The Interracial Dating Game

I just started watching “Swirlr,” a Web reality show that explores what happens when young and hip L.A. singles cross the color and culture lines to find a date. The show is hosted by Christelyn Karazin, co-author of “Swirling: How to Date, Mate, and Relate Mixing Race, Culture and Creed,” and Jordan Harbinger, co-founder of The Art of Charm, a relationship and lifestyle coaching service.

(Karazin is actually the founder and organizer of “No Wedding, No Womb,” an initiative to drive down the rate of out-of-wedlock births among African-Americans. I think very highly of that effort.)

Check out the sneak peek:

The series teaser got off to a good start with more than 100k views, but episode viewership dropped off significantly after that. It is not clear why, but viewer response to some of the early episodes suggest that Black women are chasing White men out of desperation. (That’s another reason for me to stay away. YT audiences are sometimes a special breed of obnoxious. I think they must practice their putdowns before the post them or something.)

I’ve never been one to encourage other Black women to ‘date out.’ The dating process itself is so fraught with potential for mishaps and heartbreak that I think it’s better to think twice before dating out, I really do. I think it’s worth asking yourself if you are familiar with how the guy’s culture works, and I think it’s important to know that if something goes terribly wrong that affects Black people, he will be sympathetic and open-minded enough to listen to your feelings about it. But some random White guy who is just generally enamored with Black women or curious? No ma’am. Also, what if a Black woman builds up all these expectations about dating outside her race only to discover that the guy has major deal-breaking flaws. Like being obtuse and clueless when she wants to talk about something affecting Blacks in particular?

Curiosity isn’t what sustains a relationship long after the initial attraction wears off. You need to connect with the other person on a deeper level to keep firing that romance. Maybe you are both committed Christians or Muslims. Or maybe you’ll endear yourself to him after being a trooper on a 5-mile hike up a mountain or organizing that family get together, and even if he walks in on you in the bathroom while your hair is up in Curl Formers and you’re waiting for your facial mask to set, he won’t bat an eye. (As for what he’s doing at your place at an hour when you’re in Curl Formers and your clay mask … I don’t judge.)

In my view, any Black woman thinking of dating interracially should at least have white (or other) friends or acquaintances before taking the plunge. That way, she’ll go into it with the right frame of mind: This guy is a real person, someone’s son, brother and friend, and not just a dating experiment. Also, dating can be a minefield on any good day, and a dating relationship should be a nurturing and healthy one, not one that pushes you out of your comfort zone. You heard me: If you’ve never been comfortable with the idea of dating out, why work up the backbone or the stomach or do it now? You’ll want the experience to be pleasant for both of you, right? Imagine sitting across from a white guy who proclaims an attraction for his own kind, has no track record for dating Black women, and doesn’t know what to expect. But hey, he’ll give it a whirl with you? Does that sound like the start to a solid relationship? Just ask Kurt, he’s in episode 1.

Look, in dating find something you are comfortable with while going into it. And if you already have friendly white (or other) co-workers, friends from the gym, church, or around the neighborhood, and one of them asks you out one day, then go for it. Otherwise, you’ll just be wasting time indulging a curiosity in the superficial game of dating, and maybe missing out on the opportunity to form a deep and long-term connection with someone you can call your own. But that’s just me.

From the Met Gala’s Red Carpet

The Annual fashion extravaganza is probably still in full swing at the Met in New York City. As usual, the stars came out in their finest and in the case of Lupita Nyong’o, their most daring. While I don’t think she quite hit the nail on the head with her ensemble, I do think the green flatters her complexion very much, I like the choice of a short hemline, and I love the shoes. I just think the bejeweled netting and the feathers were confusing, and the headband was too big. Her makeup could have been a touch more interesting, too, but I guess her stylist was already very busy with the outfit! Still, it is growing on me. 

Here’s a sampling of who wore what to the most purely fashionable event of the year. Who was your favorite? 

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Share of the Week: When Our Country Hates Our Hair

I never would have imagined that our hair would become the subject of discussions in the halls of government or an op-ed in The New York Times, but so it has.

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A leaked photo (via thegrio.com) depicting supposedly questionable hair styles.

 

The media, particularly TheGrio.com is closely following fallout from proposed updates to the Army’s personal appearance and grooming policies in AR 670-1, which severely restrict how women will be allowed to wear their hair as they dedicate their lives to upholding our democracy and protecting strategic diplomatic and energy resources overseas.

According to one source, women service members may not be allowed to:

  • wear multiple braids
  • wear anything but plain headbands
  • wear twists

Of course, the regulations drew the ire of women in the service and female members of Congress who view the new rules as insensitive to and ignorant about the realities of caring for thick, ethnic hair. Don’t the policy makers have any experience at all with Black women and the lengths they go to to manage their hair before showing up at work? And even so, a line of propriety has been overstepped here. As long as these women report to their commanding officers on time, and their hair styles aren’t distracting or impractical for their helmets, why bother picking this fight?

It just smacks of racism, too. As if someone, somewhere went looking for a reason to make life harder for certain armed forces members. I read somewhere that Black female officers were part of the rule-making committee in this instance, which makes me wonder what sort of function they have in the Army. Are they among the active duty service members who need to tame their hair under a helmet while hauling around tons of gear through deserts, jungles and mountain trails, etc?

I suppose we can take some solace in the fact that tattoos will be limited as well, so that men will have to be more careful about how they carry themselves.

But even that comes as little comfort against the bigger picture — of a weird, creeping feeling that most people in the U.S. still don’t have a clue about the lives of Black women, their own fellow Americans, and that if they do know what we experience they want to trivialize it.

It used to be that Black women could carry out their love-hate relationship with their hair in private. Naturalistas love the range of looks our hair can adapt to, from teeny-weeny Afros (my current style to an array braids, bantu knots, locks, twists and twist-outs, and variations on those themes. But impatient ones like me hate the time and effort it takes to manage and groom thick, curly and often coiled and zig-zagged hair. Those who chemically straighten their hair or cover their locks in weaves and wigs could talk about how to preserve hair health while wearing the styles they want.

Now that good judgement has been taken out of our own hands and thrust into a White House petition, of all places. This is so demeaning and silly. I can only hope that actions being taken to review the policy result in something more fair and less humiliating.

What do you think of the Army’s rules, lawmakers’ responses and the media backlash?