Race is a factor in interracial relationships — but, it shouldn’t be the only one.
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When it comes to conversations about dating, the age-old question “what's your type?” seems almost unavoidable. For most people, their “type” includes a racial preference and spoiler alert it's usually someone of the same racial background as themselves.
Whether its physical preferences, cultural differences, wanting to avoid certain stigmas, or even covert racism, interracial relationships are still a rarity (only 10% of all marriages in the U.S. were interracial in 2015) and are often scrutinized way more than same-race ones.
Just this year, actor Ross Lynch, who is white, had to defend his relationship with Black actress Jaz Sinclair after receiving hate for dating a woman of color. I remember after I started dating my white boyfriend his friends asked him “so you’re into Black girls?” But my question is why are we still at a point where dating someone who’s the same race as you is the assumed default?
Like most other things, media representation of interracial relationships (in the rare cases they’re featured in mainstream media) mirror how they’re seen in society. They’re boiled down to the racial differences between the two people in the relationship rather than also focusing on other aspects like romance, emotional struggle, sex, etc. And while yes, the racial differences between two people in an interracial relationship can be a big factor, it isn’t the only one.
Like any other relationship there’s an emotional side that transcends racial differences which often goes largely unexplored in many media portrayals of interracial relationships.
Being in an interracial relationship myself for over three years, I can tell you first hand how frustrating it can be when people refuse to see past the difference in race when it comes to your relationship. Even my family and friends have been guilty of this, harping on my “white boyfriend” and our racial differences when in my opinion, as long as we love each other that should be inconsequential. Sadly, even people in interracial relationships themselves can get too caught up in the racial side of things. White women fetishsizing light skin children and dating black men because of this or the Asian girl fetish are common examples of this that I’ve seen.
That’s not to say that race should be totally discounted from interracial relationships. From my own experience, interracial relationships can be a really great opportunity to educate your partner on the issues racial minorities still continue to face and can be a great facilitator for learning about new cultures. Our ability to have open and educational conversations about white privilege, systemic racism, and other racial issues is one of my favorite aspects of me and my boyfriend’s relationship.
Of course, race is a factor in interracial relationships — but it shouldn’t be the only one.
You shouldn’t date someone because they’re a certain race, but because they’re a person you have a genuine connection with who happens to have a racial background different from yourself. In my experience, it’s this genuine connection that can facilitate meaningful conversations that lead to a better understanding of each other and the realization that despite what many may think, we’re usually not as different from each other as we think we are.
Taesha Jones is an Editorial Print and Online Writer at Rowdy Magazine. She enjoys hanging out with her cat, reading fiction novels, applying lipgloss, and memorizing female rap verses. Her passions include combatting racial injustice, raising cultural awareness, and promoting a more diversified society. Dm her on Instagram @taeeesha or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.