Posts Tagged ‘attraction’

Interracial Relationships: Do Those Count?

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

As a part of my white-denial phase as outlined in my previous post, during late high school/early college, I decided that I was only attracted to men of color. No more blondes for me- I liked dark skin and eyes, and definitely only dark hair was going to cut it.

This impulse arose from a mixture of factors. For one, part of denying my whiteness involved asserting that I wasn’t attracted to white men. Secondly, I was just exiting that thrash-around-and-shock-other-people-until-you-figure-out-who-you-are stage that many teenagers go through. I rather enjoyed announcing to my friends that I didn’t date white boys- not that boys of any type were lining up to date me. Of course, thinking about those conversations now makes me cringe, but I suppose it’s all a part of the process. And finally, I had a vague sense that I was fighting white hegemony and homogeneity by turning my attention to men of color. If I had kids with and married a non-white man, not only would I avoid contributing more white people to the world, but I would also have a life partner who would constantly be able to check my privilege and curb any racist tendencies I might have.

Of these impulses, the last one was getting at something important. It was good that I was able to see men of color as potential partners, as desirable. However, despite my good intentions, there was a dark side to this instinct that was very dangerous. By only giving attention to men of color, I was risking fetishizing them- wanting them because of their color, not for the people they were. Furthermore, I was elevating myself through my association of people of color. Because I only like men of color, I was determinedly “not-racist” and, thereby, better than most whites. Rather that pursuing justice, I was feeding my own ego, upheld by my identity as a white ally to people of color.

Once I realized this, I tried to evaluate my intentions each time I met a potential partner. Was I interested in him, or had I trained myself to only look for dark skin in a crowd of white? I eventually found that I was attracted to a wide range of men- black, Latino, Asian, and more (remember, identity is complicated!) And yes, the joke’s on me: I fell for a white guy, hard. After that, I had to admit that it was stupid of me to try to cut white guys out of my spectrum of interest.

During my senior year of college, I was talking to one of my Mexican friends. A self-professed dater of white girls only, my friend commented, “You know, I feel like several of the white women I’ve been with have only dated me because I’m Latino and speak Spanish.” I had always made fun of him for only dating white girls, but this made me think- wasn’t that exactly what I had done when I refused to date white guys?

These past two years, I have been able to reconcile my openness to white guys while remaining aware of my tendency to fetishize men of color. Even though I had fallen for a white guy, my history was statistically stacked against him- the majority of my interests just happened to be men of color.

Given this fact, it didn’t come as much of a surprise when, upon meeting my current boyfriend, he happened to be an Asian man with olive skin and dark features. His dad is white and his mom moved to the States from Japan, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by merely looking at him (phenotypes can be reeeally misleading). He was born and raised in Los Angeles, and with his affinity for guns and cars, I joke that he’s more American than I am. We sometimes talk about identity and race, but it’s usually not in the context of our relationship. When we do discuss it, I’m certainly not as obnoxious as I used to be. The more I get to know him, the more I feel confident that I’m with him not because of the misguided ideas from my youth, but because of the wonderful person he is.

By Anna Lindner

Anna is a Campus Clipper intern and a first-year Master’s student in NYU’s Media, Culture, and Communication program. Her research interests include critical race and gender theory and their resultant intersectionality. When she’s not studying, Anna enjoys visiting friends, catching up on TV shows, and lifting weights. For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC, from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.

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