An Unrequited Love

I’ve been fascinated by and drawn to dark-skinned black men for as long as I can remember. I suppose one could attempt to psychoanalyze me and uncover the reasons why this is so. Perhaps it’s because I associate dark skin with the most enduring picture I have of my father. In his Marine portrait he is eighteen years old, sharp in his dress blues, his deep skin shining magnificently. Or maybe my love of dark skin was driven by a subconscious desire to reproduce my own image, to give birth to children who look like me. I am not sure but there is one thing that I know: skin within the range of chocolate to charcoal really pulls me in. So when I came of age the boys that I sought out and were most attracted to were those of my own complexion. I adored them. But a strange thing happened: they never felt the same. Indeed, I have faced the most intense hostility and hurtful comments from African-American men who look like me. If you’ve read my series on Colorism you know that my teen years were marked my rejection and harassment due to the color of my skin. When it came to dating it left me in an awkward position. The very men I found most desireable wanted nothing to do with me.

My experiences with dark-skinned African-American males would leave a lasting mark on me. As I grew into adulthood I simply avoided them completely. For though I was deeply physically attracted to dark men they certainly were not the only men who appealed to me. So I expanded my horizons, realizing that the variety dark-skinned AA men that I knew were just one segment of the vast African Diaspora. I didn’t stick to my own culture; I ventured out and dated Caribbean and African men. Those relationships were not necessarily perfect. After all, I am divorced from an East African man. But there is one factor in these experiences that I was so grateful for: my blackness was never treated as a problem and a misfortune.

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A native Seattleite and recent East Coast transplant, I have been interested in politics, religion, and race from the day I saw “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” on the bookshelf belonging to my BFF’s mom back in 1991. While my zealotry has thankfully diminished with maturity, I remain the deep thinking, passionate, and humble woman I have always been. I reside in the suburbs of NYC with my husband, daughter, and our two feisty but deeply loved cats.

9 thoughts on “An Unrequited Love

    1. Yes Susanne, it really surprised me at first as well. The African and Caribbean men I encountered then seemed to almost be the opposite of their African-American counterparts. However to be fair I must point out that my experiences don’t tell the full story. Colorism is an issue in those communities as well, though it does not always manifest as it does among AAs. My Caribbean friends often point out that class is a dividing line in their nations. On the continent the legacy of Colonialism remains and has affected the mentality of indigenous Africans as well. From a purely anecdotal experience I don’t think indigenous Africans have it as intensely as their relatives in the West. When I was in Tanzania I was actually shocked to see so many beautiful dark-skinned women on TV, in magazines and on billboards; it was the polar opposite of the US. Sadly my West African sisters have told me that the colorism of AAs is beginning to change views on the continent. African male musicians and artists, seeking to imitate the images coming from Hollywood and AA media, are now pushing their own women aside and requesting biracial and non-black women for their videos.

  1. “But there is one factor in these experiences that I was so grateful for: my blackness was never treated as a problem and a misfortune.” Yes. I’m so glad you were able to find others in the diaspora and on the continent who loved you for your dark skin and not in spite of it. You write so eloquently. Yours is an invaluable voice in the exposure and overcoming of colorism.

  2. Dark Skin Black Man. My story is yours in reverse. I find that people especially African-Americans project their insecurities unto the opposite sex. I think AA couples are overwhelming one light/one dark for that reason. There appears to be a very REAL taboo around two dark-skinned people getting together. I could share with you my up-n-down relationship with a self-hating black woman who loved to tell me about all the things black men do wrong and how she hates her nose as well as African immigrants and really likes non-black guys but they don’t pay her any attention (sad face) but it was my choice to deal with such a toxic person. Like you, I took my love elsewhere and dated out for awhile before refining my AAW search to the point where I no longer deal with any girl that shows any signs of self-hate at all (one miss strike-out).

    Any Black person male or female that has a issue with themselves or Blackness in general will not be able to deal with the opposite sex. The Black community is in real trouble. I feel as though Black Men and Black Women are moving further and further from each other. There is a Gender War going on and the endgame looks a lot like Black genocide. I’m praying something happens real soon to stop the madness.

    1. @blackmediawatcher: Thank you so much for your input! It is great to hear the perspective of a dark-skinned black man on this issue. You are very correct when you say there seems to be a taboo around two dark people being together. I’ve heard AAs actually discourage dark skin men and women from coupling because their children will most likely be dark as well. The disdain for dark-skinned children is mind-boggling.

      I share your sentiment on the state of our community. It’s scary. Sometimes I wonder if I’m just being paranoid, but the aggressive push to have black men and women see each other as enemies is worrisome.

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