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!


  1. COMPLETELY AGREE. As a product of a biracial marriage (black & Puerto Rican), being born abroad (South Korea), having gone to a predominantly white highschool, and then having attended an HBCU, I've found race to be one of the least important factors as to who I will or won't date. Yes, there are certain phenotypical characteristics I may find more attractive. However, in the long run, I truly value an ability to identify with or understand certain cultural aspects of my background, but none of those are truly "race exclusive." I value someone who can talk, understand, & joke with me about various historical, cultural, or racial issues. I've heard people say they're cool with interracial dating as long as the person is doing it for the "right reasons." My rebuttal is, who are you to decide whether their reasons are right or not and who are you that they have to reveal them to you? Live your own life. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Sidenote, s/o to the sista writing this with an objective critique of a very subjective social issue. Great post.

  2. First I'd like to say that although I have dated my share of "outsiders" I am NOT an expert. lol. I have found that there are subtle differences when it comes to the practices of courtship between the different races.... opening of car doors, romantic gestures, and dare I say practices of fidelity?!? Again, just MY experience... and again, these were SUBTLE differences. In the end I have found that men are men. They will treat you as you allow because it is human nature... the easiest path is usually the more frequented. Now don't get me wrong, the pendulum swings the other direction too. I get told all the time by my friends that I would get choked if I did such and such while dating a black man. Maybe with "them" I feel more freedom to push the boundaries... or is it just to be myself? But at the same time with a black man I am more confident to show my insecurities because I feel that he would understand moreso than someone who has never been faced with the adversity. Who knows which is the right person to take... and that is why you always should just follow your heart.

  3. It's cool. Rarely for me, which doesn't even make sense for a grayman like myself. Nothing about interracial or inter-ethnic or inter-nationality mixing is contemporary.

  4. You make some excellent points. We'd all be better off if we stopped being concerned with who other people date anyway.

  5. @Bengemin Grehe - Interracial relationships as we are able to experience them today are absolutely contemporary. It was OUTLAWED less than 40 years ago in some places to marry and procreate with someone of a different race than yourself. The laws themselves made the nature of interracial relationships different. Today... while some people still view it as problematic, there's no real danger of a lynching, castration, arrest, etc for dating interracially.

    So yes, while people have been intermixing for centuries, interracial relationships --as we know it is-- contemporary.

    @Anonymous 1, 2, and Tamara - Word.

  6. It's interesting to read you guys. In the two countries I most know (France, Brazil), interracial relationships are not even a topic because they just happens... it is normal for everybody, excepted for some few extremists of course.
    Having the discussion shows (from my personal point of view) how this doesn't seem natural in the US.

  7. Love the article. Still wondering if I could do it myself. I'm open but I think the dynamics would be interesting (not in a bad way).

  8. Good stuff. I agree with your cartoon case. As a black male I don't usually find white or asian females attractive but have no problem if another man decides that is right for him.
    Random mix - met a bartender recently. Father is egyptian; mother is phillipino and spanish. Beautiful!
    - J -

  9. Yall can be "open" all yall want but my ma said dont bring no white girl home.

  10. I go back and forth with this. While I'm always 'open' to the idea of getting the mix on, sometimes I'm a lot more preferential of only dating black men. I'm no stranger to dating guys that don't look like me, though.

    Thanks for shining light on the fact that race is a made up construct. Not enough people are aware of that. But just because it's made up, that doesn't mean the ramifications of race are any less prevalent.

    Good post, CM.

  11. Hold on how come nobody else is pissed about the direct deposit!?

  12. It's one of those things that was passed down for generations by almost every culture to protect them from a perceived threat to their race, tribe, class....etc. It's a method of control, that powerful people in a group make others follow for their agenda. Repercussions are then handed down to those who don't follow. It's not natural for entire groups to not date other entire groups. When the stigma and the repercussions of doing so go away, natural tendencies occur. Interracial marriages, gay marriages, and inter-class marriages are all a testament to this.

    And I think all chicks are hot.

  13. You know, as much as I'd like to think that I'm open to dating interractially, I'm really not. This despite having a white mother. It's odd I know, but I was also raised in a Black household by my father and stepmother. Now for me, it's not even that I think that a Black dude shouldn't date white (cuz really, I think that's just lowest on my totem pole) cuz I love all women. A banging chick is a banging chick. I think LC from The Hills is uber banging. And Scarlett Johanssen (however you spell it) could get it 12 ways from Sunday. I just think that on a regular day, I'm so attracted to my beautiful Black sisters of all shades that I get blindsided and forget everybody else exists.

    I don't begrudge anybody for dating outside their race. Hell, I wouldn't be there if my father didn't believe in the principle (he, much like me, just loves of them) it's just that I so rarely come into contact with a white chick that moves me I tend to stick with my sisters.

    I do agree with you about race and all. And frankly everything you said here. You should date who you want b/c anybody can make you happy and anybody can make you sad. Love is blind. It's dark and hell is hot. lol.

    What's funny is that I'm pretty sure my white mother would like me to date a white woman. She's often told me that I need to be more diverse in my tastes towards women. Well, since I tend to date tradionally "diverse" women who else could she mean. LOL. I love my mother. but I think my southern raising, HBCU attendance, and then living in pretty much ATL and DC means that I've got millions of Black women who don't want me that I haven't hit on yet, others will just have to wait their turn.

  14. Yesterday when CM posted this I read it and I agree with every bit of it, but then it totally dawned on me that I'm in an interracial relationship. I honestly hadn't thought about it before having a small catch up session with CM. Which makes me wonder if maybe media, friends, family or whoever else doesn't make a big deal about it...would any of us truly take note of being the "different" one? "To thine own self be true" - Hamlet

  15. I don't THINK I have an issue with interracial dating.
    One of my dearest friends is in the throes of a wonderful blossoming interracial relationship and as an African-American in today's time, I'm positive that I'm more "american" than "african".
    However I say THINK, because I've never dated outside of my "race".
    I can sit here and honestly believe myself when I say that I'd be perfectly happy being in a relationship with the Verizon guy but I have to be realistic and admit that I'd be more comfortable with him if he was a hardcore hip-hop/jazz aficionado, who had a serious sneaker problem and was not adverse to getting liquored up and dancing on furniture with me*
    The issue then becomes am I really and truly open for dating someone who doesn't look like me or am I close-minded as ever for dating a "really REALLY light skinned black boy"?

    *No, these are not necessarily black activities, but for the sake of my question, let's just feed the stereotypes and say that they are, mkay?

  16. I struggle with this a lot. I've spent a lot of time as an adult in places that you could say are umm...less than diverse in terms of having lots of black folks.

    When it comes to interests, I am who I am. Eclectic and quirky, but I think the internet has been great for reveal things that when I was a kid I wasn't aware of; like that there are indeed black kids who grow up at all-black high schools who just happen to be way more into indie music. And play tennis. And golf. And not because I grew up well-off, but simply because there were circumstances that drove in those directions.

    But yeah. I think getting closer to where there are more sistas for me to date would be good, if for no other reason than it's been a long time since I've been able to find someone I click with who was.

    I think it's a good topic to think about, if for no other reason than we like to write off certain people for this thing or that thing, but realize that it's often not about self-hate, it's just circumstantial.

  17. Can I take it a step even further, and say - similar to the fact that I'm "color-blind" to those with whom I groove, I also feel that the same concept can be applied to "sex" (not gender, I've taken one too many women studies classes). Does the foundations of a good relationship, marriage, and family really have a heterosexual brickstone?

    But back to topic - I want to have/adopt blasian babies. Requirement. Not preference. :)

  18. As my hubbie says 'you love who you love'!


  19. I completely agree. I completely understand people happening to be attracted to people that "look like themselves" (aka match their skin tone), but for people to close themselves off from others because of this is folly. I am a white man who has dated women from every part of the spectrum, and I can tell you honestly that race never mattered. It's all about dynamic.

  20. @ljaymd25 - ROFL!
    @Wu - You're trying to open up a NEW bag of worms. lol!
    @mpm210 - :)


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