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.
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