As my primary schoolmates drooled over the pubescent charms of Grange Hill's Tucker Jenkins, I preferred his luckless mixed-race sidekick Benny.
Likewise, in adulthood, my choice of partner, fictional or not, has remained steadfastly black. My preference doesn't stem from an eroticisation of black men or a distaste for white men; rather, it is due to the need for a comfort zone - a relatively safe place where, as a black woman, race won't impinge on my personal relationships as it so often does in daily life.
Call it an unashamed love of my own blackness, combined with an ever-present fear of racism, and you're somewhere close to an explanation. Others may find uncomfortable my decision to date only men the same colour as myself, but surely seeking protection from one of life's major "isms" in my most intimate of relationships is a rational act?
It's the degree of assurance gained in a black-on-black relationship that's imperative - those considerable certainties that go beyond culture, such as shared sensibilities. Whenever I've fleetingly considered dating white men, the same questions - some facile, but most of paramount importance - always arise. Would I have to compromise my blackness to accommodate him?
Would I be part of a rebellious experiment, exotic fantasy or, worse still, a fashion accessory? Deep into the relationship, would I discover that, though he's singled me out as "acceptable", he may hold racist views about black people in general? And I don't mean the kind of racism that's instantly detectable in card-carrying bigots, but the unconscious, more insidious kind - those white people who may boast black lovers, friends and in-laws, but who have yet to acknowledge their own deep-seated prejudices, let alone grasp how racism works at a wider level.
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All things considered, can I be bothered to educate a partner in racial politics? Dating black men provides a safety net in which you hopefully start at a slightly higher point in the relationship. Our understanding is unspoken - he doesn't accuse me of having a chip on my shoulder when, for example, I complain about racism at work; meanwhile, I'm fully aware that his being a black man means he unwillingly carries around a set of baggage that is often disabling.
This level of understanding, and the support network we can provide for each other, becomes even more crucial when children enter the relationship. With the recent arrival of our first child, I feel confident that, while she will undoubtedly face racism, she will benefit no end from a positive home environment. Never will she have her experiences dismissed as paranoia or her sense of self undermined by the association of blackness with negativity - at least not in the home. I'm aware that sharing African genes doesn't guarantee relationship nirvana - he is Angolan, I am Nigerian - and there are plenty of cultural differences between the two, but despite this, the fact that we are both black means we achieve a level of intimacy that I could not imagine reaching with a white man.
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Why I'll only date black men. It's a decision that may make others uncomfortable, but for one black woman, only black men will do as dates. Helen Kolawole reveals her reasons why. Helen Kolawole. Topics Race. Reuse this content.