“Sorry, I don’t date black girls.”
“You’re way too dark.”
“She’s really pretty, but she would look better white.”
I have heard all of these statements growing up in a majority-white neighborhood and they were very disheartening to hear. Just imagine being a black preteen trying to blossom, discovering yourself and your beauty, only to be met with rejection from white, black, Latinx, and Asian people based on your skin color. To me, it is very obvious why they thought this way, plain old prejudice, and racism; but others see no problems with those statements. They like what they like. If anything, they get very upset when presented with the idea that these statements are biased, racists, and prejudice. But is it really racist to have a racial preference? Yes and no.
I digress. First, let’s define what preferences are. A preference is an evaluative concept. It is used to compare, prioritize, favor, and rank. All of these aspects are used in the dating sense, but to keep things simple, think of preferences as what you like better or best.
Now, we need to ask, where do these preferences come from? Why do I like this more than that? Why don’t I like this at all? They are usually learned through our family and environment. These learned preferences are then solidified by the schools we attend, the people we surround ourselves with, and the culture we belong to. We can also see them stemming from a grander entity such as the media, society, history, and yes, white supremacy.
I know you’re tired of hearing that phrase but hear me out. When specifically talking about race and dating, racist white ideology has been upheld by white supremacy for centuries. It has been used to control, influence, destroy, deceive, and misguide the American people as well as set the standard of beauty. So, is it society’s fault and not mine? How do we know that our preferences are strictly preferences and not people we’ve been told to like by society? It’s both. A lot of the time our preferences reflect our society. Lack of proper media representation of different races, misrepresentation of different races, the avoidance of other races (not giving them a chance), and years of indoctrination of racist white ideology. All of these different entities have caused us to internalize stereotypes and false notions about races which influences our preferences and causes the development of racial and unconscious bias. These biases cause us to determine which races are given humanity, dignity, and respect and possess beauty; and which races are to be excluded from such qualities and rights.
How do you know if your preferences are racially charged? If you find yourself attracted to a specific race other than your own or are not attracted to a specific race; I encourage you to ask yourself why you feel this way about that race. Then you’ll be able to delve into the root causes of your racial and unconscious biases.
Is having a racial preference racist? It’s complicated. In my opinion, it’s racist if you exclude an entire race from your dating pool because of stereotypes, prejudice, stereotypical features, and false notions of a race. But it depends. There are so many different situations that warrant a different response. Is it not racist if you prefer a specific group over another, but don’t exclusively date that other group? Is it racist to be attracted to a race because of their physical features and stereotypes? Is it racist to only date within your race to preserve the heritage and cultural identity? Is it racist that I don’t find people outside of my race attractive? Is it racist that I don’t find people within my race attractive?
This article was not written to make you feel bad about not liking/liking a race, nor was it written to make you feel undervalued by society. I want my readers to question their beliefs and acknowledge the biases that they hold.