She told me she's noticed many of the pro-"swirl" websites seem to be pushing one message: "What is right is white." But Butler says there is more of a conversation to be had.
"Are we going to start talking about some of the issues going on in America, why there's not so many black female couplings ... We'll just go to Europe and find a white guy.'" "That's not what we're saying," Weaver told me via Skype from Rome.
Several added that they tell women to "choose character over color." But it's difficult to scroll through picture after picture of beaming-black-woman-with-smiling-white-man and not feel that interracial relationships are being idealized, rather than simply celebrated, an experience discomfiting enough that it has at times made me question my own relationship with a white man.
"Once those images are posted and once they're permeating society, then a certain kind of picture is presented and reinforced about who black women should be with," Tiya Miles told me over the phone.
"I have done a lot of research and talked to a lot of women in this country, and what I'm hearing is: You can't find dates, you can't find mates, you can't find husbands."Weaver, a statuesque black woman flanked by two chic employees on either side, is all long lithe limbs and wavy hair. "What you gotta do is open your mind." Weaver's not alone in her exhortation to black American women.
Her presence, despite the poor video quality, commands the screen."And I kind of thought about, like, well why is that? The idea that we should travel abroad — particularly to Europe — to find love has a home in online discussion groups, travel websites, blogs, and Facebook pages, all of which earnestly and enthusiastically encourage us to "swirl," i.e., date non-black men (the term is designed to evoke a half-chocolate, half-vanilla soft-serve).
But I am also a European Union citizen, born in Hungary to a Hungarian mother and Nigerian father, and my optimism was tempered by the reality of my experiences living and traveling in Europe, experiences that taught me I was both Other and object.
As much as I wanted to believe in sites that told me differently — that men across the pond were just waiting for my arrival — I felt like I also knew better.
Kim Butler, a data editor from California who moved to Germany in 2011, pushed back on the argument that Europe is a solution to black female singlehood on her blog last year.
The practical, not the political, was certainly the driving force for Weaver when she founded Black Girl Travel.
The company, which was originally named Bella Italia before expanding to other countries, arranges tours for groups ranging from fewer than 10 to over 70.
Throughout American history black women were either desexualized or hypersexualized according to the whims and anxieties of whites in control of their images.
In America, with the exceptions of nearly exclusively light-skinned celebrities, to desire a black woman is to reach your hand into the bottom of the beauty standard barrel.