Tag Archives: Interracial Dating Roundtable

On Interracial Dating – The Mixed Race Panel (2 of 3)

Nicole-Scherzinger

Welcome back to the Mixed panel on Interracial Dating. Our panelists are:

Phil Djwa, technologist; Jozen Cummings, creator of the Until I Get Married blog; LM, long time commenter and friend of the blog; Liz, friend of the blog and co-founder of VerySmartBrothasJen Chau, Founder and Executive Director of Swirl and co-founder of Mixed Media Watch and Racialicious; N’Jaila Rhee, the mastermind behind BlaysianBytch.com(link NSFW); Holly, contributor at FeministeKen, friend of the blog; and A.C., friend of the blog.

It’s been said that mixed race people, by their very nature, are always in a mixed race relationship (unless they find someone of their exact same racial background). Do you think this is true?

Phil: That’s a funny way to put it. I guess so, but it seems more common now, so less of an issue. My wife jokes that I am whiter than she is. Still, I think for me, differences are there. No one can quite tell what I am, or what my kids are, so there is some ambiguity there. I remember being in Hawaii and thinking/feeling I had come home because of all the people looking like me. I don’t suffer the same things my parents did, and that makes it seem less of an issue. Racism expressed directly to my face is pretty rare now, it’s been years, but sometimes I feel it even if it isn’t overt.

Jozen: Short answer: Hell no. Long answer: HHHHHEEEEEEELLLLLLLL NOOOOO! But no really, this is probably the most ridiculous stereotype I’ve heard about mixed race people. If I end up with a woman who is mixed race it’s probably cause I thought she was fine, however that came about really doesn’t matter.

LM: Sure.  But the degree to which this matters depends a lot on the experiences of the people in the relationship, and to go to the other extreme a good argument can be made that just about every relationship is of mixed race.

Liz: Yeah, technically speaking. I’m very proud of both my cultures and don’t see myself excusing my Navajo side with my future family.

Jen: Yes, though I never quite understood the need to point this out. There is a woe-is-me quality to it, a la “Aw geez. I am alone in the world, no one is just like me, racially, so I am doomed to only interracial date.”

First of all, interracial dating is fabulous. Just ask the women out there writing books about it recently….Secondly, there are a ton of people like me out there. I tried to date a Jewish and Chinese guy once and everyone thought he was my brother, so… pros and cons. Seriously speaking, though, I think that things like socio-economic class, values, and belief system, can sometimes trump race when contending with differences in a relationship. Sure, anyone you date is probably going to have a different “racial” make-up than you if you are mixed, but I think there are probably other differences that wind up being more meaningful than the fact that you are from different “races.”

N’jaila: I think this goes for those that “look” mixed. I think even though I’m part Asian dating an Asian man feels to me like an interracial relationship because we are judged by those outside the relationship as a completely different. I think a lot of people feel that people’s races should be dictated by what others perceive them as, and not how the person self identifies.  I have friends that are half White half Black  and a lot of times if they don’t “look” mixed. People act negatively to them dating one race or the other. Continue reading

On Interracial Dating – The Mixed Race Panel (1 of 3)

Perfect Stranger

Welcome to the Mixed Race panel on Interracial Dating. Our panelists are:

Phil Djwa, technologist; Jozen Cummings, creator of the Until I Get Married blog; LM, long time commenter and friend of the blog; LB, friend of the blog; Jen Chau, Founder and Executive Director of Swirl and co-founder of Mixed Media Watch and Racialicious; N’Jaila Rhee, the mastermind behind BlaysianBytch.com (link NSFW); Holly, contributor at Feministe; Ken, friend of the blog; and A.C., friend of the blog.

What types of messages did you receive about interracial relationships growing up?

Phil: My mother was white from Canada and my father Chinese-Indonesian. It was a funny combination of totally being normalized and also sticking out. My family was interracial, but no one else was. It seemed totally normal inside the family, but I couldn’t see any other examples of it locally. I remember meeting the only other Chinese family in the neighbourhood and realizing they were “like me”. I learned later from my parents that they had quite a bit of turmoil in finding a home to rent at first and had received funny looks etc. My mom, who is white, would go to meet the realtor and my dad would only come later after they had agreed to rent it. For myself, dating white women as opposed to Chinese was pretty natural as there were not a lot of Chinese people at my school at the time. There was a lot of casual racism, “Hey Chink” and that kind of stuff, but my extended family was supportive of my mother’s choice, so it didn’t seem to matter.

Jozen: It felt normal in my family. My mom and my uncles who raised me grew up with a Puerto Rican father and a Japanese grandmother. So my family was in on this whole interracial relationship thing early, like dating back to the 1940s. My father who was never around was Puerto Rican and Black, but soon after I was born, my mom married the man who would adopt me as his son and he was white and they had my sister, so she’s mixed. All my uncles married and had children with women from other races, so if there was any type of message about interracial relationships it was that it was not only okay, but kind of normal. There was no beating of the chest about the diversity within the family, it’s just how we live our lives. More than interracial relationships, we all were different people, different values, and I think culturally there was some disconnect within the families, but that’s more of a generational thing than it was a race thing. My Korean cousins were never called out for acting Korean, Filipino cousins weren’t treated differently than our black cousins. It was all mixed up but the conflicts resided in other things outside of race, like most families.

LM: I didn’t, at least not out loud. I came from a white father and Puerto Rican mother, and that background was viewed as “mixed” by anyone who asked about it. But my mother, though she identified strongly with Puerto Rican heritage, looked “white.” So did I. Furthermore, her last name came from her straight-off-the-boat Irish father and she was fluent in both English and Spanish. (To speak English fluently and look white with freckles, as she did, was to have her Puerto Rican-ness doubted — by white people.)

There was enough of a stigma tied to being Puerto Rican — not in our house but what I picked up from muttering cabdrivers and pop culture — that I suspected a) if my mom and I didn’t look white, we might have been treated differently, and b) within my family at least, the concept of inter-group relationships was OK. On this second point, I understood that in reality, there might be opposition to such relationships based on more obvious surface differences. But even as a pre-teen, I figured no one but the two people in a relationship ought to have a say in the matter.

LB: I’m half Black, half-Navajo, however I was raised culturally in a Black home, as my Navajo mother was adopted by a Black family and removed from the reservation. That being said, I definitely received some mixed messages regarding interracial relationships. My mother is a an evangelical Christian, and so I was taught to love everyone equally, that there were no races and we were all God’s children. However, there were messages communicated to me that anyone dating white people thought they were better than other minorities. There would be discriminatory comments made in my family about other races. So, it was a bit confusing at times to reconcile these mixed messages.

Jen: I didn’t receive the most positive messages about interracial dating growing up, which was a shame given that I am the product of one. I received messages from peers, messages from my parents and family, and messages from the communities to which I was attempting to belong. Peers asked questions all the time. They didn’t quite understand how I could be both Chinese and Jewish at the same time. They asked a lot about my parents and how they met. I got the feeling that my parents coming together was a strange thing. An abnormal thing. If it was normal, then there wouldn’t be so much interest and intrigue, right?

My family – my Jewish grandparents in particular – used to tell me that I would marry a “nice, Jewish boy.” Funny – the first boy I really liked was black and Jewish, but somehow they didn’t quite mean that brand of Jewish. It was clear that white was right when it came to whom I should be dating. This felt invalidating and made me wonder if anyone in my family truly understood my experience – both as a mixed women and a woman of color. I kept wondering and stayed single right through college. I knew that the boys to whom I was attracted, would not do. In hindsight, I don’t think that I was ready to fight that fight with them.

And then, the Jewish community – while there were many diverse and accepting synagogues out there, mine was not. Even though we rehearsed for my Bat Mitzvah with my father up on the bima (the altar), the night before my big day left my mother in tears. She got a call from the Rabbi. He told her that the Ritual Committee had had a special meeting and decided that the three of us – me, my mom, my dad – could not be on the bima together. They did not want to promote intermarriage.

I grew up knowing in my heart that there was nothing wrong with interracial relationships (again, I came from one)…but got message after message that they were not approved of, and probably more trouble than they were worth.

N’jaila: I’m a Caribbean American Blasian mutt. My parents made more of a issue of them being from different islands than them being different races. My mom was brown, my father was lighter, but still brown so I never felt “mixed”. Mixed was for people that were part white in my head growing up. I really did think that it interracial was code for “White”. There’s so little discussion of Black and non white/non blacks marrying and dating. Even less about intercultural relationships within races.

When I got older there was a feeling like both my parents did this whole mixing thing wrong. One of them was supposed to be white. I remember when my first serious relationship abruptly fell apart he solemnly said “if god wanted us to be together your mother would have been white.” So a lot of times I felt like I was a double cast out. Black people were only allowed to be Black and nothing else. Continue reading

On Interracial Dating – The White Panel (3 of 3)

Parenthood

Welcome back to the final White panel on Interracial Dating. Our panelists are:

Megan Carpentier, friend of the blog, formerly of Jezebel, now executive Editor of The Raw Story; Sam Menefee-Libey, friend of the blog, one time contributor, and blogger at Campus Progress; Jill Filipovic, friend of the blog, and Editor of Feministe; Porter, technologist and friend of Latoya; Lauren, founder of Feministe and long time friend of the blog; Allison, long time friend of the blog; and DC, Allison’s brother.

Have you ever been considered a race traitor for flirting with/dating/marrying someone outside of your race? Or, have you observed that behavior from others?

Megan: Back in 2007, I went out on a couple of dates with an African-American man that I met at a bar that was (at that point) on the front of a wave of DC gentrification — on our second date, we went to a decidedly interracial party in a then-gentrifying part of town: we left to “take a walk” (i.e., make out absurdly against various trees in between hand-holding and talking) and we got hollered at by two women on a porch who strongly felt that I shouldn’t be jacking “their” men — let’s just say they used some words that I won’t repeat and hadn’t ever had directed at me before, and which definitely killed my mood. Then they called him, effectively, a race traitor. It felt shitty all around, though I think he was madder at them for what they said to me than vice versa.

As Sam and I both hinted at above, in many white communities, expressing that thought is simply unacceptable and thinking it is even beyond the pale, really. So my sole experiences with it have been as the partner of the person to whom it’s been directed (the guy I just mentioned, my HS ex I mentioned earlier, a college boyfriend who was Latino whose mother was quite upset about my race). So while I understand the roots of the sentiment more as an adult than I did as a teenager, it still seems like a crap thing to say to anyone, regardless of their race.

Sam: I think most of us on this post are urban-dwelling twenty-something professionals, unlikely to encounter that kind of sentiment. It’s probably a question worth asking, it may just require a different sample set.

Jill: I’ve never been called a race traitor for dating someone non-white — at least not to my face. The closest I’ve seen is women expressing frustration with men from their same racial/religious/cultural groups routinely dating women who are outside of their racial/religious/cultural group — with the idea that those men are rejecting women who share their racial/religious/cultural characteristics (and to be clear, I don’t think that’s anywhere in the ballpark of calling someone a “race traitor”). Interestingly, most of the examples I can think of where there was some discomfort or critique of interracial dating have come from women — I don’t know if that’s because I just tend to socialize more heavily and more intimately with women, or because dating is still cast as a game where men hold most of the power and get to pick what “kind” of woman they want, or a little of both. But it seems notable.

Porter: To my knowledge, I haven’t been considered a race traitor. Perhaps it’s occurred but went unexpressed. Not having to worry much about that does feel like a fortunate case, at least somewhat. Not sure if that is white privilege. Probably, in part. Also, I think moving so much has made me a bit more immune to what most groups think of my demographic traits (even if I worry about being boring or uncool), except my parents, which may have taken me longer than many to be more detached from.

The Korean gal I dated in high school definitely got some race traitor pressure, for which I felt a bit guilty, and also, rather angry. Notably, the tight group of Korean kids (mostly male) didn’t coordinate behavior towards me. They weren’t exceptionally cold to me, nor particularly embracing. She heard it, not me.

I think I’ve witnessed more criticism of interfaith dating than interracial dating from my friends and social networks at an earlier age, which is a bit more surreptitious. While one’s faith, especially at a younger age, is inherited from parents like race is, a faith has the appearance of being more of a choice, and thus, easier to criticize some for and be scandalized by. Or, another take: since I was in largely white communities, they had to find SOMETHING to discriminate by!

Daniel:  I’m not entirely sure who I would be a traitor to! Again, perhaps the answer may be because I grew up in a bubble where interracial relationships were part of “the norm” and that labeling didn’t happen so often. Who exactly would I be betraying though? I certainly don’t feel like I have an obligation to the “white” race in any way, and certainly not in my desire to have the partner of my choice. Perhaps this might be different in a more tight-knit community. For example, if I grew up with the framework of “everything about you is white” and it was an integral part of my existence, perhaps I would feel some guilt for introducing someone “other than white” into my life. Such an idea is quite terrifying to me, for I can’t honestly say that I know someone who is completely devoid of influences from other racial communities.

Allison: My community of friends and extended relatives doesn’t adhere to all of the dominant social norms. I’m white with friends and relatives of color,. In this circle, some of us are straight and some queer, some able-bodied and some disable. Some are working-class, some are more comfortable, and some are struggling to make ends meet. We’re all in this together. Through friendship and kinship with this community of complex, well-rounded individuals, I’ve experienced a profound awareness: when it comes to challenging a lifetime of internalized identity politics, the only person I have to worry about betraying is myself. Continue reading

On Interracial Dating – The White Panel (2 of 3)

Kirk and Uhura

Welcome back to the White panel on Interracial Dating. Our panelists are:

Megan Carpentier, friend of the blog, formerly of Jezebel, now executive Editor of The Raw Story; Sam Menefee-Libey, friend of the blog, one time contributor, and blogger at Campus Progress; Jill Filipovic, friend of the blog, and Editor of Feministe; Porter, technologist and friend of Latoya; Lauren, founder of Feministe and long time friend of the blog; Allison, long time friend of the blog; and DC, Allison’s brother.

Since minorities are seen in different lights (and with different accompanying stereotypes), what types of reactions have people had toward you and your partners?

Megan: My first college boyfriend had immigrated with his family from Taiwan when he was 4: in Boston in the mid-90s, I definitely caught and was weirded out when we would get one of Those Looks on the subway (white women dating Asian guys being a less common interracial kind of relationship, he explained, though Boston’s not exactly known for being a bastion of racial tolerance, so it might not have been that specific, either). His family adored me — not so much for me, though I think I tried hard to be nice, but because dating a white blonde girl represented a level of American assimilation achievement that they wanted for their son, and they expressed it that way at some point to him (and he, foolishly, repeated it to me).

But I’ve spent the entirely of my adult life living and working in urban areas, where interracial dating is relatively common, my friends are pretty liberal and most people who know anything about me know better than to say shit to or in front of me that I’m not going to like. I wracked my brain trying to think of anything particularly stereotypical that’s been said about one of my partners, but the best I could come up with was a roommate who said about my Latino then-boyfriend, “It looks like you two have been fucking your brains out for months” because of our pretty clear physical chemistry whenever we were hanging out. I guess that would play into a stereotype about Latin men — especially as we hadn’t actually slept together at that point — but we were pretty absurd around each other (and me as much as him), so it’s harder to call it out as an example.

I should qualify: I’m pretty weird about introducing the men I date to my friends, and have a tendency not to do so until after at least the 3-month mark (a bar not achieved that often). So there are, like, 3 guys in the last 10 years who have dated me long enough to have actually spent any time with my friends or close acquaintances (outside of my roommates/the friends who introduced us), let alone my family. So I also just don’t have a lot of recent data in this regard, outside of strangers giving me the side-eye for making out with/holding hands with someone who doesn’t present as white. I’m sure I have relatives who would break out some stereotype crap, and even some people in my extended social circle who might stupidly do the same, but I just don’t have the data.

Sam: When I was dating Women of Color, pre-critical consciousness, I was in spaces where interracial dating was “normal” and I wasn’t particularly attuned to how race was functioning while I was with my partners. After I stopped being a completely oblivious jackass, the places where my sexuality was public were mostly spaces of resistance, and I rarely spent time with partners in open public spaces. As such, I rarely encountered the sort of stereotyping problems that I’ve heard friends and comrades discuss, and which I’m sure others in these roundtables will discuss with razor-sharp insight.

Paradoxically, I encounter more awkward situations with my current primary partner than I have in the past. I’m now working at a very mainstream non-profit and dating a white bio-woman (two things which bring me no end of self-doubt, guilt, and authenticity crisis, even though my partner and I love each other a lot and discuss these things often). It’s the most public, long-term relationship I’ve been in and we’re in mainstream spaces more. She’s part Portuguese and sometimes is read as a Woman of Color and both of us are frequently read (correctly!) as queer. This leads to all sorts of funny situations that baffle people around us (including parents) but since we’re insulated by class and race privilege and both work and live in social justice/activist communities, it is rarely damaging to us.

Jill: I’ve been in New York for nearly the entirety of my dating life, in a community where interracial relationships are commonplace, so any reaction at all has been minimal. Since my first Big Relationship, I’ve dating men of color and white men with varying degrees of seriousness, and the reactions are pretty much the same — although with the men of color there are sometimes comments (always from white people) about how we’ll have cute babies that will look like Benetton ads. That’s about as racially explicit as it gets. Continue reading

On Interracial Dating – The White Panel (Part 1 of 3)

Ross from Friends

Welcome to the White panel on Interracial Dating. Our panelists are:

Megan Carpentier, friend of the blog, formerly of Jezebel, now executive Editor of The Raw Story; Sam Menefee-Libey, friend of the blog, one time contributor, and blogger at Campus Progress; Jill Filipovic, friend of the blog, and Editor of Feministe; Porter, technologist and friend of Latoya; Lauren, founder of Feministe and long time friend of the blog; Allison, long time friend of the blog; and DC, Allison’s brother.

Much has been made of interracial dating from one perspective: minorities dating or marrying white partners. However, the other side of the conversation hasn’t really been explored outside of a historical context: what types of messages did you receive about interracial relationships growing up?

Megan: My parents were liberals, so they went to a great deal of effort to teach my sister and I about equality and to drill into us that racism/homophobia was really, really bad. Of course, growing up in a small, almost exclusively white semi-rural town, there wasn’t a lot of putting-that-into-action that could go on, but that’s what we were taught. When I started dating the one black guy in my graduating class (and stayed besties with my friend once she came out), I definitely sensed that the values behind the rhetoric were being tested in ways they didn’t necessarily plan for. (It didn’t help that he was far from the best guy to me and that my relationship with my parents was already strained almost to the breaking point at that time, so it’s hard to separate those things from what I felt was their hesitation about his race in any specific way, but that was 17-year-old me’s impression.)

Of course, that was also the first time I ran up against “Mom doesn’t like me dating white girls,” too, which came as a kind of shock. It had never occurred to me that anyone but white people could be inappropriate about race or even racist (see also: 17, from a small, semi-rural mostly-white town), so to have someone’s mother basically refer to me as “that white slut” her son needed to stop dating, I wasn’t sure what to even do about that. I mean, other than sneak around behind her back and prove her right.

I should say: my parents were also very conservative about what media my sister and I were allowed to consume: we didn’t have cable; I wasn’t allowed to see R rated movies before I was 17 (in theatres or on video, insofar as they could prevent it) or PG-13 movies before I was 13; I didn’t hear pop music at all until I was 7 or 8. Magazines were limited to, like, Highlights and Ranger Rick. Books were about the sole thing I was allowed to consume without question (until my dad caught me reading Heinlein for the graphic depictions of sex with no understanding of the underlying misogyny, so they imposed limits eventually). So questions about cultural messaging are weird for me, because so much of media was occurring outside of my limited vision, and what I was taught about right/wrong came down from my parents, from books and from age-appropriate television. All of which, in the 80s, boiled down to “racism is bad, and if you think people of x race are that different from you, you’re racist.” It never really occurred to me that interracial relationships were or should be problematic to anyone but an unreconstructed racist.

Sam (White, Queer, College-Educated Man): Almost all the messages I encountered, whether directed at me by teachers/parents/community or soaked up from broadcast media, were standard white liberal pablum. Interracial relationships were fine because we’re all people or race doesn’t matter or [insert colorblind platitude here]. My parents gave race and personal relationships more thought than most other adults in my life, but they rarely brought it to the forefront of conversation or gave it the kind of sustained focus a white kid probably needs not to turn out totally messed up by White Supremacy. I don’t blame them for this and am extremely thankful for their capacity to have thoughtful and challenging discussions about race and racism, but they certainly weren’t raising me in an actively anti-racist manner. Most of what I encountered outside of a family context was the careless sort of Gramscian “common sense” that is toxic because of its thoughtlessness and self-centeredness rather than because of any sort of explicit ill intention.

I grew up in a Los Angeles suburb that was both racially and economically diverse and quite lesbian/gay-friendly, so my friends and social milieu at school and in the places I hung out were multiracial and culturally and economically diverse, something I didn’t come to appreciate or think of as unusual until attending a very white private college. I’m the son of two middle-class, lefty college professors. I was materially comfortable but not excessively so growing up, but of high socio-economic status because of my parents’ profession and community of academics.

Interracial dating was a pretty normal thing amongst my friends and I had several friends from school, church and my neighborhood who were multiracial and whose parents were in an interracial marriage. Interracial gay couples were not even unusual. Again, these relationships and atmospheres didn’t seem particularly unusual or notable in a multiculturalism-obsessed 90s, where I assimilated all kinds of messages that told me this was how it ought to be and had nothing to do with politics or inequality. As long as I had friends who were People of Color and listened to jazz and attended international fairs, etc., I had no issues. I think that without race ever becoming the focus of any sort of sustained focus or coming into question, I took most of this for granted and didn’t feel particularly strongly about any of the messages I heard, since none seemed to take a particularly strong stance and none seemed to conflict with each other. Racism, of course, was a terrible thing and I wasn’t a racist (of course not!) but was race a problem? Not really. Then were interracial relationships? Definitely not.

I should stress that I don’t remember all the messages I received, but that the above general impression is an accurate (if a little flippant and over-simplified) rendering of my memories of childhood. I didn’t really date before I graduated high school for a number of reasons, so the questions of love and sex and race never collided in a way that would register as important to a narcissistic, angsty teen. My story is about as banal as it comes (read into this as you will).

Lauren (het, white): It would be fair to say that much of my early social justice education was done through the act of interracial dating and the discussion around it. My parents were older, and were raised in the Jim Crow south, even attending high school in a rural Arkansan town during the state-enforced desegregation and the Little Rock Nine. Their wishes were often communicated by my mother, who tried to convey many stereotypically racist ideas about sex and dating, and about black people in particular. Black men were untrustworthy and sexually deviant, they would hurt me, don’t ever bring one home. Continue reading

On Interracial Dating – The Asian Panel (3 of 3)

Gimme Sugar

Welcome back to the Asian panel on Interracial Dating. Our panelists are:

N’Jaila Rhee, the mastermind behind BlaysianBytch.com (link NSFW); Elton, long time commenter and friend of the blog; refresh_daemon, blogger and occasional contributor; Christina Xu, friend of the blog and occasional contributor; Eric Zhang, occasional contributor; and Holly, contributor at Feministe.

Asian American dating can be equally contentious as black dating – so why the total silence in mainstream media outlets?
N’jaila: Its a simple and inconvenient truth, many non Asian Americans don’t see Asians as American as they are. People think we don’t matter and our opinions and issues don’t matter in “the mainstream”.

refresh_daemon: Agreed. Plus, as far as population goes, Asian Americans are smaller and consequently less visible overall. Furthermore, I think Asian Americans even now tend to be less vocal and prominent in mainstream media, so it really has to do with our general lack of presence, combined with the perpetual foreigner concept that gets attached to us.

N’jaila: I also know a lot of Asian Americans that see themselves as “White Minorities” who don’t need to be counted outside of the White mainstream. I think these people are insane.

Elton: I agree. But when institutions treat Asians as practically white, and downplay the fact that Asians experience racism, what do you expect? Especially in higher education, there is an invisible asterisk beside “minority” or “diversity” that says *actually we mean non-Asian minorities, and our definition of diversity is “fewer Asians.”

Eric: I specifically remember the moment on Tyra when a gay interracial Asian-white couple made an appearance.

About halfway through the clip, a gay Asian man in the audience and confronts the Asian man on stage. His speech mirrors many discussions I have heard about “self-hating” Asian women, and in particular the debate around eye widening. Growing up, I had always been aware of the epicanthic fold and “double eyelids,” but it had never registered to me as a beauty standard until high school when I met Asian girls who wore eyelid tape.

Seeing this discussion on a national television show was pretty groundbreaking to me, even if I first watched it with a bit of contempt considering the kinds of melodrama that gets milked – not just on Tyra – but on daytime talk shows in general. And I think bringing these kinds of questions – about self-hate and about racism in the gay community – to a national audience is a pretty bold move for groups of people who already receive very little recognition in the mainstream (gay interracial couples, gay Asians, etc.). On the other hand, and I say this knowing that talk shows like this aren’t really the best resource for having meaningful, thought-provoking discussions, the portrayal of the relationship and of the two gay Asian men was a little hokey and did very little to talk about interracial gay relationships other than “people are racist towards us and think I hate myself.” Continue reading

On Interracial Dating – The Black Panel (4 of 4)

Mississippi Masala

Welcome back to the final Black panel on Interracial Dating. Our panelists are:

N’Jaila Rhee, the mastermind behind BlaysianBytch.com (link NSFW); Damon Young, better known as The Champ and one of two VerySmartBrothas; Ashley – longtime reader and friend of the blog; Cheryl Lynn, Digital Femme extraordinare, rabblerouser, and longtime friend of the blog; Andrea Plaid – our own Sexual Correspondent; Dani – long time friend of the blog; Sewere – long time commenter, one time contributor, and friend of the blog; Tami Winfrey Harris, long time contributor and editor of Love Isn’t Enough and What Tami Said; Kadian Pow, friend of the blog and occasional contributor, and Helena Andrews, author of Bitch is the New Black.

The article brings intraracial class issues in stark focus when Banks says:

“Give a blue collar brother a try” is what I call the Tyler Perry belief. It’s misguided advice and it often leads to bad relationships and the high rate of divorce for black couples. We’re the least likely to marry and the most likely to divorce. The reality is, if you’re a college-educated black woman, you have less in common with the guy you grew up with from the neighborhood who’s driving the UPS truck and more in common with the white guy who sat next to you in history class in college.”

What’s your reaction to this statement?

N’jaila: Having tried to relate to the white guys in my history classes I think the above statement is bullocks. I mean, you can take me and my brother, same racial, economic and social background and we have very different views on race, relationships, religion and myriad of other things – and we grew up in the same household. So I’m not a very firm believer that you will automatically have anything in common with anyone you meet based on perceived shared experiences. I think what a white male experiences in college and what a Black woman does could be so vastly different that some might even argue that its not a shared experience at all.

I’ve had white student look at me in shock when I told them that I was working to pay for my college education, they actually believed that most Black people got in for free and the government paid my tuition or assume that I was accepted into the college not on academic merit but because the school needed to fill a quota. I went to Rutgers University the most diverse campus in the country and I still had White students that did their best to stay away from anything and everything Black. So what would I have in common with one of those people? Am I to believe that because we sat next to each other in History of Western Civ that that White guy has ever thought of bringing home someone that looked like me to his mother?

Also, being college educated doesn’t stop a person from sharing opinions and beliefs with someone that did not complete the same level of education as them. I think that statement is just plain class-ism.

Andrea: Yep, it sure is. And that’s exactly what this article is getting at: maintaining class privilege. In essence, everyone should stick with their socio-economic kind. But it’s also good to remember that Essence, in its racial-uplift efforts, for a good long time promulgated the message that its middle-class, college-educated readership date Black working-class men. The “dating outside the race” pieces they ran generally side-eyed IR relationships, as if the women doing it made good copy but were doing bad by The Race™. But, as the “Black male shortage” became the mantra (“all the good Black men are taken!”), the IR stories Essence ran became more “lenient” in its attitude towards interracial relationships. And now, we have this piece, which is Essence offering its Negro Imprimatur by calling such relationships “practical.” Nothing about love and/or desire…”practical.” The subtler message is Black women not deserving of wonderfully wildly heart-stopping love except from Black men, if at that–in all of the homophobia dripping from that idea.

Ashley: I don’t agree [with Bank’s statement.] Asking me to switch to Cheerios – just because the corner bodega ran out of them – when I’ve been eating Raisin Bran my entire life wouldn’t work either. This binary solution for black women – stay single or date outside of your race – approach needs to stop.

Also – can we please STOP acting like Tyler Perry’s version of the blue collar brother actually exists! It’s just an awful fantasy.

N’jaila: Espeically because you might end up just as miserable, men are men not matter what the race. I think its more likely for me to end up with my pink rabbit than a white, black, or whatever race man.

Andrea: You have one, too? ::daps::

N’jaila: Oh honey , I have quite the collection.

Andrea: Gurl, we got each other’s email addies. We’ll chat later. :-D Continue reading

On Interracial Dating – The Asian Panel (2 of 3)

Rain, thinking of Full House

Welcome back to the Asian panel on Interracial Dating. Our panelists are:

N’Jaila Rhee, the mastermind behind BlaysianBytch.com (link NSFW); Elton, long time commenter and friend of the blog; refresh_daemon, blogger and occasional contributor; Christina Xu, friend of the blog and occasional contributor; Eric Zhang, occasional contributor; and Holly, contributor at Feministe.

Since minorities are seen in different lights (and with different accompanying stereotypes), what types of reactions have people had toward you and your partners? How are white partners perceived, as opposed to minority partners? Were any partners considered “off-limits” or “forbidden?”

N’jaila: I only know the perspective of the “forbidden” partner. My skin is brown and my hair is curly, my breasts are large and my booty is big. For many of my partners I was something sexually alluring and “dangerous” that was my main selling point. I was forbidden fruit.  I think a good number of my sexual partners took me as a conquest to prove their virility.  Asianness and Blackness is almost synonymous with sexual deviancy for many people.

Growing up I think that white partners felt the most off limits because they were so outside the realm of what was familiar to me.  If they were so alien to me I couldn’t imagine them looking at me and not seeing a laundry list of stereotypes either a dragon lady, mammy , Jezebel or otherwise.  I guess you can say I did not trust white men to make the distinction between genuine attraction and fetish exploration.

Eric: This may be a little bit contradictory to what I said above, but I remember one specific moment, the only moment I had where my mother specifically addressed interracial relationships. She told me and my brother that we were not allowed to marry a black or Japanese woman. My brother took it as a challenge, because he is very much involved in Japanese subculture, but I really just refused to say anything about it. To some extent, my mother’s racist beliefs about black people may have affected me subconsciously, because I remember one time mentioning to my friends that I had a crush on a black classmate, and that he was “the first black guy I’ve ever liked,” which in retrospect was not entirely true. As soon as I said it, though, I realized that I had been brought up to believe that I should not be attracted to black people, whether because of my mother or media representations.

The Japanese part is a result of long-standing resentment in many Chinese of my parents’ and grandparents’ generations towards the Japanese during WWII. I think on an academic level this type of discrimination fascinates me even more, because I have a friend who is half-Chinese and half-Japanese, and she would talk about how her grandparents were scandalized when her parents got married. These kinds of interethnic hostilities are often unspoken about, I think, but many of us who grew up with Chinese, Japanese, or Korean parents have these beliefs instilled in us, so my Chinese friends understand more personally why I was surprised about this girl being half-Japanese than, I think, many of my white friends do. Continue reading