Fans are already speculating who Matt James will end up with on The Bachelor and many believe he’ll end up with a white woman.
But Matt is not so thrilled with all the assumptions. In fact, he finds them frustrating. While on Rachel Lindsay and Becca Kufrin’s podcast Bachelor Happy Hour, he said,
“It’s low-key frustrating to even have to address it. Because, first off, people should, regardless of what they look like, want you to be happy with whoever you’re with. And, if you knew anything about me, if you were close to me, you would know that the last women that I dated were all black women.”
He later added that he’s dated “across the board” and said,
“What I’m looking for isn’t a race. I don’t only exclusively date black women. I don’t only exclusively date white women.”
Matt reiterated the same sentiments while on Mike Johnson and Bryan Abasolo’s podcast Talking It Out With Mike & Bryan, and said,
“People for some reason think I don’t like Black women. The last women I’ve dated have all been Black women. I don’t understand why that’s so hard for people to understand.”
“People should want you to be happy, regardless of if they’re white, they’re Black, they’re Asian, whatever.”
On one hand, Matt is completely right. People should be able to love whoever they want, regardless of race (and gender and sexuality and ability).
But if Matt doesn’t realize that his very public choice of who to date won’t be politicized, he’s extremely naive.
A long history of sexual racism
There have often been discussions about Black men who date white women, particularly by Black women, who are not always so keen on the idea.
As a white woman, I cannot and should not speak for Black women, so I can only share what some have said on the topic themselves.
In an episode of the podcast Seriously…, host Bridgette Tetteh spoke with numerous Black women who have experienced the painful rejection from Black men who deem them “too dark” or “pretty for a dark skin girl”. Bridgette later discussed the episode in an essay and wrote,
“I wasn’t prepared for the recurring issue of colorism, or to put it another way, the discrimination people with darker skin tones face, even from other black people. Poet Natural Wright says black men often tell her that they don’t ‘date black women.’ Black professional Amina believes the men she has grown up with were exposed to a very European, Caucasian aesthetic in the media, which has meant they find it easier to relate to women who have lighter skin tones.”
In a column for NPR, Code Switch editor Leah Donnella also discussed the topic and explained why Black women often face rejection, even by Black men, while dating. She wrote,
“Dating is hard for lots of people, but for black women in the United States, it can be uniquely horrible. For one thing, we’re often expected to conform to white beauty standards. For another, we’re up against a hold parade of racist stereotypes: that we’re angry, overbearing, lazy, prudish and hyper-sexual and emasculating all at once. Oh, and we can’t take a joke.”
“Those stereotypes and expectations do two things. First, they limit the pool of people who are interested in dating black women. And second, they often create situations where we, as black women, try super hard not to fit into those categories. So rather than relaxing and trying to have fun with potential dates, we’re caught up in the impossible game of trying to seem fun and ambitious and feminine and flirty…but not too flirty.”
As numerous studies have shown, Black women are, strictly statistically-speaking, considered the “least desirable” in the dating pool. The now-infamous 2014 OkCupid study found that Black women were the least popular on the app for all races of men — even among Black men.
Books, think-pieces, studies, and personal essays have all found various reasons for the discrepancy. Many theories point to persistent racism and colorism; stereotypes of Black women perpetuated by pop culture; misogynoir; the idea that dating white women is a status symbol; and more. In truth, all of these reasons most likely play a role in the sexual racism against Black women.
The pain of rejection by Black men for Black women
So, why does Black men dating white women feel particularly painful for many Black women?
According to musician Jill Scott, the source is slavery. In a controversial discussion with Essence magazine, she explained,
“For women of color, this very common ‘wince’ has solely to do with the African story in America.”
She continued that, during slavery, white women were strictly off-limits and were “put on a pedestal.” She referenced the lynchings, shootings, and imprisonments of Black men merely for looking at a white woman.
So, for Jill, a Black man choosing a white woman instead of a Black woman feels like “a betrayal.”
“There is a bite, no matter the ointment that has yet to stop burning.”
This is, of course, just one perspective. But certainly, the constant rejection from people of your own race would feel like a betrayal for most people.
As for Matt James, he has every right to date any woman he chooses. But it’s important that he knows that his decision will inevitably evoke an emotional response for many viewers.
Stop reading if you don’t like spoilers and/or don’t want to know the winner
Ok, so all of you still reading this clearly read RealitySteve and thus know who Matt ends up with.
So, you all know that Matt picks Racheal Kirkconnell, aka a white woman.
Of course, all of Matt’s current interviews are post-show and thus Matt has already chosen Racheal as his winner.
It’s no wonder that Matt is acting a bit defensive. He knows some fans are upset at the idea of him picking a white woman over a Black woman. He knows some fans believe he has a racial bias against Black women and a preference for white women. And in the end, he did exactly what they predicted: he picked a white woman.
Matt most likely picked Racheal because they had a “connection” and great chemistry. And we will never know what unconscious racial bias came into play — after all, he probably doesn’t even know himself (hence the word “unconscious”). But it’s important that we all understand the context surrounding his choice.
It’s also important to note at this point that numerous racist incidents from Rachael’s past have surfaced online, including her attendance at an antebellum sorority formal. To read more about her history of racism, check out our post here.
Note: This article does not address the racial biases that Black men face while dating.
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Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, and Tiger Beat. Her favorite Housewife is Bethenny Frankel and when she’s not watching RHONY, you can probably find her obsessing over her tuxedo cat Tom or hoarding drugstore lipsticks.