I am #blessed enough to be young, single, objectively attractive, and live in a major northeast metropolis. In my spare time, I like to drink rosé, hang out with my girls, and date as many people as I can. I do my fair share of online dating, but whether I meet someone by swiping or IRL*, I will always encounter at least one problematic individual that needs to be called out. People have said very crazy things to me, ranging from the super misogynistic to flat out bizarre. But there is one topic that always comes up that is always equal parts confusing and irritating.
Last weekend, I was at home living my best life with a hot toddy* in hand, re-watching season 2 of Insecure (#TeamIssa), and occasionally scrolling through matches on OKCupid. I received a message from a guy that I previously viewed and thought was cute. My mind changed real quick as soon as I read his initial message:
“Hi I like black girls”
I stared at this for a moment, and then started the internal monologue of how I was going to tell this dude off. OMG, I’m sooooo over the moon thankful that you, a YT* man, finds black women
attractive, lucky me, I am worthy of your attention!! I took a step back though, and simply told him that I don’t appreciate being fetishized. He then replied with a very incoherent response assuring me that his intentions were good, and that he was only paying me a compliment. Somehow, his follow-up remark made me want to slam my head against the wall more so than the first. The entire exchange felt so ass backwards and I need to unpack it all.
First off, I take issue with anyone who refers to me as a “girl”. I absolutely despise when women are referred to as girls. It’s hella patronizing, misogynistic, and really annoying. Homeboy, I am a woman. W-O-M-A-N. A grown ass woman with a career, a savings account, and a shit-ton of student loans. Refer to me as such.
Second of all, this is such an absurd, overarching statement to make. When someone says that they “like black girls”, it implies that all black women are the same. NEWSFLASH: we aren’t. Black women are not a monolith. Not all black women share the same experiences. Black women have different identities. Black women come in all different shades, ranging from very light to very dark.
The fetishization of black bodies is nothing new to me. I’ve had people tell me that I was the perfect shade of brown because I wasn’t too dark. I have been referred to as “dark chocolate” and a “mocha latte”. I’ve overheard both men and women say that they suffer from a case of jungle fever *. None of these phrases will ever be OK to say to or about a woman of color. No one wants to be categorized solely by the color of their skin.
I think it’s safe to assume that this dude in particular doesn’t interact with black women regularly. His statement tells me that he has cultivated some idea in his head of what all black women are like, and God only knows which skewed and sensationalized sources he’s consumed to form his opinions. Since the media typically showcases black women in a less than positive light, I can only imagine what runs through his head.
Does he think that black women are submissive, damaged, or desperate to find a man like the way they are portrayed in Tyler Perry films?
Maybe he’s seen one too many seasons of Love and Hip-Hop (no shade to Cardi B though, she is bae*).
Even worse, maybe he thinks we’re all Uncle Toms like Stacey Dash who are deep in the sunken place.
He won’t find any of that mess here.
Bottom line: “I like black girls”, “your shade of brown is perfect”, and other foolish comments are not and will never be seen as a compliment. Of course, there are folks out there who adore black women, and not just based on stereotypes and perceptions of what black women should be. Let’s be real, who wouldn’t love us? Black women are dope AF*. Black women are resilient. We radiate excellence. I already know that my melanin is poppin’, so I don’t need validation from anyone, especially a random man of the beige variety on the Internet.