This post might seem a little out of the ordinary, BUT it encompasses everything that I love to talk about. It is a post on culture, on race relations, on representation, power, on gender issues and it’s a post on everything progressive. What I write is not meant to be racist, exclusive, or uncomplicated but rather is meant to talk about feeling, about change, about life. I hope to write this post through the eyes of an Afropolitan; reflecting on my experiences in different parts of Africa, in the in the UK, in the US and now in Switzerland. Most of what I write about is what I know, what I have seen and experienced. Although most of my discussion in this post will be based on black and white race relations, the experiences and conversations are not limited to just these two races (like I noted before, it gets a lot more complicated).
Growing up in a world which is so concerned about whether an individual is black or white has left me interested in race relations and how those relations affect the world that we live in today and has of course fired up my interest in interracial dating, a very debated “thing to do” in many circles. A long time ago when I was young and innocent, before I was aware about race and how race relations would completely transform my life, I liked a boy. A blue-eyed British lad, he was, I can profess, my very first real crush. My fantasy of anything ever happening between us at 12 years old was crushed when I arrived in Alabama and a white girlfriend of mine inconspicuously questioned my brown skin, brown-eyed attraction to a white skin blue-eyed young fellow. It was in that moment when I realized that all her questions and disinterest were based on the fact that me and my lover boy had different skin colors, a fact that I had never considered in the past, that my life and perception was changed. I never looked at white people the same (kind of) and never looked at relationships between blacks and whites the same (for a long time). I share this little story because apart from knowing that my hair was a cause of attention as it was different while living in the UK, this Alabama instance in my childhood was my first introduction to the world of complicated race relations. Starting with that experience, together with time spent in the US South, I came to know and understand that blue-eyed fellows like my young British lover boy were never to cross my path in any form rather than friendships, and that interracial dating with regard to black America was reserved for black men who wanted to “explore” and be with white women. What society silently wanted me to learn was that as a black woman, I had to honor my race, my brothers and ensure that together we were protected from the racist experiences of our kind. The most dangerous aspect about that mentality for me as not in how racist it was, but rather how it drove me to extreme highs and lows on race fundamentalism. I felt boxed in for a long time and even when I decided that I wanted to open up to dating white men or men of other races the reasoning was still based in racist ideologies (shows you how much work needs to be done).
BUT….when Something New came out, it was the BREATH and the LIFE of me and so many other women that I know. For the first time, you saw a black woman, an American black woman, fall in love with an American white man. It was beautiful to watch and oh so refreshing because the box was finally chipping apart. In the South of the US (its different on the East and West Coasts) you do not see many black women breaking out of what is expected (preference is one thing; expectations another) of them and allowing their feelings to be. And now living in Geneva, I see it all the time. Black women, African women to be more precise, date outside of their race without a second glance. There is a freedom in their experience, which I know is due to different race experiences than American black women, which allows them to be with whomever. I love watching it, I love studying it, and I love intellectualizing it. I think the experience for black women in the US is also changing, and I think a lot of us are using what we see in the WORLD, not just the US, to teach us something and to free us from our experiences growing up a society that in a lot of ways makes judgements based on race. With that, the world is changing and different peoples experiences and lives are really coming together; something that is beautiful to observe. I am excited about the world and I am excited for the experiences of Afropolitans like myself who change and learn as we continue to travel and sew our seeds. To paraphrase the great MLK, I am also VERY excited about the possibility of a world where people are judged not on their skin color but on the content of their characters; a world which regards all of us as equals and one in which as a brown skinned brown-eyed woman I can stand hand in hand with my white skinned blue-eyed lover boy without being questioned, analyzed or doubted. The world is changing ya’ll:)