How racial discrimination plays into dating

Chevmonay Gaines | Staff Writer

Leenika Belfield- Martin

FreeForm’s Grown-ish follows a young black woman throughout her college experience. The show’s most recent episode new episode, “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp,” addressed an issue that many young black women face today.

The episode opens with the friends at a nightclub. Noticing the black athletes with various white women by their side, the Forster sisters Jazz (Chloe Bailey) and Sky (Halle Bailey) notice that everyone seems to be getting love BUT the black women on campus.

The Forster sisters mention “The List,” a hierarchy of dating.  At the top of the list are Asian and white women; at the very bottom: black women.

Now, granted, this show is based on a predominantly white institution, so the culture is significantly different. However, even from a historically black college point of view, it still holds truth to my entire life experience of dating as a black woman — more specifically, dating as a black woman who doesn’t pass the “Brown Paper Bag Test.”

Out of curiosity, I created questions to gain insight on general thoughts and issues I often face while dating and being a black woman. Below is my input along with a couple of other responses from men and women, all shades of black:

Are black men more sought after than black women?

I graduated from a predominantly white school, and the amount of times I have heard the white girls talking about dating a black guy simply for the riskiness of it and how pretty their kids would turn out was ridiculous.

Timia Ferguson, an international human rights major, also shares similar views toward interracial dating.

“A good bit of interracial relationships, especially with black men, are solely based off of experimentation, as in wanting to see what it’s like to be with a black man – hence the phrase ‘once you go black,’” Ferguson said. “Being with a black man and having black children as a non-black woman is not a trend or a fad; it’s a lifestyle change because you must wear the belt of understanding experiences of black people when you choose to be in that relationship.”

Journalism major Simone Bell-Dennis said, “Black men are the poster children for what a ‘manly man’ is. All races are equally attracted to black men, while black women are often on the outskirts. In my high school, black women were the last picks. We were the good friends or too ‘hood’ – no in between.”

What cultural beauty standards have an impact on dating black women? 

“The music industry has the biggest impact on cultural beauty standards. Growing up watching -all these rap videos, all I saw was big-butt, big-breasted, light-skinned women in music videos. At the time, that was the standard,” cybersecurity major Kendall Douglass said.

“Once you begin dating, you start basing your potential significant other off the women you see on TV, and hold them to a ridiculous, unrealistic standard of looks.”

Have you ever been labeled as bossy, sassy or attitude-filled?

I have always been given the half-compliment of “I thought you would be mean!” way before people even cared to know the real me. I often wonder is it my tone when I speak, my rebellious hair or is it just the stereotype that came with me being a black woman?

“I think they automatically throw these titles on us because they’re intimidated by us when in control. They go in with these preconceived notions that every black woman has this horrible attitude,” a female sophomore five-year MBA major said.

“They label us as such before getting to know the real us, and that turns some men away.”


What has your experience been when dating while black? Would you say you are at more of an advantage or disadvantage? When will it be cool to date black women again?


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