Memo to black girls everywhere: John Mayer may think you’re attractive, but he probably won’t be taking you home to meet his mama.
Oh, wait. You already knew that didn’t you? Did you have a feeling? Woo-hoo?
Now look, before all the “she hates her brown skin” mess starts, I want to preface this by saying that I am a black girl who loves herself and loves being black. I am not secretly self loathing nor am I the ‘kill-whitey’ type either. I am, like most people, somewhat hard to explain. I went through a prepster phase in middle school, but I wore Kente cloth for my children’s choir performances at church in the Bronx. My home is full of laughter, curry goat and reggae music on Sundays but I went to school with friends who played lacrosse, summer-ed in the Hamptons and introduced me to indie music- and John Mayer.
When Mayer dropped Room for Squares, he became a staple in my fold out CD case. His lyrics were detailed and lush. I mean who says things like “I love the shape you take while crawling to the pillowcase.” He could play guitar like nobody’s business (fast forward to his riffing to “Human Nature” at MJ’s memorial service). To this day, there are few artists who can cover classics like Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” and make them new again while simultaneously hopping on new joints and making them hot (see his collab with Wale on “Letters”).
John Mayer has been sampled by Kanye and Common, been featured on tracks with Alicia and was even background music to the infamous Merwin 1st season split on Mara Broc Akil’s The Game. Besides Memphis’ own Justin Timberlake and Coldplay lead singer, Chris Martin, there have not been too many white boys who hip-hop embraced. And now two weeks into black history month, I find myself sitting here asking the question- how, Mr. Mayer, how did you screw this up?
Within hours of his Playboy interview going online, John Mayer got subjected to a twitter scolding like I have not seen since Chris Matthews forgot Barack was black (that was just two weeks ago you say? Yes. My point exactly.) In the now notorious (no Biggie pun intended) interview for the March issue of Playboy, John Mayer talks in detail about his relationship with Jen Aniston, Jessica Simpson (whom he calls “sexual napalm”), his addiction to porn and then the two topics that have lead to the “John-Mayer-is-a-secret-racist” charge: 1. having a hood pass and 2. having a “Benetton heart” and a “David Duke d*ck.”
On being asked how it feels to have a hood pass, Mayer said,
“…it’s sort of a contradiction in terms, because if you really had a hood pass, you could call it a nigger pass. Why are you pulling a punch and calling it a hood pass if you really have a hood pass? But I said, “I can’t really have a hood pass. I’ve never walked into a restaurant, asked for a table and been told, ‘We’re full.’”
Within hours, the star apologized for having used the N word, and was being hung out to dry by bloggers everywhere. I do not think that uttering the N-word makes you racist, but I do concur that John Mayer saying it did show ignorance and immaturity. As Dr. Mikhail Lubinasky, professor of psychology at University of Illinois said in his Psychology Today piece, “Mayer took a lot of heat for the N-word, and rightly so. One of the ways that our racial climate has changed is that young white people are much more cavalier about using the N-word than they were 10 years ago. This, despite the fact that the NAACP took the highly unusual step of burying the word back in 2007.”
Also Mayer got lit up by Talib Kweli, ?uestlove from The Roots, Joell Ortiz and Noreaga via beef tweets. Most of the backlash to him using the word, I have to say was deserved. White people, especially famous white people, should know by now that if you use a racial slur, term or reference- you will be put on blast. It’s just the way it is- ask Harry Reid.
However, what bothered me the most in from this whole debacle was the apparently shocked outrage from black women, notably Holly Robinson Peete, over Mayer’s comments on his lack of interracial relationships. When asked by the Playboy writer, “Do black women throw themselves at you?” (which by the way is such an oddball question for any smart journalist to be asking, but whatev…) Mayer responded:
“I don’t think I open myself to it. My dick is sort of like a white supremacist. I’ve got a Benetton heart and a fuckin’ David Duke cock. I’m going to start dating separately from my dick.”
Mayer goes on to talk about how hot he thinks Holly Robinson Peete, Karyn Parsons and Kerry Washington all are. While this (like most of his interviews have been) is an example of TMI, TMI, TMI — I am simply not outraged by Mayer’s comment. I also don’t think that as Peete does that John Mayer has “hurt the feelings of black women everywhere.” My feelings are not hurt. I take no offense to John Mayer’s d*ck having a split personality. I don’t. So what, he hasn’t dated a black girl before, and he thinks Kerry Washington is “superhot”. Shoot, I do too. What Mayer’s comments on interracial dating reveal is not ignorance, it is a truth that many people share.
Yes, my president is black, but by no means is our country post-racial. Sorry, ladies and gents. It’s true. Americans have grown in their tolerance, but there is a big gap between acceptance and practice. As part of their 2010 research on the Millennial generation, The Pew Research Center found that when surveyed 9 in 10 18-29 year olds say they would be fine with a family member marrying outside of their race. However, on the doing part Americans have a lot more difficulty. In a study on Interracial Dating, the Sociology Department monitored the habits of online daters. In the discussion of the results of their study, Sociologists Cynthia Feliciano and Belinda Robnett write: “Among daters with stated racial preferences, white men are more likely to exclude blacks as possible dates, while white women are more likely to exclude Asians.”
This news is not a surprise to anyone who walked down the crowded sidewalk of any US city. While we have come a long way as a nation in our views on race, we still date, for the most part, by the tribe we know.
While living in London, I was taken aback by the number of interracial couples I saw just walking from my flat to the tube station. I grew up in a majority black city and attended a primarily white school. But rarely did I see those two worlds collide. For most of my friends black or white, an interracial relationship was a rare occurrence. Not because I roll with racists of all shapes and sizes but simply because while I have many white male friends who find me attractive and vice versa- a relationship does not just happen because two people find each other attractive. In fact, if my relationships with some smart, successful, strong, black men have taught me anything, it is that relationships based on raw physical and sexual attraction alone do not stand a chance.
I am hard pressed to go through a month where I don’t come across a doom and gloom single black female story where I read the line, “I’m not attracted to white boys” or “White men don’t want to date us” or the classic “…but what I really want is a black family.” These are not outlandish statements, they are just the voices of different black women speaking their truth. But I wonder, are these the reasons why we- — (not just black women), but all people search for love within a given parameter? Not everyone ends up with their Barack or their Robin Thicke, or their Gabriel Aubrey for that matter (aka Halle Berry’s baby daddy for those who didn’t know). But as such gorgeously unique creatures, I have to believe that the love we find will be rare as well. It is scary and beautiful to think that the love the creator intends for us might not look like what we have been looking for ourselves.
So ladies, stop filtering out the ones you are not sure of from your search. Narrowing your search can mean limiting your own possibilities. Love comes in all shades. And if John Mayer’s mess proves anything, it’s that all men black, white or caublasian are prone to stupidity and misjudgment.