Loop 21 Talks With Interracial Dating Expert Deborrah Cooper
Relationship columnist agrees "100%" that black women should date outside race
This coming October, relationship expert Deborrah Cooper will be the keynote speaker for what’s being billed as the first interracial dating convention, which will be held in San Francisco. The conference comes at a time when interracial relationships (or, black women who want to date white men) continue to stir heated debates across media platforms--including Loop 21’s own twitter roundtable earlier this month.
The SurvivingDating.com columnist, who once dated a Hawaiian-Chinese man her father didn’t approve of, says the conference will serve people who are curious about dating outside their race, but remain fearful due to preconceived notions. It will offer advice to those already in mixed relationships, says Cooper, but whose families may not approve.
“I’m sure I’m not the only one who has gotten that message from their family,” Cooper told Loop 21. “It’s not necessarily a black parent’s first preference, but I think most parents would get on board if they found that their child’s partner from another race treated them really well, loved them and honored their family. I think once those fears are addressed head on, then they’re okay with it.”
Cooper also spoke with Loop 21 about the question that has everyone on edge: “Is Marriage for White People?”
Loop 21: Why is an interracial dating conference necessary?
Cooper: I think it’s going to provide a venue that’s safe for people who have questions and are curious about interracial dating. So this will be a team of professional people involved in the industry that are specifically there for educational and open discussions. I hope that there will be a lot of people there who are curious about it, but they just haven’t tried it before and want to know if there is any truth to certain stereotypes. Questions like, ‘How do I approach a black woman if I’ve never done it before?’
Loop21: The conference is not just going to be focused on black-white relationships, right?
Cooper: No. That’s what is good about the San Francisco Bay Area. I was born and raised here, and I’ve always interacted with people of other cultures and races. There’s someone from every corner of the world in San Francisco -- from language to clothes, to food, to churches, and dances. You can really become involved with other cultures of other people, even if not romantically, but just on a social level.
Loop21: Some think that interracial relationships between blacks and whites are the most fraught with tension. Why do you think that is?
Cooper: I think because of the historical context of our interactions. Many of us have great and great-great grandmothers that can recite stories of rape. My mother’s great-grandmother was born a slave. It’s not that many years ago that black men were being lynched for interacting with white women. So some people, like my mother, who is still alive, can relate to some of this stuff. Those aspects color black and white relationships whether we want to accept that or not. The ongoing racism that we have to deal with in the fight for equality is all in the hands of white people as well. Even if you let that go and you are in a relationship with someone who is white, outside of the home you’re peered at in a racist way. How do you come home and vent your frustration about white people getting on your nerves and white people being racist when you’re married to one or dating one? That’s a conflict I’ve heard a lot of women and men bring up. They feel like they can’t speak to their partner about it or their partner doesn’t get it.
Loop21: Based on what you just said, it sounds like there are psychological issues that need to be addressed for both partners in an interracial relationship. Should therapists be specially trained to address issues interracial couples may have?
Cooper: Most definitely. I think if a couple is involved in an interracial relationship and they need therapy, it is my personal belief that they should seek someone black. Because what you need is someone who has professional expertise and experience to address the psychological-emotional aspects. You also need someone who has first hand experience with the issues that have brought the couple there, that the black partner feels they are dealing with. If you have someone who has never experienced racism, or never been made to feel small or insignificant, you might end up educating you’re therapist.
Loop21: We recently interviewed Professor Richard Banks, author of “Is Marriage for White People.” Do you agree with his argument that black women should expand beyond just dating black men?
Cooper: I am in 100% agreement. From my perspective as a relationship advice columnist, relationships work best the more the couple has in common: the more mutual ground they share, the more mutual history, the more values and morals, education, and social environment they share. One of the problems that I see is that a lot of black women haven’t arrived at that conclusion yet. You have to look at more than a man’s skin color, or the fact that he has swag. Is he a good match for you? In a lot of these instances women are getting involved with men who are not good matches for them at all. The only thing that they really do have in common is their black culture.