Monday, March 29, 2010

In Defense of Jilly from Philly: Why we can't have an honest discussion about Interracial Relationships

Two of my favorite soul singers are ruffling all types of feathers this week. Ms. Badu shocked us all by streaking the Grassy Knoll in her ingenious video for "Window Seat" and Jill Scott has hit a sensitive spot with an article about interracial marriage. While people have their panties in a bunch over Erykah going panty-less, Jill Scott is being called a racist by some for her description of how it pains her to see a successful black man with his white wife.

Nowhere in the article does Jill say that interracial marriage is wrong, she simply expresses how it makes her feel. She got a chance to clarify her thoughts on CNN, saying, "I could never be against love. Never. Never. It's ridiculous." What I took from Jill's article is not that black men shouldn't marry whom they choose, but that there is so much more behind that choosing than we'd care to admit. And now she has been deemed a racist for pointing out what is obvious to so many black women.

This is what bothers me about our discussions of interracial relationships. I don't know if it's our culture of political correctness but I suspect a decent segment of our population would rather not do the hard work of exposing the underbelly of this issue. They would rather sweep it under the rug and chastise those who dare to point out that oftentimes there is more to it than "I like who I like."

To deny that centuries of assaults on black womanhood, the exaltation of whiteness and European beauty standards play a role in black men choosing to date interracially is naive at best. I tend to believe that people hide behind a mask of naivete on this issue and in reality are dishonest cowards, lying even to themselves about their motives. Black men are not taking responsibility for their role in the matter. They don't want to examine their preferences. This is the reason why we still suffer from colorism in 2010, the "good hair" concept is still alive and we maintain unhealthy weight standards. We have uncovered and identified all these things as evil but they persist because we won't search our hearts and look at our motives. I don't care who you date, but I do care about the motives behind your dating choices a great deal.

Black women are hip to the cop-outs. We're hip to the dodging of the real issue. So, I shouldn't have been shocked when my favorite blogger, Ta-Nehisi Coates, basically told Jill, 'You don't know their life' and it's really none of our business who marries who. "Relationships are not (anymore, at least) a collectivist act. They really come down to two individuals doing business in ways that we will never be privy to," he wrote. While he may be right, that's not the point. Jill isn't trying to police your marriage. Jill is trying to tell you, and I thought quite clearly, that it hurts when we see our brothers covet those who don't look like us while throwign us to the hounds to fend for ourselves. Rightly or wrongly, it is seen as another way black men tell us we're not good enough.

A commenter on TNC's blog asked, "We're still talking about this in 2010?" Yes, we are and we will continue to have this one-sided conversation until we all do some soul searching. We can't move on until both black men and women come to the table, as naked as 7, Puma and Mars' mama, and be honest with each other. Black men, please leave the cop-outs at home. Black women, please leave the extra emotion in the car. There is room for growth and understanding but we must be willing to do the work.


  1. very nice! i feel what Jill's saying. i, too, wince. but to each his own...i guess.

  2. I love this post and you hit the nail on the head. So many times Black men hide behind "a woman is a woman" zzz Its tired. I would like our people to become more aware of how much PTSS (Post Tramatic Slavery Syndrome)is effecting us all.

  3. The unfortunate truth to this all, is that yes is 2010 there are more than a few Black men who feel that being with a white woman oppose to being with a black woman gives them "Greater status"...What does that say about the contrite situation...It's not that he loves her ..But that he has no love for himself, his people or the struggles of their past or current. I am totally agree with Jill, it is painful and aggravating, and questionable...And then I see a young man marry a Tameka Formerly Foster, to become a Tameka Raymond and she is chastised and her beauty diguised...What does this say as a Black People...That is 2010 we are so lost from ourselves with no truth to ourself.

  4. I got the point of her article. I feel the same way. Where I live and work most of the brothers that are really successful have white women. And this place is full of beautiful sisters. But it's not my decision to make for them.

  5. Then I guess the question is what to do now. If Jill was simply expressing herself, her rage and her pain, and the guy answered her question, even if it wasn't the answer that she believed to be true, what now?

    I don't think all dialogue is healthy and/or useful and it seems as if I've heard these discussions so many times before. I've read so many books on colorism, racism that simply confirm that there is a problem. But there doesn't seem to be any consensus about what to do next.

  6. @kjen My point was that while we've had this discussion before, no one is OWNING it. There is no moving forward until you can own your role in the problem. Until then, we'll just keep talking at each other rather than doing the hard work of healing.