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We may be down in this cultural contest for love and appreciation, but we are not out. Nevertheless, these preferences have real effects. Because white women were taboo for black men for centuries in this country to the extent that black men could be lynched for the appearance of involvement with white women, access to white women may be more alluring for black men now. This is a pattern that I have observed in my professional life for years: In a perfect world, love would be blind. But this is not a perfect world.
And as wonderful as they are, African American women can never measure up to the narrowly defined beauty ideals based on Euro-American aesthetics that are so firmly entrenched in this culture. She was blonde, thin, big-bosomed, and even had a Germanic name. African American women are plagued by persistent, age-old stereotypes that represent them as too strong, argumentative and unfeminine. I recognize that many people form loving relationships across the black-white color line. Black people as a whole intermarry with whites less frequently than other people of color do; and black women intermarry far less than black men. It is the same sharp tug of disappointment that gets me every time I see a black man with a white woman on his arm. This is a pattern that I have observed in my professional life for years: Despite the steamy scenes on ABC's hit show, Scandal and yes, I am a fan , most single black women are not dating white men and certainly not hunky white men who hold high government offices and are willing to risk all they have achieved for illicit love. Try as I might to suppress the reaction, I experience black men's choice of white women as a personal rejection of the group in which I am a part, of African American women as a whole, who have always been devalued in this society. For both these men and to be fair, they were not much older than 20 at the time and thus had plenty of maturing to do , white women were the pinnacle of womanhood -- the prize that they secretly coveted, the emotional weapon that they knew they could wield. One of my male relatives brought home a date for Thanksgiving who could have been Barbie's twin sister. In a perfect world, love would be blind. By the same token, black men who date white women are "trading up" on the American racial hierarchy. And when people do venture across the color line to date, they do so in ways that continue to affirm a social hierarchy based on race in which whiteness is prized. Social science researchers posit that black men's attraction to white women as evidenced by dating behavior and growing intermarriage rates is in part historically rooted. Even after the Black is Beautiful seventies, it is still the case that when African American women are upheld as beautiful in popular media, they usually have lighter skin, longer hair, and thinner body types that adhere more closely to those dominant standards. This is the way things would be if our love lives actually mirrored recent scientific findings, which tell us the human family is so genetically close that we share more than 99 percent of our DNA. But personal moments of rejection are not the driving force behind my resentful feelings about black male-white female relationships now. The driving force is, instead, my awareness of all of the straight African American women -- beautiful, smart, good women, some of them my own family and friends -- who might not have a honey to bring home this Thanksgiving holiday because they cannot find a date, even as rising numbers of eligible African American men will be wooing white women. According to data released by the online dating site OkCupid , black women perhaps due to politeness; perhaps due to the recognition of their less desirable status respond to more initial overtures than other groups; at the same time, black women's initial contacts are ignored most often. But this collection of happily ever after stories does not mean that love is blind. While more black men date and marry white women than ever before, more black women cannot even get a first "chat" on Internet dating sites. Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. Once I overheard my black boyfriend telling his buddies how he preferred white women; on another occasion with a different black boyfriend a guy told me he didn't care that I was breaking up with him because he could go out and get a white woman, which was what he really wanted anyway. I have even dated outside of my racial group, and I married someone who isn't black -- a Native American man with, I must add, distant French and African ancestry.
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