Is it racist to only date people of your own race?

Me being all contemplative...

Is it racist to only date people of your own race?

Last weekend I ran into one of my ‘aunties’, a friend of the family from way back in the 80s when my family lived in Hong Kong. We were both surprised to be meeting the other over 20 years later in Bangkok.

She is Malaysian and was amused when I introduced her to my wife, Jammie who is Filipina American. “You know, a lot of you Western kids that grew up in Asia married Asians and my daughter married a white guy!”

The chance meeting and our conversation got me thinking about how common interracial dating and marriage is nowadays.  Whether it is as a result of online dating sites or in person meetings, interracial couples have never been more common.

In some circles it is so common to date across ethnic lines that those who refuse to do so are regarded suspiciously.

The question in the title of this post gets asked in different ways: “What’s up with that girl? Is she racist or something? How come she’ll only date her own kind?”

To automatically jump to this conclusion is obviously stupid. This is fundamentally flawed thinking and people that think this way are revealing their own stunted growth when it comes to race relations.  You would be foolish to take their dating advice.

Everyone should be given the benefit of the doubt.

Those that push back on such “easy” conclusions argue that, “Sure, there are prejudiced reasons to only date people on your race, just as there are prejudiced reasons to not date those of your own race or to date exclusively white girls, say. But the mere fact that you prefer your own race shouldn’t mean something is wrong.”

Where prejudice creeps in…

So far, I agree. Fair enough. But here’s where it gets dicey:

Dating only your own race is often explained as a matter of taste: “I’m just not attracted to any other race.”  But often this betrays deeper prejudice.

Like a distrust of those of another race that doesn’t allow for the attraction in the first place. This is prejudiced. Don’t blame taste when the underlying problem is your own narrow-mindedness.

Prejudiced parents

Similarly, often racism in your family’s cultural tradition leads to racist dating decisions in your own. “My parents would flip if I brought home someone of another race.”

I’ve heard it so many times. And yes, that is a legit concern. You generally want your parents blessing, right?  Sure, it is generally a good thing to listen to dating advice from your parents. But are you going to allow their prejudice to decide your future?

Are you going to let the outdated dictates of former generations decide how you impact the world? Don’t just opt for convenience. I’m not advocating a casual disregard for sincere parental dating advice. But somewhere the line will need to be drawn. Somewhere you must become your own person.

Love isn’t a political statement

On the flip side, dating and marriage is not about making social or political statements. Don’t just date cross culturally because it is trendy.  Love is unpredictable and irrational.  Be brave enough to accept this and not fret too much about racial close-mindedness.

I will say this from personal experience (and I’ve heard very similar things from other mixed couples): Taking a careful look at why we date like we do and being open to some adventure is something we all owe to ourselves.

Interracial dating and marriage can be one of the most fulfilling, meaningful life decisions we make.

So go forth and mix it up!

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Bjorn Karlman Bangkok, Thailand

73 thoughts on “Is it racist to only date people of your own race?”

  1. Interesting….I live in the west and so my perspective is based on what I see here. I think that we still have this narrow mindedness because we are really only a generation from movements like “Civil Rights” etc. Sure slavery was abolished quite some time ago but you see the time it took to see a “black” president?!! I think that traditions are just like bad habits, hard to break. We tend to just do what is comfortable. No one really wants to rock the boat and be ostracized. I am the son of a baby boomer and I remember growing up that if a black man dated a white woman he was considered a “sell out.” Like your post says I think this attitude comes from distrust. Depending where you lived at the time that distrust was justified. But realizing that we are all equal and accepting that fact gives you confidence to know that you have something to offer. Dating someone of another race leaves you open to the unknown. That is scary. But ohh so fun.
    I have dated a few different races and I can honestly say that people are pretty much the same on the real core issues. These nuances that we hide behind tend to deter us from making some unique and long lasting friendships.
    Exposer is key. I am happy that I was able to attend a very international high school. That experience really opened my eyes to different cultures and the open mindedness to accept all.
    In my opinion it is a shame if you have the opportunity to date outside of you race not to do so. As the bible says…Oh taste and see that the Lord is good.

    Thanks my .02

    1. Excellent, well-balanced comment, Lawrence:) To me it is really interesting to see how attitudes toward dating outside your race have changed so significantly even over the last 20 years. As you said, it is still scary but most in the West would probably agree that it is worth the effort. And yes, being exposed to people from other cultures and races often gets rid of the fear that sheer ignorance brings with it…

      Nice work bringing in the Biblical justification too:)

  2. I agree with the above comment–international and intercultural exposure in general are an asset to becoming a global citizen, contributing to and benefiting from our interconnected society.
    As for dating/romance, it’s enlightening to learn from someone who has different cultural customs, views, foods, etc from your own. That said, a few core things have to be in place, which often has less to do with a racial difference and more to do with cultural similarities (Adventist is a culture; so is Californian!)
    And that’s a point, I suppose: that interracial is not synonymous with intercultural.
    When you can connect on core values and understand each other’s cultural frame of reference, the racial differences are only skin deep (no pun intended.)
    Some of my most meaningful (and fun!) relationships have been intercultural and interracial (though that term gets more heat nowadays in the field of intercultural communication.)With my traveling background, I find more commonalities with people who have had exposure to other cultures/customs/religions/worldviews (and I’ve dated White guys with similar experiences!)
    Once you’ve found a different culture, it’s up to you to figure out which differences and similarities you’re comfortable with. I’m dating an Indian guy right now, and I’m learning all sorts of Eastern cultural references–can’t wait to learn about the food! :)

    1. Those were some great points, Shanna. Exposure is key, for sure. As is building on common ground which we all share. If we share a foundation of common values (I’m not talking about the cultural expression of the values, just the basis values), we can often build on that creatively and successfully.

      As you are hinting, often the people that most to our own experiences are those that have traveled and exposed themselves to more than just their own culture and customs. This shows an openness to understanding and an appetite for adventure that help to expand us.

      Congrats on the new relationship! I’d love to hear an update on the culinary discoveries coming up:)

  3. There is way too much race baiting out there. However, this is one issue where I think it might actually be true. From the numbers I have seen, though, there does seem to be plenty of interracial relationships out there. According to the census, interracial marriages are at an all time high.

    That being said, even though I am half-Asian, I am generally not attracted to Asian chicks. So I think that is a legit issue. I also know of black guys who do not like black girls and white girls that don’t like white guys. So it is difficult to judge someone’s morality based off of that unless they straight up say it has nothing to do with attraction and everything to do with some sort of racial purity.

    1. I hear you David. I didn’t think I would hear the “racial purity” language anywhere outside movies but then, when I lived in a little rural community for a while, I actually did. It was shocking how prevalent all that nonsense still was. I think what I found most encouraging, though, was that if you refused to overreact and, instead, calmly built bridges, you could make progress. One kid I was talking to and trying to mentor actually gave up his own racist views after a few years of exposure to more inclusive ideas.

  4. There is but one race – the human race. If we took the population of the world and lined everybody up from lightest to darkest, we’d have a hard time figuring out where one ‘race’ ends and another one starts. It might seem like just semantics, but the concept of different races within humanity is the basis for prejudice, allowing people to believe that one race can be better than another. That said, we should all certainly be willing to consider any human as a potential partner.

    My husband and I look a lot alike, but we were raised in dissimilar culture contexts. For countless reasons, I fell in love with him as an individual, and have learned so much from his family. He would say the same for his experience. After 8 years of marriage and four children, we’ve created a blended culture in our own family that seamlessly integrates elements from our backgrounds. It’s so much fun for us all to enjoy the medley and honor our heritage.

    We each need to regularly examine ourselves for prejudice, do away with it one thought at a time, and consider what we really value in a relationship.

    Thanks so much for inviting me to comment, Bjorn! So glad to see how well you and your beautiful wife are :-)

    1. Thank you so much for your excellent perspective, Michelle! I could not agree with you more! And yes, the language for race and ethnicity is completely inadequate. You are absolutely right that we are all the same race in the sense that we are all of the human race. I am so inspired by the example you have set with your beautiful family and find it very encouraging that you were able to transcend cultural barriers to reach a higher place.

      Thanks also for the idea that we can do away with prejudice one thought at a time… very inspiring stuff!

  5. My own parents are a cross cultural marriage, as are most of those in my family. From my experience, it is not cultural issues that create marital difficulties as much as differing values, and even religious beliefs. I have seen more same-culture marriages fail and falter because of this, that differing culture marriages where both partners have the same core values/beliefs

    1. Great point, Olivia… values are at the heart of it all…. whatever cultural expression they may take…

      Thanks for the comment!

  6. This is a GREAT question, which I honestly haven’t thought much about. I just want to share some ideas that pop into my mind, but please understand that this is by no means refined. You said, “Dating and marriage is not about making social or political statements.” I think this reflects a Western bias, where people tend to marry whoever they want, with or without their family’s approval. For most of the world, and throughout history, who you married was very important. In fact, people in the Bible were instructed many times to not inter-marry with other nations.

    I know a lot of Koreans who say it would be bad for them to marry outside of their nationality. I understand “racial purity” is very taboo or not politically-correct, but for some nationalities, I can understand why there would be some pressure. For example, I know Armenians who want their daughters to marry other Armenians because their culture/nation is dwindling in size and they want to preserve their group.

    An illustration of this is the fact that some languages in the world are dying. Gaelic, for example. Certainly, you can say from a capitalist/free market/survival of the fittest mindset that if it’s not going to survive, then you might as well let it die. But the sad thing is that once a language or nationality is extinct, it’s gone.

    For example, I think it would be sad if all the redheads blended with other races and then there was no more redheads left in the world. So, off the top of my head, I can imagine why some people would want to contribute to extending their racial group. Is that necessarily bad?

    (I married a Chinese girl, so I’m obviously not opposed to inter-marrying, I’m just saying I can’t see how it would be bad if some people chose not to.)

    I’m open to feedback on this too!
    Tom

    1. Thomas, I like your thinking on this one. And no, I don’t think that the reasons you outlined above are inappropriate reasons to want to marry within your own ethnicity. I think the challenge comes with extreme family pressure not to marry other ethnicities out of a sense of ethnic hierarchy…. and sadly, that is often the case

  7. Perhaps this is a new challenge in the world, particularly as the world gets smaller, with the Internet and people have more access to travelling around the world.

  8. Whilst most people would look at my relationship and think that we are not inter-racial because we are both white, my wife and I come from different countries and backgrounds. She is American and I am from New Zealand. Although I never really have thought much of it and in actuality have only ever dated one person from New Zealand. But for most people, the old saying is true. “Birds of a feather flock together.” For this reason maybe those folks who see my relationship as “two white people” would be correct in saying we are not inter-racial. We do look as though we have similar “feathers”… but those similarities are only skin deep. In fact, to try and make any assumptions based on external factors like race, skin color, eye shape, etc – is to me absurd. But it is hard for someone who has learnt one way of thinking (either actively or passively) to learn a new way of thinking and we are prejudiced without really even knowing why. Infact Bjorn, the mere fact that we were raised outside of our home countries has probably made us prejudiced toward relationships with people from our native lands. We have learned a different way of thinking and maybe you are more Asian than Scandinavian.

    1. Thanks for the comment Tony! And yes, I am probably more Asian or American than I am Swedish.. and even if I had married a Swede that would have been a cross-cultural marriage because I am not exactly your typical Swede:)

  9. Hey Bjorn

    Having dated someone from my own race and from other races (makes me sound like I dated a lot – NOT TRUE! :-)), and then finally ending up with a Sasha who is a from a completely different human race sometimes, I have never ever considered that question!

    Both my sister and myself married outside of our race but we were both living in the UK at the time so the chances of finding the perfect Indonesian man would have been very slim.

    In fact, before we were married and much younger and living in Singapore, my mother always used to say that she would like us to marry someone from the region in Indonesia from where my parents came from and who was of the same religion.

    Then when we moved to the UK, she broadened the scope a little bit and said that it would be nice if we married somebody from Indonesia itself and was of the same religion.

    Then as she realised that it probably wouldn’t happen, she conceded and said that she would be happy if the person was of the same religion! By that point, she wasn’t even sure if I actually was going to end up with somebody of the same religion!

    I don’t think it’s racist for people to only date people of their own race. Everyone has their own preferences and who are we to judge? It’s when people start thinking their race should remain exclusive because they are more superior than others, that’s when it’s downright unhealthy!

    Love to you guys xxx

    1. Thanks Eileen! I love how parents “relax” their expectations over time:) And I completely agree that the problem is in the idea of racial hierarchy… v. unhealthy:) I hope all is awesome in the UK!

  10. I am pretty sure there is not much I can add to what you have already said here Bjorn, except for maybe a ‘personal’ input.

    … I grew up in a time of racial distress and mayhem in the early 70’s in Encanto, Ca. (part of San Diego) My family was the minority then, mostly living with Hispanics and …PC? Blacks. My father was extremely prejudice and it rubbed off on many of my 7 siblings, including myself … for a very short time! .. My best friend on our block was a mix, half white half black (should I be saying (African American here?) and I loved her dearly. Loved her entire family. I was the little white girl that went on their family vacations with them …. In that time there was so much strife between the Whites, the Blacks and Chicano.. Being that young I was not interested in ‘relationships’ but I sure did judge mixed race relationships when I saw them! I was conditioned to do so~ I was so little! …. Then as I grew up and started being interested in ‘guys’ .. I was only drawn towards white boys … anything else was taboo! … Then as I got older I realized I was ‘attracted’ to not only whites but Hispanics as well. Never ever thought I would even consider dating someone other than white, or marry someone other than white~! … Well, I got even older. The influences of my fathers prejudices had worn off: I was horrified that I had ever accepted his ‘beliefs’ on this subject as I felt, I KNEW …. that people are PEOPLE, regardless of the color of their skin, their culture, their beliefs .. etc…. For myself, I came to KNOW that LOVE does not see these things as ‘different’ …. Who chooses to be born the way they are? Why is anyone better than another because of their race? They are not … It is the Human race, not a ‘colored race’ …. I personally think that if you are so fortunate to find love, companionship, partnership with someone … who gives a rip what their ethnic background is? People are People. We are one RACE … … blah blah blah …. I get so riled thinking about this!~

    1. Oh and just one more thing: For the last … I don’t know how many years .. maybe 20 … when I am asked “what race” I am on forms … I always write very BOLDLY … HUMAN RACE … Never do I pick ‘one’ …..

          1. Sorry, Sarah, all comment with a link are held for moderation because otherwise I get spammed. Anything you post I will approve though:)

    2. Sarah, Sarah!! Great comment! I am inspired by your story of being able to transcend the prejudice you had seen modeled as a child… hopefully that is a story that becomes more common as we shed the old racial baggage from past generations… Well done!!

  11. Interesting blog! Well I think everyone wants to just fall in love and be happy in their relationship, and love is not PLANNED, no matter how hard you try to plan it out, date inside race or outside, love is spontaneous and it just happens. Even for those people who say they’ll only date inside their race, trust me they might just be surprised with who they fall in love with! So I don’t think its a matter of race, I think some people are just scared of the unknown…too much to learn in different cultures and languages, and they think it’s more adjustment for them. I wouldn’t say they are racist, I think they’re scared it wouldn’t work out. I myself am a culture mutt by the way! :)

    1. Myrna!! Great to have a culturemutt comment:) And I agree, fear is a major reason we stay within the confines of our own ethnicity and within our own cultural circles… As the world shrinks hopefully we will start to get over that fear…

  12. Excellent website, mate! I agree with mixing it up; interracial dating is fantastic and fulfilling. However, is my happiness/satisfaction because my partners are mostly Hispanic and I’m white? Or, am I happy because I found a wonderful partner, regardless of race? Race is a social construct. Race is the end product of an equation that involves hierarchy, class, and status. White people sit at the top of the hierarchy while blacks and Mexicans are on lower spectrum, at least in the US. There were laws in many states that banned interracial marriage because ‘they’ thought interracial marriages would defile the white race. They also believed that interracial marriages would produce offspring who are confused which race they are; are they white or non-white for example. Crazy, huh?

    Finally, I’ve always preferred Hispanic woman to my own race (Caucasian). But, I prefer Hispanic women not based on race but because they’re more aesthetically pleasing and they bring me the greatest amount of joy. I’m not opposed to Non-Hispanics but they don’t bring me the level of pleasure aesthetically. It’s like art. Just because I love art doesn’t mean I can’t have preferences. I enjoy surrealism to early 17th century, based on surrealism’s aesthetics.

    1. Thanks a lot for the kind words Embree:) And I was intrigued by your ideas… I definitely agree that we should see the qualities of potential partners instead of their race. And I love your Latin taste!!

  13. Bjorn,
    Interesting article and you covered some of the points I would have raised, however you laced the underpinning issue around prejudice. but I would think of it as more of a cultural crutch.
    There are plenty of other reasons.

    For example in an Asian culture, there is a lot of pressure from the parents not because of the colour of their skin, but the fear of not being able to communicate well enough. Maybe the parents arnt able to speak the language, maybe the western ways wont mix with their traditional ways, both valued equally.

    Sure the new arrival to the family would be willing to learn etc as would the parents, but right from the word go, there is a cultural and communication barrier which a lot are not willing to risk. For example in the Asian culture, for the inlaws to get along is quite important, if they cant communicate well enough either, than you’ve just basically started the clock on a ticking timebomb.

    Is it lazy to not want to try? is it cowardly to not risk it? or is it a safer bet to keep it within the same cultural gene pool so that there are no sore thumbs?

    For that reason, a lot of people don’t like to start something if they cannot finish it with the ultimate matrimonial vows.

    So its not exactly prejudice is it? its more of a compulsion due to subjections maybe?

    Then you have the whole religion thing, what would the kids grow up to be etc etc.

    so I think its not easy to just put a place card of ‘Mr or Mrs prejudice’ on the table.

    Its easier, its more convenient, its almost hassle free, its predictable.

    its not always peachy as you said though, you’ll find your share of racists and bigots out there.

    What about you? how did you overcome the cultural differences other than embracing them and discovering new things. You must have had some differences which were hard to overcome.

    1. Samir! As usual, your comment brings a very necessary angle to the discussion! I think you are right to point out that choosing to date within one’s culture and ethnicity is often not a racist decision but rather one that makes the most pragmatic sense when you bear in mind cultural expectations… I don’t think we should take these lightly…. and I am not here to judge those that decide that cultural expectations will keep them from marrying outside their community…

      As for my overcoming cultural differences in my marriage, it was fairly easy since I had grown up in the Philippines and this meant that marrying a Filipina felt familiar. Having said that there are definitely times that for all my talk of the need for cross-cultural understanding, I want things my way and have to learn the hard way that I’ve got to be more culturally mature… For example, it is one thing to know that Filipinos do not encourage open confrontation in dealing with issues, often trying to be more indirect in conflict resolution… and it is quite another for me to bite my tongue in a tense situation… I definitely don’t get it right all the time… But my marriage has definitely made me a better person:)

      1. that’s interesting!
        Do you think having grown up in the Philippines gave you a sense of familiarity?
        Did it subconsciously affect or steer you towards marriage to a Filipino?

  14. Thank you for this article, Bjorn.

    One of the great/challenging/wonderful/difficult/painful/best things about marriage is learning the beauty of difference. Any two people on earth are going to be more different from one another–as a mere product of their individuality–than any ostensible differences that exist between ethnic groups. I won’t rehash how fallacious the logic of ethnic essentialism is. As human beings, we are both more essentially the same and unfathomably varied than we often appreciate. In a marriage you learn these lessons quickly (to your join or pain…or both). What it means to be fallibly and spectacularly human inextricably links us all–on our best and worst days. But there are always new things to discover about other people in our lives, even (especially?) about those we know best. Inasmuch as marrying across ethnic or cultural “barriers” can further encourage our appreciation for essential human sameness in the midst of real difference, then it can be an incredible experience. I’m in cross-cultural marriage with woman who is Lebanese and Argentine. I can’t imagine being married to anyone else (for multiple reasons, of course). But the success of any marriage depends, I suspect, more on the attitude and practices that each person brings to the partnership than the cultural and ethnic identifies that have shaped them.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Nick! And yes, I think you are absolutely right in stressing that the overall outlook that each partner brings to the relationship is more important than cultural background… That said, I like your thoughts about cross-cultural relationships and how they help us realize our “sameness” as humans despite the outer differences that are more immediately obvious…

  15. In addition to what I wrote above, I also like Samir’s point that intercultural marriages may not always be “peachy” but involve negotiating cultural differences, which BOTH sides need to be aware of. I also want to clarify a principle that answers your larger question, is it racist to only date people of your own race? Let’s just make this clear: DATING PEOPLE OUTSIDE OF YOUR RACE DOES NOT MAKE YOU A NON-RACIST. (The all-caps wasn’t a personal attack or anything–I just felt this is very important to emphasize.) I know plenty of white guys who are married to people of other races, and they have an attitude of superiority towards their partner’s race, or they enjoy the power and privilege that comes with having somebody of a less equal status, or they become disappointed when they see that their child is a mixed child who will have a unique ethnic identity. On the other hand, there are people who won’t marry other races because they are not comfortable with making the cross-cultural adjustments. Let’s face it, cross-cultural relationships require cultural adjustments that require both sides to adjust their characters, and if they do not adjust, then that means they are not willing to put in the effort to making the relationship work or show that they care.

    1. Agreed. Racism takes many forms and although I stand by my claim that relational choices sometimes give away racists, there is much more to it. Exposure is key, I think that deals with a lot of the superiority complex. With knowledge comes understanding….

  16. I am a product of a not only an I tear racial couple but a cross cultural couple. My dad was Nigerian and mother was Hungarian. They were married till the very end of their lives. They were the perfect example of true love to me. I actually grew up assuming that interracial couples have the longest lasting relationships, I felt this way because I trout that if you are brave enough to overcome so many hurdles, you’ll be brave enough to have not give up on the relationship during hard times (again this was what I automatically felt growing up, I know that that’s not always the case).

    I didn’t hear the concern of mixed kids “not knowing who they really were” until I came to America, I remember thinking ”how the heck do you know how all mixed people feel to assume such ridiculousness?”, I went to a mostly white boarding school where I heard my white crush tell me he could never date a black girl (mind you a lot of people said they didn’t consider me black but rather, mixed so I’m not sure if he felt he was offending me). At first I used to feel offended by people. Who didn’t want to date outside their race, but then I realized that that its a free world, people should date who they want for what ever reason they want. The only excuse I would be annoyed hearing is “I don’t want to dare outside my race because our kids would suffer”…I’ve heard that a lot and it is the most annoying thing to hear!

    I am a bit biased but I think interracial couples are the cutest of all;) but to each their own!

    1. Excellent perspective, Tmamah:). I definitely think that people love to overgeneralize on the topic of mixed race kids. And, like the lit about third culture kids like me (who grew up in a culture different from that of their parents), these opinions are fairly dated… Time to shake things up and show society the benefits of some cultural adventure:)

  17. Very interesting conversation. I grew up in a very non-ethnically-diverse community, all-white, only one black family in the town for decades. But that one black family included a girl who became my best friend. My first exposure to racial prejudice was witnessing people’s reaction to her and hearing of her struggles, big and small. Ever since I’ve resolved to look at everyone as a person first…someone said earlier in their response that we are all one HUMAN race. All equal in God’s eyes and that’s the basis of our faith.

    So that colors my opinion of interracial dating and marriage. If two people are compatible it shouldn’t matter what race they are. If they are willing to learn and appreciate each others cultural backgrounds and embrace the differences that’s great. The interracial couples I know of experience rich and fulfilling relationships.

    I agree with Nicholas Zork…”The success of any marriage depends, I suspect, more on the attitude and practices that each person brings to the partnership than the cultural and ethnic identifies that have shaped them.”

    1. Thanks for the great comment, Pat! And yes, I would agree that we need to look at the deeper underlying issues instead of getting hung up on ethnicity… The way of the future I hope:)

  18. First, I never thought that interracial dating or marriage was an issue. Honestly, never thought it’s a deal. Especially in d west, land of immigrants where races are greatly mixed up. I believe ur love is developed (not fated) to somebody whom you are comfortable hanging out with, if not all, majority of your life. Love is bad in recognizing boundaries. So you better know your boundaries before getting comfee with others, and safeguard it. Sometimes it’ll fail, especially when it isn’t necessary to be safeguarded, but at least you tried. It’s diff to break the love feeling. And racial difference is totally not something to be safeguarded; after all, we’re all humans. But if you plan to preserve your race, i think you’re too late and you might be one of the 1%. #pointofviewfromalessexperienced

    1. Interesting, progressive thinking there, Wynn… And I wish what you described were more commonplace in the West… Not there yet. As for preserving the race, you’re right:). So 100 years ago:)

  19. Bjorn, like a couple of readers have mentioned, I think it’s more a mismatch in values that’s the problem than a mismatch in race! Mixed marriages are more and more common now a days and if mixed race couples can produce the President of the United States, let’s cheer and embrace inter-racial dating. We have come a long way in the world on this issue and I think over time, we will indeed be the human race.

    I’m glad Jammie dated someone of her own race though – just your regular Filipino guy from a small fishing village – you!

    1. Vishnu, nice POTUS point:). His presidency so far has seen a lot less race-related dialogue than I was anticipating… But yes, I do think the great blend is the future…

      Jammie chose so well!

  20. This is a very interesting article but I fear you gloss over one of the biggest issues with “race” that exists all over the world: the impact of colonialization. I don’t think you can ignore the fact that this impacts the bias for and against marrying someone different and how one sees themselves. I think that you also, with interracial dating in the US, can’t ignore the societal and legal context. People fought for the right and were killed for it. These biases are so strong it can make dating anyone other then someone just like you very difficult. Or a social statement you don’t want to make.

    I grew up in a family where no one ever cared and I never thought about it until I moved to St Louis and had many experiences where people had a bias, often open, against me. And it was really surprising! I don’t think you can talk about interracial dating and ignore the fact that almost every group was subjected to the idea that their “race” made them less than and people were treated better for being less “of color” for their group. This is a difficult, painful history and it has so many implications.

  21. Hi ya Björn. Well looks like you really opened a can with this blog! I am not prejudiced person. I have a neice who married a black man and has 2 beautiful children by him. I grew up in SoCal. Racism was running rampant while I was growing up. When interracial dating first started happening, it was because of rebellion. Parents told their children, under no uncertain terms, that they were not only NOT to date someone of another race, but were not allowed to even associate with “them”! As time moved forward, people started to recognize that people of other races weren’t’ so different. They had different skin color, and different beliefs than maybe their own family did,but they also had people that loved them, supported them, and felt pride in achievements. Oh my God, even though there are different races, people are people,and have family values just like any/everybody else. We had the race riots, but everyone thought that it was just the black people that caused them, when in fact it wasn’t. It was because of the way black people were treated as if they were an inferior race. My husband brought home a little oriental girl when he was a child. WWII wasn’t too far behind us. His father demanded that she never be brought into his house ever again. That kind of reaction was never forgotten. I think that you shouldn’t look at a person’s skin color, religious beliefs, sexuality, or even a birth defect or disability. Look at the person. Everyone in this world has something unique to offer to others. If we all stay in our “comfort zone” of which we were once required to do, then our world would-be a very boring, Un-meaningful place to live. I so enjoy talking and listening to people of all races, colors, religions, etc. People need to get off their high-horses and open their eyes and arms and embrace the world we live in. The world that God gave us to live in together! Hey, if there were no interracial actions we wouldn’t have the variety of animals that we have to choose from, to help make our lives complete (just a little levity there). But seriously, would you be happy with anyone like you are with Jammie? NO, you would not. I am German, Jew, and Indian (the bow and arrow type). I married a man of English Irish decent. Interracial!!!! I was so extremely happy for almost 41 years. If our “interracial” marriage hadn’t of happened, I wouldn’t have the 2 wonderful sons that I have, the 6 wonderful grandchildren, or the phenomenal GREATgrandaughter that I have. Embrace people! Any and all!

  22. I’m married to a beautiful Japanese American girl. I’m have primarily German blood in me veins with a bit of Irish just to name one of the many others. One of the first girls I remember being attracted to way back in the first grade was asian. I grew up in a small but culturally diverse community. As I grew up I typically pursued caucasian girls but along the way it’s clear that I was drawn to other races as well.

    When I was in college I had a conversation with my mother about my interest in a black woman I had gotten to know in one of my classes. The response was something to the effect of, “you grandparents may have a heart attack.” I didn’t end up pursuing the relationship.

    I’m glad there was no issue with my wife. There is less prejudice towards her kind than their kind in my family apparently. The differentiation is sad to me.

    Now my wife and I live in Philadelphia in a neighborhood where we are known as, “the white guy and the Chinese lady.” For the most part we have found a pretty warm reception here from the community as a whole.

    I’m guessing people start having more problems when it goes from a casual acquaintance to imagining yourself being related to someone you think is beneath you. This is the sad reality. I remember a lot of drama around a birthday dinner when my elder cousin brought his beautiful though black date. I remember hearing similar cautions towards my sister when she was interested in a black gentleman.

    My wife has told me that when she was in high school in Cali that is was cool for Asian gals to date white guys. For some reason it isn’t as common the other way around.

    I’m glad I grew up in the community I grew up in. I think every race is beautiful. My wish for those who are uncomfortable with other races is that they would get to know someone from that race and befriend them. Then they may realize we are all equal in the human race.

    Nick

    P.S. It would also be healing if our culture could openly embrace and accept that Jesus wasn’t white. Can we love those who look like He did? I hope so.

  23. Hey Bjorn,

    What an interesting post! It is a question i have often wondered myself. Perhaps being of mixed parentage I may be biased in my answer as I can only see many a positive when it comes to interracial dating.

    I agree with your conclusion here, that dating outside of your race broadens your outlook and enriches your life. I would also argue that it takes a broad mind in the first place to date outside your race so, those who have perhaps travelled extensively and been exposed to a variation of cultures are more inclined to date outside of their own race. A kind of chicken/egg scenario. I know this is definitely true of my father who, being of a military family, travelled extensively when younger and ultimately married my mother (a Filipina). However he also admits to having had many Catholic gilfriends which may say more about an attraction to a set of values as opposed to a certain look.

    In contrast, I have friends who will only date within their own race and, like you, I have often wondered why. As with your experience I have encountered the usual “I just don’t find X race attractive”. Is it racism? Is it borne of a prejudice or fear? In my personal opinion, I believe this is more down to a comfort in familiarity and on some level a fear or ignorance of the unknown. Lets face it, it takes effort to become accustomed to a new set of values, it takes a desire to learn about a new culture and it takes courage to push ones boundaries to date outside your own race.

    On the flip side, I have friends who will only date people of another race i.e. white friends who only date black guys or Asian chicks. For instance, Joe (my husband) is English and fair but is more attracted to darker women, previous girlfriends being Singaporean, Maori and another Filipino. A form of positive discrimination if you like!

    Finally, one thing I would hasten to add (and forgive my bias here again), children of mixed race couples (particularly Eurasians) tend to have stronger immune systems and are perceived to be more attractive taking with them the best of both parties. Surely, there is no stronger argument for dating outside one’s own race than the strengthening of the human race, no?

  24. Well, I read some of the comments above and then decided not to read them all. Sure racial prejudice exists in dating but mainly I believe this to be down to what you find attractive. . .blue eyes, brown eyes, dark hair, blonde hair, pale skin, dark skin. Most people have a ‘type’ they go for, when it comes to looks. Would it be prejudiced if a white person only dated black people? No, I don’t think so. . .just a matter of taste when it comes to looks. We can all see a handsome white, black, Asian person. Should relationships be based on physical attraction? No but it helps. What really matters is a unity of spirits. A relationship based on trust, love and mutual attraction.

  25. Hey Bjorn,

    This was an interesting post and such an important issue. I am teaching Shakespeare’s Othello right now in my literature classes, and it is amazing to me that interracial marriage was an issue four hundred years ago and remains one today. Shakespeare actually treats it very sensitively and allows for multiple perspectives. I find this issue to be an interesting and complex one. I am technically in an interracial marriage. My husband is from Brazil, and I am a white American. However, we don’t necessarily look all that different in race. Brazil is so diverse, for one thing, that you could be blonde and white with blue eyes and Brazilian. When does someone become not just of a different ethnicity but also of a different race? I think that is a tough question, and I’m not sure it matters to me, but to some it does. My husband has such a mixed background (native South American, European, Chinese, etc.) that it becomes hard to tell what his race is. We have had a hard time filling out census papers, for example. He is not Hispanic/Latino, for example, because Brazil was not colonized by Spain and he doesn’t speak Spanish. However, he doesn’t really fit any of the traditional race check boxes. I have my own problems with such categorizations anyway because we are so mixed these days. As far as prejudice against us because we are of different races, we haven’t encountered much of that. I would say he has encountered more racism personally. This often comes in the form of people automatically assuming he is Mexican or Spanish-speaking or not a U.S. citizen (which he is), for example. I have never cared about race when it comes to dating, either. I always thought compatibility, attraction, and similar backgrounds/family lives were more important. Even though my husband and I come from very different places, our families are quite similar, and I never minded having to learn another language or getting to know another culture. In fact, I loved it. Education is also key. Educate your parents on the important aspects of your partner’s culture. Show where you have common ground. I think you are right that family racism plays a role in lack of acceptance. My family never cared whether I dated someone of a different race or ethnicity. I remember asking my parents when I was about ten years old whether they cared, and they didn’t. Mind you, I was ready to do what I wanted regardless. However, I do think support from families helps as well as helping to educate them. That said, we have had some irksome encounters. There was an old family friend who was very rude to my husband because of his name the first time he met him. I got angry, but my husband blew it off, and I learned from him that sometimes you just have to let things go and teach through example. After all, it is our life, and what that old man said shouldn’t affect me. I have also gotten the feeling from some that I have “taken” one of their own. I know this kind of attitude exists within other races as well. However, I just made it clear that I wasn’t going anywhere. I think interracial marriage is very common now, but there are going to be some bad experiences. However, with a strong relationship and love for one other, I think couples can manage these encounters together and live a very rich life.

  26. I am not sure anyone else has said something along these lines, but I feel that for the most part, you cannot single out racism as being the sole factor as to why some people “stick to their own kind.” Sure, I have encountered some people who are stupidly nationalistic, but I know sometimes a big reason why some people stick to their own kind has a lot more to do with family expectation roles and community issues. I do not think you can single that out as being racist, but it is a reality that limits people from going beyond their ethnic group.
    I believe in order for interracial or ethnic relationships to work, it takes people who do not feel bound by their own culture or who quite possibly do not look at their own culture as a source of pride. One must be mindful of who they are and where they come from… and then transcend that realizing they are a part of something much bigger.

  27. Good blog!

    Do I think it is racist to only date people of your own race? I think you know what I would say to this. I don’t believe it is racist. Lets face it, our generation is accepting of inter racial couples/marriages. But like you said in your blog, some people can be influenced by their parents. For me I just want a tall hunky white geeky guy. Haha. But, if you asked me would I suggest inter racial dating, my conservative go Romney, side probably wouldn’t, but its not like a bad thing. Maybe its just based on how you grew up in your household? Or maybe not? Love is love. God works in amazing ways :) The end.
    Brooke recently posted…Is it racist to only date people of your own race?My Profile

  28. Interesting observations, Bjorn, from an experienced perspective.

    I have a friend who is married to a Chinese Brit. When she first introduced him to her friends and family she discovered that many of them found it odd that she would want to date someone Chinese because they, themselves, perceived the Chinese to be somehow unsexy. To rationalise the whole thing, they decided that she must love him for his personality and intelligence – which she does – but couldn’t conceive that she would want to go to bed with him – which she also does. On the flipside I have friends who have dated Black British men and their friends have indulged in a kind of wink-wink understanding that these kinds of ‘hot black guy’ flings are part of a woman’s personal and sexual development and not a path to happily ever after.

    This prevailing orientalism of races as good for one thing or another is deeply embedded in British society and often manifests itself not as outright verbal racism, but as a tacit understanding that some people just aren’t suitable mates. Who you fancy and who you fall in love with may well be curbed by such prejudices, which is a pretty sad reflection on one of most socially free countries in the world.

    1. Kate, thanks a lot for the comment. The fact that these kinds of prejudices exist in one of the most tolerant societies in the world is definitely cause for concern and it is tempting to do give up in despair when you think of the far more aggressive divisions that exist around the world… I got some pushback from a very urbanized friend on this post. He claimed that the old race-based talking points are old and tired. I agree that they are but we are still dealing with the underlying issues. Even if, as you mentioned, they are expressed in the form of a `tacit understanding´.

  29. hey bjorn!

    this is a topic that’s been discussed many times in my family. i think there can be a reason to want to date within your race. nothing malicious like prejudging but it could as simple as cooking. =) of course it’s not as simple as that, but it could be a big determining factor.

  30. this is an interesting subject, actually very common in my house since we have a lot of cultures going on here. I was born in costa rica to Dominican parents and my husband is from rumania. we often talk about being racist or not since neither of us wanted to married some one from our countries lol. its very weird though that a Rumanian marries someone from another culture, when I go to their church I am the only color person there, but in my culture it is very normal to find someone from another culture.

  31. I’m glad someone wrote about this topic. I often get sad when two people are into each other and they don’t go for each other because of race or because their parents wouldn’t agree because of the different race. I believe love should know no boundaries. I have always been a big supporter of marrying outside of your race and even dated people that were not of my race before, yet I find it funny that my future husband is of my race and I feel great! I think basically whether they are from your race or not, love should win and as long as the person has what you are looking for, it shouldn’t matter what race they are from. I will say that for me a big perk of having a same race fiancee is that we have so much in common and there is no need to introduce so many things, but I find interracial dating exciting and a chance to grow with a person that has one more difference than you do

  32. Bjorn, interesting blog. As a Mexican Hispanic married to an Uruguayan (is that even how u say it?) there have been some challenges. First off, parents expected me to marry within the Mexican culture & I did not. As a result, family gatherings, while civil & accepting, present some barriers that as a couple we know may always be there. On the up side, it has made our bond stronger & because we are Christians, we choose to take it to God. Second, though we both speak Spanish, it is quite different, so we often go to English to discover what we are trying to say to each other in Spanish, it is quite hilarious & it has enriched our language. Foods – we both LOVE food & because of our different backgrounds, we have opportunities to eat Mexican one evening, Italian the next & at times combine flavors in ways we didn’t think of before – Milton, my husband, is really great at that. Overall, we are an example of a couple in which one of the persons went against what the parents had preferred for their daughter, but for us we wouldn’t have it any other way. We feel blessed & have so much joy & fun in our lives & 2 beautiful daughters. God is good!

    1. Amen to that:) And I got to hang out with your awesome Uruguayan husband in Bangkok a few days ago… Good times!! BTW.. hello from Buenos Aires… I am eating lots of the aforementioned Italian food… sooooo good.

  33. I feel that there isn’t any boundaries anymore when it comes to who you end up in love with. There is more the thought that it’s exotic to date someone of opposite culture or race. People who are prejudice do not like change and are closed minded to the idea of being with someone different….at the same time they may want to be comfortable with something that is not like them. As you can tell I don’t take sides. I judge people who they are and what they do. That is my personality, but we shouldn’t at the same time be against other people’s characteristic on what they look, but of who they are. . Being raciest is people who just judge people on just how they look and not taking on any respect on who they are. It is also how they treat the other person without taking any respect on treating them humane. People are more open minded today then they ever were from the past, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done on how we treat each other and stepping out of our comfort zones to get to know people past the way they look.

  34. Human being fuss over the smallest of things in life. After all what is the difference between a white and black person other than a few external features. The fact that we can procreate together means that there is nothing wrong with us coming together. The problem simply lies with small minded individuals who have a problem with anyone or anything different from them.

  35. Hi Bjorn,

    Thanks v. much for posting on such an interesting, compelling topic – it’s nice to see that amongst your many intriguing posts on your recent travels, you have continued to write thought-provoking articles.

    As a former student at a very multi-cultural school (that you might have heard of), I think it’s somewhat surprising that even from my school days, there has still been a belief encouraged by others that people should stick to their own ‘kind’. I don’t think many people have written about this, but as friendships are often the foundations of how we learn to interact with those of the opposite sex (or in my case, the same sex) in preparation for forming romantic relationships in the future, it makes a big difference if people are encouraged from an early age to make friends with people who are ‘like them’.

    Despite having attended a school (and a university) that were marketed as highly integrated environments, there was still a tendency for people to encourage others to foster close friendships with those of a similar background to themselves. It was subtly done, but prevalent enough that as students began to develop relationships, there was peer pressure to stay within the confines of a particular group, or risk ostracisation from those closest to you.

    In other words, interracial relations, both romantic ones and those which were purely friendships, were seen to be a ‘statement’ you were making about your own racial identity. To cross that boundary, for some people, was an indication that the person did not ‘love themselves enough’ because if they did, why would they not choose to be with someone exactly like them?

    You could say that there’s a degree of narcissism to it, a sense that someone’s friendship or relationship choices are meant to mirror the ‘sameness’ of the person, that in dealing with other people your objective should be to shape your world in ‘your own image’ or the image of yourself as defined by your ethnicity, religion and/or the cultural background you were raised in.

    It took me a long time to accept that surrounding yourself with people who are different to you is not an indication that you do not love yourself, as some would claim – the fact that others of another background can look at you and find you appealing enough to want to spend years (if not the rest of their life) in your company is in fact an enormous indication of your worth within the global community.

    There’s an example of how deep-rooted this issue is – my parents are from the Caribbean, and over the years I have heard several people talk about the innate ‘differences’ between Africans and Caribbeans. It was something I always imagined to be rather immature, but I recently discussed this issue with my parents and was quite shocked to hear of their personal experiences of this.

    My parents told me of instances where they had been rejected by potential African partners based on purely their Caribbean heritage, that they had been called ‘cane-suckers’ and deemed to be ‘racially inferior’ due to the fact our ancestors had been captured and enslaved whilst their ‘stronger’ ancestors had not been soiled by the repercussions of the slave trade.

    It’s a reminder of the inescapable fragmentation that emerges from racism – that it sets in motion an endless series of divisions until the only person left and deemed to be an ‘authentic’ human being is yourself. Everyone else is somehow ‘alien’ or unworthy.

    Thankfully, my parents have never discouraged my siblings or I from finding love with someone of a different background. One of my brothers has a long-term Japanese girlfriend and they have an incredibly gifted son together, who we all adore. My Japanese sister-in-law is called their daughter and she and her relatives are simply part of our family. Another brother has a Croatian wife and several children with her, and once more, her relatives are another rich branch of our ever-growing heritage. Some of my other brothers have married Caribbean partners and have equally wonderful children, but no one is given priority or discounted due to their background – rather we are an incredibly diverse family, and I hope to one day be connected through them to other cultures, religions and backgrounds that will help me to grow and learn more about the world I live in.

    My boyfriend is Polish and we’ve been together for 6 years, and despite the fact that my parents don’t approve, I’ve been absolutely amazed by the number of similarities between Polish and Caribbean culture, two places that are geographically very far apart and yet have very similar mindsets, and that have triumphed in the face of terrible historical atrocities.

    All of this has taught me that it’s not a sign of self-hatred or self-betrayal for you to find love with someone from another culture – we as human beings are at our strongest when we remove our fear of the ‘Other’ and instead focus on building long-lasting bonds with others we have been blessed enough to share this planet with.

    1. What a superb comment!! Thank you for the excellent thoughts… It is gut wrenching to witness prejudice – whether overt or understated influencing so many of our relationships still today. The more I travel the more I come across all kinds of different forms of prejudice, ofen without the PC veil that keeps a lot of it from openly displaying itself in the US.

      One other thought… it´s sad how the international schools we go to sometimes reinforce prejudice more than they break down walls… It seems that people develop tribal mentalities on a lot of campuses and mix even less with people of other cultures than they would in less diverse environments… International schools should make more of an effort to promote actual mixing of cultures rather than simply rattling off the country count in their student population that year…

  36. Hey Bjorn, let me first say how jealous I am of you, the ‘global cultural kick’ you are on! Your travels and stories are gold, lol. Now down to business.
    I absolutely agree with your thoughts on interracial dating. People are people regardless of the senseless barriers we place up and the more we find we have in common rather than what separates us, we are more loving, and more apt to fall in love.
    However, I know you just don’t want everyone agreeing with you, so I’ll try to offer a different perspective based on conversations I’ve had in the African-American community. Of course there is no sort of consensus; either yay or nay about interracial dating in the black community (about 96% love their President who is bi-racial), but I’ll share some of the more colorful responses I’ve heard.

    One perspective is that because of unresolved issues concerning race and American society, many feel as though we as a people need to come to a place of wholeness and unity before we, ‘wholesale’, lose an essence. An essence that has been under appreciated, disregarded, and even downgraded throughout American history.
    Another perspective is that interracial dating, particularly with whites, is seen as a poor symbolism of upward mobility, i.e. Black male athletes dating white women.
    The last one is more of a feeling some have expressed; interracial dating is seen as a betrayal that suggests their own kind is not good enough. This is interesting because it doesn’t indicate that other races are ill-fitted, not up to par, but the reverse. A feeling that blacks are not good enough marriage material.

    These conversations are always spirited and passionate in barbershops, beauty salons, college dorm rooms, on street corners, both sides interjecting and getting more animated (I love it, lol). But this is just a tiny weeny drive through the mind of ‘some’ (very few) black folk.

    1. Donald, thanks for spicing up the conversation!! I definitely appreciate it. I wonder what to do with the pushback our generation still gets when we date across ethnic barriers. The examples you listed, of resistance to the idea of interracial dating, remind me of the storm of ideas I hear wherever we are traveling for why, based on history and cultural survival, we should all just stick to our own… I wonder what the future holds for such thinking. I am in Buenos Aires right now and there is a distinct lack of interracial couples… from what I understand there is a lot of pressure to keep Argentines looking as euro as possible… difficult to understand and very frustrating…

  37. I have friends of every color, every race. But when it comes to looking for a husband, I’ve never considered anything but an African-American, not Caribbean-American or even African. And yes, I do believe that there is some racial bias for me. But I also think it has to do with preferences even more than race. There are just certain people that we’re drawn to. My friends swoon over Denzel Washington. I could care less. But Tom Selleck (yeah I know he’s white), now that’s one gorgeous man. However as a Christian the bottom line for me would be whether or not this is God’s choice, black, brown, or purple. Because with God in the center, you can’t go wrong.

    Thanks Bjorn for such a thought-provoking question.

    1. Thanks for your Tom Selleck endorsement, Wanda:) The comment section is now complete!! HA!! I more than agree with your thoughts on God´s leading. Thanks for the back to basics reminder!

  38. All I know is men ought to be careful when dating and/or marrying women of different races because they may have men of their own race who will beat and/or kill them, especially when they happen to be those they are intended to marry, their fiance, their boyfriend, or husband. For instance, I’ve heard of Asian males beating up and/or killing Western White and half Asian/White males for wanting to court Asian females, usually their girlfriend, betrothed, fiance, or wife, as well as American, Latin American, Eastern European, and Russian males doing the same thing to foreign males who want to court females from their own country, etc. since males tend to be very possessive and territorial and also because there are lots of them as well.

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