Little did I know that when I got on my computer to start my Monday work shift that I would stumble upon the most upsetting pop culture news of the day—Black women being verbally harassed for merely existing.
Frankly, it’s not like this is anything out of the ordinary; Black women often face scrutiny online for expressing opinions or for just being who they are. But this time around, the pain hit home in a different way, in a much more visceral way. Maybe it was because what Black women routinely complain about in their own circles—of Black men disavowing and talking down to the Black woman—was played out in its grossest form on social media.
Patrick Patterson, someone I didn’t even know played for the NBA until yesterday, got in hot water for a comment he made on his Instagram last year. The comments were found in his post celebrating his anniversary to wife Sarah Nassar. If you haven’t heard anything about this story yet, I think you can guess at what race Patterson’s wife is without even scrolling down to the Instagram embed.
Anyways, one Instagram user left a comment addressing something many Black men and women have said in relation to the issue of powerful Black men who leave Black girlfriends for White ones. “[Y]ou grew up loving our women why wait till you get some real money for your perspective ,” said the commenter. “[E]ven if you wasn’t in the nba worked at a Walmart in Toronto you wouldn’t stand a chance bro you [just] became another statistic I bet she’s the only one in her family history to date a black stay woke my guy.”
Harsh words, to be sure, and if Patterson had any sense, he would have just ignored it and went on about his day. But instead, he chose to engage. But again, if he had any sense, he would have realized he doesn’t have the capacity to successfully discuss the finer points of interracial relationships. Because what he did, instead, was bring down Black women at the expense of uplifting his wife and putting her on a pedestal.
“[S]o I should settle for a bulldog and act like I’m happy with my life and preach ‘keep it in your race’ to the world as if Dr. King didn’t fight/die for equality, acceptance, all cultures loving one another, and no hate? no thanks,” Patterson wrote. “”[That’s] maybe your life but I don’t want that for mine or my family. color doesn’t matter. wake up.”
Bulldog? Really? Is that what we’re calling Black women now? Patterson is really equating Black women, which include all the female members of his family, including his mother, to a dog?
After the internet roasted him for disrespecting Black women, he issued an “apology,” which wasn’t any better.
Who can accept this apology when all it is doing is explaining what we already figured out? Patterson hates Black women, because if you can talk that rudely about the wife of someone you don’t even know, it means you already have some deep-seated issues regarding how you view Black women as a whole. This point was proven once again when a tweet posted how he had responded to a Black woman on Instagram:
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Where there’s a pattern, there’s a problem.
There’s a whole host of reasons why Patterson’s comments are wrong, but they all boil down to the same point: if Patterson doesn’t have any respect for Black women, then he doesn’t have any respect for himself, and that’s a shame.
I’m sure Patterson has been called all manner of Uncle Toms and coons and the like since this firestorm happened. But perhaps for the 21st century pop culture consumer, Uncle Ruckus is what first come to mind. The Boondocks character Uncle Ruckus was every Black stereotype rolled up into one. He was overtly accommodating to White people. He hated Black people and viewed them as racist caricatures. He was unattractive. And most importantly, he hated himself, but paradoxically viewed it as a positive attribute for a Black man to have. The self-hate is what is the most challenging part about Uncle Ruckus, and indeed, that same self-hate is the most challenging part about Patterson. It’s my opinion that Patterson has no understanding of what it means to be a self-respecting Black man, much less a Black man who is confident enough in himself to date outside of his race without putting the other race in question on a racialized pedestal.
If Patterson were truly self-aware and confident in his own Blackness, he wouldn’t have spewed Dr. King’s oft-misappropriated “I Have a Dream” speech solely to talk about dating and sexing White women. I’m no social scholar, but I’m pretty sure Dr. King meant a whole lot more than getting white women with his phrase of judging people on the content of their character, not their skin.
If he were a man concerned about his relationship to his own Blackness, he probably would have spent some time investigating how he relates to the world. From the outside looking in, it seems like he’s in denial of his own fetish for Whiteness. He appears to believe that just because he’s in an interracial relationship that he’s living in a post-racial society, something that has never been true. He’s equating a person’s skin color to beauty, a beauty he seemingly believes is higher than Black beauty. However, as a Twitter user pointed out, his wife has made her body have a bigger behind, similar to the Black “Instagram baddie” body. So it would seem that Black features and Black beauty are only desirable when they aren’t on a Black body.
If he were a Black man knowledgeable of the issues facing Black women, he would know that Black women are often mistreated by Black men when it comes to relationships and dating. Black women are routinely thought of as being loud, obnoxious, micromanaging, masculine, ugly beasts. There’s also this ridiculous idea that Black women just don’t “get” the Black man, especially a Black man that views himself as a unicorn—into nerdy pursuits or other arenas that are typically seen as “White.”
There’s also the concept of “dating up.” There’s a reason why the commenter mentioned money when it came to Patterson’s relationship choices. Many Black men view dating outside of the race, particularly dating White women, as moving up in the world. With money, they are able to buy their way into social circles they wouldn’t have been able to get into otherwise. That’s why there’s the stereotype of the Black basketball or football player dating a White woman once they become superstars. Many Black women see it as a display of who the Black man considers valuable or worthy of sharing in their success. Forget the fact that Black women as a whole usually bend over backwards to support Black men during their come-up, whether that’s in the realm of sports, business, or otherwise. But all of that support appears to go thankless when it comes to some Black men who view Black women’s love as a temporary marker of where they are on the success ladder.
To be clear, there is nothing wrong with dating outside of your race. Love can be found anywhere, and if you are someone who has found the love of your life in someone outside of your race, that’s fantastic. And if you’ve followed my website long enough, you’ll know how much I support interracial relationships as well as same-race relationships.
The problem, as exhibited by Patterson, is that some people bring in a lot more baggage than necessary to the relationship. Some people specifically engage in interracial relationships to meet their own personal quota. For them, it’s not about the heart of their partner; it’s about their skin tone and all the positive or negative stereotypes assigned to it. It’s about fetish. It’s about nearly everything that doesn’t go into a positive, healthy relationship.
I’ll be fair and say that I don’t know what Patterson’s relationship to his wife is like. But from the outside looking in, it seems like he’s highly invested in the fact that he can parade around a White woman as his wife. It’s as if he feels like her race reflects positively on his prestige and position in life. That kind of weird pride about racial status is disgusting, to be quite honest. At the end of the day, this White lady is a human being, not a god.
If he were aware of everything about his image, his relationship, and the plight of Black women when it comes to dating inside the race, not to mention dating outside of it, he would have been a lot more thoughtful in any type of response he made, if he decided to make any response.
Alas, however, Patterson is seemingly anything but mature in the ways of racial relations. I hope he’s happy with himself for verbally abusing Black women and letting down his fellow Black men. If he finally wanted his 15 minutes of fame, he’s more than earned it.