Nothing could’ve prepared me for dating in the UK.
I spent 22 years of my life in Southern Africa; I lived in Namibia until I was 19 and went on to study in South Africa until I was 22. While dating is e̶x̶h̶a̶u̶s̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ a game of trial and error regardless of where you come from, it’s slightly more confusing when you add a raging identity crisis to the dinner reservation for two.
For my entire life, everyone thought I was Coloured. Not Black. Not even half Black. Coloured, and I’d made peace with whatever everyone thought I was, but all that changed when I moved to the UK, and now all everyone sees is a racially ambiguous Black woman.
One thing about white boys? They love racial ambiguity. I don’t know what turns them on more: dating a Black girl to feel a part of the culture they stole, or dating a Black girl who looks “video vixen” foreign but not, “these are the immigrants they talk about on the news” foreign. Either way, the fetishisation of Black women who don’t look like Black women is e̶x̶t̶r̶e̶m̶e̶l̶y̶ ̶r̶a̶c̶i̶s̶t̶ very weird.
You’ll run into two types of white men in the UK if you’re Black.
The first one is sweet, educated, and even knows why you wear a bonnet to bed. He’s never said the “n” word, and understands our problem with Kanye West, (even though “you have to separate the art from the artist”). He signed the petitions during the BLM protests and knows all the samples in J Coles’ songs. He seems perfect, doesn’t he?* Only problem is, he only dates Black women. Not in a “Black women are the reason the sun rises and sets every day*” kind of way, but in a “you’d make the perfect accessory to my collection of Black memorabilia” kind of way.
The second one doesn’t know what the hell is going on, and I mean that sincerely. He doesn’t know what a bonnet is, he can’t comprehend how your hair went from shoulder length to waist length after a trip to the salon, and he definitely hasn’t signed any petitions, but it’s not because he’s a̶ ̶k̶l̶a̶n̶ ̶m̶e̶m̶b̶e̶r̶ unaware of what’s going on, it’s because he genuinely doesn’t care. To him, “we are all one race, the human race”, as I’m on my third racial encounter of the day.
It would be simpler to evict white men from my dating pool entirely, but if I could flip a switch that meant I no longer found a certain demographic attractive then I’d be a̶ ̶k̶l̶a̶s̶m̶a̶n̶̶ prejudiced.
All jokes aside, if you’re going to date a white man as a Black woman, it’s important to remember the education that inevitably comes with dating outside of your race. It’s a pain in the butt at the best of times and emotionally taxing at the worst, but the plus side is…I- there is no plus side.
*No man is perfect. No man is even close. Remember this.
**Black women are, in fact, the reason the sun rises and sets every day.