Friday, December 2, 2011

Mixed Blessings

Is Marriage for White People?  That's the title of a book written by a Stanford law professor  Ralph Richard Banks (an African American married to an African American - I like how he puts that out before the haters start questioning his right to make such a proclamation). Alas I am yet to read the book but from the reviews I have read here, here and here it was all heart, backed by personal narratives and data. 

His question is 'In an economy where women are thriving and desirable black men are scarce, why do black women stay loyal to black men to their detriment?'
These include:
  • large numbers of professional black women being rotated by the 'few' college educated black men who gets to pick and choose who he wants to be with and even then he still has multiple sex partners
  • almost half of all black women have had an abortion, over twice the rate for white women; 
  • 2 black women graduate from college every year for every black male that graduates; 
  • black men out-marry (i.e., marry interracially) at over twice the rate of black women; 
  • there are two million more black women in America than black men; 
  • higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases when compared against other groups of women due to the high incidence of `man-sharing' that occurs among black women; 

And his solution well, suggestion is 'Black women should liberate themselves from the shackles of race and date outside the pool'.
I wholeheartedly agree with him though I wonder why we need a Stanford law professor to tell us that? What is it about marrying outside our races, tribes that scares black women? 
This isn't the first time I have read or listened to people write/talk about the dearth of eligible black men for black women in America and I used to wonder.. 'but there are other men?!!..Chinese, Indian, Africans, you haven't exhausted your options yet.

I have reframed this problem in our society. Kindly substitute Black women for Ibo, Yoruba and Hausa women and think about the Nigerian environment. Yes, that tribe thing. Maybe its not as pervasive as before but I do know I have single girlfriends who swear that they can never marry a non-igbo/non-Yoruba etc etc. 
Interestingly I think this outlook is more common to Ibo women than other tribes yet we are the ones who have a man-scarcity. College educated Ibo men are a minority compared to the majority who are secondary school leavers (though thriving businessmen). From what I have  observed/personal experiences, the Ibo men who are good income earning graduates tend to feel like they are 'something special'. Correct me if I am wrong. 
I used to think like 'Warrahell? Who said I can't fish across the River Niger' msheew.

So lets reason together, what are the fears of marrying outside our comfort zone be it - Race/Language/Geographical zone?

Off hand I can think of these few points: 

Culture. Someone from another race/tribe won't understand the basic parts of black/Igbo/Yoruba/Benin/Tiv life and culture. It may seem trivial at first especially if the dating/married mixed couple are living in a cosmopolitan city. then bang, one day you travel home with your hubby and like a chameleon he suddenly expects you to kneel down and serve him food and you wonder but 'he wasn't like that before'!

Different standards of beauty: For the inter-racial couple, she may feel like you are competing on a different standard of beauty. He is used to blondes/redheads/brunnetes with blue/green/hazel/gray eyes and long wavy hair, now he has you brown chocolate from your eyes, nipples to your happily nappy hair  which has not seen the sunlight in oinks because of permanent extensions). Same for the woman who has to exchange her ideal of Denzel W for a Ryan Reynolds.
(On a lighter note, I am yet to be toasted(chatted up) by a Briton. Infact it has become a mission for me. Silly I know, but I need affirmation that my beauty is universally accepted. lol).  

Food: She'd have to widen her cooking skills to accommodate what is cultural for the other person. Igbo girl learning to make ewedu/amala. Yoruba girl learning to make oha soup. Nigerian girl learning to make lamb casserole for her British hubby etc (Lucidlilith gives me great comfort that all food is acceptable so long as its cooked right).

Skin color. Yeah that is the simplest to overcome yet the most conspicuous reminder of the boundaries you have bridged in an inter-racial relationship. Even though love has blinded you the world wont let you forget as easily...i think and they may not be polite about it.

Religion: A change of religion maybe part of the bargain. Christian marrying Muslim, Muslim marrying Hindu, Vampire marrying Human (lolsssssss) etc. Blog mom Linda has blogged about her daughter who is married to an Iranian.  She (daughter) even converted to Islam; and she can speak Farsi (Iran's official language) and Arabic too. While stories like hers make me marvel at the power of love, on the other hand, it scares me shitless. 
Can I love a man that much to give up that much? Come on, I am already giving up my father's name, now I have to cleave to a new culture, language, food, religion.
What is husband giving up for me? (Maybe now I can understand why Edward was so reluctant to grant Bella her wish!)

So that's my first question....Is my fear above valid? If you are involved in a mixed marriage/relationship I'd like to know if such thoughts have crossed your minds and how you combated or resolved it.

Two..for my single and formally single readers, have you ever considered mixed relationships?

p.s. My elder sister said mixed marriages should only be considered if the man is from royal/rich family, hear! hear! Her logic is that people with money/status do not follow culture as strictly as those without so less burden for the wife. I don't know how true that is.....lol

28 comments:

  1. well, the white guys dont seem to be interested, at least where i am, ive never cared about race

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  3. Lol beauty universally accepted..

    Personally, I want to marry a Nigerian, I just cant say no to that. Its bad enough that I cant really speak my mothers tongue nor been to the village more than once or know much about my people, I just feel being married to a Nigerian will kinda console me for the lost times.selfish ey?.I have seen oyibo Nigerians but i dunno men. There is something that trips me about a Nigerian man.As for what tribe,I havent paid much attention to that.My ex was from the same tribe as me and look what happened..So far you are well rounded and can speak a language or pidgin, I am good.

    Things is, I do not find white men attractive. Ok maybe Latino or Italian which is rarely plus they are very scarce around here but thats just me...Plus I am mostly surrounded by gay white men, or its older white men checking me out.I love seeing interracial couples, they are so cute! but I dont wanna be one..Ok maybe if the oyibo man is half Nigerian and Half any race then thats feasible.

    I kinda dont mind Africans but the more I am exposed to my Nigerian culture the more I crave for a man raised in it and aware of it.

    Things people do for love, no matter how love dey sweet for bodi, I just wouldnt pursue or pay attention to someone who is of different religion..Thats usually number 1..You could be all I desire but converting is a big no no..So I usually wouldnt get to know the person. I mean why switch on the oven when you aint ready to make the roast?..

    P.s even in my religion there are some weird ones I watchout for. Some people actually lie about their religion just to get a girl..True story, I have seen it..

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  4. I'm Igbo married to Yoruba. I had some of those fears and some before I got married but I can say confidently that my husband is amazing. I think it's about knowing the family you're going into (not necessarily the culture). Some families are not bound so much by their culture but are liberal. Also, do you and the guy have same values (at least 80%)? Very important.
    One thing I can't compromise on though is religion cos that's fundamental for me.

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  5. Culture is important too. Not saying it should be ignored. But interracial/intertribal marriages work. I've seen quite a number

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  6. dont think i can marry "oyibo"
    im going to be waking up every morning and reminding myself hes my husband after suppressing a scream.lol. i can not
    i can marry any tribe from naija (dat sounds good right?) i just have to make it sound good to my parents. they are the "you must marry from your tribe" type

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  7. I think it is a case of people not wanting to leave their comfort zones coupled with all the reasons you highlighted up there. On a lighter note, i think your sister is right.

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  8. Keeping my fingers crossed on the universal validation of your beauty lol. (I should get me some toasters outside my race too o!)

    @Unveilinggold, not even Orlando bloom or Ryan Gosling?! oh well

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  9. My father recently said.."There is nobody my kids can't marry...just not ibo. Those people can use their mothers for money rituals." Ibo to my dad is a person who isnt yoruba or Hausa....YY is Akwa Ibom...Intro next year....watch out for a sequel to this story....

    Anyway, on dating outside of the race, it is like people outside of my race are not attracted to me in the first place. Also, the cultural values have been too different for me to deal with..at least the ones I allowed myself get close enough to.

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  10. Wow I'm loving the comments. Thaks people. so can I conclude that none of us have actually had love from the other side? okay. Maybe Ralph Banks should look into that.....

    9jaFoodie -if nyone else had used that phrase i'd let it pass. but when you say it, all i think is a carton of coconut chicken..lol

    Laurenta - Na so I see am. Maybe Ralph Banks should look ito that before proposing a solution that is not exactly viable.

    UnveilingGold - you've got me. I feel like running out to find a wholesome Nigerian guy for you. Hope you find a well-deserved one!

    Stelzz - How brave of you! Wish both of you all the best. I thinkthe next question I would like to ask is..'Is living outside Nigeria a positive for your marriage or do you think it would have still been the same if you both lived in Nigeria?'

    Luciano - lolsss. I have to blog about my granny sometime soon. She was married off to an Oyibo in those days. She said his blue eyes used to scare her in the night'.

    Okeoghene - hahaha. I think she is too. Its just that it sounds so materialistic when stated thus.

    Toinlicious - my dear you should spread your wings joo. I thought of Ryan Gosling too. I intentionally used Ryan Reynolds cause I dont think he is that cute :)

    Honeydame - oh my goodness, wetin we do ya papa na? I blame Nollywood lol. Anyway, all na fluff. He'll fall for YY just like his daughter did.

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  11. @ Ginger: i think living outside has been good for us but being in Nigeria too wouldn't have been different. It was just that way. Only thing is maybe we would be travelling more to visit his folks since they weren't too far off from Lagos

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  12. Valid and interesting points you make here - especially with regards to differing standards of beauty (all though I suspect that those are converging thanks to the MTV generation)... I suspect it is made considerably easier if the inter-racial couple live outside the social influence of their families.

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  13. I met a lot of cute white men, but i haven't met one i found attractive enough to want to date. I will never say never on that front, but if i had my way, it would definitely be Nigerian. If not, then i'm open but a Caucasian would be at the bottom of my list simply because they are too "bright". lol. I'm hardly attracted to light skinned black men. All that "yellowness/shininess" doesn't do it for me.

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  14. I like your "universally accepted" comment hahaha.
    I must ask you to cross out the Food section. Nothing universal about chics feeding the home. It's some old-school Nigerian shiz.
    Marriage too is pretty old-school, to be honest. I may do it sometime, but it's kinda dumb and risky, even if it's fun in a way.

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  15. After rolling with foreigners for almost a year now, I think I shall still stick to my Naija man, I can marry outside my race but they will most likely be 3rd choice, that is if I can't find a Naija guy, other African countries, then oyinbo. I will not lie, I have never found any whitey or Latino attractive,find them cute yeah, but attractive to date, never. Besides it is risky business, I believe, you have to be able to endure or accommodate the other person's cultures and beliefs for that relationship to work.

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  16. I think Ralph Banks' views are logical. There's a very limited pool of eligible black guys. The operative word being 'eligible.' Black woman who want to be realistic as well as secure may have to think outside the box. Sad but true.

    Lol @ universally accepted beauty. That's your reason for wanting to date oyinbo men? You're just curious jor!;)

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  17. LOL @Adura, I was curious as well while in Edinburgh and ended dating a white guy for a short while, not British though. Now I'm married outside my "tribe". My parents wished for an Asaba guy, I assumed an Igbo guy if it was gonna happen, ended up with Yoruba. Wealth/royalty apart, our relationship tends towards your sister's argument so maybe she has a point if you're considering how exposed the family is.

    Atala's parents have lived most of their life in London/Lagos, speak English to him and siblings, are not too finicky on culture, etchetaram. Asaba is a more laid back culture but also my parents are more Enugu minded, so all certainly makes things easier for us.

    In addition to what you've listed, there's the what will people say angle, and what will our children be? No easy answers to those.

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  18. On whether I can date outside ... I'm like the United Nations, anybody can apply. When I lived abroad, dated most continents ;) I've still never hooked up with a redhead, so I may have to go "shopping" Ireland someday ;)
    I'm Yoruba and the only Yorubas I've hooked up with have been mixed-ethnicity e.g. Yoruba+Igbo, Yoruba+NorthernGroup.
    Dang I need to go out with somebody, been ill for a while so no action.

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  19. Your sister should write a book... Lol! There will always be differences, so anyone from any background could or could not work depending on you. just shine your eye well, well, before u enter, find someone who is also shining their eye well well and leave all the hollywood bullcrap where it belongs! marriage is tough but like all things worth fighting for, it can be rewarding.

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  20. I do not have a problem with marrying outside my tribe but when it comes to 'oyinbo pipu'...mbanuuu! I just cant. I dont find them attractive and I always have this feeling that we can never blend.

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  21. Darling Darling, Ginger!

    Your sister Sheila didn't give up a thing when she fell in love with and married a Persian man. She gained a world! She lost nothing. She gained new languages, new experiences, new cultural understand. When I married Alex, he was from a totally different culture. Alex, as you know, is Navajo Indian. His mother fretted like crazy about getting the required sheep and goats to my mother as a wedding gift. (My mom lived in a San Francisco apartment and had no need for sheep or goats!) Further, Alex is 15 years younger than I. We are a mixed marriage on a lot of levels. I have dated and married men of widely different races and cultures. Men are men. I don't care if they are from Nigeria or Sweden or Bombay. Color, culture, language can all be appreciated and learned. I would hate to limit myself to one specific "color" or "culture" or language for that matter. There is no reason to not open your eyes to what is around you. There's beauty everywhere. You see every day in the mirror.

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  22. Are those statistics for real? WOW!! I think white rich guys are probably not likely to marry out- they have this pressure to conform with their family's expectations

    Adiya
    Muse Origins

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  23. African American women have it bad sha. Everyone is always conducting a survey or writing a book/article about them.

    As a single girl, I think the farthest I will go in terms of dating a non-Nigerian is hispanic/Latina. I'm very open to Yoruba, Edo, Jamaican, Kenyan...ha niile. I have a "as long as he's black" mentality and will even take my business to an African American, but have never really been attracted to white men. I feel that we will not have a lot in common. I have a friend or 2 in very successful interracial relationships, but their dudes are very open minded. The typical white guy here is in DC is your preppy, Congressional staffer sort. I don't even see them being into black women like me with nappy hurr and what have you.

    Good points that you laid out...

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  24. I read the book and I agree whole heartedly. White men are interested in black women but it is black women that are not interested. Inter-racial relationships are not easy. You have to really understand the other individual. Put yourself in their shoes once in a while ... and communicate, communicate, communicate. I can't stress this enough. For instance if going to an event full of people of the other race or ethnicity. Describe in detail all that is expected of him/her. And vice-versa. Protect one another from the wahala that comes from both sides.

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  25. Hi Dearie,

    Was checking your blog for updates. Since they aren't i'm just leaving a SHOUTOUT! :D Hugs

    Adiya
    Muse Origins

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  26. I'm just reading this post and I wholeheartedly agree with interracial dating. I've said as much on my blog. My mother self is changing tunes right now. She said recently that if it is a white man I want to marry, should sha bring him. Lol. I think the problem is the fact that we as black women convince ourselves that we are not a white man's concept of beautiful and we shy away from such relationships. We are as much a curiosity to them as they are to us. I've met white guys that date strictly black women. One isn't even fully white, he has Mongolian blood. We are not willing to branch out and take chances so we are stuck in an ever decreasing pool of eligible black men. Abeg o, time to open up and let the magic happen. If you don't live in Nigeria, your opportunities are endless in this respect and if you do, can any one say 'expatriate parties'?

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