Writing for a magazine has always been a dream of mine. So when the opportunity to submit articles to an up-and-coming publication presented itself, I jumped at the chance. After sending a few pitches and short paragraphs, I received a phone call from the editor’s secretary. “She would like to set up a phone interview with you as soon as possible.”
I was ecstatic. The magazine’s premise was entertainment and lifestyle tailored for young, black women. Being a young, black woman, this was right up my alley! So when the time came for the phone interview I was nervous but could see my picturesque future within reach.
We talked through each of my pitches. She steered me this way and that, giving me a few ideas and leads for people to try and contact to fill out the stories. Then, with a smile in her voice, she said, “Welcome to the team.”
I nearly shot out of my socks. Finally! It was all happening!
Then she got personal. “So you live in Los Angeles, is that right?” We went through the normal questions: “What brought you out there?” “How long have you been there?” “Don’t you just love it?” And then came the doozy: “But dating is impossible in Los Angeles.”
“Well,” I said, “It’s not easy, for sure,”
“I lived there for a short while and was unable to find anyone suitable,” she went on. “In order to date in that city, you have to date a white guy!” She began to laugh.
I wasn’t exactly sure how to respond. Here I was, on the brink of my dream shot, and my potential boss, founder of a magazine focused on African-American women, was belittling interracial dating. She was speaking of it as if it was something no one would dare get into. “Why would you even consider dating outside your race?” she seemed to be saying to me. She was waiting for me to laugh in agreement, and I didn’t know what to say.
If I raised an argument, would I ever be published? If I agreed, what would that say about me as a person who has no issues dating inside or outside of my race? Attraction and love is deeper than skin color in my opinion. So when this strong, entrepreneurial black woman, an editor of a brand new magazine, someone I could look up to and aspire to, was alluding to the idea that dating white men was somehow against the rules, I froze.
I’ve always been an equal opportunity dater. It has never mattered to me what color a man’s skin is, it’s all about how he treats me and how he conducts himself in life. Growing up in a predominately Caucasian environment, most of my prospects were white. Though I’ve dated men from various ethnic backgrounds (African, black, Asian, Latino) the majority of my relationships have been with white men. In fact, at one point in life I was engaged to a white man.
As I racked my brain for what to say next during this suddenly awkward phone interview, I thought about the guy I was dating at the time: a black man in the entertainment industry. He was nice, for sure, and extremely attractive. But even then I didn’t think it would last. One thing this man loved to tease me about was the fact that I was once engaged to a white man. He thought it a bit preposterous that I dated white men at all. He loved to bring up all of the stereotypes about black men versus white men in the dating world: their size, their ability to protect, their strength, their passion -- the list went on and on. When he’d jump on this soap box I would shake my head and work to change the subject every time.
But now, when someone in a position I admired brought up the same “issue” it hit me much harder. Was I the ignorant one? Was I turning my back on my race by dating men of alternate backgrounds? Did I completely miss the “proud black girl” memo? I knew I had been silent long enough, but with so many thoughts passing through my head I didn’t know exactly what to do.
A) Laugh it off.
B) Work to change the subject, much like my tactic with my current beau.
C) Man up and point out that there is nothing wrong with dating white men.
D) Hang up the phone and perhaps email her to tell her my phone had died.
I’d love to tell you that I stood up for interracial couples everywhere. I’d like to say that I knocked the joke right out of her mouth and let her know there was nothing wrong with dating outside of your race. But I buckled under the pressure. I danced around the issue, agreeing that dating in Los Angeles was difficult, and did my best to take the conversation down a new road, avoiding race altogether.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn’t want to write for a publication led by someone with views so adamantly opposed to mine. I decided not to submit my stories. Was this a missed opportunity? Perhaps. Should I have worked my way in to fight from the inside? Maybe. But as it stands I have no regrets.
I’ll take my stories about love unrestricted by race elsewhere.