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White to Light: Art of Relationships no Political Statement

by Todd A. Smith

Love is Not a Political Statement

            She’s too light.  She’s too skinny.  You only like her because her hair is long. 

Like many Black men, I heard these complaints often growing up.  I often felt that it was simply competition or jealousy that created animosity from some “sisters” when their “brothers” dated someone who did not look like them, but I never fully thought out where this animosity and competition originated from.

            In a recent article in The Root.com, writer Jenee Desmond-Harris responded to a letter from a female reader who wanted to know if she could pressure her son to date Black women.  Desmond-Harris wrote that she should encourage her son to appreciate all Black beauty, but that her son was still going to like whomever he liked, and that real love never materializes from an obligation.

As a young man who was not knowledgeable about the art of relationships, I sometimes would not date certain women because I didn’t want the women in my life, from friends to relatives, to feel that I didn’t appreciate their beauty.  And although I now fully understand their position on dating and empathize, I know now that love is an art, not a science, and the art of relationships can never fully blossom out of an obligation or politics.

            Society and the media play an important role in how people see life.  When it comes to beauty, society once only thought that rail-thin blondes with straight hair were the epitome of beauty and the further you got from that standard the less attractive a woman was.

            As a result, full-figured women with dark skin and natural hair were not looked at as beautiful in many segments of society.  In a society that puts so much emphasis on physical appearance, I can only imagine what it feels like to not have your beauty appreciated by society at large.

            Furthermore, that image of beauty trickled down to Black men and for a long time you had to have a lighter-skinned lady on your arm to represent that you had arrived in life. 

However, do all Black men walking down the street with a light-skinned sister or a woman of another race on their arm have a color complex because of how American society once viewed beauty?

            Over recent years, I have heard numerous women complain that certain men only dated “beautiful” women because they were preoccupied with looks and were not looking at what made a female a real woman.

            I have heard some women say that men should just date “normal” girls who look half way presentable in public and can cook and keep a house clean, and basically not care about feelings or attraction.

            However, people forget that a physical attraction is important in a relationship and just because a man dates a beautiful woman by society’s standards doesn’t mean he is “dissing” women who do not fit the media’s superficial and biased view of beauty.

            Desmond-Harris writes, “Even if you raise the most self-aware, socially conscious, racially and morally grounded child on Earth…he might still make a choice different from the one you’d make for him, simply because love is not public policy.  To some extent, his attraction to women will be not only out of your control but out of his as well.”

            Often, if not always, a person cannot control who they are attracted to.  It’s like asking me why I like Dr. Pepper and hate Root Beer.  I have no idea why I like Dr. Pepper and dislike Root Beer; the former just taste better to me.  There is no rational, logical or scientific explanation.

            The art of relationships are the same as the art food and beverages.  You simply like what you like and dislike what you dislike.  There is no deeper meaning behind who a man is attracted to.

            Although I am attracted to certain women, many of my friends and relatives do not share my taste in women.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Some men are naturally attracted to light-skinned women.  Other men are attracted to full-figured women, while some prefer natural hair over long straight hair. 

In my time on Earth, I have never seen two guys agree on the beauty of every woman.

            A woman once told me that they see men all of the time with unattractive women on their arms, so the ones with “beauty queens” on their arm must be shallow and superficial.  My response to her was while she might see that woman as unattractive; her man might see her as the most beautiful flower in the garden. 

Still to this day I have not heard any person, male or female say they NEVER were attracted to their significant other.

Someone once told me if you do anything just to please others it will never work, and that is especially true for relationships.  The art of relationships must be somewhat selfish (in the fact that one has to date someone that makes them happy, not someone who makes their acquaintances and loved-ones happy) if the relationship is to be successful.  You have to do what pleases you if you are truly going to find real love and ultimately please your mate.

Desmond-Harris added: “Finally, do you really want him to date based on a sense of obligation to you or some larger Black-girl contingent?  I’d personally hate to think that someone pursued a relationship with me because his mother encouraged him to use his love life to heal her childhood wounds.”

Furthermore, no one should want someone pretending to be interested in them because of a political statement or their hurt feelings, and love usually doesn’t happen out of obligations.  It is something that happens naturally like physical attraction, which is an art and not (political) science.

This article was published on Friday 24 May, 2013.
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