Men and My Melanin


Dared or not, there aren't many things I wouldn't do. As a people pleasing, attention-seeking show-off, I'm pretty much down for whatever. That is except, as I discovered recently, presenting myself - a black woman - as a candidate on a dating show.

Growing up in cosmopolitan London I was used to seeing black men dating or married to women of other races but I didn't know any black women with non-black partners. My ex-husband was the first white man I had ever dated. And it wasn't that I didn't find white men attractive - I had posters of men of all different races on my wall, I just didn't think they would be attracted to me.

We are literally wallowing in dating reality TV shows at the moment so you would have to be living under a rock not to have noticed (and if so may I join you?) and I have indulged in them all. Last weekend I binged on Celebrity Dating Agency and Take Me Out and I found both pretty difficult to watch.

On the rare occasions a black girl was presented (a meat market concept I already struggle with) before a group of potential partners, I held my breath and froze. I froze for her and for her vulnerability as I begged someone, anyone, to step forward for her. And often I watched as men of all races bypassed the black woman for someone of another race.

I, along with the rest of the UK, watched the whole of the Love Island series in 2017 and noticed a lot of people asking on Twitter why all the girls seemed to be from Essex. On Instagram the conversation got a little deeper with people asking why there weren't any black girls on the show. One of the replies, apparently from a 15-year-old, was that none of the guys would find a black girl attractive so why would the producers cast any?

Her words and those of following comments all in agreement, really stung when I thought about how few black women have been portrayed on these shows but then, given the history of rejection, why subject yourself to that?

When I've used dating apps in the past, my main aim, in scrolling through the profiles of white men I like the look of, has been to check if they have photos with any black friends or previous girlfriends of colour - basically looking for any indication that they would be open to dating me.

I'm pretty sure that none of my white female friends have ever stopped to consider whether a guy they were interested in, is "into white girls". But for many of us black women, it's a pertinent question. It may be 2018 but I am still surprised and relieved when I find that a white man finds me attractive. I can never assume and so I find myself inwardly restricted in the dating game. This, despite the fact that my last two partners have been white.

Even today, while we see more BWWM relationships, there is still some stigma around it which, like it or not, plays out all around us. Of course everyone has their preference and for some, my African features are just not what they're into and that's fine. But it does make me wonder sometimes, how my life - and dating life - would be if only my melanin wasn't so strong.

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  • One response to “Men and My Melanin”

    1. Anon says:

      I feel really passionate about this because I have to deal with it regularly. I work with a lot of white men and we’re just objects or we’re ignored. Only recently have I decided to stop making an effort with them, it’s tiring! You don’t have to bring up “Gospel” “Africa” or “chicken”… smh.

      For lots of white men, being with a black woman is a fantasy they want fulfilled. I hate that I’m into white guys tbh. I feel like white men often don’t know how to interact with black women because they’re only used to being around white people and it’s not my job to make them understand that some things they say/believe are ignorant and borderline racism. Even in a traditional workplace setting, only gay white males make an effort with black women and that’s usually because they want to BE black women!!!

      I know your ex husband is white but he may have been an exception. If you speak to more black women, especially those who are seen as acting “more black” than you… some of these guys think we’re like BW in movies.

      It’s the toxic history of black and white people. Black people have a rep for being louder and more outspoken with their frustrations. Asians for example only complained about a lack of diversity in adverts when Nike used mainly black people. We’ve been seen as 2nd class citizens by most other ethnicities – even those who white people looked down on in the past. Black people constantly make white people comfortable in the work place by adapting who we are for being scared of being labelled or inadvertently living up to negative stereotypes. They don’t do the same, from the music industry to Parliament. (I’ve worked in both).. just to be told you “sound/act white” by your own people.

      I’m sure you’ve seen the memes all over Instagram when 3 black men stripping themselves of their white personas once they leave the office and this kind of sentiment trickles into personal relationships. I think some guys like the idea of a black woman till they see what that really means… BLACK FRIENDS AND FAMILY! shock horror!

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