Colour Blind: Interracial Love (Part 1)

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Originally published in the Sept 2012 issue of Destination Magazine

Interracial relationships are becoming more and more common in Kenya, but what’s changed to make them more accepted? Caitlin Nordahl looks at life for people in mixed couples – the hard, the impossible and the love that makes it all worth it

It’s every black man’s dream to [have sex with] a white gal

It’s the dreadlocks. Ask any [guy] with dreadlocks the kind of attention they got from [white] mamaz. Also, some mamas just LOVE the African/Jamaican accents

  1. To the average white boy, a black woman is just an “experiment”..
  2. They can do all kinds of crap to a black woman that they can’t with white…

Ultimately, the relationship is one of EXPLOITER and EXPLOITED

Personality, beliefs, interests, all these factors are just as important in an IR relationship as any other

What about love? Maybe some mixed race couples just love each other?

Make it work if your heart is up to it. Most of all…BE HAPPY!!!

Taken from Mashada, a popular Kenyan online forum, these quotes offer a glimpse into the collective views on interracial relationships. Whether decrying the motives of those involved, fully supporting it, wondering why it’s an issue anymore or hundreds of variations falling somewhere in between, everyone has an opinion.

Stereotypes

Interracial relationships never work. Black women are gold-diggers, fawning over white men for their money. White men just want black women for the novelty of it and to fulfil sexual fantasies. Similarly, black men like white women because they’re more adventurous in bed, and will do things black women won’t. White women are just looking to experience the endowments all black men are rumoured to have. But black men are all dogs, who treat their women horribly. White men, on the other hand, are sweet and affectionate lovers.

The stereotypes Kenyans hold about what happens when races mix are never-ending and often contradictory. But it basically boils down to sex and money. That’s what these relationships are all about, or that’s what you’d think looking in on Mashada or listening in on conversations. But things change when you ask Kenyans as individuals.

Destination put out a survey asking Kenyans about interracial relationships and the results were surprising. When asked to complete the sentence “Interracial Relationships are…” only two respondents had something negative to say – one said they were complicated, and the other that they were weird. Other than that, the responses were overwhelmingly positive with a sprinkling of ambivalence. Surprisingly, however, when asked how Kenyan culture saw the relationships, respondents were much more reserved. While answers weren’t always negative they were almost all wary. When asked what problems interracial couples would have to deal with, ‘Approval of Society’ ranked second, only under ‘Approval of Families.’ While quite a few people said interracial couples were normal, when ranking problems ‘Standard Relationship Issues’ came in a distant last.

Clearly there is some contradiction here. When talking from a personal level, about people they know and possibly themselves (97.8 percent of respondents knew at least one mixed couple, and 65 percent had been or were in an interracial relationship), Kenyans don’t give stereotype a second thought. Of course those things happen, and the fact is those assumptions started somewhere. But people know enough to realise it’s not always, or even usually, about sex and money. However, as things get more generalised, stereotypes gain more credence. It’s as if the social assumptions surrounding interracial relationships are so strongly ingrained in Kenyan culture that everyone looks at their personal experience as an exception rather than the rule.

“Race or Culture” continued on next page

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  • singha1

    Culture is the most important aspect in all this.I have lived in northeastern Europe for 10 years,so black women can only be seen on jamhuri day or the nigerian independence day.Initially I thought it would be difficult to date across the colour,but with time,you get inserted and assimilated in culture and seeing things from the angle of your host community and trying to balance with african ‘expectations’,which do not exist actually.It is now very easy for me to date within my current community because we understand each other and know what to expect and what not to expect,and the girls will understand me.Kenyan women become foreign to me,the ideals i ha are no longer the same. Being able to understand each other and controlling cultural expectations is what matters,but to the younger Kenyan generation,they have grown with similar ideals to all other young people in the world,so culture plays very small role and people immediatelly do not create barriers to love.All the Kenyan men I have met here,hundreds of them,have girls and wives from diverse backgrounds like Mongolian,Chinese,Russian,Turkmen,Syrian,Sakha,Viet,Gypsy,the Caucassus,Cossack,Jewish,Finn.
    An interesting thing to note is that African women in tend to look for African men,I have met less than 10 Kenyan women with White men,while it is opposite while in Kenya.Very few men date african women due to fear of families and may be women are less adventurers in areas where they are a minority

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