My first romantic rejection, at aged 8, consisted of a younger somewhat more confident me approaching a cute white boy that went by the name of Oliver. He was two years older than me, had blue eyes and was probably completely out of my league. We used to exchange awkward smiles and waves probably every day for weeks, until I walked towards him and asked simply: “Will you go out with me?” to his response of “No, sorry.” His friends surrounding him tried to hold in their laughter, went on playing their game of football, and acted as if they hadn’t just watched my delicate 8 year old ego crash and burn right in front of them. It was bruising to say the least, I had already named at least 3 of our future children and imagined what his last name would sound like in conjunction to my first.
At the time, I only had one black female friend: Cordelia, who advised me beforehand not to go through with the embarrassing spectacle, but not simply to just save my embarrassment, but because she already knew what was in place for me. “He doesn’t like black girls.” She would say, “none of them do.” I didn’t quite understand what she was saying then and it’s taken me a further 10 years to fully grasp the density of her statement. “He doesn’t like black girls.” That was indeed the first time I heard that phrase, but it is a phrase that has continued to follow me through mostly all of my teenage dating experiences like an awkward elephant in the room.
Growing up, I was somewhat lacking black female friends. I went to schools where the minority really was a minority, no more than 3-5 black people in each year and I had predominately white friends. I was attracted to white boys, simply because that’s all I was surrounded by– the issue was that none could see past my darker pigment or my afro hair and none could distinguish what was actually a joke and what was racist, ignorant and plain right offensive. If you were the black girl in your class, you were a kind of novelty. I went through inconsistent cycles of people either loving me for the color of my skin, or being left out because of it.
Either way, you were never really treated equally. Being friends with the black girl was like a fashion trend that came back occasionally and died out every few months and left me feeling slightly off the spectrum. You were either constantly being asked “Can I touch your hair?” or the infamous summer question “So, uh, do black people like tan?” I went through puberty slightly ashamed of my skin colour, without knowing why boys viewed me differently because of it. As I gained more black female friends, all had the same opinion on white guys – that most simply just “didn’t like black girls.” Or didn’t find them “pretty” enough and when I finally did ask a close white male friend his opinion on it all he muttered a half-hearted response, failing to look me in the eyes, and said something along the lines of “The thing is, Beth, I’ve never been attracted to black girls. I don’t know why, I like mixed girls – it’s just black girls. I mean I like you, but I couldn’t fancy you.” It was clear he was embarrassed by what he had just said, but I don’t think he really understood the depth of his words and why it was shadiness at its finest.
Years later, the overall attitude I’ve received from white males has completely shifted. I more than expect now to be out at a bar or club with friends and have a boozy and unwanted voice in my ear mutter “I’ve always wanted to fuck a black girl.” No longer am I discriminated due to the pigment of my skin by white males, but I’m seen as some type of fetish. This hyper sexualization is damaging for black woman, communicating that you’re either less valued or you’re simply a fleeting sexual desire. Both options clearly fail to appreciate the value behind your character. The black female has simply become a category that males wish to tick and sexually explore, for their own selfish curiosity. It has taken me years to realize that I am black before I am a female and by realizing this, I am able to consciously understand and reject this hyper sexualization. It’s not a compliment, it’s not flattering, and it’s derogatory.
I am not here to please your sexual fantasies of dominating a black woman, because it’s something you’ve always wanted to “give a go”. Having sex with a black girl, sorry to break it to you, is not a 30 day money back guaranteed free trial for you to try when you’re bored. No, neither am I a new and exciting flavor of ice cream for you to try when you’re looking for something adventurous in your life. If you want to be more “adventurous” go on a hike, buy a motorbike, don’t sleep with a black girl to facilitate your sexual life crisis.
To all my fellow black women, don’t allow a male to say to you “I’ve always dreamed of sleeping with a black girl.” And accept it. You are not a fetish category, this is not something you should be impressed by, it is not a compliment, and it is derogatory. You are not simply defined by your pigment, you don’t need to be subservient towards a male’s sexual desires and hyper sexualization of your body.