Monday, April 11, 2011

It's Not as Black and White as You Think (Interracial Relationships)

By a large margin, my most popular blog post is "Reasons to Date a Black Man". Many people presumed that I have an unwavering loyalty and dedication to dating and/or marrying a Black man. These people are mistaken.

Every woman (and man) has a list of things they consider important when choosing their significant other. Some things are requirements (a desire to have children) and others are preferences (a college degree). For example, I prefer men taller than me (notice I said taller than me, not necessarily tall). I prefer men who like to read books. I strongly prefer men who are willing to adopt at least one child. This doesn't mean I won't end up married to a man who's 5'7" and can't make it through a magazine article.

An Analogy
Think of it like this. You see a notice for your dream job, you apply and you're in the last interview. The pay is more than you've ever made, the hours are flexible, the commute is steps from your house, and you're passionate about the company's mission. Your potential supervisor is just about to offer you the job when she says, "I hope this doesn't deter you, but we don't offer direct deposit." Well.... the job meets all of your other preferences, but unfortunately they won't do direct deposit. Are you going to turn the job down? Of course not! It's just a preference, not a requirement. And that's how I see race/ethnicity when it comes to what I'm looking for in a significant other.

For some, a specific race is a requirement. That's fine; as my most recent post suggests, I advocate for everyone finding their own path to happiness. However, I do think there are a few facts that generally should be acknowledged that may allow people to see interracial relationships in a different perspective:

1. Humans made the whole idea of race up. That's right. I don't have nearly enough time (or intelligence) to fully explain this here, but I encourage you to research the history of race. In the meantime, I'll tell you this. Race is a social construct, which is a fancy way of saying that some people decided that a good way to figure out 'who was who' was to create categories based around phenotypic traits with influence from people's nationality, culture, and social practices. The DNA within any racial group is more diverse than the DNA of a randomly selected population. Would you really decide who you want to spend the rest of your life with based on the thinking of guys who thought the world was flat?

2. No one really fits into any one racial category. There's a reason why people are a rainbow of shades but only four major racial groups. I'm sure somewhere there exists someone whose bloodline is Irish all the way through, however all the rest of us are mutts. And as the world becomes increasingly global and integrated, we have another quandary.

If people should only date within their race... who do biracial people date? Other biracial people with the same combination as them? Or do they get unlimited access to both races? The world is not made up of people who come in 4 colors (black, white, brown, or yellow). Most people are racially diverse just within themselves! (Don't believe me... invest in getting your DNA traced). My friend is half Fillipino and half Trini. Good luck finding another half Filipino/Trini! In practice, most people just date people who look like they're from a specific race. Which, means you're deciding who you spend the rest of your life with based on an external characteristic... sounds like prejudice to me. (If this was Twitter, I'd say #imjustsaying).

3. Race and culture are two different things. I agree that a common culture, beliefs, etc are important in deciding who you spend the rest of your life with. But while race and culture are related, they are not synonymous. Which formula makes more sense?

I rest my (cartoon) case.

4. In 2050, whoever you marry isn't going to look like they did in 2011 anyway. The things that will matter most in a relationship... the things that will sustain a marriage... the things that will matter in the long run won't be the wooliness of someone's hair or their ability to tan without burning. The things that will matter are their compassion while parenting, their support during your low days, and the inside jokes you'll share. And does any of that really have a color?

What About You?

I'm not writing to tell you who to date; I'm simply sharing my perspective on a widely discussed issue. When I told an acquaintance that I'd gone on a date with a Caucasian man, she jokingly (I think) said, "Sounds like self-hate to me." What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Is dating outside of the race a bad idea, doomed for failure? Or are interracial relationships indicative of a more contemporary global perspective?

Please share!