Saturday, August 20, 2011

Interracial Dating and Relationships II



The following quote from a woman named Holly, part of a panel of Asian-Americans discussing dating and relationships, speaks a lot to some of the underlying challenges that face many interracial relationships:

The liberal-multi-culti facade of all interracial relationships being cool was torn up a little bit when my sister started dating black guys, however. There was a lot more disapproval and “what does he want to do with his life,” which I’m sure could be attributed to class differences as well. Come to think of it, they did raise similar objections to a white guy she dated who was a slacker musician without much of a “future.” When I put it all together in my memory, the message we received was holistically about fitting people into a nice, harmonious middle-class liberal picture of diversity where everyone basically ought to want the same thing: college, a career, a nice home, stability, marriage, kids, family closeness, etc.


Now, I think it's very true that wide differences around life goals, educational pursuits, and some of the other things listed here are major challenges to the success of any relationship. However, there's something more going on here.

I can recall a few female family members, both young white women, getting a lot of flack for "dating black men." And I don't think it really mattered much who these guys were, what they wanted out of life, or how they treated their partners. Their race trumped everything else, which obviously points to the various negative stereotypes that have hounded young African-American men for decades, even centuries to some degree.

Another example of this comes from my own experience. One of the reasons the relationship I cited in yesterday's post broke up was due to stereotypes some of her family members about white men. Specifically, they believed that a white man would never commit to, and marry an Asian woman. Again, it didn't matter how well I treated her, nor all the other things I did in my life that demonstrated commitment and loyalty - those family members, including her mother, read me by race. They certainly liked me well enough, but because I was white, they couldn't quite trust me.

When I hear people spout nonsense like "we live in a post-racial world" - a fairly common refrain amongst liberal white folks following President Obama's election - these kinds of situations come to mind. (Many other things come to mind as well, like racially charged police beatings, redlining, the wealth gap as broken down by racial groups, airport profiling, and immigration policies, just to name a few.) But with dating and relationships, at least in the U.S., we are at an interesting crossroads, as more and more people are crossing racial lines to find partners, and yet are living in a country where racism and racial prejudice are still fairly powerful players.

And yet, people of different racial/ethnic backgrounds still manage to fall in love and build lives together. Lots of people. Sometimes, I think that's kind of amazing. Other times, it just seems normal - you know - like the most natural thing in the world - loving another.

10 comments:

  1. Love is the most natural state in the world Nathan. I agree. And who knows where the heart leads.

    I think there is more tolerance now, more than ever before but where older generations are concerned a change of mind and heart will take longer.

    We, the younger generations can make a difference by looking beyond the skin color and race to see the real person.

    I've just written about interracial dating on my blog: http://compatibilityandlove.com/interracial-relationships.html/

    Cheers

    Rosemary

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  2. I live in DC and are surrounded by a lot of these "liberal white folks"; funny things is however well traveled, aware and "cool" they think they are, they prefer dating each other.

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  3. I have always been so excited to tell everyone that how I get my boyfriend. It was a strange story. Actually after my breakup with my previous boyfriend at first I was so happy because I got to do something new and focus more on my carrier but after sometime all this started becoming boring and finally I decided to move into a relationship.

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  5. There's still racism and we can not change that.. but we must believe that there's love that makes one race to another fall in-love.

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  6. Yeah, I’ve often thought about if white girls looking for black men is more a construct of social circle game rather than cold approach.

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  7. Pretty cool story!
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