The other night when I went out dancing, a reggae song pumped through the speakers and I began to roll with the rhythm. But then a lightbulb went on in my head and immediately stopped dancing.
I remembered that I am visiting a space where black bodies are mostly seen just behind the television screen. I am in a homogeneous city where I stick out like a neon sign in a dark alley. I wasn't with my black friends at local dance club where black bodies are often seen. I was in a place that only understood black bodies the way they they were vomited from the booty-bouncing television screens.
And not there is anything wrong with us moving our bodies -- but there is a problem in how how we are stereotypically perceived. We are perceived as one-dimensional sex animals ready to be thickly diced and dumped onto a rusty-edged plate. And because of this, there this pressure to be "culturally appropriate." There is a pressure of responsibility to sort of correct the societal perception of us.
"I Never Tried A Black Woman"
The issues that comes from dating outside of my race, is that I am often having to screen men. Am I being fetishized? Or does a man really sincerely enjoys my company?
When a man says, "I never tried a black woman," it doesn't make me feel flattered. It makes me like side dish waiting to be quickly consumed and made into waste.
I don't want to be consumed, "tried," or used as an experiment. I don't want to be anyone's fetish.
Since black women are overly sexualized, I am constantly trying to portray a much softer, innocent woman. I want to be respected, which means I have to push a certain image. I am mostly covered up. I speak a certain way (or try my best) around different crowds of people. I think about how I am sitting, if my sports bra is fully covering my breasts, if my outfit doesn't reveal too much my va-va voom shape.
But sometimes I actually want to be sexy. However, I also sometimes want to portray cuteness. I want to be fashionable. I want to be confident. Some days I want to portray innocence. But when it comes to sexy -- my sexiness and my existence can be misconstrued as something much more racy, vulgar, or threatening.
“American racist tropes tend to be constructed in ways that render black women one-dimensional,” says Mikki Kendall, a writer and cofounder of HoodFeminism.com.
I want to be portrayed as a human being with multiple complexities, desires, interests, and needs. I want to be portrayed as human, not as a prop or a stereotypical character. The way I act is constantly under social scrutiny. I don't want to come off as the angry-black-woman. Or the subservient mammy.