Dear White Guys,
I’m not sure if you noticed me. A lot of the time it seems you didn’t, and if you did, it was for all the wrong reasons. I’m your black classmate, coworker, fellow bar patron. And I’m hot.
Not hot “for a black girl”— just hot. I spent time with a friend of mine (a white male who was forever carrying a torch for his black unrequited love) playing Guitar Hero while his roommate hid out in his room. He couldn’t be WASPier—blonde hair, blue eyes, wearing a Vineyard Vines polo, and a member of the crew team. He barely spoke to me—but my friend later reported that his roommate confided, “I don’t usually like black girls, but she was hot.”
I laughed it off, but it was a slap in the face. Beauty is highly subjective, of course, but on some level, it’s a science. The heterosexual male brain is trained to appreciate an oval face with wide eyes, thick lashes, high cheekbones, and full lips. Same goes for a waist-to-hip ration close to 0.7: these are all signs of youth, fertility, which the brain translates to beauty.
Of course, you and I both know you’re checking me out when no one’s looking. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be such a demand for sites like Round and Brown, for white men to sit in dark rooms and watch other white men have sex with black women. More often the videos are ass first, because if a black woman is going to make it in entertainment, she’d better have a fat ass. The ass is carefully prepared for consumption, a disembodied white hand slowly drenching it with a garden hose or a bottle of baby oil. The baby oil and water are there to ensure a smooth ride, but of course the ride is never smooth; it’s rough because she’s supposed to be able to take it. Round and Brown’s homepage uses a still from a video in which a woman has RoundandBrown.com written on her backside in ketchup—this is the body prepared for a physical and visual consumption if I’ve ever seen it.
No, the problem isn’t that you don’t find me attractive, necessarily; it’s that I’m not a potential partner, and that my booty is all I have to offer. It’s not entirely your fault, though. Even before Saartjie Baartman, billed as the Hottentot Venus, was taken from her native South Africa in the 18th century, dragged across Europe as a voluptuous sideshow freak, and had her skeleton and labia on display in the French Musee de l’Homme, there were disturbing ideas about black female sexuality being circulated in even the most educated circles.
19th Century French print depicting the Hottentot Venus
Women of African descent, they said, had more prominent curves than their European sisters and thus ripe to be fucked by anyone. It was all that heat, they said. Women like Karrine “Superhead” Steffans have created images that are embarrassing, but they exist because they’ve been told for a very long time that’s all we have.
But in the hood parlance I’m expected to use, I am wifey material. We have evidence that the black middle class is dwindling—but it’s still there. Black enrollment in colleges is at an all-time high across the country, with almost twice the number of black women on campuses as black men. This trickles down to graduate school and workplace stats, which makes it that much stranger that you can’t see me as a possibility. At my private high school, a nice white boy asked me out and then took it back because his friends thought it was weird he might be interested in me. We’re your peers and unless there’s a drastic change in the next several years, we’ll continue being your peers.
But you’re not approachable, you say. In all honesty, you’re probably right, in a way. It’s hard to be one of only a few brown or black faces in a crowd—even with diversity initiatives and changing demographics, there aren’t always that many of us—so many women put up prickly personae. It’s a lot easier to cut someone else down rather than except hurt and humiliation. As in middle school, no one wants to be picked last so you pretend you don’t want to play the stupid game at all.
I’ll admit I’ve shut down at points. To call myself desperate would be a stretch, but I surrounded myself with innocuous male friends, many of them gay, and set my sights on what I hoped would be a more socially dynamic college career. In four years of sloppy college parties, I had three white guys approach me, and only one of them was for more than a casual acquaintanceship or casual sex.
I’ll leave you with an anecdote about one of these acquaintances. One morning I woke up to find a Facebook message sent at 3 a.m.: “Wassup…wanna come over?” The very next day I called him out on his message: “Was that a booty call?” He laughed and blamed it on being drunk but confessed, it was. Then he changed the subject, trying to add a bit of tact to the situation: “Can I ask you a personal question?” I had an idea where this was going and I went with it. “Have you ever slept with a white guy?”
“Well, have you ever slept with a black girl?” I figured I knew what his answer was going to be. Besides dressing in the oversized white tee, big silver chain, and Air Force Ones most commonly seen on younger black men, I had a sense that he hadn’t. I prayed, though, that I was wrong.
“No.” My heart dropped. I had just dodged one creep who wanted me for a starter black girl, and here I was being chatted up by another. I felt shock, anger and hurt in the time it took me to diplomatically tell him I had a boyfriend. Then, he added insult to injury. “Oh, so why am I wasting my time?” I know he was referring to talking to girl that already had a guy, but looking back I can’t help but think he also wanted to ask, what’s the point of pursuing someone not up for his experimental chocolate-dip?
My dear white men, don’t be this guy. Any kind of relationship needs to start with respect, and if we have even the slightest inkling that you’re running back to your roommate, telling him how you finally slept with a black girl—it’s over. And it will be your loss.
That Black Girl