Dating A Race Or Dating A Person? The Controversies Behind 'Swirling'

Dating A Race Or Dating A Person? The Controversies Behind 'Swirling'

Giving a glimpse into the world of interracial dating by sharing my story of cruelty and acceptance.
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I'm drawn to YouTube videos on interracial dating as of late.

I've always been apart of the "Swirling" community ("Swirling" is the term for black and white interracial dating), but the movement is a lot more vitriol and personal against those who are vocal about being in favor of these relationships.

Growing up, it always felt like that there was an unspoken rule in the black community that blacks only mixed with other blacks. My neighborhood was inhabited by blacks. My friends were black. Their families were all black. My family is all black. Everyone around me was black and they were never shy when expressing their feelings about white people.

"White people this," and "White people that."

Back in the 1990s, Cleveland was a lot more segregated than it is today. Blacks lived on the Eastside and whites lived on the Westside. The races collided in Downtown Cleveland and in schools. At school is where I came across white teachers and peers. Maybe it was because they looked different from me or because I was raised with my own but I was drawn to them.

I was treated better by my white classmates and teachers. They shared my interests and curiosities. So I associated good feelings with whites. I was sexually assaulted by black boys and bullied and harassed by other blacks. So I associated feelings of fear, intimidation, and resentment towards blacks.

I'm ashamed to admit this but, once I reached middle school, I fetishized white people. As my mistreatment from blacks continued, I seriously attached myself to anyone white. I put all whites on a pedestal and refused to associate with anyone black.

I played in my white friends' hair in class. I did favors for my white friends such as carrying their book bags, getting them extra food at lunchtime, and running away from home to spend time with them after school.

Looking back, I'm not sure if they understood why I was acting that way towards them. But they never reprimanded my behavior nor embarrassed or shamed me for my feelings towards them. They just accepted me for who I was at that time.

"That's just how she is," they'd say when asked why they put up with me.

When I stalked white upperclassmen for three years, I lost favor with a lot of people. Even teachers. I attended a small high school, about 50-60 kids per grade. Everyone knew everyone's business in that school.

And the eighth-grade black girl obsessed with the ninth grade white trash was one of the schools' top gossip mills.

He wasn't a good boy for me to be infatuated with in the first place. He failed ninth grade three times. He never bathed. He sold drugs. He smoked. He barely came to school. But I attached myself to him because he was nice to me.

It wasn't until after high school that I met guys that were black and white who shared my interests. Meeting them changed my perception of my own race. Black people don't hold onto one-dimensional views. Nor are they sheep to tradition.

Realizing that others are capable of change and growth made it easier for me to do it too. These realizations made it possible for me to fall for blacks as well as whites.

The next white man I met came into my life a couple of years after high school. Where I was in a better place emotionally to not form an unhealthy attachment to him, but still vulnerable enough to share my faults and struggles with him.

Many years later, I found myself in love with a black man. I began to think I wasn't capable of loving a man of my own race - even though I knew that all blacks were not the same. So it was still a welcome change to find that I could actually love a black man, despite having been sexually assaulted by black men in my childhood.

He and I have quite a few things in common, including friends and future aspirations. However, I had returned to a place of unhealthy attachment due to my downfalls with one-sided friendships with a couple of white coworkers. I was too vulnerable to attach myself to a man that ultimately was never going to be a match for me. This made his rejection of me feel incredibly personal and painful. To this day I still have not recovered from this.

In hindsight, I never form romantic attachments based on race alone. I saw these men as individuals - not as just their race. It seems that way to others because I am more than open to forming relationships with those outside my race. But I am my own enemy when it comes to "swirling." I have to be conscious of how my perceptions rule me when it comes to these relationships. Unfortunately, because of my past, it's easy for me to fall back into favoring whites and thinking low of my own race.

The main arguments against "swirling" stem from racial prejudices and stereotypes, and racial nationalism and racism. "Swirling" is seen as racial genocide and a product of those who hate their own race.

Blacks want to stick together to strengthen the race in the aftermath of what slavery did to us. Whites want to keep their bloodlines "clean" and separate from other races to keep their identity. And though I won't deny that each side raises interesting points and may even be accurate, none of these arguments entertain the notion of free will and relationship autonomy.

No matter what race(s) are involved in a relationship, people should be free to explore possibilities without carrying the burden of influence from others.

There are two vloggers I'm fond of, Christelyn Karazin and Coen Naninck. Both are very open about their love of "swirling" and they are two of the biggest names representing the movement on YouTube. Christelyn is a black woman married to a white man. Her videos promote her website, BeyondBlack&White. Coen is a white man who makes 'how to approach white men' videos for black women and videos celebrating women who are fuller figured.

The hate they receive is mind-boggling. Coen disables the comment sections on all his videos and Christelyn recently came back to YouTube after having had to delete her personal YouTube channel full of racial commentaries due to people targeting her family. Though I feel the hate against them is unjust, I can see where some of it comes from.

Christelyn gives off the impression that she looks down on all black men and urges black women to only date white men. Her videos glorify "swirling" and the repeated theme is that all black women should "swirl." Coen's video completely fetishizes black women. He doesn't urge all white men to only date black women, he repeatedly acknowledges that he doesn't speak for all white men, but he does support white men fetishizing black women if they are into them.

These two vloggers are very different than Jaime and Nikki. They are not part of the "swirling" movement. These two generally just make videos documenting their love and growing family. Jaime wasn't specifically looking for a black woman to marry nor was Nikki only looking for a white man. They just connected, and their videos give off the authentic connection they made together.

I'd like this piece to serve as a tool to facilitate an open dialogue about this issue. What is your stance on "Swirling?" Do you find yourself only attracted to those inside or outside your own race? Where do you think that desire came from? Do you notice the people your friends and family members date? Do they tend to only date their own race or outside their race? Is there an unspoken rule to not mix, or did you grow up in a family that welcomed diversity?

Discuss.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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An Open Letter To My Boyfriend's Mom

A simple thank you is not enough.
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Your son and I have been dating a while now and I just wanted to thank you for everything.

Wow, where do I start? Ever since the day your son brought me into your home you have shown me nothing but kindness. I have not one negative thought about you and I am truly thankful for that. I first and foremost want to thank you for welcoming me with open arms. There are horror stories of mothers resenting their son's girlfriends and I am blessed there is no resentment or harsh feelings.

Thank you for treating me like one of your children, with so much love but knowing exactly when to tease me.

Thank you for sticking up for me when your son teases me, even though I know it’s all in good fun it's always comforting knowing you have someone by your side.

Thank you for raising a man who respects women and knows how to take responsibility of mistakes and not a boy who is immature and doesn’t take responsibility.

Thank you for always including me in family affairs, I may not be blood family but you do everything you can to make sure I feel like I am.

Thank you for letting me make memories with your family.

There is nothing I value more in this world then memories with friends and family and I am thankful you want and are willing to include me in yours. I have so much to thank you for my thoughts keep running together.

The most important thing I have to thank you for is for trusting me with your son. I know how precious and valuable he is and I won't break his heart. I will do everything I can to make him happy. This means more than you could ever imagine and I promise I will never break your trust.

The second most important thing I must thank you for is for accepting me for who I am. Never have you ever wished I looked like another girl or acted like another girl. You simply love and care for me and that’s all I could ever ask. Every person in this world is a unique different person and understanding that means a lot.

The third most important thing I must thank you is teaching me how to one day in the future treat a potential girlfriend that I may interact with as a mother. I am not a mother, but I one day plan to be. If I ever have a son it is because of how you treated me that I am able to be a humble loving mother to this new face that could one day walk into my door. How you have treated me has taught me how I should one day be in the future and I thank you for that.

This may seem all over the place but that’s how my brain gets when I try and thank you for everything you have done for me. It’s all so much and even the little things are so important so I promise my scattered thoughts are all with good intentions and not meant to bombard you. I just want to get the idea across to you that you are important and special to me and everything you do does not go unnoticed.

Sincerely,

Your Son’s Girlfriend

Cover Image Credit: Christian Images and Quotes

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I Bruised A Boy's Heart To Fix My Own

You don't need a boy (or anyone for that matter) to make you feel validated or okay with yourself.

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There is always going to be a time in a person's life where they have to play the bad guy. For me, this was when I chose to break a boys heart in order to heal my own.

For most of my adult life I have been in a relationship. I fell in love with a boy when I was 18, and that was that. It wasn't all rainbows and sunshine, but I was happy. Recently we split for the final time, nearly 13 months later. The moment I knew I was leaving him behind, my heart shattered.

I remember lying in my bed with my older sister handing me tissues as I sobbed into my pillow. The only boy I had ever loved with all my being was gone, and I was the one who told him to leave.

A few months passed and I thought I was okay again. I hadn't thought about him in awhile, I stopped bringing him into conversations and I could finally listen to some of the songs he showed me when we were together. In my eyes, I was ready to jump back into the dating world; but boy, was I ever wrong.

One day a random boy slid into my DMs on Instagram and we hit it off. Within a week we were hanging out regularly and it seemed like things were going towards us starting a relationship. That's when I learned that he worked and was friends with my ex. The discovery of this caused a ball of anxiety to form in my chest; I was scared of the whole thing starting over.

We talked it out, and we came to the conclusion that I wasn't ready to date, but I was ready to be more than friends. Friends with benefits is what we decided on. This wasn't my first rodeo, not by far. A few days of texts were gone through before we saw each other again, this time specifically to get in, hookup and get out.

Everything went fine, just how we had thought it would. That was until I made the mistake of telling him jokingly that I left someones house at 3am a few days before. He connected it to the fact I had slept with someone else, which I had. He asked if that was the case and I told him yes. At that moment I felt a shift in the room and he looked me in the eye saying, "you know who you sound like? You sound exactly like him." (referencing my ex). Weirdly, my heart didn't sink, it just accepted that fact.

The next day I got texts from both him and my ex telling me we were done. Oddly, I was okay with this. In the end I lost both boys, but I gained something much more valuable; the understanding of my emotional state.

This experience taught me that I am not ready to be back in the dating pool, and that is okay. You don't need a boy (or anyone for that matter) to make you feel validated or okay with yourself. I made the error of trying too soon and came out bruising someone's heart. Sometimes in order to heal yourself you end up hurting someone else in the process. So to that boy, I am so very sorry, but thank you for teaching me to be honest with myself even when it hurts.

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