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Colorism and the color of love. It's not just an African American thing!


A few months ago I was having a conversation with a young Latina. We had been working on a project together for a while and as time went on we became friends. We talked about life our ambitions and our goals.  
Andrea (Not her real name but the name I will use for her at this moment) is very smart.  She is a real go getter, she holds a great position at the company where she works with the hopes of more advancement and she also has a very successful business that she works outside of her office.  Andrea talked a lot about God and having faith which explained her always calm demeanor.  And If I may add, she also had a beautiful personality accompanied with a smile that lights up the room. For five months, I worked with her side by side and as we worked together, she came to look at me as a big brother or at least an uncle.  But, there was something else that I notice about her.
Every now and then in the mist of one of our many conversations, Andrea would go silent and very still in face.  I would then hear a very light sigh in which she would somewhat frown and angle her head staring down just a little in sadness. Even though we had become friends or good co workers, I felt as if it would be intrusive to ask her what was wrong aside from asking her if she was feeling okay.  When I did ask of her emotional state, her answer was always the same “Yeah, I’m okay”! Of course, I did not believe her.
As time went on, this began to happen more and more frequently.  We would work and collaborate and then at a certain moment Andrea would go into pattern, silent, still, stare downward and look sad.  This action occurred so many times that  eventually I had to ask her what was wrong and state to her “please do not tell me nothing is wrong and that you are okay because you’re not”! Then I became somewhat bold.  I told her  “I’ve seen that look before”!  “What’s his name”!?  (Iol, I really had seen that look before!)  Andrea looked up at me.  She then smiled and laughed before she said to me, “You’re good”!
Andrea then told me that she was in love with this young man who lived out in the suburbs and that they had dated a few times, spoke on the phone and then dated some more.  She told me that she was sad because she really wanted to be with this guy but he told her he was not ready to be with anyone and that he could not commit to her. She told me in almost tears that he worked for a Banking institution, but he wanted to become a Chicago Police Officer and that he had took the test and was waiting for them to call him. She said that she had committed herself to being with him and told him that she would wait for him.  He said okay, but afterwards he rarely called her.  Never the less she remained loyal to him.  She remained loyal to him turning down the advances of other young men whom asked her out.  Regardless of if they were businessmen and other professionals wanting to her, she remained loyal to him waiting.  
Upon her telling me these things, I asked myself what is it about this young man that makes her wait for him in such a way that if she does not speak or hear from him in a while that she still held the torch for him?  What is it about this young man that’s keeping her emotional trapped from considering other men who are prosperous simply vying for her attention!? I then verbally brought this question to her.  I just had to ask her “what is it that you like so much about him”!? She said that apart from his kind demeanor, his strong focus for family and his Irish ancestry she liked him because…………HE WAS WHITE!
My eyes became widened with curiosity after that last statement.  I paused before I spoke to fully process what she just stated to me and to carefully and articulately strategize how I was going to respond to her answer.  But then, I blew it!  “He’s White”!?
Ladies and Gentlemen it is without a doubt not my right to tell anyone who they should choose to date or to marry.  I honestly don’t care who a person dates and marries as far as they are happy and satisfied with that person and of course they should treat each other good.  But, I had to ask her again with an attachment   ” He’s White”!?  “What does that have to do with it”!?  
Andrea then exclaimed to me “All of my life, ever since I was little girl, I always wanted to marry someone white”!  After I asked her why, she went on to state “I don’t know why”!  “I have just felt that the best plan for my life would be to marry someone white.  I was frozen speechless! She then went on to tell me how she was not into Latino or Hispanic men at all, men of her own culture.  (And no, I was not, nor did I ask her if she was into brothers!  She probably would have begun to make assumptions.)  She told me how from people she has met in her short lifetime and from what she has seen (on TV) white men are more responsible and caring.  They are more successful and they have more drive and determination.  
Even though this was a Latina telling me about her amorous aesthetic preferences when it comes to men, this story was a subject very familiar to me in my own culture of being African American. I have had conversations with both black men and women whom have made the same comments as it concerns being in a relationship and possibly elevating to marriage with each other. I Have often times listened as some black women angry about their past experiences with black men frown upon them to the point where they decided to make it resolute that they will never date another black man again.  And, I have heard some black men angrily rant and spout about how they feel that many black women are not up to par in physicality and character as it related to them wanting to have a future with black women as well. They too vowed to never date black women with the possibility of considering marriage or someone with their similar hue or cultural back ground.   However, this has always greatly disturbed me!  What plays a part in making a group of people despise each other!?  Does the media or social and economic inequalities cause us to turn inward and practice a character association of Colorism?  
This is a subject that requires further exploration at another time, but for those of you that are not familiar with the term, Colorism; is the prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a darker hue or skin tone, typically against people of the same ethnic or racial group. (Inner prejudice)
The problem with this philosophy is even though you have the right to date and marry anyone you choose as I stated earlier, isn’t it unfair to use your bad experiences as an explanation to date and marry someone else outside of your race or culture based on a few bad experiences that you had within your own .  
“Putting down one group of people simply because you had a bad experience in dating someone from that group is not only unfair to those individuals but it is also unfair to the person in the group whom you have chosen to date and possibly marry”!  “It’s simply not right”!  
This act not only shows insecurity and dishonesty but immaturity.  And later down the line you may realize that you were not truly in love with this person at all but rather the ideal of what that person presumptuously stood for.  But enough!  Back to Andrea!
Andrea, also mentioned to me another young man who had always asked her out yet she said no to him.  She told me that he had done this for a few years now and that because of her relationship with the other young man, she would not accept his invitation.  I told her to accept his invitation.  I told her to stop waiting for the other young man and I told her how it was neither good nor fair to her that she have a young man who wants her attention yet she continues to hold the torch for another man that ignores her.  She thought about it and then decided to take my advice.  The following weekend Andrea went out with the young man.  When she returned to work Monday morning to my surprise Andrea gave me a big hug and said thank you!  I was shocked and asked her what had happened?
Andrea told me that going out with the new young man was the best thing she could have ever done and really appreciated the advice I had given her. She told me how they went out to dinner and how they talked and talked and talked enjoying each other’s company so much that by the time they looked up it was almost two in the morning. She told me how after their date they did not want to part and that they had planned something together the next day and weeks in advance.  She told me that she felt as if she had met her soul mate!  Every day after that, I noticed a new light in Andrea.  She seemed even more active and more attuned to her surroundings and extremely giddy all of the time.  I was happy that she was happy.  She told me that after she stared seeing her new beau, the young man whom she was infatuated with called her but she never responded back.  “I just lost interest” she said.  She also told me that she saw him once out and about in which he just nodded his head to say hello and she did the same, no hurt feelings.  
A few weeks ago, Andrea got married to her new beau.  They had a nice wedding and they honey mooned in the islands prior to Hurricane Maria.  Oh, and by the way, the young man she married is Latino.  
Even though the project we were working on is complete, Andrea still emails me and at times calls to say hello.  She tells me that she and her husband Edgar (Not his real name) are now in the process of buying a house and starting a family and she says this happened all because of me and my advice (shameless plug). I feel honored that I could assist her.
I know that this article was a little long winded but I just wanted to make the point that as human beings none of us are perfect!  We can only attempt to be perfect and in our pursuits of perfection, let us not ostracize ourselves from each other over what we perceive to be a preferred idea that is based solely on the color of our skin or the characteristics that supposedly come with it.
Written By: William R. Riley