Dear Baroness, Am I racist because I've never dated a non-white guy?
I need you to weigh in on something. I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about the people we’ve dated and the topic of race came up. He asked me if I’d ever dated anyone who wasn’t Caucasian. I said no. He asked why. I said I’d never been attracted to any men who weren’t white. He was horrified and said I was a racist.
I was blown away. I have black and Asian and Indian and all ranges of other friends who are non-white and I never think about it. Of course I don’t. Because I’m not racist. But as far as people I’m sexually attracted to, I would say that I’m only attracted to white men. He badgered me. “You’ve never wanted to have sex with a black man? An Asian? A South American?” My answer to all was no, but not because I’m racist. Because it’s a personal sexual preference. But now I can’t stop thinking about what he said and I’m worried I may be.
Am I racist?
Perhaps Too Vanilla
Whoa. This is a big one. And thank you for writing. Such an important topic and intriguing question.
It’s fine to have a type. But making sweeping generalizations based on the color of someone’s skin is exclusionary and indeed racist. Simple as that. And it doesn’t have to be just because of the color of someone’s skin. Saying you aren’t attracted to an entire segment of people basically means that there is no individuality within the group and no way you could make an emotional connection with anyone from this group of people. Which is ridiculous.
If you made a statement about not being attracted to men with brown eyes, people would think you were crazy and narrow-minded, right? You may have a type – I mean, who doesn’t? But most of us don’t end up with what we thought was our type – we end up with people we find funny and smart and kind and fabulous who may or may not have any of the physical traits we would list if made to do so. (I recommend you do this. It’s a fun exercise. Fate laughs at us.)
But how much of that ideal type you think you need/want/are attracted to comes from your head or your heart and how much is from what we’re fed by the media? What is attractive. What is beautiful. And it’s not just the media, of course. It could be that you grew up in a non-diverse area and were surrounded by people who looked just like you. It could be that your father was a bigot who had derogatory names for all groups other than whites and this still lives in a tiny place down deep inside you. Is this how it seeped in? Is it from church? The current republican party in the US? Ha. Sigh. There are many explanations but explanations are not excuses.
There are many possibilities as to why you might have this underlying leaning, but the point is, you are now a grown up and not likely still living under your father’s roof and have a brain and can use it and can learn and grow and mature and realize that your vast generalizations are not fair, not helpful and actually harmful.
Because you are asking the question and want to understand your behavior, you are far ahead of so many people who don’t question anything. So bravo for you. But your work is not done yet.
Spend some time thinking about where this came from and how you might process it and move forward with your thinking. Talking about it with smart people around you and reading about white privilege and racism in general are great places to start.
Here’s a great read. You’re not a bad person. You’re just as screwed up as the rest of us. But you’re trying to become a better person and in my book, that’s a fabulous and respectable quality. I’d rather be friends with someone like you who wants to learn than someone who blindly follows all the ‘right’ things and never thinks for themselves.
But seriously, darling. Can you really tell me you don’t think Edris Elba is fine? What about Rami Malek? Gael Garcia Bernal? Nacho Figueres? Raza Jaffrey? Taye Diggs? You need to get your eyes checked if you don’t want a piece of these fine specimens. Yum.
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