I've been devoted to dating black women my entire life. However, recently I met a dazzling Italian-Croatian woman with beauty, sex appeal, brains — the whole nine yards. We hit it off majorly. Now I'm concerned about the backlash from sisters. Should I be? —N.J.
I'll tell you the same thing I tell single black women who are looking for love and happen to find it, or something like it, with someone of another color: Congratulations! It seems you've stumbled upon someone who makes you happy. Surely, you've been dating long enough to know that meeting a person who is "dazzling" is a rare thing. Cherish the feeling and enjoy the moments.
The hype about the backlash among black women to black men dating nonblack women is greatly exaggerated. There's a prevailing notion that if black women spot a "brother" with a nonblack mate, they will fly into some sort of seething rage like Angela Bassett from Waiting to Exhale.
In reality, for those who actually care, the reaction is more like the "wince" that Jill Scott wrote about (and received so much mainstream backlash for) in the April 2010 issue of Essence. Scott wrote, "Our minds do understand that people of all races find genuine love in many places. We dig that the world is full of amazing options. But underneath, there is a bite, no matter the ointment, that has yet to stop burning." That "bite" isn't really about you or your mate but, rather, about all of the things that you two unfairly represent for some people.
With everyone and his mother yelling statistics about the number of black women who don't or won't get married, and the prevailing (and inaccurate) idea that black men of substance will "leave your ass for a white girl," as Kanye West popularly put it, there will be some — again, some — black women who won't be happy about your decision.
When it comes to black men, there are some black women who have the "devotion" that you spoke of and don't believe in interracial dating for anyone, including themselves. They tend to feel an ownership of black men because of a shared complexion and struggle against racism, and they expect black men to feel the same.
For some black women, your choice of a partner will be a reminder of all the ways in which "white is right" (and, conversely, "black is not") is upheld in so much of the media and popular entertainment. Your intertwined hands, looking so much like an ad from Spike Lee's Jungle Fever, become an illogical indicator that you buy into the notion that black women aren't good or desirable enough for a commitment.
They are also a reminder of the hateful vitriol spewed at black women by some black men that is no different from what you'd hear from your average Klan member. Those men — likely raised, supported and nurtured by black women — still stereotype black women as angry, aggressive and otherwise unlovable. (Just wait for the comments on this story. You'll see that this mindset is pervasive.) Like the Tea Party, these men are a vocal and persistent (and irrational) minority.
For various reasons, not everyone will like your choice. And not everyone has to. If you're happy, then that's all that really matters.
For immediate family who may be opposed, take the time to explain, once, why you've chosen your mate. These family members are likely important to you, and now that you know some reasons they might be upset, there's no need to further aggravate the situation by becoming defensive the first time they may offer commentary that is out of line. Unfortunately, if they don't understand, or choose not to accept your mate, there's not much you can do about it beyond requiring that they respect you and your partner.
And as for everyone else who might not like it? Sure, you could go around justifying and overexplaining your relationship to the black women who are bothered. Or you can just live your life, enjoy your partner and let other people have their perspective.
I'm a fan of The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by New Age spiritualist Don Miguel Ruiz. The Second Agreement is "Don't take anything personally." Loosely, it means that what other people say and how they react to you is about them — not you. You will be served well if you remember that sentiment when negative feedback comes your way.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor to The Root and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.