May 12, 2014 – 11:59PM Rudo Banya
Although I grew up in England, my family is from Southern Africa, and I’m very proud of my black African heritage. However, when it comes to dating, I’ve always preferred people from other races to my own. I have a particular preference for Caucasian men.
I’ve never been in a relationship with somebody from my own race before – I’m just not attracted to people that are the same race as me and choose not to be with a black guy. I like people that contrast me, rather than just being the same. I really enjoy the physical differences between myself and white men. This doesn’t mean that I find any Caucasian man attractive. There are other attributes that are important to me like personality and other values.
Some have accused me of being sexually racist, but I think that’s an unfair accusation. Having a preference in attraction is similar to someone being gay – you just can’t help it.
I can’t pinpoint exactly where this preference comes from, it just feels natural to me. However, I can recall things that may have contributed.
Growing up, I went to a nursery that was predominantly white where I was surrounded by kids with blonde hair and blue eyes. I found them incredibly interesting – they were so different to me. I remember the carers telling my mum that I was fascinated with all the white kids from a very young age.
The fascination continued as I hit puberty and I think pop culture may have started playing a part. I remember watching shows like Saved by the Bell and Heartbreak High where a lot of the desirable characters were white. For better or worse, this had an impact on those I found attractive.
My extended family also had a major influence on me. Some of my aunts had married interracially, and some had very negative views of black men. They would say things like “they’re completely rubbish”, “they’re cheaters” and told me to make “good choices” when I grew up. One of my aunts even said “if you marry a black man you will wear three rings; your engagement, your wedding ring and your suffering’’.
The author, Rudo Banya, who will appear on Insight on SBS tonight.
Also, I had observed a greater sense of patriarchy in the black African community. In my African culture, I witnessed men not treating women well, and there are many cultural expectations about a woman’s role so thought I could be on more equal footing if I partnered with a white man.
I had heard that white guys didn’t expect their women to be in the kitchen and didn’t cheat on their wives like black men did. Of course, white guys do that too. But maybe it’s the difference of me actually witnessing black guys doing it that made a lasting impact from a young age.
I tried to be attracted to black men and even went on a date with one. But while I could objectively see a black man as good looking, the physical attraction was just never there.
I began to dabble in online dating on an interracial dating website. To some it may sound racist to make such a conscious decision to only date other races, but I don’t see anything wrong with specifying this preference on such sites. There are niche websites for people attracted to those of the same race, so why not inter-racially? Why pretend just for the sake of being politically correct? It’s similar to not liking people who are short. You see so many women saying “no one under 5’4” on dating sites – at the end of the day it’s just a preference.
However, I did encounter people on the site who had fetishes and expectations about black partners they had developed from watching pornography and other stereotypes gained through hip hop music videos. Some people think that because you’re black you’re going to be dominant or really kinky. I had people coming up to me with sub-human expectations. What a let down when a guy would realise I was just an average person!
I eventually met my husband, a white Australian man, whilst on holiday in Australia. He wasn’t looking for a particular race; he just wanted someone that he got along with. We’ve been together for almost nine years now, and I must admit that we’ve encountered prejudice socially – the type you don’t have if you are married to someone of your own race.
My husband and l often get strange looks from people. White people will constantly question whether we are together when we buy things, and I’ve had black men proposition me in front of my husband, saying things like “I’ll show you what it’s like to be with a real man”.
Some family members, friends and colleagues in the past have labelled me a ‘coconut’, or not a proper black woman. People have said I don’t love my own race and have hinted that I have self-hatred.
It’s simply not true. Whatever their race, people should be able to choose who they want to be with without being labelled. I can’t help who I’m attracted to, and the beauty of living in a modern society is that you are free to be with whoever you want.