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As her second book hits the Sista Sister shelves, best-selling author and activist Candice Brathwaite tells us what she wanted to know about relationships, interracial dating, and extinguishing your brilliance so that someone might like you.
Words by Candice Brathwaite
Growing up, I initially realized that women seemed to be obsessed with what men thought of them. They were books like the most popular read at the time Men are Mars, women are Venus and He is not that. Oh, and they weren’t just books. The most amazing films seemed to be based on a woman who had a broken heart or overcame grief. Even more age-appropriate shows, mostly like American sitcoms Moesha, Sister, sister and my all-time favorite movie / sitcom, Headless – it seemed comfortable that the boys showed a desire to warn a boy about them in the rumors of the stories.
“It’s gratifying to think that we are at a time when women still feel judged by their relationship situation.”
I’m very worried that being someone’s wife is still accepted as a last resort. I recently came across a person’s social media profile. He only said “Wife” in the biography section. Okay, I’m lying, there was also a ring emoji. But that was it. Just “wife”. I slowly tilted the phone back and forth as if it were a hologram to reveal something else, but of course nothing else appeared. Once I found another way to fill the time, I couldn’t stop wondering who that woman was. What was his name? What did he like to do? Was he a receptionist? A dancer? A neurosurgeon? And why the hell bothered me so much, the only one who wanted to share that I was married.
I know I had to be able to quit as a feminist, because that was her chance. But I couldn’t help it. Although I have a significant other with two children and a dog, it’s not the information I like to carry. It is gratifying to think that we are in a time when women can do many things, including being the highest-ranking vice president in the country, and yet some of us are silently judged by society based on our relationship status. Although I understand the pressures, I have a desire to announce that I personally want someone to be your wife. . . boring. Not only that, it means that everything you have achieved is just a step towards this point. Now, more than ever, I would like to add all the talk about marriage, babies, and relationships as an appendix, rather than a definition of the merit of being a woman as something separate from one’s main personality.
Since the beginning of my time, I’ve had front-row seats to see black women bag each of their molecules for sacrificing a man. I’ve seen too many black women allow their spirits to curl up and die, it seemed better to be in an unhappy relationship than not to have a relationship.
“Marital status is not a substitute for an identity trait”
I think it’s important to encourage women to go where their love is. So if that means expanding your dating network to be with people who are not of the same race as you, I would definitely ask you to do so. As a black woman, I have found that diving my finger into the inter-racial sea has not been a confusing water.
After my experiences with men of different races, I think it would not be honest to preach that this kind of love should be the first or only love that black women in particular should seek. The reality is that black women have the right to go where their love is, they have to agree with the idea, no matter what color it is. Even if it makes others uncomfortable.
Few things make me sadder than seeing all these women who have been deceived into thinking that the opposite sex will be attractive, end up in a relationship that loses their luster over time. Not only did they settle for less than they deserved, they also offered a version of themselves, perhaps not a reflection of their most original personality. When we move away from the archaic social expectations of long-term heterosexual relationships, it is amazing to see how many versions are offered if we are able to silence the judgments of others.
What I would like to know:
- Black women, in particular, should not feel indebted to the idea of a relationship that is so often ignored. Go with confidence to the place where love is.
- Marital status is not a substitute for an identity trait.
- The love you receive from another cannot match the love you have for yourself.
- Like all relationships, interracialism takes on work. And it’s never too late to check if you’re using it as a priority for fetishization or self-hatred dissolution.