It was recently brought to my attention that a certain journalist in South Africa, that is known to behave like one who is twenty-minutes away from applying for a trademark on Black Consciousness, dates nothing but women of European Descent (or White women, as I may continue to refer to them for the rest of this article).
Upon seeing that my response was a sarcastic “surprise, surprise” my friend quickly wanted to know why I was so unimpressed by this piece of information, that I went on to say something along the lines of: “these Black Consciousness brothers couldn’t care less about Black Women.”
But there’s a lot more to it than that and I’m going to show you why I think many subscribers to Biko, Fanon, Garvey and Co.’s principles end up with romantic histories that predominantly feature non-Black lovers.
Before we begin, let me confess something: At the age of fifteen I nearly got arrested for shoplifting Steve Biko’s ‘I write what I like’ from CNA.
That began my path into the wonderful world of Black Consciousness (BC). I ran into the aforementioned contributors to the movement and have since grown to understand a lot about my identity as an African woman and what exactly that means to me.
But I am beginning to suspect that I have outgrown staunch Bikoism and can therefore look at this topic with a detached wisdom on the issue.
Why subscribers some Black Consciousness date White people:
THEORY #1: Deification of Black People leading to disappointment
One of the first things a person does when venturing into BC is to research as much on ancient African history as possible. I believe this step is what allows many to regain the pride in African culture lost in the bastardization of the history of civilization.
However, some streams of BC go the route of taking the findings of ancient African history and literally translating them to today.
So they begin to call Black people ‘Gods’, ‘Kings’, ‘Queens’ etc. and begin to demand that people ‘carry themselves with the dignity of royalty.’ This can mean so many things, but very rarely does it mean the majority of Black people get the up-vote from the people that think this way.
Quite often a manner of conduct that ignores the psychological wear and tear of centuries of subjugation on the Black person is demanded of people that care very little about black consciousness. Consequently, the BC-er is left feeling disappointed.
This disappointment can lead to a deepening of the very self-loathing Black Consciousness is meant to discourage. Many begin to feel saddened that their people “don’t get it.”
Ultimately some end up going for non-Black because it’s much less complicated than dating a Black person and having to “teach them” Black Consciousness.
THEORY #2: Identity crisis and middle-class upbringing
Another, perhaps more likely, reason could be centered in the identity crises that many African youth experience as a result growing up in an upper-middle-class, and often predominantly White environment.
Being exposed to a great deal of White culture as first-generation middle-class Africans can lead many young people to go “the opposite route” out of the often resultant self-loathing that may come with being exposed to a great deal of White (supremacist) stimulus.
Some end up fearing the title of ‘coconut’ to such a great extent that they begin to research what they perceive to be the anti-thesis of mental colonisation—black consciousness (or pan-Africanist beliefs.)
This specimen begins by vowing to date exclusively “Black Kings and Queens” but ultimately is unable to resist the lure of dating people that they shared common up-bringing with—unavoidably , their “White” classmates etc—People that “understand” their taste in music, film and literature—things they were undoubtedly exposed to during their school-time and similar occasions.
THEORY #3: Patriarchy
In some cases, men that subscribe to Black Consciousness—particularly African men—interpret it as a call to “return” to pre-colonial practises in African culture. This often translates to men that view romance from atop the hill of the patriarchal history of African cultures. They allows themselves to view women as nothing more than mere pawns in their Shaka Zulu-esque fantasies of strict, often non-beneficial to women, gender roles all in the name of ‘preserving African culture’.
What this does in the twentieth century of predominantly women-headed households, is create an animosity between the modern African woman (who ain’t got time for submission) and the supposed BC male subscriber.
What happens in the mind of such a man is a situation where patriarchy and the resultant disregard for female humanity overrides any African-centred ideas in the realm of romance. Basically, the need to sexually dominate comes before the love of African women. Ultimately, the man then goes for women outside of his race that are rumoured to be far less ‘hard-headed’ than women.
These are often the types that “forget” all this Black Consciousness stuff when they enter financial success.
Interestingly enough, it is also the patriarchy that drives some women advocates of black consciousness away from Black men into the arms of men whose cultures have been more embracing of feminist principles. Though this is not always the case – in some instances women that are both pan-africanist and feminist find more harmony in these two principles by involving themselves with people that see the two political philosophies as not contradictory.
THEORY #4: “Enlightenment”
This is, what I believe, to be the final stage on the road to self-realisation as a member of the Black Consciousness Movement. At this stage, all the reading on African history, and African culture allows one to view themselves as equals to their “former” oppressors.
At this stage one can date freely and begin to see people for who they are, while not forgetting what said people represent in the “grand scheme of things.”
THEORY #5: You probably misunderstood
They were never into Black Consciousness to begin with. Those African prints and Rastafari colours and that kinky hair was just to look cool and nonconformist. Don’t take it personally.
For more of my ramblings to my made-up gods: follow me on Twitter @siyandawrites