Will's Dating History Is Problematic, But Not For The Reasons You Think

by Ashley Rey
ABC/Craig Sjodin

Rachel Lindsay’s Bachelorette season has been full of surprises. From witnessing the peace that comes with letting a good “Whaboom” off your chest, to getting a taste of what racism and manipulation can do to a black man’s character, the episodes thus far have led to a whirlwind of emotions — both high and low. Most recently, a contestant admitted Rachel is the first black woman he’s ever "dated." With the cast being predominantly white, this comment doesn’t sound like that big of a deal. But once Will — a 28-year-old fine black man hailing from Miami — began to explain his reasoning as to why he’s only ever dated white women, plenty of antennas raised across social media, including mine. And I’ll be the first to admit that I think Will’s dating history is a problem, but not for the reasons you may think.

According to Will, his dating history is totally reflective of his upbringing. During part two of episode five, the sales manager explained to fellow castmate Eric, and later Rachel, that he grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood and school district. And as a result, he's only ever dated white women. To someone who's never experienced being a minority in an all-white town, this may sound like a viable excuse. But because Rachel, as well as myself, had similar experiences growing up, we weren't buying it.

Just like Will, Rachel also found herself going to schools where there was a shortage of black guys to choose from. Yet, when she spoke of her own dating history, it turns out that Rachel has only really ever dated black men. And I can say that from my own experience, I've only ever dated black men as well. Out of about 13 secondary schools I've attended, about 98 percent of them were predominantly white. And the neighborhoods that housed these schools were obviously reflective of that. So yes — I, too, grew up in places to where sometimes I was one of 100 black students in the entire school district. And just like Rachel, I've still only really ever dated black men.

To me, Will's excuse for not dating black women felt like just that — an excuse. Will clearly has a preference for white women over black women. And while, as a black woman, I find the thought alone a little off-putting, you can't fault someone for liking who they like. But instead of owning his preference, Will deflected his reasoning onto the environment he grew up in. It was a cowardly response, and that's the issue.

A black man dating white women isn't a problem, but it does come with some hefty baggage I'd be remiss not to mention. Interracial dating in the black community can be seen as anti-blackness, or a result of self-hatred for some. For me, the decision to date outside your race should boil down to chemistry. However, that's not always the case. From my experience, whenever a black man in my family dated or procreated with a white woman, it seemed to be to obtain some sort of status, or value that they felt they couldn't achieve with a black woman by their side. They wanted to have mixed babies with lighter skin or "pretty hair" — as if doing the same with a black woman would lead to less attractive offspring.

That's not to say that explanation applies to all other interracial relationships. Love is love, and if the love of someone's life just so happens to be of another race, who is anyone else to judge? It's only an issue when someone dates outside their race — more specifically, black men choosing not to date black women — and intentionally deprecates the value of women who look like their mother, sister, aunts, etc., because they don't uphold a certain standard of beauty. That's a form of self-hatred, and I'm not here for any of it.

ABC/Bob Leverone

That's not to say that Will's dating history has anything to do with not appreciating his lineage or roots. Only he can speak to exactly why he's only ever dated white women. After all, everyone has a preference. But Will choosing not to own up to his, no matter how controversial it may seem, is where my beef lies.