Racism can be loud and in your face, but it can also be quiet and not so obvious.
If someone were to ask me what my racial dating preference was, I would say black.
When I was in fifth grade, my mother transferred me from a predominantly black school to a predominantly white school. I was afraid at first because none of my new peers looked like me. Thoughts of wanting to change my appearance, such as straightening my hair, began swirling through my head.
I didn’t have to worry about kids touching my hair and being asked if I liked fried chicken at my old school. I felt comfortable.
But I had to get used to the silly questions and the touching because I stayed there until graduation.
All of my family members are black and proud of their blackness, especially my father.
My father never wanted my brother and I to feel as if the stereotypes we saw in the media defined us. He wanted us to know that we can rise above the names the media called us.
My father is the most important man in my life.
So I figure, why not find a black man that is just as proud of his blackness and appreciates the black culture as much as my father and I do?
But just because I see my future with a black man, doesn’t mean I’m closing the door on other races. You can’t help who you fall in love with.
If I fall in love with a white man does that mean I just call it quits and continue my search for a black man that will love me?
Of course not, that’s absolutely ridiculous.
Yet when I asked some people about their racial dating preference, they say they are into one race and one race only. Very few were open-minded.
When someone finds a person from their “unpreferred” races to be attractive, they often say, “Even I think they’re attractive.” For some reason, they don’t find this way of thinking to be racist.
Are they unconsciously discriminating?
According to sociologist Zuleyka Zevallos, people assume that racism has to be overt, such as refusing service because of someone’s skin color or shouting a racial slur at someone.
Zevallos believes that we have been conditioned to favor some ethnicities and races over others. She said comments such as “you’re pretty for a black girl” show that many people think you need some semblance of European features in order to be attractive.
Zevallos said this white-centric beauty standard is due to certain countries being colonized by white people. If we weren’t socially influenced on our racial dating preferences, there wouldn’t be any studies on this because there would be no pattern to look at. If there is no pattern, then it would show that we are all open-minded.
The only problem I have with racial dating preference isn’t that people have one, it’s that people deem one or all other races other than theirs –– and at times even their own –– as unattractive.
That, to me, is racist.
What beauty standard are you going off of that you think that one particular race is unattractive? Are you just fetishizing your racial dating preference? Or do you actually think that race will be beneficial to you over the others?
The online dating website, Black People Meet, helps African Americans and African Canadians do just that. The site states that they are dedicated specifically to black dating. They don’t go into specifics as to why, but the reason is pretty obvious.
According to journalist Kyndall Cunningham, if you are a minority who chooses to stay within your race, that should be understandable. Cunningham believes racial minorities may feel the need to stay exclusive because they need a safe place where they feel understood.
Race is a topic that many people are uncomfortable talking about, especially racial dating preference. No one wants to be called racist based on their preferences, and explaining the choice can be very uncomfortable.
But times are changing and we should be changing, and becoming more tolerant, as well.
So before you close your mind off to other races for certain features being too small or too big, ask yourself how you would feel if someone said your race wasn’t attractive enough to date.
Alexandra Moyen is an assistant news editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alexandra Moyen is the senior features editor of The Spectrum.