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Microaggressions are comments or actions that unintentionally alienate or demean a marginalized person or group.These include, but are not limited to, saying things such as “You’re [insert positive adjective] for a black girl! ” These may seem harmless to some, but they’re actually symptoms of deeper problems rooted in systematic oppressions that black women face daily.Though racial microaggressions are felt by every marginalized group within the dating realm, I am building upon my own personal experiences with heterosexual, cisgender white men to offer suggestions on how to ease racial tensions that may arise in a white man/black woman pairing.Once, I was at a bar with friends when two white men approached me.White men have the privilege of not having to actively think about their intersections of race and gender, which is starkly different from black women’s realities.
Try to think of a black woman as an individual, and not as the chosen speaker for a whole diverse group.
While it may be hard for two people from widely different intersections of race and gender to understand each other, it’s not impossible once the more privileged party (in this case, the white guy) is able to recognize their shortcomings and how the intersections of race and gender affect every aspect of a black woman’s life.
A white man must be willing to work toward a better understanding of how race and gender intersect differently for everyone, and he must also be prepared to speak out against the injustices that their partners will endure.
These are harmful stereotypes that will not only make your black partner uncomfortable, they will further marginalize them.
You should want to date a person because you like who they are and have compatible views and interests, not because their race is the next thing to do on your bucket list or because you were enthralled by their “exotic ways” (honestly, are you doing an anthropological study on black culture? If you answered no to these questions and you think those assumptions on black womanhood are downright absurd (hint: they are), then perhaps you are well on your way to showing a black woman that you want to date a complete person and not a stereotype!
And when these stereotypes are internalized and then manifested in society, it could have severe consequences.