“You don’t like black men, do you?”
I was seated across from my friend, a beautiful woman of porcelain complexion, a real Marilyn type; a lovely woman who happened to be married to a black man. We were talking about my love life—something many of my married and non-single friends often do.
I have never announced a distaste for black men; if anything, I salute, admire and worship black men. I know many black men who are the very essence of intelligence, sophistication and beauty. But in my experience as a black woman, if I am not with a black man, an immediate assumption is made that I do not like black men.
After some self-reflection, I’ve come to realize that the real question at hand isn’t “Do you not like black men?” but rather: “Why do black men not like me?” It’s a painful question that saddens me.
I didn’t think my friend realized just how different the dating world was for black women: the constant fetishization by men who assume you to be a lioness in bed, the savage from the jungle.
The undermining of my thoughts and feelings: I’m not allowed to be vulnerable; my voice an opinion doesn’t matter, I don’t need protection. I’m purely a robot, not a woman, not human. My “blackness” is questioned when not living up to a stereotype. There are often remarks about how I can change my appearance to align a more western, acceptable idea of beauty.
How do you explain this to a woman who is not faced with this kind of judgment? I presented her my truth as a brief tale about three sisters named “Forgotten,” “Hidden,” and “Discarded.”
FORGOTTEN – Longed to be loved by a warrior, a king, a god: The Black Man
I am not a Kim Kardashian, a Taylor Swift, a Cardi B, a Halle Berry, a Rihanna.
So I am forgotten. I am not a mixed, caramel or porcelain doll, therefore I am forgotten. I chose not to fetishize, tokenize, or be fascinated by a black man; therefore, I am forgotten. I comfort, feed and support a black man, with my love, experiences and understanding. Therefore, I am forgotten.
He takes from me when he has been battered and bruised but when healed, goes back out into the world with a mixed raced woman by his side. Therefore, I am forgotten. I cannot produce with you a child with hair that grows downward, with silky, blond corkscrew curls. So, I am forgotten. I look at you and see me, I know you, I know your pain, I try to reach down and take you from the sunken place, but I remind you of what is denied to you. Therefore, I am forgotten. Black man, forever I admire you, forever I will support you, forever I will cherish you until I am silenced and forgotten.
HIDDEN – Seeing her sister Forgotten’s hardships with love, Hidden tried the love of another: The Middle Eastern Man.
The discipline of your religion entices me. Your culture and worship of women emboldens me. I look at you and see your inky black hair, your thick caterpillar eyebrows and your black eyes, two obsidian holes that steal my heart away from me. Your beard is a shield against ignorance; I stroke it with coconut oil in my hand. Shiny, soft, comforting. I share with you my feelings of misplacement and rejection and you look at me and smoothly say:
“Habibi, وَلَا تَهِنُوا وَلَا تَحْزَنُو . Translation: “Do not lose hope nor be sad.”
In a voice so calm, so loving, so you. In the shower, I bathe you like a god, and patiently remove the fur from your back with a razor. One stroke at a time. You laugh when I try to speak your mother tongue. I know now that was a private joke; you’d never let me meet your family. You’d never let me meet your friends. Never spoke about me in text, we are never shown together in a photograph, never placed neatly on your time lines. I do not see me on your Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat. I see many others before me–white, blonde, Asian, Middle Eastern–but no one that looks like me. I am a secret, an experience, a phase, that once made you so happy, but I am forever hidden.
DISCARDED – Seeing her sisters Forgotten’s and Hidden’s turbulent journeys for love, Discarded thought she might as well try another direction of love: The White / Latin Man:
When you first met me, you thought that my hair was cute and you would pet me like a dog. You would place your arm against mine, and comment on the beauty of the contrast. You thought my name was one of a goddess, and would proudly say it out loud, wearing it like a “I am so woke” / “Black Lives Matter” badge. My African booty would amaze you like a sapphire gem, so precious you had to touch it all the time to make sure it was still there. Walking on the street you felt like a king, the man who tamed the panther, the shrew, the forbidden fruit.
At dinner parties, your friends would ask how I learned English. You said nothing. When your mum would ask if my mother knew how to speak English and whether she lived in a grass hut, you said nothing. When your father said “Let me see that big African booty,” to me, you said nothing. When your white girlfriends spoke of the “vulgar attitude” of black women, you said nothing. When your friend announced loudly “I bet she gives a great blowjob and is like the Duracell bunny in bed.” You said nothing.
As I told you of my experiences, observations, you finally said something: “Take that chip of your shoulder. You’re crazy. Stop being angry. You’re ungrateful. All lives matter.” I was an emblem of your liberalism when you met me. When my truth, soul, my life was revealed to you, and when you ticked me off your “Things to Do Before Turning Fifty” list, everything that I am needed to be removed. Changed. Demolished. Dead. Discarded. You discarded me. I accepted it. I am discarded. But I am free.