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Native Men Dating White Women: You Got a Problem With That?

Simon Moya-Smith
1/26/14

He limped into town in the middle of the night, beaten and bitter. He’s an asshole, really, and a good person.

We need people like Andrew. He’s the kind of mouth and muscle you need in Little Italy, New York, in December when some sour grifter attempts to fleece you for the cost of a cheap “I (Heart) New York” sweater. Or when a used car salesman tries to sell you a hoopty hidden under a coat of fresh paint. Yes, that’s when Andrew’s kind comes in handy. His tongue pierces and his eyes burn, and he knows when to turn it on. But he’s also the kind to crawl into town unannounced with hardly a dollar to his name and a heart so obviously broken that all he can talk about is how good things are for him lately. Which is, of course, a lie. Yes, Andrew—he’s an asshole, and a good person.

So it was recently that I’d received a text from the drifter, the rolling stone, late in the night as I slept lightly, listening to the clacking of naked tree branches violently snapping against one another just outside my window during a windstorm. “I’m in town, man,” he wrote. “Where are you? Come out. Play.” It was 2 a.m., so I ignored him, rolled over and listened to more branches breaking until the sun bled through the blinds.

6 PM, FOLLOWING DAY: Al Sharpton goes off like a grandfather clock, booming and bellowing about 20 yards away from my desk at the other end of this studio in Rock Center. He’s at it again, reeling about the bigotry and arrogance of the GOP, of Boehner and Ryan and other tea-type tarts. He cut short his didactic screed today to shamelessly pitch his latest book. I scan the newsroom to see if anyone else can mouth his scripted sermon, which has, at this point, grew so hackneyed that it’s like a good song gone bad with repetition.

By 8 p.m. I’d grown seriously restless. Too much ugly news coming through the wire, and far too much Sharpton. Indeed. I’ll meet Andrew here soon, I thought. Kill two birds – meet him for a drink and forget all about the maniacal religious who light up shopping malls with bullets & bombs in the name of their God, or maybe I’d rather expel the image of that dog, chained to a fence, left in the bitter cold. No food. No water. All the while his fat owner sits naked on a soiled recliner, ignoring the whimper coming from outside. …

Yes, the wire was foul, and I needed to take my mind off it, at least for a night. We’ll hit it again in the morning, I thought. Report the shady – it hates the light.

I flung open the lounge door and found Andrew at the far end of the dim bar with two drinks and a plate of questionable food, laughing loudly like he’s known to do, and with a blond woman leaning into his shoulder, grinning, twisting his hair with her finger.

“Khola!” Andrew shouted as I approached.

“Hey, man.”

“Do you want anything to drink? It’s on me!” he said.

“It’s cool. I can get it.”

“This is Erica,” Andrew said, gripping the lady at her waist. “Erica, meet Simon.”

“Hi. Andrew’s been telling me about you,” she said.

“It’s all true,” I quipped. “Even the bad stuff.”

“Angie was here earlier,” Andrew said, shouting over the blare of the muzak. “She had a drink then left. She seemed pissed.”

“Why?”

“You know why,” he said, quickly glancing at Erica.

“Ah. Yes,” I said. “That.”

Angie, the Apache, an old friend of ours, doesn’t approve of Native men dating white women, so when she showed up to the lounge that night, Andrew said, she quickly ordered a drink, banged her glass against his with a welcome-to-town, ignored Erica, used the bathroom, then boomed out the door.

“It was quick,” Andrew said gruffly. “I had hoped she’d stay longer. I just don’t know what her problem is.”

“Yes, you do,” I said. “She’s told you before,” I said. “Back home, in Colorado, when you showed up at the March Pow Wow with what’s-her-face.”

At this point, Erica, wiggy and rheumy-eyed, was having her own conversation with a couple standing directly behind her, vying for the attention of the bartender, leaving Andrew and I to chat on our own for a bit. In an instant, I saw in Andrew’s black eyes that a heavy thought clicked somewhere in his skull. This is when he went off the rails into a mad rant:

“You know what, Simon, the heck with her!” he yelled. “Who is she to judge me about who I date? About what I do? Dating Native women is fine and all, but goddamn it’s incestuous! Often enough the chick’s already taken, and has been since, like, high school. And shit, man, it goes the other way, too. I bet you the women say the same thing about us. Some dude they like has already dated some friend or cousin of theirs, and they say, ‘That guy has, like, four kids,’ or something.”

This lovesick bastard, I thought. Somewhere someone had a grip on him. His mind was still with her, whoever she is, the heartbreaker.

Still, I don’t know how he came to town or on whose dime, and I sure as shit don’t know how he met Erica, but Andrew’s sudden arrival meant something seriously bad went down back home – something he needed to get far away from. And now here he is, in New York City, in body, but not mind, sitting at a seedy bar in the Upper West Side with a woman who’s, at the moment, not paying much attention to him, loudly damning the poor dating scene in Indian country, calling for more bad bar food, drinks and then asking me if he could spend the night at my place.

“Why don’t you date white women?” Andrew asked.

“I have,” I said. “I’ve written about it. You know that.”

“But you don’t prefer them,” he goaded.

“I’ve had bad experiences with their parents, mostly,” I said. “Ma & Pa can’t handle my opposition to Thanksgiving, (Abraham) Lincoln, blind American nationalism and all that jazz.”

“Bullshit!” Andrew exclaimed. “You’re an ass guy! Just admit it already!”

“I’ve never denied that, you shithead,” I said. “Yeah, I’m a curves guy, and keep your voice down.”

Andrew laughed heartily and turned his attention back to an unsteady Erica, so I called for the tab, paid for my drink, told Andrew to text me if he needed a place to crash, said, “Goodbye. Nice to meet you” to Erica, and then headed for the 1 train.

I didn’t hear from Andrew that night, and still haven’t. I assumed he stayed with Erica or begged Angie to let him sleep it off on her couch.

Oh well. Word is he’s home now, fat & happy and probably with somebody new. Good for him. Salud.

And the point of this piece is: don’t judge your friend’s date or preference or pals – or find yourself stuck in a newsroom-turned-studio with Al Sharpton at 6 p.m. in Midtown on a Monday night. These are all crippling things that will invariably warp your mind and chap your ass.

Now, I’m off to the gym. Snagging season is upon us. Cheers.

Simon Moya-Smith, Oglala Lakota, has a Master of Arts degree in journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He lives in New York City.
 

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montanamiddle's picture
I find it peculiar you express annoyance about Mr. Sharpton's preachy activism whilst you preach about wanting to essentially be the Native version of him; that is the oxymoron of a so-called "activist journalist." But that aside, I like the points made by the Andrew guy - although some girl left with my heart - but it comes down to a matter of personal preference. I prefer Native gals (with "curves," yes). Girls like Angie, however,are racist. Fun read!
montanamiddle
Jozi's picture
Had to laugh. Good article. Reminded me of the many times one of my nephews would tell me about the latest crush and my first question...who are her parents, as I quickly ran down the genealogy. HA! You're a good writer, keep it going!!
Jozi
Michael Madrid's picture
True love knows no bounds! My first wife was part Yaqui and part Mexican. We stayed married for ten years. My second wife (married 8 years after my divorce and having nothing to do with that divorce) is Italian. She was adopted by my mother in law while she was in Europe studying music. My wife was an Italian orphan born in northern Italy (near Venezia) and she is 11 years younger than I am. I was 30 when we met and she was only 19. I'm 60 now and we're still happily married. I've heard this complaint from various people of various ethnicity and I always ponder where it comes from. I'm NOT saying I'm too good for a Native women, nor am I saying Italian women are better than other women. Believing this amounts to asserting ethnic supremacy and what could be more offensive? Does it bother you to see a group of skinheads screaming "WHITE POWER?" Well, they're intent on keeping their race "pure" and insisting on Native/Native ONLY relationships amounts to the same thing.
Michael Madrid
lmann's picture
Your piece starts out witty, captivating; I wanna know where this path will lead. But then it crashes with the mention of Al Sharpton. It’s jarring and out of place. Your haughty depiction of his “didactic screed” devours the rest of your narrative. Now I want to know more about your view on Al. Are you saying Sharpton is wrong to fight against the bigotry in the Gop? Or are you positing it doesn’t exist? Either way, I’m not sure what the purpose was here but it seems grossly out of tune with an article declaring not to judge others.
lmann
nokomis's picture
Not interested in your style of writing or is this what they teach in journalism?
nokomis
Pelagia Johanna Maria Peil's picture
Yes i am white,Europeen.But was engaged to a Oglala SIOUX from Pine Ridge Reservation.Why? He was so all i want to find in a man. We where going to be together in dec 2011 and he had his tickets bought to fly over. I say was........he passed away on 12/15/2011...2 weeks before he would fly to me....leaving me defvastated behind.It was a heartattaque.
Pelagia Johanna...
Pelagia Johanna Maria Peil's picture
Yes i am white,Europeen.But was engaged to a Oglala SIOUX from Pine Ridge Reservation.Why? He was so all i want to find in a man. We where going to be together in dec 2011 and he had his tickets bought to fly over. I say was........he passed away on 12/15/2011...2 weeks before he would fly to me....leaving me defvastated behind.It was a heartattaque.
Pelagia Johanna...
Hannah Bowen's picture
Funny story but disappointing article; I thought it would have more to say on this subject. My fiance is Dine and I am curious about this. His family is great and are nothing but loving towards me ("when are you gonna give us some grandkids?" is pretty standard conversation.) But he has told me that some people are not as accepting, which I understand obviously, but I'm wondering how said people would react to our kids one day?
Hannah Bowen
andre's picture
I'm not sure just what their teaching at Columbia these days Simon, but your story is bouncing all over the place and laced with profanities. But many Natives men people date outside of their race. Some like diversity and others don't like strong Native women.
andre
Lauren RLauren's picture
Fell in love with a man from my Tribal Nation only to find his and my great gandmother were sisters. Tried to marry into my Tribe. We are too closely related. Dated several Natives Wampanoag;Passamaquady;Mohawk;Cheyenne; almost married a Navajo after three years together. Glad I didn't. The day after his best friend( my friend as well) had passed away we took a drive into the desert to get away. Do you know what he brought up that day in the desert? My blood quantum. Do you know how painful that was for me? That was his grief in the moment Not our friends death. Full blooded guys dating mixed Euro/Native ladies is an issue too. I was devastated on many levels that day but saw crystal clear for the first time just how mentally sick racism is from Red Nation and White Nation people alike. Our friend just died. That was his topic of concern. How I managed boarding at Indian College for 5 years was to keep my boarding room spotless like boot camp. You could spin a dime on my bed. Racism I think makes people feel guilty on some level. So instead of just dealing with their personal issues they look for reasons to justify targeting the victim of the racism. I endured allot of minimizing and marginalizing;basically being an outcast at Indian School. I figured if I kept my boarding room spotless for 5 years I could avoid being targeted or getting into trouble for anything under the sun via racism. Everyone always talked about my room.LOL. No one was insightful enough or compassionate enough to see that I did not live there. I slept there. Ate there. Earned one of my degrees there. But Rebecca. Her spirit . Absolutely did not live there. I am an enrolled Native but too white for most Native guys out here. Although I think my Navajo guy loved me the pressure was too much. That is ok. I have a beautiful home now. Go days without making the bed. Weeks without dusting. Dishes wait until night time and No one! No one! bothers me about my blood quantum in my home. It is ok to be Rebecca here. While my Navajo guy and other Native guys have fallen for me I believe the pressure to not date us is too much for them. My exhusband; father of my daughter (twenty years my senior) and a Viet Nam vet used to say I had the balls of a brass bull. I surely did back in my twenties and I still do at 45. If a Native man cannot handle the pressure of loving a light skin women he cannot. Myself as I have proven in my post never cared on a mind level at all what others ever thought of me. But on a heart level yeah things bother me. Some Native guys like Native chics. Some Native guys like white chics. I am both races a true mind bender for some.
Lauren RLauren