Black Female & White Male Relationships
though BF/WM relationships were extremely rare at the time we first
started going out, we have been very happy together and apart from
a few isolated incidents we have not experienced any open hostility
towards our relationship .
The relationships of the 18th century between white men and non-white women took place during an era before any theories of race and racial superiority had been developed. During the 19th century however there would be developments, both religious and secular, that would effectively stamp out inter-racial relationships in the British colonies. During the early part of the nineteenth century an evangelical revival occurred in England. One of the concerns of the Evangelicals was the race mixing that was occurring in the colonies. To their puritanical way of thinking sexual relations between black and white were somehow unnatural. Evangelical fervour was soon to take hold of the British establishment and relationships between white men and non-white women were to be discouraged and condemned. As the nineteenth century progressed, theories of racial superiority were developed that followed on from Darwin’s evolutionary theory. In the colonies, white women were promoted as the ideal form of beauty and the only suitable women for white men to marry. So unlike in the French, Spanish and Portuguese colonies there was effectively no mixing of the races taking place in the British colonies during the heyday of the British Empire. There were no segregation laws in place but sexual relations between white men and non-white women were deemed to be socially unacceptable. Those who did try to go against the tide often ended up like the tragic Almayer in Joseph Conrad’s Almayer’s Folly. It is also notable that Bob Marley’s own white father and black mother were forced to split up as a consequence of the racial prejudice towards them in Jamaica.
While inter-racial relationships between white men and black women were effectively banned in the British colonies, relationships between black men and white women were beginning to occur at home. In Liverpool and Cardiff there were BM/WF relationships in evidence before the First World War. English women were to date black Americans during the Second World War and when the first immigrants, who were predominantly male, started arriving from the Caribbean in the 1950s, the black men started going out with white women. This trend has continued ever since and it almost seems to be what society expects, though not necessarily accepts. But there is no parallel history of white men forming relationships with black women and it is my personal view that people in this country still do not understand BF/WM relationships.
I have spent most of my life in Wolverhampton in the
West Midlands. It was here that I attended a multiracial school but one
where relations between the races had been soured by the effects of the
speeches given by our local MP, Enoch Powell. I found the racial prejudice
that existed at that time upsetting and I wanted to be different from
my counterparts. I had both Black and Asian friends, which again was
unusual, and I became heavily into black music and culture. I was also
aware that I was becoming increasingly attracted towards black females,
even though I had never seen a white male dating a black female. In contrast
to the stereotypical view of female beauty as blond and blue-eyed, my
idea of female beauty was the female soul artists that adorned the pages
of Blues & Soul and Black Music magazines. The first time I remember
actually seeing BF/WM couples was at an Ike & Tina Turner concert
at Hammersmith Odeon and from that moment on I knew that was the type
of relationship that I wanted too.
One of the problems facing all mixed-race couples
and mixed-race individuals here in Britain is the lack of support groups
or networks. This makes it particularly difficult for those in BF/WM
relationships who rarely have the opportunity to meet other couples like
themselves. In fact most BF/WM couples seem to remain hidden from public
view, except on weekly shopping outings. The lack of support networks
can act as a contributory factor to placing mixed-race relationships
under a lot of strain, which can potentially cause the relationships
break down. This can be particularly sad if there are children involved.
Apart from the negative reactions that mixed-race couples can attract
from both white and black people there is therefore the added problem
of lack of mutual support. Negative stereotyping in the media does not
help either, where all too often there is the premise that mono-racial
relationships are “normal” and that those who cross racial
boundaries in terms of their relationships must have ulterior motives
for doing so. This suspicion seems to particularly apply to white men
who enter into relationships with black women and is made more prominent
by the established media preference for depicting female beauty in the
form of white women or alternatively, as a means of representing the
exotic, acceptable face of blackness, women who are 'not too dark-skinned'.