Is breaking the colour barrier the cure for loneliness?

’Swirling: How to Date, Mate and Relate, Mixing Race, Culture and Creed’ suggests single black women need to mix it up
Julia McKinnell
The race to find a date
Photograph by Andrew Tolson

Is Canada the new mecca for single black American women? The topic crops up with increasing frequency on the Beyond Black & White blog run by Christelyn Karazin, a black writer in California who married a “WASP from Connecticut.”

According to Karazin, eligible black men are in short supply, and it’s time for black women to consider dating men of other races. One black Canadian woman suggested U.S. women look north to find a good man, and recounted the story of a Ghanaian girl she knew who ran an ad on Craigslist, which attracted “a very good-looking, intelligent, sexy American man” who had relocated to Canada. “I need to move to Canada!” came the reply from a California reader.

Karazin launched her pro-intermarriage blog as a refuge for people to talk candidly about the real reason so many black American women are single. In a revolutionary guidebook for single black women, Swirling: How to Date, Mate and Relate, Mixing Race, Culture and Creed, Karazin and her co-author Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn urge black women to consider dating non-black men if what they want in life is a husband, and one that sticks around to help raise the kids.

“Black women are the loneliest women in America. Seventy per cent of African American women are single according to the latest census data,” writes Karazin. “The shortage of black men is real. Denying it is tantamount to believing the world is flat.” The book points out African American men account for 40 per cent of the American prison population. “Black women are fighting like cats for the half a handful of eligible and marriageable brothers.”

Compounding the problem is an ingrained resistance to marry outside their race. Despite the rise in U.S. intermarriages, says Karazin, black American women take flak for mixing.“It’s like tribalism. You have to be loyal to the tribe. A woman who goes outside her race and marries, it’s like a violation,” she says. And it goes back to slavery. “It’s like ‘Oh, you’re sleeping with Mr. Charlie and Mr. Charlie is the slave master. Except there’s this double standard that isn’t discussed, and that’s that black men are free to date whoever they want.”

Karazin was devastated when the black father of her first child refused to marry her. On the phone, she explains: “When you have a dearth of black men, it creates a lopsided situation where someone has the upper hand. Why would he get married if he can have Keisha on Monday come over and do his laundry and have sex with him, and have Theresa come over on Tuesday and clean his house and have sex with him, and then on Wednesday, Latisha comes over and washes his windows and has sex with him?”

In the book, Karazin asks black women: “Are we supposed to ignore the fact that black people have the lowest marriage rate in the country while having the highest child out-of-wedlock rate? Let me get this straight. Marriage = unlikely. Baby out-of-wedlock = very likely. Are you okay with that?”

The book advises black women to change their assumptions. “So what if he’s melanin-challenged or from another country? One of the biggest expressions of love for yourself is the understanding that you are worthy of a quality mate.” Choose character above colour, she urges. This means “offering up more than just a friendly ‘hello’ to that white accountant who lights up like a Christmas tree when he sees you at Starbucks.”

In Montreal, Sherley Joseph, a black mother of three, and her white husband, Clove Roy, host a website and podcast for interracial couples called Chonilla—short for chocolate and vanilla. Joseph and Roy are high-school sweethearts, married 19 years, but Joseph remembers a black male friend hassling her when she first started seeing Roy. “I was baffled by his response,” says Joseph. “He said, ‘It’s not like you’re ugly, girl. You’re pretty.’ He looked at it like a loss, and a lot of other black men look at it like a loss” when a black woman dates outside her race. That said, Canada is an accepting environment, says Joseph. “I can count on one hand the number of times someone has said something ignorant.”