Dating While Black: I'm No Jezebel



... Black women were often bribed, seduced, ordered and violently forced to have sexual relations with their slaveholders, sons, male relatives and overseers. 

“Why do you like Black women?”

“Well, they’re easier.”

Huh? Excuse me? I don’t even kiss on the first date because, I DON’T KNOW YOU LIKE THAT, AND YOU MAY HAVE A MOUTH DISEASE.

Yes. Those are the real words I have repeated on many a first date. So, me? Yeah, not so easy. However, according to Chelsea Handler’s dad, just the opposite is true, and he makes it known at the end of the first episode of her new show Chelsea Does (Netflix). Chelsea’s silent response reads as “Fuck, Dad. Are you serious?” as she seems to ponder: A. how in holy hell is she going to get out of that one, and B. what we Black women who date interracially have wondered for years...

Is this what he really thinks?

They are little thoughts that linger in the back of our minds when we begin to date outside of our race. We may not ever say them out loud (because that might be too close to willing them true), but they are there, waiting for just the right heated argument to show themselves — pissed to high hell but cloaked in vulnerability.

Is he dating me out of curiosity? I wonder if this is fulfilling a fantasy for him — that Black girls are wild, and freaky in bed?

Now, to fully understand why a Black woman dating interracially might ponder these things, you have to understand a bit about the history of Black women in this country. Dr. Carol West explains it perfectly in her article “Mammy, Jezebel, Sapphire, and Their Homegirls,” when she informs the reader that upon being brought over on slave ships, Black women were often bribed, seduced, ordered and violently forced to have sexual relations with their slaveholders, sons, male relatives, and overseers. Because of this, Black  women were branded as sexually promiscuous and immoral, which in turn was used as justification for sexual trauma/rape (paraphrased). Add to that today’s presentation of Black women in music videos solely as sexual beings, paired with the knowledge that we take what we see in the media as gospel. Is it any wonder why, as a Black woman, I might wonder (if even for a fleeting moment) what a man’s intentions for dating me might be?

If you think I’m crazy, or playing the race card (and I’m giving you the side eye for days if you do because you should know me better by now), here is a quick sampling of things that have been said to me either by non-POC (read: White) men I’ve dated, or non-POC men that have wanted to date me.

Teenage Boy:  “You don’t kiss like I thought a Black girl would kiss.”

Teenage Me: “Uuuummm I don’t know what that means.”


20-year-old Man: “I heard Black girls are really great at giving head.”

20 year old Me: “Really? I heard White guys are really bad at it.”


22-year-old Man: “Girl, I got the fever! Let’s go get buck!”

22-year-old Me: “You’re sick? Ohmigosh! You should go home!”

Man: “Nah girl. I mean the jungle fever.”

Me: (blinkblink blinkblink) "Good night.”

Yes. These are all real things that boys/men thought were OK to say to me, from the time I was 14 until I was 22. Why? Is it because A. I have melanin in my skin, B. they’re ignorant assholes, C. they thought they were being funny and that was their meager attempt to break the ice, or D: all of the above? The answer is D, all of the above.

Because I have melanin in my skin, and because the boy I kissed when I was 14 bought into the (media-enforced) stereotype that has been passed down throughout history, he thought I might kiss differently than my non-Black (read: White) counterparts. Further, he felt the need to inform me that — gasp  it wasn’t different at all. No shit Sherlock — I’m a girl, not a damn hyena. Because I have melanin in my skin and again, because the boy I was interested in dating when I was 20 bought into the stereotype that has been passed down throughout history, he thought I might be more talented than my non-Black counterpart at performing fellatio, and felt the need to clue me in to this incredible rumor.

Ladies, I promise you — he did NOT find out if the rumor was true. I imagine he made damn good friends with Rosey Palm that night. And again, because I have melanin in my skin, some fool all but lost his mind and thought the perfect pick-up line to secure a date with me would be to inform me that he had “jungle fever.” As you can see by my response, no date was had. No numbers were exchanged — for some foolishness, there are truly no words.

However, there are words that need to be exchanged. There needs to be explicit dialogue, between Black women and white men, white women and white men, hell just women and men period, about precisely what stereotypes they are subconsciously assigning the women (and men) they interact with — romantically or otherwise. It’s an uncomfortably honest conversation to have, and maybe it’s supposed to be. I’d rather be an uncomfortable friend now than an uncomfortable wife later.


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