The complexities of race/romance: why do people avoid interracial relationships?

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By: Kyndall Cunningham, Columnist

More than a month after its release, think pieces on “Get Out” are still circulating on Facebook and building new shelves in people’s brains.

For me, the film wasn’t necessarily “enlightening,” because thoughts about this subject had already been rolling around in my mind. However, it was clearly eye-opening to people who had never thought of interracial coupling as a complicated, and even dangerous, thing.

Plus, Jordan Peele had the biggest opening for a black director and the highest grossing debut for a screenplay ever, so kudos to him.

While the film speaks on the nuances of racism that can occur in mixed relationships, I’ve noticed a greater phenomenon among young people and older folks that precedes these relationships. I’m talking about racial preferences when dating.

Is it racist to say that a certain race just isn’t your type? Is it considered a fetish if you’re attracted to a certain race outside of your own?

It prompts a lot of questions, but the issue isn’t that complicated to me.

While I can’t get too into detail about this person, I once heard a Hispanic colleague of mine say that they don’t date Hispanic people.

Knowing this person for over a year and picking up on several cues that they’re not the most socially conscious person, I was annoyed by it. In the same light, I am annoyed by black men that purposely don’t date black women. I’ve seen the reverse happen, but a lot of it stems from personal experiences and the blatant disrespect that black men have shown to black women since the beginning of time. It’s rarely ever as petty as what we see on social media when black guys belittle us for our hair, our skin tones or the way we talk.

(P.S. I’m only speaking to a growing race known as “coons” in our community, not black men as a whole.)

In many cases, I feel like we inadvertently distance ourselves from certain races and cultures because they feel far away. For example, I’ve never had a close relationship with a person of Asian descent, so I’ve never pictured my future husband or partner being Asian. However, that doesn’t mean that I’m opposed to dating an Asian person if that’s where fate leads me.

For some people, this lack of acquaintance with a certain race manifests itself into a lack of interest or attraction. I believe that when we eliminate an entire race from what we view as attractive or “dateable,” we are saying that every person within a race is the same. Personally, I don’t have the cognitive ability to minimize a person’s entire being to their complexion or a physical feature. For others, it’s the mandate on how they navigate their relationships.

This isn’t a rant to say that everyone has to date outside of their race at least once or else they’re racist. While certain groups of color can’t be racist by definition — only prejudiced — it is important to think about why we automatically say no to certain groups of people.

Our perceptions of people different from us are often pettier than we think they are. If you’re someone who only dates a certain race outside of your own, you should probably think about where that affinity comes from and whether you are objectifying your partners based on race.

You’re not obligated to cover every base when you’re dating, but preconceived notions not only hurt other people, but they limit your opportunities to experience valuable relationships and grow.

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