Tag Archives: Interracial Dating Roundtable

On Interracial Dating – The Black Panel (3 of 4)

Blair Underwood and Cynthia Nixon

Welcome back to the 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.

If you have not dated interracially, what has contributed to the reasons why not?

Damon: This is an odd question for me to answer, because while I’ve never “dated” interracially, the first woman I slept with in college was white.

Outside of the fact that she was a senior and I was a freshman, our two month long relationship was pretty unremarkable. It was your garden variety college fuck buddy arrangement — I don’t think I ever even saw her before 1am — but the circumstances around us meeting each other were so wrought with contrived stereotype that it could have easily been the premise for an episode of “The Game”

Basically, she approached me at a bar, and asked if I was “Damon Young from the basketball team.” When I replied “Yes,” she whispered “I want to fuck you” in my ear. I (obviously) obliged.

Now, although I realize that this story can be deconstructed from a thousand different angles, it’s important to note that if she never approached me that night, I still probably would have never slept with and/or dated a white woman.

Why? Well, for starters, I’m much more attracted to African-American woman than I am to any other demographic. I’ve also been lucky enough to live in places where black women are bountiful and (most importantly) I’ve been lucky enough to have attractive black women attracted to and interested in me. While I definitely find women of all colors and cultures attractive, I’ve never had a need to “step out.”

And, even if I did feel that need, all of my flirting, approaching, and dating experience has been with black (and “black acting” Hispanic) women. I mean, I know that women are, for the most part, women, but there are some subtle and not so subtle differences in the way that different cultures of women act and respond to romantic interest. Basically, I have no clue how to approach non-black women. I wouldn’t know what to say, how to flirt, how to gauge interest, etc.

Also — and since we’re being candid here, I’m going to be candid — the type of white women who are more attracted to/interested in dating black men usually aren’t attracted to black men like me. While I’m dark-browned skinned and over 6 feet tall, I’m not ‘black” enough for the type of white woman who’d easily approach a black man. This isn’t a compliant, just an observation. Again, this could be a symptom of the cultural vacuum I currently reside in, but I bet this extends past the ‘Burgh.

N’jaila: Damon, I know exactly what you’re talking about. I usually feel like I’m not the “type”.

Damon: N’Jaila, I wonder if there’s a white man and woman on a Google document somewhere out there discussing how black people who exclusively date whites aren’t into white people like them. Continue reading

On Interracial Dating – The Black Panel (2 of 4)

Gabrielle Union and John Cho

Welcome back to the 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.

If you have dated interracially, did you have any fears or misgivings going into the situation?  Did you peers react to you differently?

N’jaila: I’ve dated mostly Asian and Asian American men, which apparently makes me a freak of nature.  Even my Asian and Indian girlfriends have made me feel like there was something wrong with me for dating Asian.   Black women and Asian men are not supposed to date and my mom didn’t get the memo and passed on her strange mutation to me.  There are times I feel especially alienated  when my friends or coworkers ask the race of one of my dates and laugh at me when I say “Asian”.

There is a fear that I’m too Black and too Asian to be anything than an exotic romp. Black women’s sexualities’ are either way over amplified or completely disregarded.  Mammy or Jezebel, either situation leaves me out of the dating pool for many men.

I think for me its also more complicated because I work in the adult industry. A lot of people assume that I’m dating a non-Black man because no Black man in his right mind would want to “turn a ho into a housewife”. I think sometimes you can get so wrapped up in how you assume or fear a man will see you that it ends a relationship before it can begin.

Cheryl Lynn: I date interracially, but I often forget when I am. My friends and family don’t make it an issue at all. The neighborhoods I reside in don’t make it an issue. The only time it was an issue was when I dated someone who passed for white. We accidentally stumbled through an Italian festival in NYC and a white woman looked at me, rolled her eyes , and loudly asked “Why’d he bring her here?” We got the hell out of there pretty fast. I went to a rib joint with the same guy and got a few weird looks from a group of black guys. When I started speaking to my date, one of the dudes actually said “Oh, it’s okay. He’s Puerto Rican!” Seeing some of the nonsense that my friends who are in black/white couples have had to deal with makes me a bit wary of dating white men. I actually told a friend that I couldn’t be bothered with dating interracially after seeing the trouble she went through. My friend laughed and said, “You are in an interracial relationship right now!” I’d completely forgotten! He wasn’t white.

Andrea: I’d be lying if I said no. In quite a few of my past IR relationships, especially with White men, I was “their first time” or some validation of how “not White” (meaning “not boring/status quo/racist”) they are. It’s gotten to the point were I simply ask if this is their first time dating interracially, especially dating a Black woman. This lets me know what I’m getting into or am up against. In my current relationship, I’m dating a White man who I met at an interracial-dating site. In his profile he said (and I quote): “ I’ve dated a number of, and have always been most attracted to, black women–so interracial dating is not a try-out or a new experience for me.” Which heartened me. We’re still working out some stickier points about race and racism in our relationship, where I have to do some gentle anti-racism conversations around humor, for example–but we’re getting along so far.

As for my peers… ::shrug:: They pretty much know how I roll as far as dating and mating. Quite a few of them have dated/mated interracially or are doing so now, so they just look at me.  I think they’re more amazed I’m into polyamory and burlesque than into interracial dating.

Helena: I went to winter formal with a Korean guy and I went to prom with the quarterback who was Filipino. I asked him because I’d had the hugest crush on him for more than a year. My aunts and cousins came over to house before prom to help me get dressed (we call this a “champagne party” in Cali) and they weren’t at all shocked that my date was Asian. They were impressed that he rolled up in a Beemer.

But once I got to college it seemed as if dating outside your race was much more taboo. I mean you couldn’t even kick it with other folks without being seen as a fake. I was used to eating kalbi and calling my Chinese best friend’s mom Auntie Diana, so the self-segregation in college threw me for a loop. It got so bad–me hanging with white people–that a friend, who’d eventually pledge a black sorority with me, pulled me aside to tell me that word on campus was that I “wasn’t black.” Like, huh?

Then sophomore year I actually dated a white guy for a hot week. We joked about race all the time. I think it made us feel mature and so over it. Once he asked me if I’d like to be the roast beef in his white bread sandwich. Seriously. We held hands and ate at a campus cafe together maybe two times and the streets started talking. One of my older guy friends, who my mother asked to look out for me, pulled me aside and told me that it wasn’t cool for me to date the white dude. We broke up, eventually. Because he played air guitar and it was college not because folks had a problem with it. But I still remember thinking that black men had a problem with seeing me with this white man. That was in 2000.

Tami: I dated white and Asian men casually and also had a yearlong relationship with a white guy. Like Andrea, I’ve had the experience of navigating relationships with men who have never dated black women–sometimes wading through stereotypes and exoticizing. I also connected with some really good guys. None of them ever met my parents. That wasn’t by design, though.

Ultimately, the greater barrier in my longest IR relationship was class and not race. He was raised in and continued to identify with white, ethnic, working-class Chicago. I grew up the child of degreed black professionals in a suburban environment. Our outlooks and our goals were too far apart, no matter how much we liked each other. But, as someone mentioned above, I’m not sure class would have been as much a barrier, if we had race in common. That feels strange to say.

Sewere: My general concern around interracial dating has always been having the patience to deal with a privileged partner. I realize the older I get the less willing I am to go through racism 101 with a partner, to explain to someone why I don’t want to be around racist family, why I wouldn’t want my kids around racist family members. I’m not even sure I have the patience to break down the deeper level racism or intersectional stuff, just because I think I expect that someone who wants to have a relationship with a person of color, should have already done some heavy lifting. More important, this doesn’t just apply to white folks, it applies to people of color as well, i.e. I expect that a Nigerian should be aware of intersecting discrimination and privileges vis-à-vis other folks of color.

The funny thing is I expect the same of African-American folks regarding approaching the diversity of Africa and Africans. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had to break down attitudes influenced by colonial racism (starting with the Africa as a country misconception). I know this might seem like an unrealistic level of expectations, but honestly, I think people should be capable of treating others as full humans. If I get the impression the person I’m dating isn’t willing to understand how privilege works and isn’t willing to challenge herself or be challenged, then I end it.

Dani: I can’t say I’ve really had fears. When I’ve been with someone who’s not black, I’ve been living in places where I have a kind of anonymity. It’s not like I’m in my hometown and people who’ve known me my whole life are offering their opinions of my dating choices. More importantly, my family and longtime friends know that being open to people of different races is part of who I’ve always been. It’s how I was raised. When I took a boyfriend who is Latino but kind of racially ambiguous home to meet my family, I remember one of my cousins asking, “What is he? Mexican?” But it was out of genuine curiosity. It wasn’t like some veiled slur. But I have to admit, one of the many reasons I have a lot of pride in my family is that we’re a strong *black* family. I struggle with what, if anything, this phrase means as some of my cousins and I partner with non-black people. And it makes me parse the phrase and think hard about the ways in which the “strong” and the “black” have been connected in my mind all these years. Continue reading

On Interracial Dating – The Asian Panel (1 of 3)

Cashmere Mafia
Welcome to the Asian panel on Interracial Dating. We actually did end up doing a South Asian panelist breakout, which will go next Thursday. 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.

What types of messages did you receive about interracial relationships growing up?
N’jaila: It was very odd for me because while my father was Asian, I never felt like I or he was “mixed”. Growing up mixed was Black and White. Black and Asian just made Black and what was more important was my parents were West Indians. I don’t believe I even felt “mixed” or “Asian” until much later in life when I began dating myself. My parents did not see themselves as a mixed race couple so I did not see them that way. On television you never see Asian people with anyone other than whites so to me I always felt like dating inter-racially was code for dating white.

Elton: My mom doesn’t care who my sister or I marry as long as they are good, hardworking, honest people who live what she calls a “quality life.”

My family is part of a wave of Cantonese immigrants to the Southern United States that goes back to the 1930s or earlier. One of our forefathers is turning 100 this year. Another from that generation married a white waitress who worked at the first Chinese restaurant in the area. Their marriage lasted until death. Their mixed-race children are retirement age and a few served in the Army in the Vietnam War.

Despite the predominant media message, neither interracial relationships nor Chinese immigrants to America are anything new.

refresh_daemon: My first generation Korean immigrant parents view of interracial dating has evolved a little since I was young. When I was younger, it was unfathomable to them that I would date someone who wasn’t ethnically Korean and so the particular message that I received growing up was a big “NO.” My father, having since moved back to Korea still holds to this view strongly, although only for me as being the first son has implications that do not extend to my younger siblings; for my younger siblings, I think his line of thinking is similar to my mother’s (although Korean beats all for him). My mother would prefer that I marry, in order: 1) A Korean American woman, 2) an Asian American woman, 3) a Korean woman, 4) a white woman. She’s become much more open since my youth, but she still has clear racial biases. Obviously, marriage preferences determine who it’s acceptable to be in a relationship with. As my father says, “Friends fine, but you can’t marry them.” Continue reading

On Interracial Dating -The Black Panel (1 of 4)

Essence Dating Package

Welcome to the 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.

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

N’jaila: I always thought that interracial meant when a non-White dates a White person.  I think there were a lot more positive representations of Black men with White women than the other way around.  

Damon: It’s possible that Pittsburgh, Pa is a cultural vacuum. Actually, “possible” isn’t the right word. “More than fucking likely” fits a little bit better. I’m bringing this up because, while I’ve always been aware that people of different races could date, sleep with, and marry each other, it never really entered my consciousness as something that people actually did until I got to college. I even remember having a slight crush on a white classmate in 8th grade, but never approaching her or even mentioning it to anybody because, well, that’s just not what people did.

What made this feeling even weirder was that it wasn’t rooted in any racial hang-ups and/or neurosis. It — interracial dating — just didn’t compute as a possibility because I never saw any of my peers do it. I guess it’s kind of like the KFC Double Down in that way. I wouldn’t have fathomed that you could make a chicken/meat/chicken sandwich until I actually saw it done.

Ashley: I always joke that I didn’t “discover” race until I attended Howard University. Sure, I knew the different colors of the ‘racebow’, but I didn’t know what it meant for me or my peers.  I grew up in a predominantly white suburb in Michigan (right outside of Detroit and not too far from 8 mile…). There were a ton of interracial relationships in my family. For the longest time I assumed my white aunts were just fair-skinned black women. Our family didn’t talk about race, but we were still “black” (if that makes sense). Meaning, you could catch anything from B.I.G to Bill Withers on the stereo on any given day. So the messages that I received were that it was, “all good.” I don’t recall any funny looks or whispered conversations about the interracial couples in our family. My uncles didn’t run to the family bbq expecting an award for bringing a woman of a different race around. It was something we were just all used to seeing.

Cheryl Lynn: The topic of interracial relationships wasn’t (and still isn’t) a topic that is discussed in my family. Still, I definitely got the impression that that there were interracial relationships that weren’t an issue and interracial relationships that were. Romantic relationships between blacks and Latinos were/are so common in my family and community that I often forget that they actually are interracial relationships. My family and friends have never frowned upon romantic relationships between blacks and whites…but it is a thing. It’s an elephant in the room.  I remember the raised eyebrows when I went to the prom with a white guy. It was the only time I dated a white guy and the only time I ever got those raised eyebrows. Once I brought home an ethnically/racially ambiguous Asian guy. My mom was really sweet, but as soon as he left asked, “What is he?”  I told her “He’s not white.”  And that was all the answer she needed.  But if you bring a white person home, there are little jokes, little looks. Nothing mean, but your relationship is marked as different. The one exception? If your significant other is gay. I guess there’s a minority requirement…but they don’t care what minority! Continue reading

None of This is Easy: A Week of Conversations on Love, Sex, and Interracial Dating

Lakeview Terrace

I was reading the latest Essence on the plane and realized that their main feature on black dating once again boiled down to black women need to date a white guy. (To be fair, Essence printed a longer version of this article, which we’ve already taken to the mat.) But all the talk of black women increasing their market value by diversifying their holdings made me die a bit on the inside.

It also got me thinking – there are so many missing conversations on race, love, sex, and dating, why do we spend so much time rehashing the same old stories? And since I’ve moderated conversations on all kinds of people’s issues with dating and relationships, I think would be a public service at this point to show that (1) dating and relating isn’t easy for anyone and (2) stereotypes impact how we came to our own ideas about dating, and what is often missed in media or mainstream conversations. In addition, I wanted to throw a bit of a wrench in the gears by including queer discussions of dating in the roundtables – generally, these articles only look at what heterosexual black women should do, and ignore every one else.

So I put out a call to about 75 friends of the blog, long time commenters, and regular contributors. And they responded with their stories that are honest, painful, and beautiful. So without further ado, here’s the roundtable descriptions and schedule.

The Black Roundtable

This one is part article response to the Essence piece, but also a discussion of the myths around intra and interracial dating. Presented in four parts, starting today and running through Tuesday. (Jump to part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4)

The Asian Roundtable

As a mod, I’ve noticed that there is a lot of contention between some Asian men and women that closely mirror the conversations in the black community – without the media attention. In addition, there are complicating cultural factors to explore, as well as the broader idea of “dating white” and “dating nonwhite.” Starting tomorrow, presented in three parts. (Jump to part 1, part 2, part 3)

The Mixed Race Roundtable

Exploring the idea of “dating in/dating out” does or does not apply to mixed race people, and observations on how the panelists interpret these conversations about what people should and should not do. Starting Tuesday.

The White Roundtable

Much has been made about black women dating white men, but no one has really touched on attitudes toward interracial dating in the white community. The panelists discuss the messages they received growing up, and their experiences with dating both interracially and intraracially? Starting Tuesday.

The Latin@ Roundtable

Partially a response to Latina’s article from a couple months ago on “Latinas Dating Black Men” which didn’t really discuss black Latinos. Also a conversation about the boundaries of race and ethnicity, particularly when Latino is such a broad and encompassing term. Starting Wednesday.

The Way Outside the Constructs Roundtable

Black Enterprise had a study which showed that the indigenous outmarriage rate was 50% – and this was something that wasn’t covered often, considering that most studies do not gather data about these populations. How is the dating conversation complicated by colonialism/genocide, and what are the considerations from an indigenous perspective? Starting Thursday.

The Beyond Marriage Roundtable

This one is for the married, once married, and queer folks on the thread – so many of these articles position marriage as the “solution” to this problem – that if everyone just gets married, all these problems would be magically solved. But we all know that isn’t the case. In this roundtable, panelists discuss how intra or inter-racial relationships played out after the wedding, and if the messages you received from society or culture changed. Starting Thursday.