“I only go out with Black,” said British-Nigerian actor John Boyega.
Who knew four words in one Interview with GQ UK launch thousands of hateful rants into the Twittersphere?
Boyega, who stars as King Ghezo in the box office hit “The Woman King”, talked to the men’s magazine of everything: his post-“Star Wars” journey, the debate over black British actors often portraying African-American figures, engaging in direct activism in the summer of 2020, and much more.
But his desire to only date black women turned into a discussion of double standards and preferences. A Twitter user, @ada_akpala, whose biography says they are “not interested in playing identity games,” wrote on the app: “If a white actor said he only dates white women, many would not defend his right to have “preferences”. They would call him a racist.
As many users rightly pointed out in the replies, white artists and celebrities don’t say it; they are right give this. At most, they use vague descriptions like “blonde and brown” and age-old euphemisms like “tall, dark, and handsome” — and, more recently, “golden retriever vibes” — to describe their type. (We saw it on The Island of Love UK and so many other reality TV shows, for god’s sake.)
Considering we live in a world where white femininity is perpetually on a pedestal, the mere fact that a black male celebrity has made it clear that he wants to love and cherish we – without insulting any other group in the process – is refreshing. What’s always disappointing, but unsurprising, is the internet’s backlash, a telltale sign of endemic misogynomy in today’s society.
Professor at Northwestern University Moya Bailey coined the term “misogynoirin her 2008 dissertation. The term refers to “the specific intersection of racism and sexism that black women often face” and she noted that it “is used colloquially in all types of academic, cultural and relaxed.”
In fact, Boyega’s speech is a direct reflection of how people view black women and women. This signals that black women should not believe that we deserve love and, rather, we should be grateful to even be in the pool of romantic encounters, despite being relegated to the bottom of the ladder by the racist and misogynistic structures that exist.
Historically, we have been over-sexualized and adultified, reduced to objects of mere sexual pleasure. Black girls are perceived to have ‘less protection and education’ and to be ‘more knowledgeable about sex’, according to in 2017 Study of Levin College of Law at the University of Florida examining violence against black women.
Then, at the other end of the pendulum, black women are mummified and defeminized. The the “mammy” cartoon originated from the era of slavery and describes the archetypal black servant who is an “obese, rude, good-natured mother figure”.
Too often, black women are seen as devoid of any desire or desire for companionship. We are expected to be working mules, saving the world around us, happily and loyally, despite minimal tangible benefits.
The conversation also doubles down on the racist notion that loving a black woman — loudly, openly, and as she is — is unfathomable. This underscores society’s failure to consider black women as full human beings. We are your playthings, your saviors, your bridesmaids and accomplices, but never the bride.
Yet Boyega is there, professing his love for us.
When it comes to desirability, whiteness and its closeness have been and still are seen as the default. Nobody questions it. On dating apps, black women and Asian men were decidedly the least sought after, NPR reported. in 2018.
“But I’ve had a lot of people say, ‘I’ve never seen it that way. These choices that I made, I didn’t even realize it, my preference… is not just my own choice. It is not by chance. It is actually a product of the environment in which we live.
— dating expert Damona Hoffman recalling reader comments
On an episode of “Therapy for Black Girls” Atlanta-based therapist Joy Harden Bradford was joined by Damona Hoffman, OK Cupid dating expert and host of the “Dates & Mates” podcast, a black, Jewish and biracial woman, to talk online dating. Hoffman said that following an opinion piece she wrote for The Washington Post on dating preferences, she received hateful posts but also insightful comments from readers.
“But I’ve had a lot of people say, ‘I’ve never seen it that way. These choices that I made, I didn’t even realize it, my preference…isn’t just my own choice,” Hoffman said in the episode. “It’s not by chance. It’s actually a product of the environment we live in.
Hoffman also found data indicating that 52% of black women emphasize culture, ethnicity and race when it comes to our identity, compared to only 36% of our black male counterparts, which affects how and with whom we engage in partnerships.
As noted by host and actress of the “Bachelor” franchise podcast, Mikayla Bartholomew in conversation with NBC BLKbecause black women are relegated to the bottom of the social hierarchy, “getting into relationships is often about finding someone you’re compatible with. Whereas, for black men, there’s an assimilation to the power they seek.
Since chattel slavery and colonialism, white women have been idolized as the pinnacle of femininity. This is one of the many reasons why, according to the Pew Research Center24% of black men are married to women outside their race, compared to only 12% of black women.
Let’s be clear: date whoever you want to date, but don’t badmouth black women by explaining why you’re doing it. We see too often young black men on TikTokencouraged by their peers in the comments, attribute stereotypes of aggression, dominance and masculinity to black women as a way to justify their anti-blackness and refusal to date us.
We see countless black cishet male celebrities with white wives and girlfriends on their arms; landing a white woman is still seen as a sign of status for some, only for black men later realizing she was wearing pre-war clothes in a past life. No racial thinking or analysis present, just vibes, internalized racism and low self-esteem.
Meanwhile, black women are meant to wait for our “black king” and uphold the institution of black love by any means necessary. Often, black women are ashamed of having chosen their happiness and dating people outside of their race. Remember when Serena Williams, who apparently dated Common and Drake, married Alexis Ohanian? The same men on the internet who called her a bully were suddenly furious that their “Nubian queen” married to a white man.
While Boyega is crucified for, as he tweeted, “expressing his love for cultural familiarity,” white men, such as as Robert DeNirostar of “Love is Blind” Cameron Hamilton and my favorite NFL tight end, Travis Kelce, are actually applauded for dating black women, like it’s inherently so progressive and in our favor. On the internet, white boys populate Audio TikTok like this – “If you’re a white boy and you like some black women, please use this sound…” – often just for likes, virality and a pat on the back.
Preferences are largely characterized by socialization and upbringing should be questioned, because colorism, fatphobia and queerphobia are rampant even in our own community. And Boyega declared he “always believed that some reactions to preference would only occur if you put others down while expressing what you like.”
You can’t equate Boyega’s comments with a double standard when black women aren’t announced on fair ground. Rather, the conversation amplifies society’s acceptance of whiteness as the embodiment of beauty.
The idea that it’s so ridiculous for a black male celebrity to actually desire a black woman — and the idea that we deserve such love — shouldn’t be as radical as the internet makes it out to be. Yet the mental gymnastics that people employ to avoid saying the silent part out loud is mind-boggling.
Instead, how about shut up: your misogynoir is showing.