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Your subscription has been updated! Please email us at support ozy. So I was disappointed and upset when I did not receive the same treatment in return. I noticed that the difference in upbringings for my black female friends and their white male love interests created an irreconcilable gulf between the two groups that resulted in seemingly inescapable heartbreak for the former and an obstinate denial of responsibility for the latter.
White people, only dating black people is not progressive – it’s racist
But we never talked about it. We tried to justify our repeated rejections on superficial causes--that we weren't pretty or accomplished enough, or that we had somehow driven the boy away with our personalities or idiosyncrasies. We always blamed ourselves because we did not want to grapple with the morose reality that we could be denied the most fundamental of human experiences--love--because of the color of our skin. But it was true, and I wanted to know why. It initially seemed illogical to me that color or race could be a major and sometimes the only determining factor when deciding whether or not a woman was deserving of public affection and a serious relationship.
My friends were all remarkably attractive, intelligent, and witty, and white people often asked them why they were single. No one wanted to own up to the humiliating experience of being rejected because they were black. But by not talking about it, my friends and I only contributed to centuries of institutionalized dehumanization of black women by American and European society. I was already aware of the way that the Jezebel and Mammy tropes were constructed to exist as social and aesthetic foils to the antebellum white usually slaveowning Southern "lady" of the nineteenth century.
The Jezebel was a hypersexualized caricature of a black woman that was designed to justify the systemic rape of enslaved women by white slaveowners. The Mammy was an asexual, jolly, and controlling dark-skinned black woman who was the "safe" alternative to the Jezebel and was therefore allowed to publicly interact with the plantation master and mistress. But I still wondered about white women's role in the divide between my black friends and their white love interests. Why were white women considered to be acceptable partners, but black women were not?
Around the time that the Mammy and Jezebel came into the public consciousness, the " cult of true womanhood " sometimes referred to as the "cult of white womanhood" and the "cult of domesticity" began to develop during the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain and the United States. The cult of true womanhood emphasized that the ideal woman should be in possession of four fundamental values: Women who were able to emulate these traits were charged with carrying all of the positive values of their society and were therefore praised as respectable partners for marriage.
Additionally, it didn't really matter whether or not women actually adhered to these four principles. Rather, as long as the public mythology of these ideas could be placed onto specific bodies in this case, white female bodies , all that really mattered was that it appeared that the chosen women carried all of society's positive traits.
However, for black women, the public mythology funneled them into being either Mammies or Jezebels and later, Sapphires , or the "angry black woman" , neither of which were ever connected with ideas of domesticity, piety, purity, and submission. Of course, this all happened a very long time ago, and most not all of the overt ways of identifying black women as Mammies, Jezebels, and Sapphires have gone dormant. However, the old dichotomy of white women being inherently good or more valuable and black women being inherently bad or less valuable still exists in strikingly insidious ways.
Examples of this include individuals attempting to justify a black foster child being body-slammed in her desk at Spring Valley High School and condemning black female celebrities for wearing provocative clothing or makeup while praising white female celebrities for doing the exact same thing. So for all the black girls who have ever pined for a white boy, only to be degraded or denied the opportunity to have a respectful and public relationship, I can say only one thing: It's never been your fault.
You aren't any less of a human being or a woman because you were rejected as a result of your color, and you shouldn't internalize that rejection as a sign of your inferiority. You are enough as you are, and you shouldn't seek external validation from a society that was never meant to accommodate you anyway. And all we can do now is interrogate the ways that black and white people interact with each other in order to understand how implicit biases express themselves as overt racism or prejudice.
Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. Black woman holding broken paper heart. It was Saturday night, and I was at a party.