Ask Racialicious Special: Teen Vogue Edition

by Latoya Peterson

Rachel Simmons, advice columnist to Teen Vogue, sent me an interesting query from one of her readers. The question? “I Like Him, But What If He’s Not Into Black Girls?”

Jacqueline, a biracial girl who just transferred to a predominately white area, writes:

For the most part, I’m treated like everyone else. But when it comes to dating and someone asks, “What do you think of Jackie?” People either respond nicely or say “I’m not really into black girls.”

This comes across to me as extremely unfair. I have a great personality, I get good grades, I try my best to be nice to everyone. The point is, I’m more than the color of my skin, and what’s wrong with black girls anyway?

Poor kid – I sent it around to the team, figuring we could all relate. And we could.

Here’s what ended up in Teen Vogue:

Your letter brought back memories, not just for me, but from all of us at Racialicious. As a group of men and women who are multiracial, Black, Latino, and Asian, we all could relate to your letter for two reasons:

1. Dating in high school sucks.
2. Adding race into the mix sucks even more.

All of us have been in the exact same situation you have. That heady, scary feeling of having a crush on someone is hard enough to deal with. The idea that your race – something you have no control over – could determine if this person likes you or not is almost unbearable.
So first, I want to say you are absolutely right – there’s nothing wrong with being a black girl. There’s nothing wrong with being biracial. There is never anything wrong with being who you are. I’m glad your parents worked so hard to create an environment where you felt comfortable being yourself. Unfortunately, everyone isn’t like that – bigotry and racism are still very much in effect, and as long as people are willing to believe in stereotypes and not individuals, we will be stuck in the same situation.

But that doesn’t solve your problem. So putting the huge part of race in society aside, let’s focus on something equally as important: how race impacts your dating life.

Ultimately, you’re going to have to make a move. Sitting there wondering won’t solve anything – and the best case scenario is he feels the same way. Maybe he’s afraid that a cute biracial girl won’t be into white guys! Of course, it could always play out where he doesn’t like you for a non-race related reason, which sucks. Or he could believe in the stereotypes and reject you for no good reason at all.

Nadra, one of my columnists who is in an interracial relationship, has a suggestion if you want to try to gauge his reaction:

“She could say that she heard about a white person rejecting someone simply because the girl is black. ‘Isn’t that awful?’ she could say, or ‘What do you think about that?’ she could ask and observe his reaction. The problem here is that his reaction probably won’t be terribly honest. He could say, ‘Yeah, that sucks,’ because it’s the PC thing to say, not because he means it.”

The trouble is, there’s no way to really know why someone rejects you. The only thing that you will know for sure is if he’s interested or not – and isn’t that what’s most important?

After all, your racial heritage is a part of who you are – and you deserve someone who will like and respect everything that’s awesome about you.

In our team-only conversation, Thea mentioned:

I guess I would say that, as frustrating as it might be, it is often difficult to tell whether or not interpersonal relationships are coloured by racism, unless people are flat out spouting racism. In other words, if she tells this guy she likes him, and he turns her down, unless he is overt about it, she will never really know whether or not it is about race. It’s possible that he won’t know either; for a lot of people racial prejudice is so deep-seated that they can’t even admit to themselves how it shapes their actions. This is a painful and difficult obstacle that many young people of colour have to learn to come to terms with. I suggest she visits Racialicious for support :)

But I don’t think that her worries that her friend doesn’t like black girls should stop her from asking him out, if that’s what she really wants to do. Best case scenario? They live happily ever after. Worst case scenario? He turns her down because of race, and then later realises his terrible mistake and regrets it forever.

Because Jackie’s right – of course there is nothing wrong with black girls! She sounds like a smart, self-confident and loving person, and if she’s at a school that’s trying to break down her self-esteem – what she has to deal with sounds just awful, and she is a tough cookie for being able to talk about it in such a level-headed way – the most important thing she can do is to remember how great she is, no matter what, all day, every day.

Readers, what would be your advice for Jackie?