Racism affects the daily lives of people of color in the United States, and other parts of the world, in some capacity every day. When it comes to dating and relationships, this is unfortunately no different.
Here's what four women of color had to say about how racism continues to affect their dating lives:
How would you say racism has affected your dating life overall?
LEXI: Racism has affected my dating life overall because I feel like people are expecting me to date within my race and when they realize that I am interested in guys outside of my race, they treat me differently.
CORA: I've openly stated I'm a Black girl who likes her man the same way I like my pasta: White and cheesy. I've liked guys who, like me, have their own preferences, so racism is a 50-50 chance with every person.
NEHA: I would say that nine times out of 10, the men who approach me aren't American. Even if they are White, they're often European.
TATYANNAH: My race is typically a factor in almost everything I do, and with dating, it's no different. As a Black woman, racism and anti-Blackness are always in the back of my mind when becoming romantic with someone. I wish I didn't have to keep my guard up in that aspect, but when you've experienced it enough in your life, you can't help but critically examine people for who they are or what danger they could potentially involve you in.
What has your experience been like on dating apps? Do you feel considered or seen in the way dating apps are built?
LEXI: I absolutely hate dating apps and I'm 100 percent against them. I just feel like they're so cliché and used for hooking up, even though there are people who actually form lifelong relationships from dating apps. I just prefer to meet people the old-fashioned way and build a strong bond in person.
CORA: I'm not against them, it just gets exhausting not finding what you're looking for. People see me but they set what they want as a filter.
NEHA: My fellow girlfriends of color and I have all noticed that the algorithm only serves us people that look like us. My friend is Hispanic and only gets shown other Hispanic guys on Tinder. I'm Indian, and I deleted Hinge because it was only showing me other Southeast Asian men.
TATYANNAH: I still feel considered/seen on dating apps. However, I would be lying if I said that dating apps didn't expose when someone outside my race is only interested in me to fulfill a weird fetish for "trying out a Black girl for the first time" as if I'm a brand new lunch combo at a fast-food restaurant.
Have you or someone you dated ever been mistreated or marginalized while on a date? Whether by the person you were on a date with, your server, the general public, or someone else?
LEXI: We've never been verbally mistreated, but people have given us dirty or weird looks.
CORA: I've gotten dirty looks when I'm out on a date but never anything said to my face. I would start a scene with no hesitation if it escalated to that.
NEHA: Many times. Once, when I was out with my White boyfriend at the time, I was told by our server that I should stick to my own kind.
TATYANNAH: I've never been mistreated on a date per se, but I can't help but notice some of the dirty stares I get when I'm in public with White men depending on what area we're in. One time I went on a trip with a White guy before we started dating and we made a pit stop in Gary, Indiana. While we were having breakfast at a diner, there was a group of older people in the corner who were literally staring us down with the most grotesque looks on their faces. There was nothing but pure hatred on their faces. I could barely finish my meal because I felt that uncomfortable.
In past relationships, have you faced racism when meeting your partner's family or friends? If so, how?
LEXI: We actually never got to the "meet the parents" part of our relationship because he was scared of the effects and wanted to avoid any negativity. Part of the reason why we didn't last (I think) is because I felt he was ashamed to be with me because I'm Black and he's White.
CORA: Oh no! I've only ever had one boyfriend and his family absolutely LOVES me. I'm thankful that there are parents who raise their kids to see people as individuals, not as colors.
NEHA: My ex's mom told me that I must have been doing black magic on her son to have made him love me.
TATYANNAH: This is the hardest part to talk about because I've gone through this enough to the point where I feel like I have to prepare myself for the worst whenever I date someone of a different race and meet their family. I've gone through past boyfriend's parents completely ignoring me because they did not want their son to date a Black woman. I've gone through sitting there in embarrassment when a guy's parent said the N-word (with the hard 'er, by the way) right in front of me like it was nothing. In regards to more casual racism, I've been faced with micro-aggressions from families of past partners as well, making sly comments about me being "suspicious."
Are you hopeful for the future?
LEXI: I am hopeful for the future, but I'm also scared. Racism is only getting worse and I feel that racism in the dating world is going to worsen, too.
CORA: It's 2020, there is way more open-mindedness now than 20 years ago. The connection is what matters the most and showing that interracial relationships are a work of abstract art.
NEHA: I am! I think people are slowly acknowledging their privilege, and becoming unafraid to have important conversations about race relations in America. There's a long way to go, but we as a country are slowly educating ourselves in a way that I hope furthers our understanding of the very different lives and experiences of people of color in this country. That recognition and mindfulness is a great first step I think (hope) we are taking now, as a country.
TATYANNAH: Yes and no. These issues don't change overnight. They're deeply rooted issues that can't be diminished by being "color blind." It'd also be naive of me to assume that many people in my generation and gen Z can't easily reinforce the same racist rhetoric and ideas that their parents taught them. However, I'm hopeful that more people of the younger generations are at least more likely to be open-minded and more willing to unlearn implicit biases.
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