How not to approach a black woman, by a black woman


IRL  • 

How not to approach a black woman, by a black woman

10 handy tips to consider before hitting on a woman of colour!!

I often hear members of the older generation talk about how they used to date and it always sounds quaint. With the wonders of social media however, the days where people simply struck up courtships from a casual interaction on the street are more of a rarity, especially when we all have Tinder.

That doesn’t mean people have completely stopped talking to each other in real life however. Many people still get approached IRL and I applaud anyone who takes that first step as it takes guts! But as a black girl, I have on countless occasions encountered a certain type of man that just can’t get past the fact that I’m, well…black. I don’t speak for all women of colour here but I can assure you there’s a decent amount of us out there who dread this approach.

If you’re wondering how you should strike up a conversation with a black girl, avoid these phrases at all costs.

’60 years ago, this interaction could never have happened!’ OR ‘I don’t see colour’

This might feel a tad less condescending if we lived in a truly post-racial society but the problem is, we don’t. I don’t need to be reminded of the institutionalised social injustices that were transpiring against people of colour not too long ago because a lot of them are still present today. Moreover, ‘not seeing colour’ is a lovely but ultimately hurtful sentiment because the implication here is that you’re refusing to acknowledge a part of my identity. My race is a part of who I am but it is not all I am.

‘I loooove [insert black celebrity here]!’

That’s great but unless that celebrity happened to come up naturally in the conversation, don’t shoehorn them in just to earn some sort of blackness brownie point. Black people and people of colour are not a homogenous entity. We are not all cosmically connected. No one black person should be a spokesperson for the rest and likewise, not every black person will have an opinion on a notable figure ‘in the community’. Also, perhaps shy away from comparing me to another black celebrity because the chances are, we most likely look nothing alike.

‘Will you be my African Queen?’

You might think you’re elevating my status but you aren’t. When this is uttered, the assumption is all black people must be African, which of course, is not true. Africa is a large continent, it’s not a country. Black people aren’t one unit and they shouldn’t be othered.

‘Damn, you’re pretty for a black girl’

Gee, thanks. It’s not like I fight on a daily basis to not internalise Eurocentric beauty standards that tell me I’m not good enough or anything. It’s so affirming to hear while my race isn’t considered conventionally attractive, somehow my features have lined up in a way that defies the usual ugliness of the black girl. There are still people of colour out thered ealing with very real issues that stem from self-loathing, please don’t fuel them.

‘I would love to kiss those DSLs’ OR anything about my ass

It’s misogynistic. It’s brazen. And no, I will not twerk for you. Does anyone remember in Heart of Darkness where Marlow, the protagonist describes seeing “…a mass of hands clapping of feet stamping, of bodies swaying, of eyes rolling” in the jungle? He is unable to describe the black locals as whole people and views them from a place of superiority. Yeah, these comments remind me of that. Referring to my body reduces me to it and I didn’t even invite you to comment on it in the first place.

‘I love your hair! Is it a weave? It’s a weave right?’

Once again, I didn’t invite you to comment on my body and that includes my hair. How I choose to wear my hair isn’t your concern.

‘I’m blacker than you’

I wasn’t aware this was a competition. Remind me, how does one go about proving their blackness? I must have missed it at the last black people AGM.

I grew up constantly being labelled as an oreo or a coconut. That means people called me black on the outside and white on the inside, simply because I didn’t live up to the stereotypes they had about black people. All of the quirks that made me who I am seemed to all go against some unspoken code of black behaviour. There was a time where figuring out my identity seemed near impossible because I had no idea how to prove my blackness.

‘Where are you from? Like, FROM from?’

This is often followed by the follow up of “where are your parents from?” or worse yet, “where are your ancestors from?” This may come as a shock but people of colour have lived in Europe for hundreds upon hundreds of years. It’s really presumptuous to believe just because someone doesn’t look like you, they must come from somewhere else.

‘You’re not like other black girls’

I should not have to be a reluctant ambassador for my race and I shouldn’t be punished or rewarded for the behaviour of other black people. That’s a weight on my shoulders that becomes real cumbersome, real quick and it’s not fair. I’m hyper aware of how black women are represented in the media and it’s really bleak. Black women are dehumanised, hyper-sexualised, silenced, or given the role of the sassy best friend. When you say this you’re just saying I’m one of the few black girls who hasn’t succumbed to the harmful stereotypes about us.

‘I’ve never been with an actual black girl before’

There’s nothing wrong with that but there’s also nothing more romantic than being relegated to an itch that needs scratching. Don’t treat dating a black woman like a bucket list item you want to carry out. An interracial relationship is not a novelty, nor are black women neo-colonial conquests to add to your pursuit of tasting the rainbow.

Feminism is the radical notion that women are people too – and this applies to black women as well. The secret to hitting on anyone of any race successfully is to firstly be yourself but also be respectful.