Why Do Italian Men Love Black Women?

Race Manners: This seems to be a real thing. But if you enjoy the attention, you don't have to explain it to anyone.

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That you're asking the question back in the states is also relevant in light of the old racism- and colorism-fueled narrative about black women getting shunned in the dating department. This was most recently brought to our attention by this guy who announced that he would never date a black woman. It was a reminder of some of the depressing data about how race plays out in online dating and the real-life attitudes that likely reflects.

So I did some real research. Why, in Italy, of all places in the world, do we keep hearing that black women are not only welcomed romantically but also seemingly put on some sort of a pedestal?

Bad news: I still have no idea.

Admittedly, I started writing this response assuming that I'd end up speaking to someone who had authored a book on this phenomenon or studied interracial relationships across the world, or at least had some well thought-out theory about Italy's specific culture and history (maybe something to do with Ethiopia?). I was expecting something that could explain why what appears to be widespread bigotry didn't touch black women in this area (or, maybe it did, but just manifested in some type of hypersexualization way).

So I put my feelers out to my normal Race Manners experts and to the Internet more broadly and got ... nothing.

I posted an inquiry on Facebook: "So, what kind of an expert would one talk to about whether/why Italian men love black women?" My friends proceeded to take over my thread with jokes about Robert De Niro.  

(Seriously, if there is some agreed-upon explanation or official analysis that I'm missing, let me know on Twitter. I'm still curious.)

So I don't know how to explain that "It's true" to your friends except that, well, it's true to you. And shouldn't that be enough? What's with the skepticism? Why would people who know, trust and like you require verification from a cultural anthropologist to appreciate your experience? Is it that unbelievable?

And do we ever make people explain the "what's going on?" of attraction and connection unless we think it's somehow wrong or weird?

In fact, it always seems to get messy to try to explain these things with broad cultural theories. Whether it's a black man who marries a white woman, a white guy with a thing for Asian girls, the participants in a May-December romance or simply members of an "opposites attract" couple, it rarely goes well when you try to tell people their relationships are somehow influenced by cultural forces beyond their individual connections.