Tumblr knows that I’m in an interracial relationship.
As I scroll through my dashboard, I’m regularly met with posts from blogs Tumblr wants me to follow. Most of them are blogs about interracial relationships, full of photos of happy mixed couples being happy and, er, mixed.
Good for them, but I’m really turned off by the enthusiasm and fetishization of interracial relationships. While each interracial coupling has its own special pace in side eye hell–white dudes who are all about getting an east Asian girl, black men who go for white women because black women are too difficult–for the purposes of this piece and personal experience, I’m going to focus specifically on interracial relationships between black women and white men.
If you check out the interracial or swirl hashtags on any kind of social media, you’ll stumble upon serious tackiness. Examples:
She is beautiful to me.Color of my skin makes no boundaries of who i love.. #blackwomendating #lovehasnocolour #blackwomendatingwhitemen #interraciallove #interracialcouple #interracialdating #interracialmarriage #teamswirl #love #onlinedating #mixedfamily #swirllove #swirllife pic.twitter.com/vnivUz9vTm
— john robert (@johnrob37176839) February 26, 2018
— LJ (@ljscrazy) October 17, 2013
I obviously have no problem with relationships between black women and white men or else I wouldn’t be in one, but I have a lot of problems with the subculture that surrounds fans of this partnership.
When it comes to white men, the enthusiasm within swirl culture is so dependent on stereotypes, including the fetishization of black women’s bodies. It’s one thing for a black woman to say that “black girls do it better” as a playful, self-congratulatory approach to their sexuality; especially when black women are given little space to be honest, open, and empowered by their sexuality. They’re either reduced to pure sex objects or devoid of sex appeal entirely. But white men asserting that black women do it better is often coupled with using black women as a sexual conquest, unknown territory, a sexual manifest destiny. This othering also relies heavily on the idea that black women are inherent nymphomaniacs, the same idea that leads to strangers to asking my boyfriend if fucking a back girl is freaky.
When it comes to black women, this dynamic depends on the notion that dating a white man is some sort of inherent upgrade to any other dudes, especially black ones. It’s possible that some of this is a response to men in the black community that have no problem declaring black women undateable. It doesn’t take too many special keywords to search YouTube and find videos of black men gleefully listing the reasons why they won’t date black women.
Hell, you can hop onto Twitter and find plenty of black dudes going on about how black women are too bossy, too lazy, etc, and that dating non-black women is the way to go. This is frustrating given the fact that, thanks to a little thing called sexism, black women are expected to support and appreciate black men without hesitation, but we’re presumptuous to expect the inverse. Still, though the “black women ain’t shit” ideology is oozing with racism and misogyny, going on about how “black men ain’t shit” and turning to comfort in exclusively white men leaves a weird taste in my mouth, too.
In the world of swirl love, desperate white dudes are searching for that chocolate and eager black women are relishing white validation. Honestly, when it comes to the latter, I get it. I went to school with mostly white kids before attending a historically black college. When white dudes are some of the only options for your adolescent crushes and no white dudes seem to have a crush on you, it’s easy to jump to conclusions that your blackness has something to do with it.
White supremacy is real and it’s easy to believe that the approval of a white dude is golden, as if we should be grateful that they would bestow us black girls with such praise. But it’s exactly this element of interracial obsession that skeeves me out. There are actually white dudes out there who think that I’m supposed to be flattered by their loud praise of black ass and cocoa skin. Nope. A white guy eagerly posting about his jungle fever feels violent, not loving. Even the obsession with mixed race kids feels hokey and exotifying. It’s as if a kid can’t be beautiful or worthy on its own, it needs that drop of white to make everything right.
Spare me. It’s all bullshit.
The swirl community kind of feels like the home of black girls who proudly call themselves oreos and white dudes who watched too many late night MTV music videos back in the late’ 90s and early ’00s. And I refuse to be associated with it. This probably sounds rich for those who have anonymously messaged me on Tumblr, accusing me of only being attracted to white dick. It’s probably also pretty funny to the people who claim to know I’d end up dating a white dude. But I’m being real right now: I really don’t find any appeal in going out of my way to be in an interracial relationship.
Actively pursuing an interracial relationship almost always hinges on subscribing to stereotypes that rely on exotification and deification. This is why I try to be careful in the way I talk about being in an interracial relationship. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about having to explain black hair to my white boyfriend, but I was highly aware that it could have been misconstrued as self-fetishization. Look at me and my blackness, look at my boyfriend and his whiteness, look at us, look at us, haha swirl pride. Not my intent, but I understand how it could be seen that way in the world of interracial blogs which covet photos of black women and white men embracing, kissing, fucking, etc.
Interracial relationships aren’t magical and I don’t think that there should be any pride in being in one. They’re not inherently special or more attractive. There’s no special sparkle or shine. They come with their own special sets of struggles like any other relationship. Having a white boyfriend won’t erase the burden of living in a mainstream culture that refuses to see a black woman’s beauty and worth; having a black girlfriend doesn’t make one exempt from perpetuating racist bullshit. So I need that part of the internet to do me a solid and keep the jungle fever mess away from me.