I recently composed a meme where I expressed the importance of incorporating the effects systematic racism has had on American society when we're having discussions about what a healthy romantic relationship should look like. In other words, you can't talk about "love" without factoring in how "race" affects the way we judge the reality and characteristics of others and the degree to which we connect with another human beings. Racism is ever-present and works in every area of human activity: economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, relationships, and war. Your love life doesn't operate outside the sphere-of-influence our racist society emits. That being said, let's talk about the type of negativity--systematically enforced negativity--that comes attached to "blackness." Aside from the negativity (failure) like mass incarceration, the racial wealth gap, black unemployment, and police brutality, there are also the subtle and sometimes overt messages propagated through entertainment and the media intended to demonize "blackness." Also, aside from a handful of selected black people--whom are normally relegated to the "first black person to do such-and-such" category--the elite historical and present-day achievements and contributions made to American society made by African American Descendants of Slaves is, for the most part, left out of the curriculum in every level of academia. This type of social conditioning, in regards to how different ethnic groups are supposed to be seen and treated, begins, whether we're aware of that grooming or not, affects all of us on a subconscious level. If you, as someone who is classified as white, have been consistently told all of your life that black men are the most violent ethnic group, intellectually inferior, caricature stereotypes instead of full human beings, and inherently have no interest in raising their children, you will have unfair biases and assumptions about all black men without taking the time to interact with them on a personal level. If you're a black man, it's very possible you will begin to even internalize those same negative messages about yourself (self-hate and hatred for those who look like you). If you've consistently been told black women always have an attitude problem, have some unquenchable appetite for sex, are lazy, are less submissive than other ethnicities, are too masculine, and super argumentative, a conditioning occurs where society as a whole begins to assume those characteristics to be factual about all black women. It then, unfairly, becomes the black women's responsibility to prove those who she interacts with in society that she doesn't fit those stereotypes. She may even feel pressured to go above and beyond to prove she is not the embodiment of socially engineered preconceived notions. As a matter of fact, due to the historical segregation enforced by the American Government, a white person can go much of their life without having to interpersonally socialize with those classified as non-white nearly as much as they interact with other white people. A study back in 2014 published by the Public Religion Research Institute showed that three-quarters of white don't have any non-white friends. When you factor in the racial wealth gap--black people collectively not even being able to afford to be the same spaces as white people (high-end restaurants, country clubs, 5-Star hotels, upper-class neighborhoods) white people aren't even in the same spaces to interact with non-whites. When a group doesn't get to interact with another group on regular basis, they will believe whatever stereotypes they're fed on TV about that group rather than actually observing their behaviors in the spaces where they operate their day-to-day lives. When those same types of negative stereotypes don't get attached to "whiteness," the notion that white people (by default of their whiteness) are more civilized, more innovative, more sophisticated, more peaceful, more hard-working, more intellectual, and more sexually desirable (the pinnacle of attractiveness) than those classified as non-white becomes the standard for the way white people should be perceived. Unfortunately, these detrimental cultural phenomena, which are byproducts of systematic racism, have negatively impacted everyone's chances of having a loving and healthy life-long relationship, tremendously. Tragically, some women will avoid pursuing a relationship with black men because of the aforementioned stereotypes. There are some black people who will only entertain having a romantic relationship with a white person as a way to subconsciously get approval from white people (out of the conditioned belief that "whiteness" has the inherent right to validate the worth of those who are non-white). They believe they're the "special negro" because a white person has accepted them into their circle or because they are having sex with them (Plantation owners used their slaves for sex all the time and still practiced white supremacy). There are some white people will be friends with, date, or have sex with black people and will proclaim there is no way the could have, in any way, been complicit in practicing racism. Some white people will get in a relationship with a black person and will see that as some type of progress in the name of equality or as "doing enough to combat white supremacy." Rather than a white person choosing to date someone not classified as white genuinely because they're attracted to specific qualities of that person as a unique individual, due to dehumanizing nature of cultural racism, black people often are the subject of objectification in many intimate situations. What I mean by that is, instead of wholeheartedly wanting to be in a deep and meaningful relationship, that white person might just have some type of sexual racial fetish for black people. That is a form of objectification because that person only sees them as a device for sex and not as a full human being. The same goes for the person who dates black people out of some innermost desire to rebel against their family or their culture because they don't allow interracial relationships. That, in and of itself, is a form of objectification based on racism. Whether a person is conscious or unconscious in their objectification, they're still complicit in practicing cultural racism. Black men and women have burdened one another with unrealistic expectations in regards to financial, emotional, mental, and stability. The data clearly shows that, due to the fact that African American slaves and their descendants were barred from participating economically all throughout our country's history, wealth was not allowed to accumulate through our lineage. Despite the propped up figures of "black wealth" and "power" that are constantly put on display for black folks to eat up (Jay-Z, Beyonce, Jordan, LeBron, Oprah), a great deal of black men and women don't understand that white-owned corporations, such as Wal-Mart, can provide cheaper products and services and a wider variety of them than black-owned businesses can. Plus, they have REAL WEALTH (Jeff Bezos type of wealth), the kind that wields dominant political influence and that can pay government to protect their bottom line. So, having this idea we're going to become like an Oprah or a Jay-Z through buying black or starting a black business is a kind of toxic ambition, a phrase coined by Antonio Moore. Along with the lack of wealth and the security it provides, there is a great deal of stress and psychological trauma that comes with being black in America. Having to worry about getting the police called on us just for basically existing in public spaces, having to deal with workplace discrimination, constantly seeing images of mutilated bodies of the victims of racially motivated violence of people who look like us, and having laws and policies passed which make life for us harder than it already is--life as a black person in America is downright maddening. I've often said, I believe every black person in America needs some type of counseling because of the constant trauma we've been subjected to living under this system. Black men and women--and anyone who wants to date a black person--must understand the mental and emotional state the majority of us are in. Black men and women can't hold expectations of "whiteness" towards one another. The fact of the matter is that the overall lives of African Americans have been made very unstable by white supremacy. Much of the in-fighting between black men and women arises from a profound lack of understanding about the systemic factors that have unjustly led to the societal failures AADOS are forced to contend with. Black men and women can't have a successful relationship without a clear understanding of how they're victims of an unjust system and what kind of longterm work it will take to dismantle that system. We devote our time to reading articles and magazines bearing scandalous headlines like "10 Signs He's Cheating" or cutesy, bae-esque ones like "Why We All Should Have Jay-Z and Beyonce #RelationsipGoals." But, until we start getting honest with ourselves and with each other about how greatly cultural racism is keeping us from experiencing a deep, genuine, long-lasting, healing, and intimate relationships, many of us, especially black people, who could've potentially found love by now, will continue to, unfortunately, remain single.
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