‘Once he get on, he’s gonna leave your ass for a white girl’

Posted by: Mlilo Mpondo | Date: November 13, 2013 | 26 Comments

Like many I have had my fair share of torment where beauty is concerned, but the penultimate was exacerbated by a gorgeous white girl at junior school. Zara, blonde hair and brown-eyed. Deity to all the boys in the seventh grade and angel to all our fifth-grade class teachers. Everybody loved Zara and most girls wanted to be Zara. I liked her and she enjoyed my company. But my mother ruined our platonic interaction by buying me a miniature Zara for my birthday, her name was Barbie. Barbie, blonde-haired and blue-eyed, every young girl’s idea of beauty. With Barbie, Zara was no longer a girl left on the school playground at recess. I went home and there she was, with a positively sinister glare plastered to her face. Patiently awaiting my return from school, fixed with the facade of a smile, as though she knew that in her R85.99 plastic DNA my day-dreams of perfection came to life. My mother had unknowingly made Zara my muse and aspiration.

In varsity there were many versions of Zara. But in varsity white girls became the insatiable pursuit of black men that had apparently grown weary of tormented black females and their perpetual battles with self-affirmation. This was a generation of black men that carried with them a defiant sense of youth. Minds concerned with reclaiming identities previously stolen from their fathers. Men who lived their lives as though their lives belonged to them alone. Black men who wore no stains of the past, who were eager to separate themselves from it. These men reclaimed public spaces built for their very exclusion. The reclamation of these gentrified spaces however was not limited to the city centre; it included the most valued esteem of white men. A deity that had for years been forbidden to black men, a deity that exemplified the epitome of grace, the quintessential of delicate femininity. This was a delicacy that black men were sworn to never know, the immorality act made very sure of that.

Where I was likened to routine sermons at corner churches on Sunday afternoons, white women had become Meccas of higher spiritual awakenings. As soon as she arrived the status of my natural hair was transformed from proud to unkempt, so I, eager to please my man, went and got my hair relaxed. But it didn’t grow long enough so I went and got a weave installed. But this still wasn’t good enough because brothers couldn’t run their fingers through my scalp the way they did with white girls without complaining about the tracks. Even my model C grasp of English was discarded, when all along black sisters from the townships were ridiculed for their vernacular-accented Bantu English, this didn’t seem to warrant the same reaction when the English language was spoken in a barely audible European accent, I guess vernacular just doesn’t get dicks quite as hard.

Sure enough as soon as black men were made aware of their freedom, they pursued white women. I had been replaced as the opening act and headliner, my fiery independence was no longer revered and was instead put aside to make room for a woman that I was told didn’t bitch half as much as I do. These women appeared to glorify black men’s struggles with masculinity, while I apparently was a constant reminder of it. I echoed the melancholy of mothers angry at the world and the men that had left them in it with only squalor and charred paraffin lamps as company. As soon as these men learned to dream beyond wooden shacks and rat-infested street drains, white women became the embodiment of triumph and victory. The whole thing is that redundant.

Agreed, freedom of choice is composite of a free society, but somehow I doubt this is what Martin Luther King Jr meant when he said he had a dream, or when Thabo Mbeki told the world he was an African.

I don’t know much about white women, but I know plenty about black. Black women still gotta fight to love themselves, still gotta fight to own the sound of their own voices not only in the boardroom but in the bedroom too. Since being black and having a vagina was made synonymous with bitch or a nag, bitter or pregnant at fourteen, some of us still scratch at our own skins to get the stains of our own blackness out.

It just seems like being black and being woman is reason enough for all of the world’s woes to come resting at your bedside. I’ve aborted fatherless babies that I couldn’t bring into this world, they required too much love, love I had to dig up in rot and filth for my own damn self. Yet still I wear the stench as though it were a second skin. I have worn many skins over the years recreating myself to be whichever version of woman black men wanted of me. I have been the care-giver, cook, cleaner — ironing creases out of worn shirts so immaculately as though his very masculinity were stitched in between the weary cotton threads of faded blue. And when he wanted a freak, a freak is who I was, sucking dicks behind public urinals as though my very affirmation relied on the way he said my name when he came. I have been the educated chasing after a degree and a title because smart is what he liked and because my validation always depended on what he liked.

I have straightened my hair, worn make-up, lost weight, bleached my skin. I guess I’ve been getting “how to be a white girl” lessons since I was a child.

Our homes need bricks and concrete, our daughters need to know that strength lives in a man even when it is not punched onto their faces or forced into their wombs. Our sons need to be taught that fathers can exist in homes without broken doors or hearts. And our women, we need these men to remind us of our beauty when we have forgotten it, as we often do. We need our men to rebuild the homes that so many of them have left broken.

But we can only hope, because like Tracee Ellis Ross said, “once he get on, he gon’ leave yo’ ass fo’ a white girl”.

Image – AFP


  • G

    Strong article this!!!

  • White Guy

    Hey Mlilo

    You seem to make a lot of sweeping generalisations, and then blaming black men, white women, and society for your personal choices. I have a lot of black friends, and some like white women, some like black women, some just like women. (some like men, but that is another conversation)

    My point is that you don’t have to change who you are to attract someone who is looking for someone else. That is a bad idea from the start and is sure to lead to personal disappointments. If you don’t like your hair relaxed, then live your natural hair with pride.

    You cant control who other people are attracted to, but what you can do is be the best you that you can be. Find the you that you are comfortable with. That way when you find someone who is attracted to you, its the real you, not some bleached out, hair relaxed, contrived parody that you feel you should be to try and chase a very small slice of the black male population.

    You are beautiful (from the profile pic), you are smart, and there are many fish in the sea. Don’t worry about a few guys that don’t want you, I can guarantee you that there are many MANY more guys that will be attracted to you, for the right reasons, and that will allow you to be yourself.

    Reclaim your own space. be yourself and be yourself with pride. If that happens to be with a weave, or even no hair, it matters not. As long as it is your personal choice, and you are doing it to affirm yourself, then you cant go wrong.

    Good luck

  • Siyasanga Nkata

    This is just the kind of dialogue we need. I love this. Thanks for the honesty!!!

  • Lindi

    Good article . However, here’s the bigger picture _ if they leave you cause they think white, or any other race is better, then we dealing with serious low self esteem issues. They simply don’t understand.

  • Azola

    Very good writing. A very strong article. So true and a good read for every black woman.

  • Nomfundo

    ‘Nuf said. Good point well made

  • http://www.dkworx.co.za Ayanda

    The power of knowledge and the instruments of the machine- the media, popular culture and capital created, sustained and continue to perpetuate unrealistic, western and superficial definitions and standards of beauty. I do especially appreciate the gender perspective seeing that women were ‘triple oppressed’ in SA. We live in interesting times were globalisation has pierced almost all aspects of our, and our children’s’, lives. These seeds of destruction where being black, and more especially a woman, is synonymous with sexual immorality, inferiority and objects to be dominated- need to be killed. Black woman you are still on your own, do it for you already.

    I still believe that we needed, and perhaps still do need, to psychologically and intellectually deconstruct and reconstruct new identities post ’94.South African.To have your dignity, essence and soul eroded over centuries needs a collective effort on the scale, if not more, of the TRC. A lack of confidence and belief in black women starts at the top and goes all the way down in SA. The ANC WL says, in 2013, that SA is not ready for a woman president- that leaves me dumbfounded. It’s like I hear; ‘SA is not ready for a black president.’ With all of that said, interestingly frank, thought provocative and fitting article on this 19th year since our liberation.

    • Ranks

      Very true indeed. The ANCWL analogy you bring is a very good one. Its all aspects of a black woman’s (and man’s) life that has been affected.

  • DarkVoid

    Your statements I assume are meant to paint a single sweeping picture to maximise the effect. So, let’s respond similarly. The struggle is not necessarily between and black man and a black woman. This play extends to simply, men and women. I have dated. The insecurities that come with being a woman are universal, not restricted to the black woman. The level of obsession with the way you look reaching a point where it’s off-putting. I’m not talking about the time taken to do oneself up to go out, I’m talking about self hate because this is not that way, no matter how happy your man says he is. You man wouldn’t be with you if he was overly worried about the shape, size and orientation of your breasts; The curve of your hips and even the straightness of your hair. My love of hair is for natural hair. I love the loose curl in a girl as much as I like the shortly cut. The straight hair, varying curls and even dreaded. There is a difference between comparing your man to another, especially an ex and helping him elevate to his highest. Another ability lost, incapable of tending to him. He’s not a girlfriend, he won’t act or react in the same way and you cannot expect to read him the same way. Neurotic grades of jealousy, hounding, disrespect and virulent emasculation when you do not understand or accept his way of thought. He is not a girlfriend. Appreciation, for the little things. Affection being used as an instrument of war and instead of as a tool to build. The need to dominate. Being a gaping hole that takes and takes, never giving. There is only so much we can give, before we shutdown and move along.

  • CuriousDarkie

    I’m in two minds about this one. It seems to me this column comes from a place of anger at one black man who left you for a white woman. Sweetheart, he left you for a woman. That she happened to be white is, well, a technitality. Don’t allow the Tracee Ellis Ross quotes of the world turn in you into one of those bitter women who hate women because of the shortcomings of the bad apples in the crate that is the community of black men. I know all about being told that beauty is anything but the natural state of your hair, the shape of your nose, the size of your ass (they don’t call it the African trademark for nothing), and remember that time your mom told you to stop playing in the sun cos you were getting “too dark”? Mine did that too. But that’ll never stop until YOU decide you’re good enough. And when that happens, you’ll stop needing a man to remind you of your beauty, simply because you’ll see it. A man will be attracted to your assertiveness and resilience, and thank the fool who left you, because had he put up with what he called “bitching and nagging”, he’d never have the chance to love you. He’ll love your natural hair, your flat nose, and especially your African trademark. He might even be white. And that won’t matter to you, or him.

  • Mlilo

    I appreaciate all of the comments made. true there are many generalisations in the article used to drive a point, but because these are generalisations does not make these statements untrue, If iv said it trust that i know more than two handfuls of people including myself that have gone through it.
    Yes I have spoken about many social tools that perpetuate inadequacies but that was not the crux of the article either
    Past everything though, the last paragraph sums up the entire piece. The piece has absoloutley nothing to do with white women, hence I havent investigated their point of view. The piece spoke to the state of black men and women and their interaction, and how flawed I find that this interaction has become.
    Most importantly though the piece is dedicated to rebuilding the black household because only in this space can the peoples i refer to thrive.
    And how I ask can we rebuild strength and pride in this space, when the men are so eager to leave.
    I respect that some may not agree but I hope that this makes sense

    • ProudAfricanMan

      I have to give you some props for your article and the way you wrote it. Understanding that the ideals that you are stating, its not really about the Men who are looking for white women but the degenerated relationships that Black Women have with their men. African peoples lifestyles have changed from the past, with them adjusting to the new found freedom, it has caused a problem. Most African males struggle most of their lives trying to get the money because without the money, there is no honey whether black or white. During these times they have to deal with a whole lot of issues from black women, that when they get the money, they want something better than what he has been dealing with. Many factors influence our relationships, but unfortunately i dont have time to state them all. But i am a Black Man who loves his Black Women

  • White Boy

    “We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is your only ruler, sovereign. The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind” Marcus Garvey, October 1937

    • free spirit

      White boy, I commend the objectivity of your contribution…to that I can only say society n humans is prone to constant evolution. This evolution is not only genetic, but mental. Men n women need to be free to pursue the object of their affection irrespective of this person’s race.
      In another connection, mlilo u focused on black men apparently eager to have something they had been forbade, with the argument dat I cud be a self esteem issue caused by Years of marginalization, and seemingly nagging nature of the black woman…in this regard I wonder what is your position with regard to black women who wudnt settle for anyone who is short of white pigmentation?
      In my humble opinion, when all is said and done, weave, afro, short hair, black or white skin, LOVE should lead the way, because God is love

  • Sibusisu

    The more important fact is not so much about race but about adherence to patronizing and patriarchal traditions and culture inherited through the tribal system and still given far far too much importance by the average black person.

  • Isabella vd Westhuizen

    What about all those Swedish and German Men who cannot wait to get to Africa to meet African women. This sort of thing is a bit pointless as to be honest it cuts both ways.

    • WhiteMan

      1. This is not a white against black thing.
      2. Those european men are looking for an experience, not for a partner.

  • Ms Chatz

    I get it, the dysfunctional black family. I am personally a product of it, second generation. In the mist of all this uncertainty of where this important institution, “the black family” will be in future. We all dependent on it and exist within it.
    I have seen a change, a dawn of a new horizon. I can feel the promise of better days and years to come.
    I am a black single woman, mother to a boy, a boy with an illusive father figure. So ye, we both exist in a realm riddled by dysfunction. Still i’m cant help but be excited by the fact that black men,yes this generation. They have started a wonderful thing. they love the notion of family and existing in a home. Please do not let their display of strength were our fathers have failed, go unnoticed. They bravely show love, to all women including our self loathing sisters of color.
    I do not undermine the work we all have to do, as ladies(all races). Starting with myself. What i’m taking from all you good people is: i own everything about me especially my mind. I choose to fill my mind and my space with good things.

  • Arthur

    Oh, OK. But then there are the Kenyan girls (black, of course)… woowee.

    I am married to one. me, a white SA male.

    Color has naught to do with it.

  • New Kid

    I have thought about the article and my personal choices. The first issue foremost, I have dated across colours. And what I found more interesting was that those who came from well-off backgrounds were easier to relate with, we had similar interests, and shared more than just views. I found that it’s less to do with insecurities and/or low self esteem from African man, its about the person. That’s pretty much it. I don’t know why it should matter whether she is black or white as they call them.

  • ian shaw

    If a black man wants a white girl with chopstick legs, flat chest, non-existent bottom and freckles, then he’d deserve them. To me a woman has to be femininely well-padded and black women come closer to this ideal.

  • Khanyisa

    This is a very strong article and very true. These are things that need more attention to get people talking. I feel that there’s still a lot of healing that we all need as a society . The struggles of a black person worldwide need not only be addressed but also be dealt with in such a way that brings a sense of being resolved.

  • yellowbone

    The piece is well written and evokes a necessary debate. I lived in Europe for a long time and I felt the rejection being considered to be not black enough for the white men over there. my sisters who were much darker than me were appreciated by the white man and were considered to be “exotic” wild and fun women from Africa. I on the other hand am also an African woman who is light in complexion – what they now call a “yellow bone”. The black men were not interested because I was too black, the white men were not interested because I was too fair. it is the responsibility of each and every individual to love themselves for who and what they are. I have to admit its not easy when you are living in a society that makes you feel that you don’t quiet belong (at least in terms of finding a partner).

  • Wendy

    Great article chick – well written.
    It doesn’t matter how much you may try , there are certain things that anyone who has never been a black woman, would never understand, until they stand and walk in a black woman’s’ shoes. Hence, they may never truly ‘GET’ the crux of this article. Yes broad generalization is there – but one has to look at the state of black households and communities to see that these generalizations are some what true.

  • Tsholo2


    good article. i think it would be a great start to study the aesthetics of freedom and black women. in the US at any conference on african-american studies the hottest session/panel was black men and black women relations. Damn, all other sessions were empty. this panel/session was always packed, very packed. the point is that this is not a south african phenomenon, it is probably diasporic. racial oppression followed by ‘liberation’ brings to the fore amazing contraditions. anyway, a good start.

  • WhiteMan

    Your article was very powerful. I liked it. I am saddened by the fact that women in general are battling to appreciate how beautiful they are, even women that fit the stereo typical image of beauty. The reality is that women, even average women, can drive men crazy with their beauty. Women and men are equally to blame for this lack of self esteem among women. I think it starts with respect. People just don’t respect other people enough and we all end up feeling a little threatened by that.