The Race Entry

Marcellas Reynolds Photographed by Dart & Jake
Marcellas Reynolds photographed in Miami by Dart & Jake

Recently, I met a guy, or should I say a guy met me. He hit me up, made the initial approach if you will. The conversation was great. He was cute, smart, and had BODY. He was sexy. Since he approached me, I thought, “Why wouldn’t he want to hang out?” Yeah, hang out means go on a date or even more. When I asked him out, he said he was “Flattered,” and thought I was “Nice,” but he did not date Black guys. What? What does that mean? You don’t date Black guys. How can you not? He said he didn’t find Black men attractive. Hold up! What are you saying, “You don’t find Black men attractive?” How is that? Are you telling me that I’m not fine? Or Gary Dourdan? Or Kanye West? Or Michael Ealy? Or Tyson Beckford?

Gary Dourdan
Model turned actor Gary Dourdan

I am not putting myself into that category, actually, I am, I was a top model before coming to Hollywood. But even if you don’t find me attractive, how can you say you don’t find Black men, attractive? There are so many of us, each unique. Black men are beautiful. Our bodies, bone structure, and our skin. And let’s not forget our grace.

Tyson Beckford
Model Tyson Beckford

The thing is, I’ve heard this often within the gay community. White gay men can be incredibly racist. Now before another Marcellas backlash starts, let’s examine what I just said. Not to rely upon stereotypes but many gay men are looking for the youngest, hottest, buffest male they can get. Gay culture worships youth, muscles, and beauty and at the top of that hierarchy, in the White homosexual male’s mind, which defines and drives gay culture, sits the White male. To substantiate this, I turn to the gay barometer of what’s hot—porn. Those of you not gay, cover your eyes. Falcon Studios is a prime example. You seldom see African-American men in gay porn movies. When you do, it’s a fetish movie, where the cast is all-Black. Falcon is arguably the number one porn studio, and the hottest of the hot porn stars work for the studio. Their single, lone, only Black “exclusive” star, Matthew Rush, is biracial. Rush, with his blond hair, blue eyes, and fair skin could be mistaken for Latino, or maybe Caucasian with a tan.

Falcon Studios Exclusive Matthew Rush
Falcon Studios exclusive Matthew Rush

For those White men who “Don’t date Black men,” what about biracial men, like Matthew Rush or blue-eyed Michael Ealy? Due to the American history of slavery and race-mixing, some Black men have fair skin, blond hair, and light eyes. What about the brothers who can pass, those that, due to genetics and mixed ancestry, look Caucasian or Latino or anything but Black? I wanted to ask the guy this; “What if you dated someone who looked White but turned out to be Black?” What does it mean to be “Black?” Is it a set of physical attributes, or is it a mindset? But what I really want to know is when did Black men fall to the bottom of the desirability ladder? When confronted about not dating Black men, the same guy retorted, “My ex was Latino.” What?! So it’s okay to date a Latin guy, but oh horrors, you could never date a Black man?! Clearly, this guy was a racist. He doesn’t think of himself that way, but in my opinion, he is a racist. Let’s call him “racist-lite,” less of the hate, but the same bigotry.

Curious about this “I don’t date Black men” phenomena, I sent this email to my friends on Connexion and Friendster:

  I have started a blog guys! If any of you have one and would like to be linked to me please hit me up! 

My next entry is going to be about the politics of dating, specifically race. Interracial dating. What I want to know and I am asking for the truth, candid, honest, no-holds-barred, don’t-spare-my-feelings truth, is what you think about dating African-American men. I feel there is something there that could really be important if explored. Not that I’ll be the one to do it or that my blog is the place for it but I want to know how you honestly feel about interracial dating.

So drop me a note. And GO THERE. Tell me your stories. I wanna hear if you would, wouldn’t and why? And don’t worry this will be anonymous. I won’t be like “Well Will said” or “I hate Chad because…”

Your opinions, good, bad, for or against are greatly appreciated!

I was surprised that 99% of my friends did not respond to the email. I tried to not make it a personal indictment. It’s not meant to be. Several said since they do date Black men they were exempt. One friend, an ex, said that he wasn’t answering because he likes me for me and not my race or fame. That’s a running joke with us because he always takes the piss out of me for chasing fame. Most just said, “Hey, I checked out your blog. It’s funny.” Um mm… Thanks. But I did get one response which I am going to share with you.

FromT: Re: doing my thing.
Sent: 1/5/2006 7:02 PM (Read: 1/5/2006 7:07 PM)
Message: okay, you want thoughts? Lets see….You want real, eh?

well, clearly it isn’t a racist thing for me.

for me, and I would suspect most white guys it is (and this is being honest here) kind of a narcissistic thing. You kinda wanna see YOU in the man you are dating. I am most attracted to guys that dress the way I like to dress, etc etc. I like brown hair/eyes, though. I don’t feel very connected with black culture, so I automatically don’t feel like I will have A LOT in common with a black guy (or Asian, etc) on that same note, I like dating guys that grew up in the Midwest vs Europe, for instance. I just feel like me and Mr. Iowa would have more in common than me and Mr. Italy (no matter how hunky Mr. Italy is)

So why are YOU attracted to white guys? My uncle almost always dates black women, and I know bunches of white guys who date strictly black or Asian men. So for some opposites attract – the thrill of the unknown perhaps?

Let me know what you think. I know you will!

And here is my response:

FromMarcellas: T!
Sent: 1/6/2006 2:06 AM (Read: 1/6/2006 2:15 AM)
Message: 1st thank you for your candor. I agree that for most men dating is about familiarity. If you look at homosexual males the most sought after are the young, buff white guys. Everything else pales in comparison and is runner-up. I sometimes feel it mirrors American society. The white male runs the Universe. Everyone else follows him. I do not agree with this but it seems to be how it works as an outsider peering in. Also, I love what you said about the narcissistic thing. We see it in advertising every day. The idealized version of the “perfect man” is young and buff. Healthy and perfect. And usually Caucasian. But why is that the only standard of beauty in the game?

Now here is where I don’t agree with you though I’ve heard this before. You said, “I want someone who dresses like I do, etc”. What if an African-American man were to adopt your style? Because to me, there is no such thing as “dressing white” or “acting white.” As a child, I was often accused of “acting white” because I was well-spoken. That had more to do with attending better schools than my race. I’m Black because of my heritage not because of speech patterns, the way I walk, or my style of dress. Further, if there is such a thing as “dressing White or Black” then is Eminem Black because his style is hip-hop, and is Kanye West White since his style is prep?

I understand the “I don’t feel very connected with Black culture, so I automatically don’t feel like I will have A LOT in common with a Black guy (or Asian, etc)” thing. In the past, I didn’t date African-American men because I felt I had nothing in common with most. To be honest for me that was a lie. I have more in common with my brothers in skin color than with Caucasian men. I never wanted to admit it. Growing up African-American you are bombarded with negative images of yourself. On the news it’s a Black face that commits the crimes, in movies “we” are the bad guys. I grew up without a father. I had no positive African-American male role models, and the men I did see were not that nice. I also grew up in a neighborhood where the boys who were “fine” were the ones who had light skin, good hair, and pretty eyes. That means they were of mixed race. I’m not that. My skin is dark, my eyes are almost black and my hair is kinky unless you slap some relaxer in it! For years I never felt attractive. There is this sorta leftover slave mentality that “the closer you are to white the better” or ” the house negro vs field negro” thing that still plays among African-Americans. It wasn’t until I started modeling that I got over that. I guess I carried all that baggage or history with me. IF you don’t love yourself then you aren’t going to find your qualities attractive. That speaks directly to your narcissist point. Now I’m happy with myself. I’ve stopped looking outside for validation. I no longer need to have the “White Trophy” on my arm to feel good about myself. It took some work but I did it.

This is great! It’s what I wanted to start a dialogue about race, dating, and their politics.

So thank you T for stepping up to the plate. I appreciate it. He had some very valid points. Who knows? Dating is a mystery. Physical attraction? Go figure! If we were all blind I guess that would make it easier. At the end of the day though no matter what we want the same thing; someone to love who loves us back.

So I encourage your comments about this. What race are you? Do you date outside your race? How do you feel about interracial dating? Heck, even gay dating? And for the record, I’m like the United Colors of Benetton. I see beauty everywhere.

Actor Michael Ealy
Actor Michael Ealy

14 Replies to “The Race Entry”

  1. I find this a fascinating topic. I always have. I am a caucasion woman, married to a Hispanic man. My dating history looks like an ad for the United Nations! I have always felt that it was ignorant to make the statement, “I just don’t see color.” Yea, you do! When I am looking at a black guy, I see a black guy! Now if a white woman is looking at a black guy and sees a reason to clutch her purse a little tighter, then you have a problem called Racism. It is important to see people for who they are – people. Not the absense of color or the preconceived idea… but as an individual. I am attracted to humor, to a pretty smile, to confidence, but also humilty. I have found those qualities in black men, in asian men, in caucasian and finally to my hearts desire in a man who happened to be hispanic. I am not saying that you should not judge a book by its cover. You should judge a book by the jacket they hang on it!
    I can’t help but feel that if you see a person of a different race approaching and you have already decided that you are not attracted to that peron based on skin color alone, you must be harboring some racist tendencies.
    MORE THAN THAT, HOW RUDE! HOW HURTFUL! If I was told that I did not measure up because I was the wrong color, I would be heartsick. For me, it says, racism is still out there. Beside harboring negative feelings, people these days have ZERO TACT! get some manners people!
    “Nameless guy who approached Marcellas and subsequently walked away” has NO idea what he is missing.

  2. I agree to some extent Babygirl. I guess it just ges to show that on some level no one is exempt from prejudice. Whether it be race, gender, size, age or whatever. The thing is have you met every 60 year old? What about Harrison Ford? Or Sean Connery? How can anyone preclude anyone from their pool of potential mates. If a guy says I’m not attracted to you, fine I can live with that but not being attracted to me because of the color of my skin I don’t understand. Humans are more than that.

  3. But can you really force such an involuntary and subjective thing as sexually attraction? Is race so different than the other criterior upon which we base our sexual attraction? Am I ageist (is this a word??) because I don’t want to get it on with a 60 year old? Prejudiced because I may not be attracted to someone who is very over/underweight? I just don’t think that you can force whatever turns you on to be politically correct.

  4. I completely understand where you are coming from, babygirll. While I don’t believe that you should force any attraction on the basis of wanting to be politically correct, I do think that you should evaluate why you would reject an entire segment of the population based on skin color.
    I think that age and weight are completely different issues.
    I think that in “most” (read: not all) cases – a huge age gap that spans generations may be a front for some psychological issues. (i.e. a girl trying to date a man to replace her father emotionally or a man attempting to satisfy some sexual craving with a young girl)
    I also think that looking at a person who is severely under/overweight might be acceptable because you are searching for a mate that is healthly. A weight issue may indicate that this person does not respect their body.
    Neither of those scenarios explains why you would reject a person on the basis of color.
    More than that, it still does NOT excuse rude behavior, rude speech and ugly feelings. If a big girl approaches an attractive man, he may politely say, “I am flattered, but I am just… (fill in the blank – busy, not interested, taken etc.)” He may not say, “I don’t dig fatties”.
    To quote Shakespeare, or some other unknown, “You better check yo-self before you wreck yo-self”.

  5. The 60 year olds that come on to me unfortunately look nothing like Harrison or Sean 😉 On a serious note though, I too don’t understand why some are attracted to only certain types of people…what I guess I’m saying though is that I wouldn’t think any less of them, because to a certain extent we all use have our requirements for potential mates.

  6. Nikki, I get your point. First let me say I’m playing devil’s advocate here…I’m all about prioritizing one’s inner qualities. But using your line of reasoning, I think I could also fairly argue that I wouldn’t want to get in an interracial relationship because of how my family would react, how society would treat myself and my mixed offspring…etc., etc. Rudeness and prejudice is never called for, but it’s also a reality.

  7. That is not the first time that I have heard that argument. When my husband proposed to me (I earlier mentioned that he is Hispanic, and I am as white as the day is long) we called his Grandmother in Mexico to share the great news. Her first response, “but she doesn’t even know how to make the rice”. Meaning – I was too white to make Mexican food. I am still amused to this day by that comment. His family worried that the cultural gap would be too great. Don’t get me wrong, it is big.
    I cannot look at my husband and say, He is hispanic so he is not for me. He is hispanic so I just won’t ever be able to understand his culture. He is hispanic so the rest of society is going to have a difficult time accepting US. I have to have the intestinal fortitude to be BRAVE and say, I don’t care what the rest of the world thinks, I love this guy, I love the Hispanic culture and I am going to stand up and say so. We have a daughter, and we love the fact that she is half hispanic and half caucasian. We embrace it. We are teaching her to speak Spanish (and English). We are exposing her to as much Mexican/Hispanic culture as possible. (there is a lot possible – we live in Phoenix!) We also embrace the idea that mommy comes from a Jewish/Catholic/Mormon/European/Cowboy/New York/Russian crazy mixed up family, too.
    Ya gotta love people for who they are. Ya gotta see people as products of their upbringing, products of their ancestors, products of their culture, but as people. It’s ok to be scared, its better to be brave, but you are not allowed to reject on the basis of fear.

  8. But that’s just it…I’m not arguing that there are biological reasons why I should, for example, choose not to date an American man. But if I was of the opinion that only a Jamaican (I’m Jamaican by birth)man was gonna float my boat, I don’t think anyone has the right to cast aspersions upon my decision. I’m the one who has to be with the dude. This doesn’t necessarily make me a bad person, or a prejudiced person. It’s just who I like. Now of course, if I had made such a determination, I would have arrived at that because of how I grew up, and my socialization – not because there are little West Indian chromosomes floating around in my cells. Again, that’s not my argument. It just seems that it’s okay to pick your dating partners based on certain criterior, but wrong to reject them based on others. And who got to choose which was which?

  9. Oh Marcellas, I love your candor. Here’s my dating secret: I tend to date any guy who is into me! So first, we eliminate, oh, a good 90% of the population right there. Of those 10%, I rule out people I consider the freaks – -and I won’t spell that out, as it has NOTHING to do with race. Here’s a Hint: More often than not, it has to do with social skills.

    So I’m usually left with about 3 guys. I don’t care what race, religion, age, etc. I’ve dated black, white, asian, latino, older, younger. As long as they’re kind to waiters, say “please” and “thank you” when appropriate and don’t roll their eyes at the drop of a hat, I’m there! Ok, there has to be some physical attraction, but I’m pretty, um, versatile, that way. Glenn

  10. Hi, found you through Mr. Brian’s Opinion. I just wanted to commiserate about trying to get friends to respond to blogs. Very hard! Great blog, by the way. I’m looking forward to reading more.

  11. Ditto Babygirll… those are some fine men Marcellas posted. Downright purty. 🙂

    Just want to say outright – no one has yet – but Marcellas, You are Beautiful, man! I thought so when you did BB and I still do. I mean, yes, your skin looks like silk, your cheekbones are to die for, your smile is amazing – and you look great bald!
    So those boys who can’t appreciate such beauty – eh. They’re clearly on crack. ; )

    Because, you’re not only purty, but you’re clearly intelligent, eloquent, Hilarious, sensitive… so many qualities that make a fine man – gay straight or otherwise.
    I was lucky to grab myself one along the way – they ARE few and far between! So let the YWM seekers go find them some empty vessel – you hold out for the one who’ll love You for all you are.

    I do! 🙂
    cheers Marcy
    diana
    p.s. – I know you weren’t fishing for compliments with your post – I just felt it needed to be said. 🙂
    xoxo

  12. although late here is my honest answer. Im not sure how much of this is MY OWN EXPERIENCE as it is a cultural landscape… but here it is none the less. I have only dated a few black guys who I will say were both very much in touch with their own misgivings about this very subject. That being said I can tell you both some of my conscious and subconscious thougts and feelings….with the hope that my honesty will not be mistaken for negativity. I personally have a great many misguided and negative IDEAS about who black men are. Aside from the very public and obvious images we see in the media there are very few that contradict this often time negative view. The images we see of angry rappers and thugs rises quickly to my minds eye when I think of a black man in America. Now…recognizing that it is ultimately my own responsibility to look beyond the steroetype and false appearence it is still a very large roadblock in an already difficult freeway to navigate. I dont feel that its a racial problem as much as it is a socioeconomic problem. I associate black men with a negative idea about their abilty to suceed and thrive in the culture we live in. The sucessful black gay men I see are greatly outnumbered by their white counterparts and in a very basic “nesting” or “coupling” instinct I generally pass over black men in the desire to find (or capture more appropriately!) a mate who will have the best chances for satisfying our relationship in every sense of the word. Financially foremost but beyond that I also have judgements that a black man is already carrying a chip…has been marginalized by the world we live in and is automatically at a DIS advantage for sucess as the western world sees it. I recognize all of the arguments against some of the ideas offered here and I in no way mean to be a part of “the problem”…but I do believe that the direction towards a higher way of thinking will start with honest conversations such as this. Eriq

Leave a Reply