[OPINION] In love, sometimes self-hate is at play, and that should never be in the equation...
By Lincoln Anthony Blades
On Tuesday November 8th, I, like many people all over the globe, found myself switching between glaring at the U.S. presidential election coverage on TV and checking in on various social media sites on my phone and my laptop.
As the initial election results poured in during the “Meh, Republicans always have an early lead at the beginning” stage, I saw a viral video on my timeline about a young Black woman who was being verbally harassed by her racist boyfriend. In the clip, this White dude said everything from “Black Lives Matter? Go matter in f*^king Ghana!” to berating his very Black girlfriend by saying, “Don’t be a dumb-f*^king ni**er.”
I watched the clip anxiously. When abusive men become agitated, their toxicity is illuminated and can become easy to identify. It really felt like at any moment he would haul off and start beating the hell out of her in atypical Trump supporter behavior. After watching the clip and breathing a short sigh of relief that things didn’t escalate to physical violence — though still being aware of the fact that a 102-second interaction doesn’t eliminate the possibility that it still got violent — one question wandered through my head: how much self-hate does she possess to allow herself to date a racist?
Now some people may think that question is unfair to her, believing that she was just as surprised at the nature of his vitriol as we, the viewers, collectively were. But to be honest, I’m not buying the idea that she didn’t know he held problematic racial ideologies until that very moment.
If there’s one thing I learned from growing up in a predominantly White town, it’s that disgusting prejudice like that is never fully concealed — especially from the person you’re most intimate with. I know she knew damn well that he was racist, but like many of the Black men and women I grew up with, she just didn’t care because her internalized self-hate prevented her from checking his ass right from the jump.
This isn’t about impugning her for not leaving an abusive relationship. I’ve learned enough from domestic abuse survivors to understand and appreciate the complexities of dealing with an abusive man — check the #WhyIStayed hashtag on Twitter. But this is about investigating what led her to accept his initial problematic jokes, sly comments, and skewered views enough to make him her mate. She claims this dude, who is now her ex-boyfriend, became “more racist during the Trump campaign,” which begs the question: why was any racism tolerable to her?
While we do a lot to combat the anti-Black racism emanating from White communities, we often overlook the embedded self-hate that far too many Black folks carry within our homes, our minds, and our neighborhoods. We’ll call someone “a coon” for holding fanatically anti-Black views while being Black, but we seldom address the origins of that person’s dubious outlook, and even more rarely do we investigate how widespread that person’s internalized self-hate may truly be.
In Black communities throughout the diaspora, many Black people have been indoctrinated with theories of Blacks having an inherited criminality, being prone to violence, being lazy, being uneducated, not wanting to be fathers, only wanting to be mothers for a welfare check, and being rampantly sexually promiscuous. These pernicious stereotypes don’t just live in an echo chamber for conservative White racists; they actually reside, largely unchallenged, in the minds of Black folks in our own communities.
So when I found out that the young woman in the video is from Rhode Island, where 85% of the population is White and only 8% is Black, it started to make a lot more sense. America is far more segregated than most people want to admit, and stereotypes can turn from perception to reality when you only have the mainstream media as an outlet to view other cultures. And for Blacks, even your own race. That’s how the seeds of self-hate are planted.
Regardless of how “woke” one thinks they are, interracial dating must start with being proud and secure with who you truly are.
Some will say that she just needs to “work on her self-esteem,” but I’d argue that there are plenty of Black folks who hold problematic anti-Black ideologies who don’t have an individual esteem issue. To deal with racial self-hate is to peel back layers even deeper than how one values their own morale. It is to unlearn dominant narratives while simultaneously cultivating a dignity that transcends your individualistic identity. It’s embracing a culture, a lost-history, and a dynamic reality that comprises a global community. That’s an important first step to take for Black folks before engaging in interracial dating, in order to achieve true cultural exchange.
But this young woman, like so many other Black women and men who date White folks, hasn’t taken that journey, so off-hand racist remarks get labeled as “bad jokes,” and racist slurs get chalked up to, “That’s just how they talk” instead of being identified for what they really are: a stark look into your significant other’s racist core.
Black folks who accept their significant other’s problematic discriminatory behavior have a long way to go before learning what true acceptance is. It’s not just about being loved as an individual, it’s about being appreciated for the amalgamation of your entire being, and that does include everything from your personality to your melanin.
Lincoln Anthony Blades blogs daily on his site, ThisIsYourConscious.com. He’s author of the book, “You’re Not A Victim, You’re A Volunteer.” He can be reached on Twitter @lincolnablades and on Facebook at Lincoln Anthony Blades.