skin. And, yes, some Black men collect white woman to prove in some sick way that they have arrived. But the keyword here is SOME. Just as there are some white people who are members of the KKK, there are some other white people who would throw down for a Black person or any person of color in the name of civil liberties, human rights and social justice.

Recently, I came across this thoughtful blog entry on racialicious.com. I was impressed, and dare I say inspired. For it was a lesson for me to realize that some of these judgmental naysayers engage in self-examination and some actually change their minds.

What a concept!

Black man/White woman interracial relationships: Breaking down my judgment

By Racialicious.com Guest Contributor Ryan, originally published at Cheap Thrills

Over the past couple months, I’ve been surrounding myself with people who all have something in common: they’re the least judgmental people I’ve ever known. They’re: 1) unconditionally understanding and compassionate of any given situation – no matter how crazy, weird, or counter-culture it may be, and 2) TOTALLY open about their own lives, in all their outrageous and extreme glory.

How refreshing. To escape the “right” and “wrong,” “good” and “bad”, “Black” and “White.”

Which brings me to my point.

During a conversation with one such non-shockable friend, the topic of interracial relationships arose. As I began discussing my own perceptions and thoughts on the subject, something became appallingly clear:

I am judgmental.

Here’s the bare-bones, no-holds-barred confession: I am shamefully judgmental of Black man/White woman interracial relationships. When I see such a couple, I immediately jump to the conclusion that the Black man is trying to prove something and the White woman is trying to piss off her family. I lump the couple into a category, with no desire to dig deeper or even accept their union.

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