Race Card: Is Refusing to Date Across Ethnic Lines Racist?
Last year a Latina friend of mine who’s unhappily single outlined what she’s looking for in a mate. She wants a man who’s college-educated, socially conscious, speaks Spanish and is Latino. “It’s not that I’m against interracial dating or anything,” she explained self-consciously. You see, I’m in an interracial relationship, and she didn’t want to offend me.
I wasn’t at all offended. I completely get her stance on interracial dating. My friend would describe herself as a proud Latina (I’m withholding her specific ethnicity to protect her privacy). She’s built a career on doing work to benefit the Latino community and wants someone who shares that mission. She’s also quite family-oriented and wants children who speak Spanish and practice the same customs she did growing up.
Given this, it makes perfect sense to me that she’d want to date a Latino. But reading a piece featured on Jezebel.com called “Dating Latinos Doesn’t Make Me Racist” made me realize that some people would object to my friend’s dating preference. Readers responded to that piece by telling the writer, who has much in common with my friend, that she’s limiting herself. Some also pointed out that a white person with similar dating preferences would be considered racist.
Would my friend’s dating pool expand if she chose not to solely date Latinos? Probably. Is she racist for dating solely Latinos? No. And before I say more, I want to point out that I know Latinos can be of any race. The friend in question is mestiza, however, and she typically dates others who share her combination of Native American and Spanish heritage. So, why isn’t she wrong for making this move? Because wanting to pass on one’s cultural heritage to children isn’t racist, nor is wanting a mate who understands what it’s like to experience the same kind of oppression you have.
It’s common knowledge that in this society, people of color have the burden of educating others about their culture. They have this burden at school and at work, so some want a reprieve from this in their intimate relationships. They don’t want to spend family functions explaining customs to a mate or translating from one language to another. They also don’t want to have to explain why it’s important for children to partake in certain cultural practices.
Another Latino friend of mine, a guy, pointed out how it’s imperative for educated Latinos to pair up with one another because there are social and economic repercussions if highly educated Latino professionals outmarry. What ultimately happens is that the resources these Latinos can provide never make it into the Latino community.
So, what are your thoughts? Is refusing to date interracially ever justified?
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