Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Lesson On Interracial Dating (w/ new revision)

First of all, RIP Steve McNair. Secondly, don't let the title mislead you. No, I am not about "tear Air McNair a new one" about keeping up a relationship or sleeping with a woman of a different race. Infidelity is wrong, period. The woman's race doesn't make it any better or any worse. One has to be seriously ignorant to make comments like the ones I have heard since the story broke, like "That's what happens when you get with a white girl!" First of all, she's not white. Judging by her name, Sahel Kazemi, and skin tone - one can easily surmise that she is, most likely, of Middle Eastern descent. The issues that most likely led to his death were male/female issues and, as far as I'm concerned, do not have a racial context whatsoever.

If you couldn't tell from the above disclaimer, I am getting rather sick and tired of people acting as if Steve McNair's cardinal sin was being in a relationship with a woman of a different ethnicity. He shouldn't have cheated, and if you've been following the story and reading between the lines like I have, you probably reached the same conclusion. Here's the theory, either one of these two things happened.
#1 - He told her all kinds of things in order to sleep with her, leading her to think that she was really in a loving and long-lasting relationship although she was not. He may have finally said something to her (either in a fit of rage or a drunken stupor) that let her know that she was in an unbalanced relationship and that he didn't really care for her like she thought he did. For a 20 year old young lady like her, this may have turned her world upside down, as her nephew has told police that she was looking to sell her furniture and expected to move in with him and marry him. Sex is a powerful thing, and some people can not handle it when they realize that there are absolutely no strings attached to it (which is one of many reasons that I advocate abstinence - you may not be popular, but you won't be dead, either). That realization may have set her off and sent her on her suicidal rampage.
#2 - Ever seen the movie Unfaithful? This is like Unfaithful with a twist. In the movie, the woman who is having an affair decides to end the affair. However, she is too late as her husband has already gone out to find and kill the gentleman who has stolen his wife's heart. He does, and both members of the couple are left filled with regret for their actions (if you need to know anything else, go to - that's all I know). Steve may very well have decided that he would divorce his wife and be with Sahel Kazemi. However, he may have had a change of heart and decided that he would instead go back to his wife and children. This may have set her off and sent her on a suicidal rampage.
*Update* While writing this, I came across an article that speculates that Kazemi may have suspected that McNair was seeing someone else (ditto, suicidal rampage, etc.). I'm not really in the mood to delete all this and start over, so it stays.

The lesson on interracial dating with context to this story is that no matter what color anyone is, it takes years and years to actually get to know someone, what they think, how they react to certain situations, and what they are capable of. People with sense don't find spouses in a few months, so why would they get into affairs within a few months? We don't really know people that we associate with, that's why it is important to be careful and most of all to honor our vows and commitments. Obviously, cheating can get you killed. I don't want to come off insensitive at all to the fact that a man is dead. Wrong or not, it doesn't matter. The truth is that we all make moral mistakes and missteps, some willingly and some unknowingly. He will truly be missed, regardless. I met Air McNair once while I was a second-grader at Bowmar Elementary. He just walked into our school while we were in the hallway and said hello to our class's assistant teacher. She asked him to take a picture with us, and he did. I cannot find the picture at all and probably lost it somewhere over the years. I would be a little more upset about the fact that I can't find it and post it here, but I got lost in the crowd when we were taking the picture so all anyone would see of me in that picture is both my eyes poking out of the crowd. My head is pretty much covered, as is everything else and you can hardly tell it was me - so the picture is not important. What is important is that the experience and the man meant a lot to me. As is usually the case, both mean even more now that he is gone.

** It has come to my attention that I did not go into enough detail about the interracial aspect of this situation. So here goes...
People have been saying all types of things, such as that Steve should have seen something like this coming because he dated a woman of Middle Eastern or Indian descent. They say this as if her ethnicity gave her a predisposition to such violence. Let me break it down further. Certain Sistas seem to be trying to imply that Black women are all perfectly sane and no other types of women can be trusted - or that a Black woman scorned won't kill a man. As I said earlier, this is a male-female issue - not a racial one. The saying is that "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." It doesn't say Black woman, White woman, Hispanic woman, Native American woman, etc. It simply says a woman. Any woman. Case in point: Al Green - remember the hot grits episode? The story goes that his Black girlfriend wanted to be his wife. He decided that he was not yet ready to be married, much to her chagrin. That chagrin turned into rage and she entered the bathroom door where Green was taking a shower and dumped a pot of hot grits on him. People like to laugh at it now and make all types of jokes (as do I from time to time, I admit) but the brotha was hospitalized afterwards and suffered third degree burns. Most people end the story after she topped him with the popular (at least in the South) breakfast confection. However, she later killed herself. Sound familiar? I'm not done yet - there's more.
Sam Cooke allegedly got into a tussle with a Black woman named Bertha Franklin, manager of the hotel he was staying in. There's the scorn. What happened next? You guessed it. "Bang." She shot him and a permanent change did come shortly thereafter.

Plus, we all saw the movie "Set it Off," did we not?

So the ethnicity of a woman does not matter - if she's scorned, she's scorned and you wind up wishing that you were never born.
I understand what the issue is here, and why many people responded the way that they did. Interracial dating is controversial because of the circumstances in which the relationships occur, one of the most prominent circumstances being that Potentially Successful Black Man meets girl of his own race. She stays with him, loves him, encourages him, supports him and builds him up when things seem to take a turn for the worse. Potentially Successful Black Man becomes Succesful Black Man and it's not too long before he leaves the loving Sista he was with for a new blond-haired, blue-eyed companion. Kanye West chronicled this rather routine occurrence in his song 2005 hit, "Gold Digger."

"You go out to eat, he can't pay, y'all can't leave
There's dishes in the back, he gotta roll up his sleeves
But while y'all washin', watch him
He gone make it to a Benz out of that Datsun
He got that ambition baby, look in his eyes
This week he mopping floors next week it's the fries
So, stick by his side
I know it's dudes balling and yeah, that's nice
And they gone keep calling and trying
But you stay right girl
But when he get on, he leave your ass for a white girl"

Get down, girl, go head, get down. Wonder
why that hurts so much, or why so many women react in such a negative way to it? Here's why. Since this country's inception, culture has pointed to one type of woman as the standard of beauty - the white woman. Seriously, slave masters putting their wives on pedestals and refusing to sleep with them outside of procreation purposes while running rampant throughout the slave houses at night (as in Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings, anyone?) are an indication of this cultural bias, as are so many covers of magazines, leading roles in films and plays, and now almost every rap video prominently features at least one blond. Such a standard sends a message from American culture to Black women that they are not good enough, beautiful enough, or feminine enough to be treated equally. With the Gold Digger scenario, Black men seem to reinforce this sentiment that Black women are not good enough - especially not after major success and the lucrative financial stability and comfort that it brings. I understand why this is upsetting, but there is a flipside.
For one thing, I have met several Sistas who tell me that they will not date black men, citing the stereotypical images of us as loud, ignorant, violent, aggressive, idiotic, irresponsible, and destructive as their reasoning. This self-hatred is just as bad as anything mentioned in the scenarios above, yet most Sistas don't seem to get quite the public backlash that many Brothas get from crossing the fence. Secondly, what about the Black men that aren't "cool" enough, or don't have enough "swag" to get at most of today's black women? What about the guy who's intelligent, has a slang IQ of 0, and a similar lack of knowledge about urban fashion? There's no glide in his stride, maybe he's not that slick with his words - but he likes Black women and he is polite and respectful (which is almost a horrible thing to be these days). Too bad
he has all those things against him because he has trouble finding a date - his "game" isn't "tight" enough and neither are his shoes. So many women say that they want an intelligent, progressive man who knows how to treat a woman with respect and who wants to get to know her, not just what she's hiding in those jeans. However, when you actually see the guys that some of these women date, it's the total opposite. When that guy marries a White woman (or a woman of any other ethnic persuasion) and the Sistas get upset, is their anger justified? Sure, once these guys "make it," they probably can pull any type of woman they want. I guess the question then becomes - as far as successful Black men are concerned - is a Black gold digger better than a White woman who actually loves and cares for her man despite their racial differences? I think not. Furthermore, should every Black woman be offended and be "through" with Black male celebrities, other public figures, or otherwise successful Black men if they choose a woman of another race? Is every interracial marriage a message that holds large cultural and historical ramifications? Last I checked, marriage and dating are personal decisions that do not require our permission or approval. It seems that if we truly saw all people as people - equal people, with no one being any better or worse than anyone else, we would only consider the love, commitment, and understanding involved in each relationship and not the colors present in them. Despite feeling this way, I admit that I am torn as to whether or not I should feel guilty should I ever choose a non-Chocolate lady to love. Why, you ask? Because I know that I'm not stereotypical. I'm an intelligent, educated (I'm in the midst of my college education, but I think you get the point), well-mannered and well-read guy. I'm articulate and have plenty of ways to express myself other than violence or sex and want nothing but to treat an intelligent, classy, sophisticated woman with the utmost respect. I'm abstinent and will (although not now or in the immediate future) seek a wife. I refuse to be a "baby's daddy" or a surprised and agitated guest on the Maury Povich show, but look forward to being a proud husband and father of mine and my wife's children. Children with the same mother and the same last name, with characteristics from the same two gene pools. When I look at the fact that the opposite is becoming the norm for society as a whole - but even more so in the Black community - I ask myself, "Doesn't a Black woman deserve such a man and such a life? Doesn't a Black woman deserve to be loved, valued, and respected in the ways that I know I have been raised to treat any woman? Don't Black children deserve to know who their fathers are and to actually be raised by them as well as their mothers so that they can go on to be successful and prosperous adults with healthy minds and personalities?" Common once said, on his 2005 song "Real People"

"Black men walking
with white girls on they arms
I be mad at 'em
As If I know they moms
Told to go beyond the surface, a person's a person
When we lessen our women our conditions seem to worsen"
I go back and forth with myself about this one nearly every day, and I come to the same conclusion: We've got to do a better job as African-Americans of taking pride in who we are and treating ourselves and our women with respect. We've got to do better jobs of removing and destroying the stereotypes, popular opinions, and public perceptions that have plagued us for so long, or the guilt, pain, and shame that all-too-often associate themselves with interracial relationships will continue. Either way, I still refuse to put ethnic limits on myself as far as who I date, surround myself with, converse with, or choose to marry and would even contend that the fact that so many people do those things - that is, only choose potential lovers from one particular ethnic group - could be the reasons for so much unhappiness and infidelity in relationships in general as well as divorces in marriages, specifically. I'm looking at the nature, personality, and heart of my future lady love. The color of the skin is of no consequence to me. Fortunately, I happen to be smooth and charismatic enough to have a rainbow coalition of admirers and options and bask in the glory of such universal appeal. I also have the sense not to put a woman in a position to "show off."

***Yes, I know. Kanye could have gotten the point across without a half-naked woman. He understands - as do I - however, that most people don't watch music videos for the concept, art, or storyline. Hence, half naked women with large assets.