“Sorry, you seem nice and all, but I’m just not into Black girls.”

Sadly, most Black women have heard these jarring words by the time they reach adolescence. The message that they’re less desirable is powerfully promoted through a combination of media featuring white love stories and actors, and boys who believe the only women worthy of affection are those who look like these stars. The worst part is that Black women still aren’t safe from these comments—even in Black spaces. 

Though the discrimination that Black women face from those outside their community has been more widely discussed, Black men’s lack of support for Black women should be addressed. There is a hidden divide between Black men and women, both romantically and otherwise, that needs to be bridged. 

Before we can diagnose the cause of the divide, we need to debunk the idea that “a preference is just a preference.” While this is true, everyone should consider where these preferences are born from. It’s no secret that we live in a world where “white is right.” Society teaches men to favor Eurocentric displays of beauty and women to strive for European features. Trends such as contouring your nose to look slimmer, applying makeup to make your eyes appear larger, and accentuating high cheekbones are all modeled after a white image of attractiveness. It’s no coincidence that the demographic that shares the least amount of features with America’s socially dominant group is the one that’s most consistently put down: Black women.

Multiple articles have referenced studies demonstrating that Black women are at a disadvantage when it comes to dating apps. They are the least likely to be considered attractive, and the least likely to meet their match. This is a direct result of society’s labels for Black women—angry, loud, ghetto—all traits that serve to strip them of their femininity and undermine their position as viable romantic prospects. 

A common response when Black women articulate their hurt or pain upon hearing these comments is “you’re just mad that we don’t like you.” Besides the fact that this is incredibly insensitive, it also manages to completely avoid confronting the fact that there may be an internal bias present. 

Black men have had these white ideals of love and beauty permeate their viewpoints as well. Instead of uplifting Black women and defending them against these harmful stereotypes, they participate in the trend of making Black women the butt of the romantic joke. Yet, the biggest issue with Black men who choose to date outside of their race is their reasoning for why they do so. They only describe what they don’t like about Black women, rather than what they do like about women of other races. 

While the two reasoning styles may seem equivalent—after all, they lead to the same conclusion—they are in fact vastly different. Instead of positively uplifting the group they prefer, they forcefully demean another. While at the end of the day, everyone is free to have whatever preference they please, it’s difficult to hear this hate coming from the very members of the community that are supposed to be supporting you.

There’s a different logic behind choosing to date only within your race, as some prefer to be with those who possess an intimate knowledge of their heritage and traditions, but Black men have demonstrated weaker same race preferences than other groups—leaving Black women unprotected by the very men that are supposed to be standing with them in solidarity. 

Even in the group of Black men who self—identify as liking Black women, problems still remain. Texturism and colorism, both archaic appendages of the problematic racial hierarchy America was built on, still run rampant within this community. There are many sentiments of preferring loose curls over “nappy hair” or lighter skin to darker hues. The journey to finding love as a dark skin Black woman with kinky curls will be harder still than that of a light skin woman with wavy hair. Black women in America already marry less on average, dark skin Black women even less so.

All this just serves to leave Black women unprotected by their male counterparts—and this divide doesn’t stop at romantic endeavors. Black men don’t stand with Black women in other social settings, which may be directly related to their lack of interest in Black women as romantic prospects. It’s been shown on multiple occasions that humans are predisposed to treat those we consider unattractive worse, with the American Journal of Sociology publishing research that finds Black women suffer from this phenomenon at a higher degree. 

While this study was in the context of workplace earnings, it makes perfect logical sense that this curse would affect other social interactions as well. As a Black woman myself, I’ve been in numerous situations where Black men have let micro— or macro—aggressions go unreprimanded, or worse, joined in with the laughter. Black men who don’t consider Black women attractive feel no desire to defend them and will allow them to be treated poorly in order to cater to the group they find attractive. 

The message I’d like to end with is this: Black men, take this as a call to action. Confront your internal biases and stand up for Black women. These are your mothers, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, nieces. Black women deserve more respect than they are currently given.