Posted on February 4, 2019

Dating While Black: An Open, Honest Discussion About Black Love and Relationships

Charmaine Noronha, Huffington Post, January 29, 2019


The buzz of a razor in action is drowned out by the crowd that has packed the Hair Play Salon to riff about Black love, honesty and hope when it comes to dating and relationships.

“The typical girl just wants the hottest guy. Most women want the bad boy, they want the guy who’s getting all the girls,” says barber Damien Samuels, much to the dismay of many of the women who have braved the cold to share their trials of dating while Black.

“What he’s saying is right, there are some girls who want to be the matey, who don’t want to be the wifey,” says attendee Shevonne Chin. “Some women like that role.”

“The problem is that Black women are miserable,” Samuels chimes in, inciting even more teeth-kissing and hissing from the participants.


“We get this all the time — we’re told we’re miserable when we’re asking for respect. As Black women, if Black men don’t respect or support us, no one else will,” says another attendee, speaking over the others fighting to say their piece.


The barbershop-based banter is a primer for this weekend’s The Journey to Black Liberation Symposium at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. Brandon Hay, the founder of the Black Daddies Club, who hosted the discussion and is co-curating the symposium, will moderate the “Black People Being Honest: A Conversation Around Monogamy, Polyamory and Black Love” talk on Saturday.

HuffPost Canada spoke to a few of the barbershop attendees to get their take on dating while Black, and what brought them to the discussion.


Where do you think this difficulty when it comes to dating stems from?


In the Black culture, someone might say, “I’m down for you.” Then OK, put in the work, show it. We date so passive-aggressively. And because our patience is so short, if one thing is wrong, we lose interest. We don’t know unconditional love. As soon as something goes wrong, we’re out.

Do you think there are challenges to dating specific to the Black community?

We got to step back and realize what’s happened to the Black community. Our history. If you’re looking at individuals who have been disconnected from their past, you need to have an understanding of yourself before you can have a relationship with someone else. For Black men, they may have never witnessed love. I never really witnessed love growing up, my parents were always fighting. Luckily, my friends showed me love. I didn’t really know what love was until I started reading and educating myself.

Can things change when it comes to dating while Black? And if so, how?

{snip} Men are known as aggressive, threatening. Black women are (known as) miserable, as you’ve heard in tonight’s discussion. {snip}

As a society becomes more multicultural, we gotta remember the struggle of our forefathers. That can never be erased. There are still a lot of stereotypes out there. The Black culture doesn’t unite. That is what has to change.

Charmaine Noronha Chevonne Chin speaks up.


I think Black love is an anomaly, it’s not the norm. And it’s unfortunate that everyone here is looking for love, but they don’t know how to find it. We’re all looking for love, we’re talking about love, but yet we can’t connect with the very people who we want it from. We’re hurting.

Why is Black love an anomaly?

Because it’s harder for us to connect. The stigma of the bad boy exists in our community. You might want that but it’s not practical to build a life around. So, you want what someone else has, but you’re not thinking about all the other pieces that come with it. We glorify the bad boy culturally. We even have a term for it: gyalis. Can a gyalis be changed? If you grow up with having three, four, five girls, how do you change?

How do things change, then?

We have to take ownership over our actions. If someone’s saying he’s married and women are still throwing themselves at him, we have to take ownership for that, because they can’t cheat if they don’t have anyone to cheat with. And he has to have a reaction if he has a woman on his arm. Whatever his reaction is, I have to base my reaction on that. If he has a girlfriend and tells me so, I can either say yes or no. But we have to be upfront about things.

Are people talking about these things outside of organized discussions like tonight?

Absolutely not. They’re telling you what you need to know at that given time. In love and life, is it ever fair? Somebody’s got to compromise and somebody’s got to lead. You have to choose if you want to be the compromising one, or do you want to be the one who leads?


Are there dating issues specific to the Black community?

One of the big ones is the stereotype of the Angry Black Woman. The Black woman can show no emotion. If she’s not happy, be careful, she’s angry, she has an issue, she’s not docile. Watch out! Unfortunately, it’s a preconceived idea that hinders us. More and more Black women are well educated, and Black men don’t necessarily feel like we need them. We have to adapt ourselves to 2019, we are capable financially, emotionally, to be as competent as men, if not more, but we still desire emotional, mental support. It doesn’t take anything away from who I am and what I stand for. We need to create a better understanding of our needs and who we are.