Am I Black Enough?

That is the question — one I’ve been asking myself for nearly my entire life.

Jeremy Helligar
5 min readFeb 18, 2022



“Can You Be Pro Black & Date Outside Your Race?”

I recently came across this question while conducting a routine Google search. It was posed in a title link to a YouTube video, and it got me thinking about my Blackness, in my own eyes and in the eyes of other people.

It wasn’t my first time down that road. As a Black man married to a White man, a Black man who dated predominantly White and Latino men in my single days, I’ve trod the path so many times my shoe prints must be tattooed onto the gravel. My trips down that rocky road to nowhere started eight years ago when I began writing about race and sexuality, with an emphasis on sexual racism. Sometimes I’ve been in the driver’s seat (personal growth requires uncomfortable reflection and exploration of subconscious biases and motivations), but just as often, I’ve been dragged along the gravel by commenters. They may question my Blackness because of the scarcity of Black guys in my dating past or because something I’ve written — typically race-related, even if only tangentially — has triggered them and sent them into fight mode.

Whenever the self-appointed arbiters of Blackness weigh in en masse, I feel as if my Black card has been revoked, or severely restricted. Maybe I never had one in the first place. My standing in the Black American community has been challenged since my family moved from the Virgin Islands to Florida in the early 1970s, and the kids in the Black neighborhood where we lived trained their scorn and ridicule on our Caribbean accents. The message: I didn’t talk right. I couldn’t be one of them.

Later, after I hit puberty, my lack of traditionally masculine qualities made my Blackness debatable among some of my Black classmates and in the Black churches I grew up attending. My middle school years, in particular, played out a lot like the middle section of Moonlight, in which the Black kids at school taunted the main character mercilessly, presumably because he set off their gaydar. (If he wasn’t man enough, I didn’t have a chance — or maybe the bar was just a lot higher after the ’80s.)

I came to Black activism somewhat later in life (in the last decade or so), but…



Jeremy Helligar

Brother Son Husband Friend Loner Minimalist World Traveler. Author of “Is It True What They Say About Black Men?” and “Storms in Africa”


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