By Arielle Iniko Newton
Editor’s Note: This piece is specifically about interracial relationships and marriages between Black people and white partners for reasons that are the author’s own.
When I was younger, I was determined to marry a white man. Having been teased about my nappy hair and big nose throughout childhood, I looked at white romance as validation. My beauty could not be disputed should I be fortunate enough to one day have a white spouse.
My insecure anti-Black thinking defined my collegiate sexual escapades. On my first night away from home, I had sex with a white guy, which I’d never done before. He would soon become the stereotypical white frat boy: loud, repugnant, and mediocre.
But the neo-Nazi sympathizer had my heart. He was tall, bearded, and embraced warhawk libertarianism. I chalked up his ties to neo-Nazis, warmongering militarists, and neo-fascists to his endearing charisma. His magnetic personality and his ability to understand alternative points of view were a testament to his maturity and charm.
As a sex worker, old married white men were my exclusive clientele. They used my body to live out their racist fetishes. I was their jezebel. I allowed them to own my body and manipulate my emotions so long as the price was right.
These and other sexual choices I made were rooted in anti-Black, misogynoiristic violence, and they severely impacted my mental, spiritual, and emotional health.
My depression became less manageable and more omnipresent. Organic, healthy romance was a concept with which I grew increasingly unfamiliar. I was incapable of romantic empathy, although I pined for it desperately. At an impasse between my anti-Black attractions and self-Love, I grew detached from both romantic desire and my own sexuality.
As my romantic life stalled, I was becoming more heavily involved in the Movement for Black Lives. In time, I grew less enchanted with reform, and more committed to the full divestment and overthrow of white supremacy. As my pro-Black politic became more radical and militant, so too did my Love of Black People and, more strenuously, my Love for Self.
I currently believe it’s inappropriate and harmful to ever fuck a white person again. In Loving my Self and my People, my body deserves the unique embrace of Black Love. Nothing else is comparable, and anything less is unacceptable.
I understand that my experiences with white people are not shared by all. But often when the discussion of interracial dating arises I find that many tell the same anti-Black dishonesties I once told, even in self-proclaimed Black radical circles.
These dishonesties come in the form of pretending that Black people are romantically inaccessible, or in attempting to disassociate white people from white supremacy. Other times, there’s the dishonest expression of the inevitability of love, as if love isn’t the result of a series of reasoned decisions.
But the dishonesty that angers me most is when Black people say their sexual union with whites is a form of reparative justice; that because Black people are owed reparations, they fuck white people and expect some sort of compensation.
While the politics of interracial sex work are worth exploring, we must remain clear that reparations are not an exchange of goods, they are an unconditional payment from whites to Black people with the goal of socioeconomic restoration after having had our generational wealth stolen from us.
Alongside these dishonesties is the act of evading the reality of fetishization. It’s impossible for white people to not fetishize Black bodies given the continuity of anti-Blackness. White people, indoctrinated by the edicts of centuries-long white supremacy, viscerally view Black bodies as non-human and beastial. All—yes, all—white people have reduced Black people to our body parts and alleged sexual promiscuity as part of their participation in white identity formation.
Anti-Blackness, no matter the context, instance, or situation, is obviously harmful to Black people. But historically, when anti-Blackness is sexually weaponized, white supremacy’s attempts to degrade Black bodies as beastly and non-human have worked.
And then there’s the Black biracial children whose parents, either explicitly or subconsiously, burden them with solving the “race problem,” and force them to shoulder responsibilities that no Black child should.
All in one, biracial Black children become mammies, magical negroes, and jezebels. Their existences boiled down to their abilities to educate us (Black, white, and non-Black alike) on the benefits of fictional race-free love and their willingness to help us create a fictional race-free world, all while being sexually desirable due to their race-free otherness.
The external weight these Black children are forced to endure in society’s cowardly and desperate pursuit for a post-racial world that will never come, is only made worse by the internal violence these children must endure in their own homes by the behaviors of anti-Black parents, especially their racist white parent with whom they can never fully empathize and who can never empathize with them.
Empathy requires a personal investment of experience. Only those who have lived through the horrors of a racist society can empathize with the pain and perseverance survival requires. White people, even the parents of Black children, can never reckon with this burden.
Black Love in the form of Black people choosing Black-only sexuality and romance is a radical act. To be oppressed is to be mythologized as undesirable or objectified. When we decide to confront that in the most vulnerable way (of being naked and exposed with someone who is not just one’s Self) we’re literally resisting the temptations of white supremacy, which, I envision, will help lead to complete overthrow.
We cannot ignore how a full divestment from whiteness is related to divesting from the presence of white people in our bedrooms. Black Love is a statement of rejection; we reject white supremacy and whiteness that is channeled through white people. Black Love is a decision that says that Black people, from our bodies to our ideologies, are enough.
Arielle Iniko Newton is an editor at @RaceBaitR, an organizer within the Movement for Black Lives, and the founder of the Black Giving Fund. She’s the host of the RaceBaiting, the first RaceBaitR podcast. As Head Girl of Ravenclaw, she is an unapologetic mermaid, abolitionist, and radical militant freedom fighter.
Follow her on Twitter at @arielle_newton or send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.