The Siamese Cat Is Out the Bag.
Right from the jump readers are introduced to Remy Barnwell. A 26 year old black woman who is in an interracial relationship. Remy reveals to the New York Times (article linked below) that she hid her natural hair texture from her partner the first six months of their relationship, fearing that he would find her kinky coils unnatractive. Before we go any further, let’s stop the buck right there. Was it that she feared her man would not find her attractive anymore because of her hair or did she think her natural hair would scare away her white prize? Before getting Ben’s (her man) white stamp of approval did she not think her hair was worthy enough to be loved by a non-black man? Right or wrong, these are the questions that come to mind. With that being said the last thing that comes to mind is why get with somebody, anybody who doesn’t find you attractive, naturally? Lucky for Remy, Ben loved her natural hair, but I feared for her self-esteem and self-worth if Ben Podner a white man did not have the positive response to her hair reveal. Ms. Barnwell admitted that she would not listen to soul music, wear clothes that revealed her curves and avoided using AAVE (African American Venacular English) also known as Ebonics whenever she was interacting with a non-black person. Here is where we briefly stop the E.S. express again. Remy Barnwell is sadly not the first, fifth-hundred or final black person to “tone down” or “turn off” their blackness around non-black people, but it doesn’t make any of it less disgusting. We can further delve into the upbringing and history of ridicule Remy received from society and her own people, but Remy is a 26 year old woman. Just like Remy, I was put down for the texture of my hair by other black people, family members and society. My mindset is if you don’t find anything appealing about my blackness you can kiss my big black dick and kick rocks. Like Remy, I’ve had to build myself up to love my black features, but it did not come from white gaze. Ms. Barnwell also admitted to wearing Birkenstocks on her first date with Ben, something she never done when she dated black men. I don’t know what Birkenstocks are, but I know this woman really made sure she “dolled” herself up for this date that resulted in a serious relationship. I waited this long to make this point because of dramatic effect. This piece is not a rant against interracial relationships. It’s to expose the psychology of code-switching that this New York Times article did not get into.
Too Good for the Blacks?
When black people “date out” and start speaking, dressing, being different, I think it speaks volumes to what is and isn’t being said by the code-switcher. One of the very loud unspoken statements is that black people/partners do not deserve “the best” and that’s why women like Ms. Barnwell and men like Mr. Lamour dress to the 10s and put on a “pleasant” front when they are in the company of someone white/none-black. “Black men don’t like Birkenstocks,” neither do you, but you were willing to change your entire look just to get a second date with a white man, but wouldn’t “dress up” for a black man/woman or the black men/women you’ve dated. You keep your hair “ugly” because black people deserve “ugly” and you soften your voice because only black people should hear your “menacing” natural black voice.
To cut these people some slack, Mr. Lamour did say that after being called out for code-switching by his then white boyfriend, he told himself that he would only date people who accepted him for himself.
“I’ve been getting more comfortable with myself and therefore the next person that I’m going to be with is going to have to be comfortable with me” -Mr. Lamour.
Our good sis Remy Barnwell had a similar realization.
“I was like OK, am I going to let my white boyfriend see me with my afro? And I really had to tell myself this was dumb, and if he sees me in my afro and he hates it, then we simply should break up” -Remy Barnwell.
I have to ask. Was it really the mental anguish code-switching had on them that aided in their decision to stop or was it the acceptance/positive assurance from their white partners that made them feel that their blackness was enough? I don’t know, but what I do know is code-switching/assimilation is more of an inner battle with ones self-perception rather than it is being a survival tactic as many call it. I believe the reason people really code-switch is because they think the worst parts of themselves (their natural self) should only be exposed to other “unworthy” people (people of the same race or ethnicity) and when they code-switch they are “giving their best” to the people, the strangers who didn’t do anything to prove they deserve “the best” other than not be black or “person of color.” Now they’re out here looking goofy because they think every white person will not want to deal with them , meanwhile all that white person wanted was for them to be themself.
The article this piece is based on and referenced https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/11/style/interracial-dating.html
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