At AsianDate, we truly believe that love and attraction know no color. However, interracial unions do face certain unique challenges, and as society becomes more accepting, it’s a good time to look inward and see what sorts of things you might be doing that pose the biggest threat to your relationship.
1. You “don’t see race.”
Without a doubt the worst thing you can do in dating someone of a different race is to pretend that they’re not of a different race. The idea of being “colorblind” (i.e., we’re “all the same”) is beautiful in intention, but just flat-out false and counterproductive in practice.
Structural racism is real, and it is undeniable that the systemic denigration of certain groups has left tangible inequality that remains today, even from events of centuries ago.
“Whoa, I thought we were just talking about dating here!”
We absolutely are talking about dating, and interracial relationships can be beautiful and loving! But their success is also dependent upon at least a cursory understanding of power differentials (again, speaking of the developed Western World), and white privilege.
If one partner in a relationship is white, even if they are the most well-adjusted and racially-aware person in the world, there is still a societal imbalance. Systemic racism is not about individual behaviors, but rather about established patterns.
To say you “don’t see race” is to deny a basic truth, and basically opt out of doing the workit will take to break the cycles of racism. We know that’s not what you’re after–you want to love someone for exactly who they are, which includes their race. Embrace all of their identity—don’t pretend you don’t see a part of them.
2. All you see is race.
We just covered how it’s important to acknowledge and embrace your partner’s differing race, but that doesn’t mean focusing on it disproportionately. Examine whether you’re with someone for the whole person that they are, or if you’re delighted mostly by their racial or ethnic differences. Remember that race is only a piece of the puzzle, and not her only defining feature.
3. You don’t dig deeper to find out their background or share yours.
If you’re dating someone of a difference race or ethnicity, and you respect them as a person, you will honor their heritage and share your own. The notion of being “colorblind” might lead you to avoid that type of conversation, or you may think that emphasizing differences could lead to conflict.
No, and no. Celebrating differences can give you greater insight into the person you’re with! Also, getting specific about your different backgrounds can reveal similarities, leading to an organic feeling of core commonality that’s so much more rewarding than that false “colorblind” malarkey.
4. You think your relationship makes you exempt from being racist.
This is a tough one, because it is so common and such a misstep.When someone expresses a racist view, supports someone who does, or is accused of bias in any way, they’ll frequently object by saying “but I CAN’T be racist because by boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife is black!”
Here’s the simplest way I can explain this: there are lots of heterosexual men with terribly misogynist views who are in relationships with women, so you can absolutely still be racist while in an interracial relationship.
Your core beliefs about equality can absolutely be influenced for the better by who you sleep with and love, but that is not a foregone conclusion and it happens through work, not magic.
5. You’ve embraced your partner’s culture, but you don’t police your friends/family/coworkers attitudes.
Let’s say your interracial union is loving and respectful through and through. But your mother doesn’t accept it. Or your grandmother says something vile when you visit for the holidays. Or a co-worker makes a well-intentioned-but-racially-offensive joke at the office barbecue.
You have to say something.
Each situation will determine an individual response, some far more difficult than others, but ignoring “harmless” office jokes and cutting your granny endless slack because she’s from a different eraare not only disrespectful to your partner, but they are the cells that keep racism alive and well.
If you talk to your partner about boundaries and come up with responses for different situations,you can both honour your relationship and play a part in progress.
Check in with us next time for five more top mistakes that can happen when dating a person of another race.