Between news that interracial relationships are on the rise, to the recent dating stats declaring Black women and Asian men are, on average, more single than their peers, there’s been an uptick in people advocating Black women get down with the swirl to broaden their dating prospects.
And many sisters are taking heed.
While Black men who are wed to non-Black partners was twice that of Black women (10.8% vs. 4.6%), the numbers of Black women choosing to “date out” is also on the rise.
Despite the increase in interracial pairings, the overwhelming majority of Americans are married to someone of the same race. In 2010, just 8.4% of all married couples in the U.S. were a part of an interracial union, with Hispanics and Asians “marrying out” the most.
Though many have talked up the “tanning” of America and have championed interracial relationships as our best bet to reach the post-racial Promised Land, what happens if you want to date someone who looks like you?
Recently, Slate’s Reihan Salam wondered, “Is it racist to date only people of your own race?”
Discussing OkCupid’s new service that allows users to state whether or not they prefer to date someone of their own race, Salam writes:
One of OkCupid’s questions reads as follows: “Would you strongly prefer to go out with someone of your own skin color/racial background?” I was struck by the not inconsiderable number of people who answered “yes”—including some people I know “in real life,” many of whom are hilariously self-righteous about their enlightened political views.
…What I found surprising about the fact that a fair number of people answered that they would indeed strongly prefer to go out with someone of their own skin color/racial background was not that this phenomenon exists in the world. Racial preferences in dating are quite common, and women appear to exhibit stronger same-race preferences than men. Rather, I was surprised that people would be willing to openly state that they had strong same-race preferences. One assumes that many people who do have such preferences would either choose not to disclose them publicly, or choose to skip the question entirely.
Salam argues that preferring someone of your own race is, in fact, racist, because, “There are good reasons to question the moral appropriateness of strong same-race preferences and their close cousin, in-group favoritism.”
He goes on to link in-group favoritism to segregation, White Supremacy, and racism.
…whites tend to help other whites without ever discriminating against or behaving cruelly toward blacks and other nonwhites. As long as whites tend to dominate prestigious occupations, and as long as they control access to valuable social resources like access to good schools, the fact that whites, like all people, will do more to help family, friends, and acquaintances than strangers will tend to entrench racial inequality, provided that white people choose to associate primarily with other whites.
While I understand Salam’s concern about how our tendency to favor those who are from our own group can lead to the exclusion others, particularly when it comes to doling out opportunities, this does not make our dating preferences wrong.
Instead of labeling a person who wants to partner romantically with someone of his or her own race or ethnicity as a racist, Salaam should instead encourage increased networking and integrated social and professional settings to discourage racism and in-group favoritism.
Despite his assertion to the contrary, one can absolutely advocate for racial equality while preferring to date and/or marry within their own race without it meaning the person is uninformed, un-enlightened, or racist.
Unless you’ve grown up in an environment that has taught you to hate yourself, preferring to date and/or marry someone who looks like you is normal, not racist. While you may also be open to dating others, it’s certainly not wrong to prefer to partner with someone of your own race. After all, it’s how humans have been paring off and procreating since the beginning of time.