Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Asking a Simple Question Can Protect My Happiness & Mental Health: So Why Do So Many White People Hate Answering It?

If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of my few but devoted followers.  Or… You’re probably someone who reacted negatively to a very basic question I asked you on a dating app.  

What’s the longest you’ve ever dated a Black or mixed race?  

It’s funny, because even the mere asking of this question has become the perfect racial Rorschach test.  White people who have had a relationship with a Black guy tend to be non-fussed.  They answer honestly and then often add something like, “Oh yeah. I see why you ask that. Makes sense.”  

White people who have never dated a Black person long term before or have not yet exposed themselves to some basic implicit bias training or the fundamentals of white fragility often act EXACTLY as Professor Robin D'Angelo predicts. 

How White Fragility Reinforces Racism

They always react hysterically.  They blame and attack me for asking them a simple question.  They tell me that "I don't know them, so I can't judge them."  Some of them even do the super myopic thing and tell me that I"M RACIST for bringing it up.  But never once do these people take a moment to think to themselves how they’ve just revealed that even the notion of potential disparate treatment of Black gay men on dating apps is triggering to them.  

To quote Shakespeare, "Me thinks the White Gay Man Doth Protest Too Much..."

This is a classical white fragility response to a very reasonable question.  Frankly, I'm glad when I ask, because the person who goes into full White Fragility Meltdown over a simple question is probably not someone who is ready to love a Black man.  They aren't ready to acknowledge society's systemic racism.  I would imagine they would be much more likely to gaslight me when the topic of systemic racism come up, or they'd likely to be far less sympathetic to me when I experience racism or micro-aggressions.  That's the type of guy who will say "Why are you getting so upset?  You should just let it roll off you like water off. duck's back."  And while I've never asked any of my white boyfriends to attend a BLM rally, I can't be with someone who refuses to acknowledge the existence that racism -- both in society and in the gay community have caused me.  

When I finish my next book, I will make no bones about the fact that my previous boyfriend was an active white supremacist as defined by Abrim X. Kendi in How to Be an Anti-Racist.  Already, I can hear the cogs whirling the minds of white people -- "If he was an active white supremacist, why did you date him?" And without digressing too much, he obviously didn't show his active white supremacist tendencies until the end of our relationship.   I knew had a lot of darkness in him.  He had an unspoken cruelty that I could sense and I never quite trusted.  But it's important to note that Kendi describes active white supremacists as white people who don't necessarily wear white sheets and salute Hitler very morning.  Active White Supremacists are people who actively work to keep racism in place -- even if in small ways.  And white guy can be attracted to Black men and yet still do things to harm them that are nothing short of cruel acts of white supremacy and racism.  

But in short, how a white man responds to this question is EXTREMELY INFORMATIVE as to revealing his level of racial awareness.  So if you are reading this question, think long and hard before attacking me.  Because it's not original.  It's happened dozens of times.  And it just makes you look like a racist douche bag, although you probably will see it as "winning the argument."  Yelling a litany of white fragility arguments at me doesn't make you smart.  It makes a moron who shows that he's too stupid to even watch a few YouTube videos on racism and racial awareness.  And to the extent that I don't argue back with you, it's because I've deemed that your awareness is so low, it's not worth my time to educate you.  I don't have that kind of patience.  But by all means, watch the YouTube link above.  

Why I Ask That Question? Part 1 - The Data

I realize we've gone this far, and I still haven't given you the reason as to WHY I ask this question.  Well, because the data tells me to.  

In short, if a white guy asks me out on a date, and he has had a relationship with a Black or mixed-race guy before, there is a 90% chance he will ask for a second date and/or third date.  That doesn't mean that we're guaranteed to fall in love.  But it means that overwhelmingly, he will want to get to know me better.  That doesn't mean there can't be drama or personality clashes -- we're still gay guys. But I do want to add one thing, because it will become important later... The reasons we stop dating are very specific.  

For example, we had an argument at dinner, and I said something he didn't like -- or visa versa.  He lived too far away or I moved too far away.  As a trend, the reason we don't end up as a couple is extremely concrete, and the majority of the time, we end up as mates later on down the line.  That's also key.  So even when we don't end up as boyfriends, these types of white men want to keep me in their life.  

Also, I would be remiss not to mention that when we re actually on the date, the white men who have a history of dating Black guys NEVER say anything that's racially offensive or awkward.  They are much more affectionate.  They say and do things that make me feel affirmed or special.  So the dates tend to be much more enjoyable. 

Now let's look at the other side of the scales... 

If a white guy asks me out, and he has never had a relationship with a Black or mixed-race guy before, there is only a 25% chance he will want a second date.  And for the rest of those guys, the date is often awkward.  They are not affectionate.  I recently had a white Italian guy ask me for legal advice to help his brother who lives in America.  But after I gave the advice, he wanted to leave -- didn't even give me a kiss goodbye.  These people are more likely to be awkward, say offensive things, and they're more likely to not be affectionate or say or do things that show me that they are not attracted to me in the slightest -- aka, I tend NOT to enjoy the date. 

And if I chase them or pursue them enough to get to a second date, it always ends the exact same way.  They almost always say the same thing, "Something just didn't click." Or "They just didn't feel the spark."  Now that's totally unreasonable.  Sometimes in dating it just doesn't click.  But notice that NO WHITE MAN who has previously had a relationship with a Black guy tells me "The spark just isn't there."  Again, they have a specific complaint, "You have a big mouth." Or "You moved away."  Are you starting to see a pattern here???

That's the data.  So if you were me, what group would you tend to prefer to date? 

So now that you've read my experience, why on earth would you get upset when I explain why this is important to me?  Please don't attack me for wanting to spend my time with people who have the highest chance of a relationship.  

If one group makes you feel special and is likely to keep you in their friendship group after the dating is over, and the other group is cold, distant and doesn't care about keeping you in their life, it would be MADNESS for me NOT to ask this question!  


In fact, I am encouraging all of my Black readers to IMMEDIATELY BEGIN asking these types of questions.  You don't have to do it all the time, but before you invest your time, money or emotions into a white guy, ASK HIM!  How he has treated other Black men in the past is extremely telling of how he will treat you.  And in this regard, it's important to judge people by their past -- not by what they are saying about themselves when they've never picked up a book on implicit bias or systemic racism.  Most of these people aren't trying to hurt you.  But they're not above using you as an experiment to prove they're not racist.  If they date you one time, they can pat themselves on the back and say "Hey, I'm not racist.  Things just didn't magically click with Darnell."  They won't do any critical thinking about the situation.  They'll tell themselves that there was something wrong with YOU, and then they'll go back to only dating white men. 

Depending on how deep you want to get with these guys, you might want to ask:

1) How did the relationship end?  Who broke it off?  (Play close attention to who ended it and why.  Pay attention to see if the white men invested any emotional energy into dating the Black guy.  And then ask, 

2) If I asked the Black guy what happened, what would he say?  Now this is a powerful question, and if you ask it, and they aren't racially aware, I'd say there is a 99% chance they will react negatively or walk out the door.  

White people are masters of fiction when it comes to coming up with reasons as to why it's okay for them to devalue the lives, emotions and health (both mental and physical) of Black people.  Not all white people, mind you.  But enough that I have felt compelled to write a book about it.  So if you are a Black reader, your emotional well being is worth protecting.  And white people should affirm this, not attack it! 

But I digress... 

Why I ask that question - Part 2 - Extrapolating the Data. 

Now that we have a behavior pattern identified in a large number of white men who might go on one date with a black guy (or might do one hookup) but would never have a relationship with a Black guy, what can we extrapolate.  I freely admit this is harder to prove, because it's subjective in the hearts of white men.  And let me repeat, I am NOT saying all white men are the same.  But enough of them are toxic enough on racism that I felt compelled to write a book about it.  And after I wrote the book, I experienced so much more racism, I now have go back and re-write the whole damn thing! Ugh!   

Also, I have a doctorate from Harvard Law School, and I wrote the book: Grindr Survivr, which was unanimously well received -- among the few hundred people who read it, lol...  So I'm going to ask you to take on faith that because I have spent my entire adult life dealing with white people who have racist traits or implicit biases that they don't want to deal with, but inevitably bubble up to the surface.  So yes, I consider myself an expert on dating in the gay world... 

The Case of "Confused Connor" 

So I was chatting to a guy on Grindr, let's call him "Confused Connor."  At the beginning, Connor was anything but confused.  In fact, he was making what I called "boyfriend moves."  It's when a guy starts sending signals that he wants to be boyfriends as opposed to NSA/Fuck-buddies.  We would talk via WhatsApp for hours.  Even before we met, we'd spend days talking and texting.    He was genuinely keen to hear my stories -- both the sci-fi fantasy worlds I was creating, and the zany antics I'd get into trying to get discovered in publishing, theater and maybe even TV.  

No one had ever done this for me before.  Sure, others had listened, but not with the sheer interest that Connor had.  Sure, others wished me will, but Connor really seemed excited to hear what I was up to.  And no one's done that for me before -- white black, woke or not.  And it made me feel so special, that I began to drop my defenses.   I told myself, "Why not."  Connor and I were connecting.  The feeling was mutual.  We were vibing, it definitely felt like he and I were on a train that was headed to boyfriend town.  

Until, I asked that question...  

He didn't react with angry white fragility, but suddenly, he didn't want to hang out.  He wanted to cut our meets in half so he could spend more time in the gym.  He didn't want to be amorous, because he wasn't feeling well.  Or on our final date, he said, "I just wasn't feeling it tonight."  At first, he attempted to say that maybe things would shift back.  But when I suggested he and I spend a day together, he fessed up.  Whatever he felt, it was OVER.  I asked him specifically: what went wrong.  What made the feelings go away.  Guess what he said... "I don't know.  Maybe I guess I don't know what I want from a relationship. But it's not this." 

Let's unpack "this."  Was it the laughter we shared?  Was it the good food I cooked?  Was it the fun 3D movies we both liked?  Was it our great conversations?  All of that worked until I broached the topic of race.  I would assert that "this" meant Connor haven't to confront past actions or feelings that he felt were likely racist.  And that situation was so scary for him, it was easier to just kill the whole damn thing.  

And to be clear, Connor had never even met a Black guy for coffee before -- not one date, not one hookup -- nothing!  So in one sense, should I feel blessed, because I was the first Magical Negro that he ever attempted to date?  Some white people may feel that way, but I'm disappointed and angry.  Connor was not a safe person for a Black man to love.  But even though I was really upset, I do have to say that he did me a favor.  Because what would have happened if we had dated for a year, and then he pulled this, I would have been devastated.  So yeah, I dodged a bullet.  

But I want my white readers to see just how quickly white people will cut out Black people from their circles, whether it's dating or friendships, the INSTANT we say something that makes them feel uncomfortable on race.  It doesn't matter how much you do for them, how much you like them, how kind you are to them, how much love you have to share, you cross this line, and they cast you out.  And they never think twice about it. NEVER! 

The real tragedy (for me anyway), is that this didn't have to end this way.  His lack of racial understanding killed a potential miracle, but he could have used it as a growing opportunity.  It could have made our bond stronger.  And trust me, if he had watched a video about racism in response to this question, I would have known I had a keeper.  

But in the eyes of a white person who doesn't understand racism and doesn't want to be educated about racism, the miracle seems like a chore: a load of uncomfortable talks and things that he didn't want to be bothered with... And that sucks.  But it's also revealing as to whether you as a white man are capable of loving someone who isn't white.  They always have the choice to ignore the racial issues and find white people who will never press their limited racial world view.  And that's what his dating history shows he does -- even if he was saying he was "confused." 

Of course, I wasn't buying the "confusion" narrative, because I've heard it so many times before.  

He asked me, "What do you think it is?"  

I said, "I think you might have an unconscious block around dating someone who's not white."  

He responded with, "I knew you'd say that." 

His response here is quite telling.  He knew he was backing off.  He knew it had something to do with race, and the fact that it worried him meant that there was definitely truth in what I was asserting.  How do we know this?  When a white person is truly confident that they aren't being racist, they don't melt down on Black people for saying the wrong thing.  They don't punish the Black person for making the wrong accusation.  My mother is white, and she was recently working as a provost for a historically Black colldge in the USA.  One of her colleagues said she had "a white savior complex."  My mom was annoyed, but she didn't quit her job or fire the underling that said it.  My mom marched for civil rights in the 1960s.  She raised three Black children that weren't hers.  She raised a mixed-race son in Kentucky.  And she was a high ranking academic at a Black school.  She has nothing to prove.  So that comment, while annoying, didn't cause her to over-react. 

White people get more angry at potentially being called racist than they ever get about real life racism experienced by people like me every day! And it's EXHAUSTING!!! 

Compare my mom's reaction to Connor's, who felt his only reaction to that question was DESTROY EVERYTHING!  He didn't pick up a book on White Fragility.  He didn't watch a video on educating himself.  He just withdrew and decided that our relationship was dead, and he did not seem at all confused as to whether it was something worth fighting for.  He saw everything I had to offer (the love, the fish tacos, the laugher, the fun movie nights, the cuddles), and to him, it was worth nothing.  

Now of course, he doesn't think this consciously -- or if he does -- he tries to suppress it.  He stays in the "I'm confused/no spark" category.  But his situation is different, because there was a spark, he only decided to snuff it out when the topic of racism came up.  

But let me draw on my wider conclusions of dealing with white people... If they have never dated a black guy, or the spark just isn't there, at some point, not every Black guy in your city can be that inferior.  It's you.   Who you commit to, and who you will forgive, and who you will chase, are all extremely revealing about your character.  And staying "confused" is convenient.  You conveniently never have to examine how deep your implicit bias goes.  You can just shrug it off and say "Thank you, next." 

So if you are one of those white guys who gets confused when dating a non-white person, here are some things you should ask yourself:

1) When a person of color (POC) is nice to you, how do you treat them in return? 
2) After a date or two with a POC, who killed off the potential? You or the POC. 
3) Have you ever taken a risk and made yourself emotionally vulnerable around a POC? 
4) Have you ever forgiven a POC who has made a mistake? 
5) Have you distanced yourself from the POC when they bring up the topic of racism?  (Either from you or from something else they experienced). 

Forget what you think you would do if the "Perfect Black Man" rode in on a stallion.  What have you done in the past?  How would you answer these five questions?  

Now honestly ask yourself - is a Black man loving me a potentially harmful endeavor?  

Don't look away.  Don't slide back into "confused" territory.  Be honest with yourself.  

The confusion that Connor and other white people experience is a great way to side-step the guilt or shame that they have probably mistreated people of color in the past, and that their own preferences are just too far gone in order for them to genuinely love someone who's not white.  And maybe for people like Connor, it's logical.  He's a nice looking guy.  He will have no time finding a white guy who will love him and never make him question his limited white racial world view.  

Here's my honest take.  Connor would have been a great guy to date -- until race reared its head.  The instant that topic came up, he'd probably one of those boyfriends who would tell me "Don't get mad. Just let it roll off you."  The type of white guy who sends boyfriend signals to a Harvard educated, lawyer, who owns his own flat, is ambitious and up to big things, and then radically switches off like that... That's not the result of spark not going anywhere.  His limited racial worldview got pressed, and he saw all of my amazing qualities, he saw all the things we could have done together, and he was like, "Nope." 

This is not uncommon by the way.  In my previous blog, I talk about "Never Ever Whites" and "Hufflepuffs," two types of white guys on Grindr.  

Never Ever Whites are white men who will never want to date a Black person no matter what.  Hufflepuffs are white people who are very much open to dating men of different races.  The problem is white people don't want to believe that they have deep seated unconscious biases that rob them of miracles.  That's a very difficult conversation for them to have, particularly if they aren't open to reading a book. 

I'm not saying Connor is an active white supremacist.  I'm not saying Connor is intentionally racist.  But there's a lesson here for both white and Black people.  

Your dating history states equivocally whether a Black man is safe around you.  If I'm not safe, can you honestly be mad at me for trying to protect my mental health and my heart?  

I would have fallen head over heels for a guy who couldn't handle my blackness.  Please don't put me in that same situation ever again.  So if I need to ask you a few questions for me to feel comfortable dating you, please don't react and punish me for trying to protect myself.  The vast majority of the time, I'm spot on.

One Final Tip (To End on a Hopeful Note) 

So... If you're reading this and feel a bit "confused," the most obvious thing is to read a book!  Go read White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo -- or at least watch some of her YouTube video lectures.  Alternatively, you can pick up, "How to be an Anti-Racist" by Kendi.    

Here's Abrim Kendi talking about Anti-racism here: 

But I will give you one tip if you're white and you realize that you may have mistreated Black men in the past and you want to do better but don't know how to express it.  

If a Black guy asks you "Have you ever dated a Black guy before?"  And you sincerely want to learn -- and you're not going to gaslight them on their experiences of racism and you're not going to get confused as to whether you like them -- say: 

"I haven't, but I know it's something I need to work on.  That's why I started reading X book.  But I know I've got a lot to learn, and if it's okay with you, I'd like to get to know you, but I may at times may make mistakes or say stupid things."  

Say this -- and mean it.  And there just might be hope for the next generation. 

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