As someone who spent almost every weekend in the company of white people as a teen, I was always intrigued by the prospect of one day dating a white guy.
I also enjoyed basking in the perceived privilege of being the “exceptional” black person who is constantly allowed to be in white spaces - until those very same spaces started requiring me to mute my blackness even when I was well within my right to speak up.
This reminds me of one particular break time when a friend of mine was crying hysterically because her new boyfriend had threatened to end things with her when he found out she had previously dated a black guy.
So what did she do? She denied ever having been with the guy so that her clearly racist boyfriend would stay with her. I could have asked her why she's okay with dating a racist guy, but I was just there like:
But on a more serious note, that was the moment that lifted the wool from my eyes. I started questioning a lot of things about the authenticity of personal relationships between black and white people in post-apartheid South Africa.
It had me thinking whether we’re just “Oh look at me, I’m so progressive” trophies for white liberals when they befriend or date us - trophies which might later be discarded when being progressive is no longer socially lucrative.
A remark made by a very feisty and vocal old res mate added to this skepticism.
She walked up to a white guy we had all been mindlessly applauding for dating a black girl and said to him, “You’re not dating *Aphiwe because you actually like black people, you’re just overcompensating for how racist you really are.”
Whoops! Tea spilt.
But no, her statement is not to be treated as fact and this is not the perception I have of white people in interracial relationships.
So when I watched Get Out recently, I revisited my thoughts on whether I would ever consider being in an interracial relationship.
See the trailer below if you haven't watched it yet:
This intensely political horror film addresses white privilege and the power dynamics which stem therefrom in social environments. The racially awkward scenes are not only relatable, but also spark introspection.
You suddenly remember that time a white classmate spontaneously mentioned how they enjoy watching Generations and listening to K.O., much like the unprovoked expression of admiration for Tiger Woods and Obama by the middle-aged, white party guests in this movie. I mean, I like Coldplay, but it's not my white circle icebreaker.
More than anything, Jordan Peele’s film reiterates the fear associated with dating outside of your race. Fear of whether you will be accepted or merely tolerated by your partner’s friends and family. Fear of falling in love with someone who may eventually leave you because marrying “their own kind” makes more sense to their family.
Although Chris (Daniel Kaluuuya’s character) didn’t explicitly express these kinds of fears in the film, he was still definitely battling an unshakeable apprehension about being in a white household.
In the early scenes of the movie you can feel how reluctant Chris is to visit his girlfriend Rose’s home and it’s clear that given the chance to opt out, he would. However, he is incredibly passive before meeting the Armitage family, whose progressive attitude is actually more sinister than anything.
Chris’s character develops as his intuition constantly tells him to fight for survival, as he is in a perpetual state of trying to figure out WTF is happening around him.
Not to share any spoilers or anything, but the movie makes reference to “the sunken place” which is where Chris goes after being hypnotised by Rose’s mom. Applied to real life, I’d say the sunken place is the point you reach when you’re just too far gone in assimilation that you just become a shell of your black self.
You become a faux human who barely knows who they are anymore, as was phenomenally and eerily depicted through the characters of the housekeeper and groundsman.
After watching this movie my friend made a joke about how he saw a few interracial couples fighting as they left the cinema. But did Peele's caricature of black/white social and intimate relationships really bring into question the legitimacy of interracial relationships?
Perhaps not, but it certainly opened our eyes to all the historical injustices black people have faced - not only in the United States, but other parts of the world too. (I can't divulge too much, you have to watch it to get what I mean).
So no, Get Out did not conjure some unfounded aversion in me to date outside of my race - I just have my preferences like you have yours.
When it comes to attraction race shouldn’t matter. But the reality is that it does for some of us because we don’t live in Utopia where subtle racism isn’t a thing and where cultural differences aren’t sometimes a cause for conflict.
So sometimes our dating preferences (whatever they may be) are just there to protect our peace.