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My Ideal “Regular White Man”

**I don’t think this post is as controversial as the title suggests. Read on and you’ll see what I mean.


Awww. I love Jimmy. (Photographed with The Roots) Photo credit: Okayplayer.com

I was having brunch with friends Sunday and we were swapping stories about our bad luck with men.

I got real specific and complained about black men over the age of 30.

So one of our friends, who is in a relationship with a black man, but who has dated white men came back to the “Well, why don’t you date white men?” point.

My other homegirl quickly answered before I could open my mouth.

“Because, the kinds of white men we’d want don’t want us either,” she said flatly.

My friend looked at us puzzled.

“What???? What in the world do you mean?”

That’s when I had to elaborate.

“Let’s put it this way. The few white men who have approached me were almost always blue-collar (nothing wrong with that) and had grown up in predominately black, or impoverished areas, or have mostly black, blue-collar or underemployed friends (nothing wrong with any of that either). They aren’t what I’d call, ‘the regular white guy’.”

My home girl had to jump in and further flesh it out.

“Exactly. We’d still have nothing in common with them and would be more educated even though those types of white men are more willing to date black women.”

So then my other friend ran off the quick list of über successful white men who have ridiculously intelligent and successful and beautiful black women. (Mellody Hobson and George Lucas; David Bowie and Iman; Tina Turner…)

We countered that we didn’t have access to that.

For some reason, “regular white guys” who may match our education, our socioeconomic status are not checking for us, because we don’t normally run in the same social circles and they just may not be interested in black women or open to it.

Educated black people hang with other educated black people and they will also hang out with family and old friends who may not have the same status out of solidarity, out of genuine relationships and also not to be accused of forgetting where we came from.

And let’s face it, most of the “regular white guys” whose education and economic status that may mirror ours may only have one black friend who fits into their circle or probably none at all. That guy isn’t going to go to the places me and my girlfriends like to go. We would have to assimilate and go to their watering holes, activities and etc. But even if we did this, my homegirl pointed out we have to contend with competing with the traditional European standard of beauty, which by default became everyone’s standard.

“Girl, they don’t want to bring us home with weaves or natural hair,” she quipped.

The social anthropology roundtable continued as we pointed out how complicated it is for the “regular” “mainstream” white dude to openly date black women. They may even have more negative implications (passive racism from family, friends and co-workers) for it than their really rich or blue-collar counterpart.

The über rich successful white men my friend mentioned have the luxury of money and power to shut up any detractors.

The blue-collar, not-as-educated white man has the luxury to date black women without much ruffling of feathers because he seems to be more accepted by black people of the same status, and white people of higher status really don’t deal with him anyway. It doesn’t matter.

I feel the black women I do know who did end up with or married what we dubbed as the “regular” white guy, usually met that man through work, a grad school program, the military– opportunities that are tied to their status but that also forced both sides to really see the person’s intellect and talents and work ethic– very important things that people find attractive anyway. Those situations help break down exterior barriers and just let people be people, working collectively together where chemistry can build.

I think socially and in terms of dating, we still live in a segregated world. We do tend to cling to what we know and hang with friends we seem most comfortable with. I have friends of various races, but the majority of friends that I spend the most of my free time with are going to be black. We are going to want to go to clubs and bars and events where there are a lot of black people and things black people like. Being the black friend, I’ve felt that I’ve been more willing to go into predominately white bars with white friends to have a good time, than maybe a white person going into a club or party where they know they will be the only white person. And regardless of who you are, being the “only” can be uncomfortable, even if you are comfortable in your own skin and surrounded by friends, all of a different color, you- if no one is is acutely aware of the situation. Me and an ex boyfriend were the only two black people at a wedding of a good friend of his. We had a fabulous time, but yup. We knew that out of about 200 people, we were the only black people associated with the bride and groom. Doesn’t make them racist, but it once again proves that in our social circles the people we choose to have in our lives will more than likely look like us, have a similar set of religious beliefs or values or live in the same neighborhood.

Being the “only” and learning the art of “code switching” and knowing how that added to our success at predominately white schools and companies, people of color do it. White people will never need to know the movie School Daze or the television show “Living Single.” But to move in this world, to make our co-workers comfortable, to show them we are like them and we are safe, we wax poetic over “Grease” “Seinfeld” and “Friends.” They won’t know who Frankie Beverly and Maze is, but we’ll know who Paul McCartney and the Beatles are. We have to know.

But all of that aside, I was trying during brunch to come up with my ideal white guy. Someone who can appreciate my culture and acknowledge my differences, someone who does understand the concept of white privilege and not be offended by it, but recognize it exists and does not feel awkward, or start to mimic black people if he’s around a bunch of them.

I present to you Jimmy Fallon. Jimmy Fallon does not pretend to “act black” or talk differently with a whole lot of slang (unless it is an obvious joke). I don’t think I’ve ever heard him try to use or justify using the N word. He has a good grasp of the boundaries and potential faux pas. And that is a great benefit of having genuine friendships and honest conversations with people of other races.  He genuinely loves hip hop, and his professional and off the clock relationship with his in-house band The Roots seems to be based on respect, mutual admiration and just straight up friendship. I like that.  You don’t see him sagging his pants. You don’t see him putting down other types of music he likes just because he likes hip hop too. He won’t just strictly hang out with black men to prove he is cool. He’s just himself, but with an awareness he took the time to cultivate and felt it was important enough to cultivate.

Dating Diversity: I’m Not As Tolerant As I Probably Should Be

This is a race post. I’m warning you now. These are my observations and opinions.

So, I came to a very interesting revelation last night.

After going out with a co-worker last night, I realized how fun it is to flirt with men outside of my race as long as all parties are interested in the flirting and don’t have any real expectations.

Maybe Olivia Pope and President Fitz of the hit T.V. show “Scandal” are changing hearts and minds and finally making interracial voyeurs finally come out and be open. Maybe I’m one of them.

I am a black woman. I love black men. I prefer dating black men. I haven’t really ever gone out on dates with men of other races. Either guys I’ve dated may be mixed with black or they may have been Latino. All of my serious relationships have been with men who identify as black.

I often tend to feel that way because usually black men are the majority of men who approach me or try to ask me out. There have been a few occasions where I was in a conversation with a white man and I was completely oblivious to the fact that he may have been flirting or interested, because I honestly assume I’m not their type and I assume that there’s no way they’d be interested.

And even if I sense it, I have a tendency to also unfairly assume that white men see me as some exotic fruit. Remnants of American history and the relationship between white slave masters and black women upset me. A sign goes off in my head that says they see me and think, “good for freaky crazy, fetish sex only.” It makes me nervous and uncomfortable. There are some white women who may be afraid of a group of black men and that they’ll rape them. I get nervous if I’m in a room filled with really drunk, white men. Will they feel like they have the right to rape or disrespect me? I’ve had male friends who would say, “Let’s leave before they all want to start hanging us.” Or “Let’s leave when they start talking about Obama. It can only go downhill from here.” And we’d laugh, but it’s a real thought. It was not that long ago, that things like that happened in this country and on a regular basis.

Inhumanity, wrapped in revelry was a serious American pastime for a long time. Lynchings were celebratory events. People took photos, had smiling children and took pieces of the corpses home as souvenirs. So yeah, I don’t want to lump people in with folks a few generations ago, but the history does not completely elude me. It guides how I feel I am viewed by white men.

We are all more alike than we know. I think we are all curious about each other. They want to know if black women are really freaky, are our butts really that big? What do our private parts look like? And hell, behind closed doors me and my friends have wondered how big are they, are they pink? Like piglet pink? Do they perform oral sex better and like it way more than black men?

I just really believe that for whatever reason, they just aren’t attracted to me. So if someone else points it out, I’ll be like, for real? Wow. Cool, I’m crossing demographics.

Well in addition to chatting up some white guys who were interested, I want to include a caveat in this story.

The white men who make it known they are interested in me tend to be working class, not usually college-educated guys who are exceptional at various specialized, blue-collar trades. They tend to have grown up in diverse areas, they may have a child or two and are conversant in slang. I’ve yet to date, what I call a regular 100 percent white guy. The kind of white guy who shops at Hollister, knows how to make his own beer, was in a fraternity, who did not grow up around black people or tries to imitate hip hop culture. (I already know there is no such thing as my idea of the 100 percent stereotypical white guy, but it’s what I tend to imagine.) Those white guys never seem to approach me and I feel like I’d have more in common or share the same values with them than the ones who go out of their way to quote rap lyrics, or wear gold chains or drive tricked-out impalas. I don’t even mesh with a majority of black men who fit that description.

I’m amused, because these men shatter stereotypes across cultures and remind me, people are indeed people and that black people do not have a monopoly on trifling behavior.

More on trifling behavior in a moment. This story is going to get good.

These two men convinced me and my friend to join them at a Mexican bar and restaurant because one of them wanted to prove that he could do a mean Bachata for “a white guy.”

So fine, we didn’t pass this up.

One guy is very interested in my friend. My friend is Latina. He didn’t have any cash and managed to sweet talk one of the waitresses into giving him $5 so he can hit up the jukebox and find the proper tune. The other friend, who was the “self-proclaimed” wing man, mentioned this restaurant wasn’t his scene, but he was taking the L for his boy. After trying to get my number earlier and it not working out, we simply chatted about stuff and the more he drank, the more sad and frustrated he was.

He basically said, he’s been through a lot and I’m a classy lady. It’s not that he wasn’t interested in me,  or that I wasn’t attractive, but he’s going through a lot and, well I’m a classy lady. He emphasized that I was classy. I rubbed his arm and I told him, “It’s really ok. Really.”

But on the other side of me at the bar was a latino man speaking to me in Spanish. I guess he noticed things weren’t going so hot with the guy I was originally talking to and that he’d go for it. I stumbled through the conversation, apologizing for messing up the language, while others at the bar chimed in to fill in words for me. Everyone was amused. Everyone wanted to help me communicate or tell me which word was missing. They seemed pleased that I knew what I did, and that I actually tried. When I answered one of their questions by saying, “Yo no se, estoy baracha” (I don’t know, I’m drunk) the bar erupted in laughter. Two men asked me to dance about two different times and I obliged.

My earlier male companion egged me on to dance, since I was not interested and he got the hint, and so I danced, twirled and laughed and spoke mangled Spanish.

In Spanish, I thanked my dance partners for their patience with me and for being such good teachers.

They were tickled by this and their appreciation and approval showed prominently in their pants. Men.

I was mildly grossed out, but not really, because I was tipsy, but at the same time, I felt like I was an ambassador for Black women. I was getting my Susan Rice on.

We all aren’t always angry, or mad or loud like most of the black women on t.v. Sometimes we want to branch out and try new things and test our Spanish if someone is willing to listen. We want to laugh and flirt, and have someone lead us off our bar stool, by the hand and be spun awhile. We want to listen to other kinds of music. We want men of all backgrounds to find us genuinely beautiful and attractive and interesting.

I was glad to swap stories with two white guys who I would never normally talk to. Maybe they got to see something different from what they are used to, and to me that’s cool.

So in some convoluted way, I’ve talked about a lot of things here, I want to shout out the men I talked to in English and Spanish last night who helped me have a fun night, but didn’t act all pissy because I didn’t want to hang out with them again. Everyone just appreciated the moment, a dance was a dance. A conversation was a conversation.

But back to trifling behavior. The guys we originally showed up with, well the one I was talking to showed me a ridiculous switch blade he carried in case someone tried to steal his diamond chain (he likes the bling) I was suddenly chillin with Paul Wall. And I nodded and kept cool and said, hey, “I guess you got to do what you got to do sometimes.” He smiled proudly and took a sip of his drink.

I cashed out with the bartender and made sure he knew in English and Spanish that I was only paying for my drinks. Frick and Frack had a couple of beers and a shot of patron each.

At the previous bar, those two offered us a drink, but we said we were good and they said, well at least stay longer and have half a drink (they bought one drink, had the waitress put it in two glasses).

After hearing one of them talk about how he hadn’t paid a gas bill and that he still had one more notice before it was cut off, I had a feeling these guys were shady and I didn’t think either one of them was going to spring for my $8 tab.

So, me and my home girl headed to the bathroom at the Mexican bar, and when we returned, Frick and Frack were gone. They kept making jokes about skipping out on the bill, before they left and it appears that’s what they did. The bartender looked confused, and a bit annoyed as my friend settled her tab, only paying for her drinks and explaining she was only paying for her drinks.

Frick and Frack rode off into the night in their tricked-out Lincoln.

We were hysterical in laughter.

People are people. Gente son gente.

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