I am a romantic comedy movie buff. If two people fall in love, you can guarantee I’ve seen it. I don’t even require the film to be Oscar worthy or a blockbuster hit film. The requirement is not cinematic gold. My only prerequisite is that there be a good meet-cute? I watched these films countless times, without question until one day I read a blog post by Bryanda L the writer of Quirky Brown Love, Why I Stopped Waiting For Nicholas Sparks to Write a Love Story About Me
“The reason that I started Quirky, Brown Love is because I was disappointed in the way that brown love was displayed in mainstream media (if even displayed at all) and it came apparent to me that there are really no movies about quirky, brown 20-somethings going on adventures and falling in love.”
After reading Bryana’s synopsis, it hit me how many movies I have seen where the white female lead character falls in love with a man of color. When I thought about it, I had seen white women in movies interact, date, and marry almost every race of men. I have seen white women with African American men, Hispanic men, and Asian men. Then I tried to think of how many times I had seen a black female lead character with someone outside of her race. It took me a while just to name three movies where I can name an on-screen interracial relationship and some of that characters were in the supporting cast and not the lead. It made me wonder, are black women a niche?
Have we only been portrayed and marketed to be suitable or appropriate for African American men? Would that line of thinking affect the psyche of black women to know that the only men who want to be in a relationship with you are exclusively black? This line of questioning is not to discount black love. I desire black love in my own life, but I know that seeing white women-centered as the object of affection for every race and creed of man has simultaneously affected who I think will be attracted to me as a black woman.
I don’t base reality on fictional accounts, but I wanted to know if life is imitating art. According to Pew Reasearch Center, Black men are more likely to intermarry than black women. Twenty-five percent of newlywed black men are in interracial relationships compared to black newlywed females at twelve percent. Even though black men are more likely to intermarry, only seven percent of newlywed white females intermarried. According to new marriage statistics, black women intermarry 12 percent of the time. When comparing black women to white women, black women have the higher percentage of intermarrying.
If black women have been shown to be the one-dimensional, sassy friend that only a black man could understand, relate to and/or tame, that sends a message that black women are unrelatable and beyond reproach to men of different ethnicities. In recent years, there have been a few diverse roles that have shown black women in interracial relationships like Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder. I feel like the characters that are portrayed in those two television shows are drops in the bucket compared to all other media images of women of other ethnic backgrounds. Images such as those that are shown in these two television series should be more widely portrayed in other forms of media.
Here is my bottom line observation: If you already have a strong attraction and desire to be with a black man and your environment perpetuates the message that only black men want you wouldn’t those two trains of thought make you feel restricted? If the number of black men is limited and you believe you are only wanted by black men that would make every available black man a commodity? The availability of “good black men” is scarce. I feel tension in the air when it comes to black women and dating. Every black man feels like a dollar in your pocket, and anytime you see a black man with a woman who you do not approve of it feels like money out of your pocket.
It’s a hostile dating world between black women and black men because of these ideals. I see black women struggling with their identities and where they fit in with their desires to be loved because they are unsure if they should conform to the whim of black men. Is the uncertainty heightened with the propaganda attached to black men being our only audience?
I believe that there is an element of realness to black women being a niche and we have allowed it to affect unconsciously the way we view ourselves. Often I want to be a voice of reason for black women in search of love, but too often I feel discouraged. Voices of reason become dispensable when an ideology may disrupt the path to attaining the ideal black mate. If statics even speak to the reality that black women intermarry more often than white women, why do we feel that our only audience is black men? That is a layered answer, but the truth is you can’t automatically rule out what someone else’s preference is by looking at them.
I want black love in my life, but I also want to stop feeding into the niche mentality because it’s unhealthy. It’s damaging to think you are only valuable in one market even if your preference is to be with a black man. It creates false chaos. The parts of you that you allow to feel undesirable will wreak havoc over other parts of your life. I think Black women need to open themselves up to the understanding that our fullness is bold and highly valued. We have to diversify the images we take in because we are not one-dimensional characters. We are human and worthy of the experience of love in all forms. You can’t be on the open market if you don’t first make yourself available. So it is our responsibility as black women to put ourselves out there and stand strong in our individuality.
I have been surprised on occasion when someone of a different ethnic background says they prefer or are very attracted to black women, and I shouldn’t be. Black women shouldn’t live with the constant thought that only black men are attracted to black women because it’s just not true and it’s a harmful thought process. Niches extend past black women images in the media. They separate all women into deserving and undeserving categories. Women deserve the best and what defines the best is different dependant on the individual. Black women are worthy period.
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