Thanks to Jesse Williams popping up all over the place I have to mention my dark secret. I mention Jesse Williams because he is a biracial man with light skin and blue eyes – a product of a Swedish mother and black father. Yet, he married a brown woman of color. This is significant to me and I will explain why.
I am a dark brown woman who is still single. I had not planned nor thought I would still be single at this point. Dating at this point in my life has been very difficult for many reasons. Once you get to a certain age you have a better understanding of who you are and what you will tolerate. I don’t want to waste my time nor waste anyone else’s if we are not on the same page within the first few weeks. In my past I have walked away quickly. I am trying to do some things different now.
In the past two years I have again opened myself up to interracial dating. I dated white men in college until I met the person who later became the person I was supposed to marry. My future husband was black (though he came from a racially mixed family). He was close to the same skin tone as Jesse but without the blue eyes. His family was “pro-black” until it came to his marriage choices. I was OK to date but when it came to talk of us getting married everything changed. His parents all of a sudden were uncomfortable with me because I was so dark. He was supposed to marry someone with light skin or of mixed heritage like himself. In the beginning he loved talking about how beautiful our children would be – a mixture of our unique hues.
Later it was obvious his parents had got to him because he admitted I was the darkest person he had ever dated. I recall when he first met my parents his obsession with the fact that my father was lighter than my mother. I had never noticed and didn’t care. I had to explain to him that I suppose my father was a little lighter because my grandfather was medium brown. My paternal grandfather’s mother (my great-grandmother was biracial and could have passed for a white woman). I guess that is shocking since I am so dark. I really am one of the darkest in my family.
The fact that I even had to explain any of that was disturbing to me. Why did it matter! I guess he was checking to see if I had white lineage just like him. I do have white lineage but I never thought it should have made a difference – I didn’t realize colorism was going to play a part in my relationship.
Interestingly, he got to feel the other side of this equation. I was invited to an African party by my sister-in-law. I asked if he wanted to go with me. He was so excited about it. The only person I knew that was going to be there that was my sister-in-law and brother. My boyfriend was still in the car getting stuff to take in when I stepped into the house.
Everyone at the party saw me walk in first. They were so friendly with me and asked where I was from. I knew what they meant and immediately said I was American. They were quite disappointed. It got worse when he finally came into the house. I introduced him and they weren’t very friendly towards him.
He immediately noticed the difference of how I was treated once they realized I wasn’t African and also how he was treated when they realized we were a couple. Apparently most of the people didn’t like either of us – I wasn’t “black” enough because I wasn’t born in an African country and he wasn’t “black enough” based on his light skin tone. When we got back to my place we both joked about it.
We didn’t get married – it all ended very badly. I still have a hard time talking about it. I brought our relationship up simply because what I encountered with my ex continues in my dating life now. I am still not date “worthy” because I am too dark. Women that look like me are considered the least desireable by men of all races.
Dating as women of a darker hue is difficult. When my relationship ended I opened myself up to interracial dating again for the first time in many years. I dated a white gentleman who I really liked and things were good between us for six months. He even loved my natural hair. It ended with us still being friendly. The white man I dated after him didn’t end so well. We really didn’t have enough in common.
I go on dates but haven’t been in a relationship in some time. I am told by black men that are my same hue that I am “cute for a dark-skinned girl”. I still don’t understand how that is a compliment. Black men tell me I would be more attractive if I didn’t wear my natural hair – why can’t I just straighten it. I don’t have an issue wearing my hair straight and even plan to do it again very soon. Yet, I want to do it on my terms and not because I am trying to please a certain guy.
I am at a much better place with appreciating my skin tone. I also have a better understanding to appreciate the men who appreciate my skin tone. I think that is the most important step – give your time and energy to those who are going to like you for you.