I was going to post this directly to my own blog but I realized that other AAGs would probably be able to relate so I decided to submit to AAGU. :) I really wanted to make this a sort of organized post, but it might end up being more rant-like because it upsets me so much, we’ll see. I’m just going to submit whatever I end up with haha. Oh wow, this turned out pretty long, but I hope you like it! haha
So. I guess first off I should say that I’m a brown girl who has a white boyfriend because that’s relevant to this post. I’ve seen a lot of stuff about POC (and especially Asian people) dating white people recently on Tumblr, and I’ve been thinking about it before that, and two days ago (before I saw all the talk on Tumblr), something happened that really upset me. So I just have to write this.
When it comes to talking about MOC thinking they’re entitled to WOC and when it comes to MOC judging WOC for their dating choices [aka a choice that doesn’t include them], that’s easy for me to identify the problem with. I don’t owe my love, energy, body, time, wonderfulness, etc. to anyone. That’s a MOC feeling entitled. I can identify that problem, easy.
But when the conversation moves away from that in particular, it’s been harder for me to fight against. Firstly, I want to say that I have NO PROBLEM with POC who choose to only date other POC. That’s a valid choice and I understand it, not wanting to deal with racism by white people in your most intimate relationships. It makes sense, I get it, and it’s a totally valid choice I have no problem with. Because it’s your personal choice, it’s your life. But some POC really seem to have a hard time extending that courtesy to WOC who don’t make that choice.
Two days ago, I was on the bus talking with a friend. We’d just started talking a few weeks ago, so she doesn’t know much about my personal life, aka she doesn’t know I have a white boyfriend or any sort of romantic partner at all. And we were talking about a lot of great stuff, having an awesome critical conversation. And then she started talking about relationships with white people because she was sharing a story of a friend. And that’s fine, specific story, whatever. And she talked about how she couldn’t personally be with a white person, that’s just how she feels. Again, nothing wrong with that. But then she said something like “Just every time I see a brown person with a white person, I just think what a waste.” And maybe it was a joke, but it really hurt. I’m glad my not-able-to-say-anything-ness didn’t translate as me feeling weird because I wouldn’t have known how to handle it if she had noticed.
And this is a sort of pressure I’ve felt before. As if I’m some sort of traitor or failure as a WOC, a failure as a radical WOC, for being with a white person. But I was finally able to articulate to myself yesterday something to say back to the “what a waste” thing: I’m not a resource. Women of color are not resources; we’re not wasting anything by having relationships with whomever we choose. Talking about it as a waste goes back to the entitlement thing. No one, just by virtue of being a person of color, is entitled to me, my love, my time, etc. I am not going to date who you want me to just so it can fit into your vision of the revolution or whatever. You don’t get to make that choice for me, you don’t get to project your choices onto me. And you don’t get to make me, or other women of color, feel like we’re wrong for not fitting your mold. I think it’s so frustrating that in addition to all the pressures we face from outside, the things we’ve thought about with regard to our relationships with our white partners, the tough conversations we’ve had, that we have to face additional pressure from POC who should have our backs. Who should be there for us.
I think it’s really unfortunate because it makes me feel like shutting down. It makes me feel unsafe in spaces where I should feel safe. And it makes me so frustrated and angry that it feels like there is nowhere I can talk about this (anything that comes up in being a POC dating a white person) because POC just wanna talk about how it’s a waste that we’re with a white person or something. And sometimes I find comfort in knowing that I know some POC with white people because they are the ONLY people who seem willing to even talk about it in a way that doesn’t include demonizing POC who are with white people.
This isn’t meant to say that we need to stop talking about this. NO. It’s super important to talk about the dynamics of relationships. And obviously white people are not at all entitled to me, my time, etc. but that’s not who this piece was about. And obviously there is a lot to talk about when it comes to these relationships (obviously, that’s the point of this. That I’ve found it difficult to find a space where I can talk about this). But I thought this was an important thing that needed to be said. Also, this is not a thing for white people to jump on talking about how POC are bad or something, this is a conversation for POC. Just to make that clear.