Are Racial Preferences in Dating Racist?


If you’re a person of color in the dating world, you might be familiar with the age-old tale of being shot down because of your race. “No offense, it’s just a preference,” is notably one of the most tired excuses you could get for not fitting into someone’s dating or sexual fantasy. Therefore, it’s perfectly normal for people of color to prefer dating partners of their own race, right?

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t the act of preferring one race over another, the literal textbook definition of racism? Of course having a racial bias makes you racist!”

Don’t worry, you’re right, depending on the context.

While it is true that racial preferences in dating can be a result of fetishization and stereotyping, it is also true that they can be employed by people of color to combat white supremacy. A person of color preferring not to date white people due to self-preservation is not the same as a white person being like, “No Blacks, no spice, no rice.”

And to set the record straight, reverse racism is not a real concept and, therefore, cannot be perpetuated against white people.

As we all know (or should know, at least), systemic racism is a concept that goes far beyond a textbook definition of “not liking XYZ race.” It should come as no surprise, then, that many racial preferences are the product of a subconscious adoption of the negative and positive images society projects onto certain racial groups.

Opting to date within one’s race is perfectly normal. The importance of cultural norms and familiarity is the reason why many people would limit their dating pool to contain those with shared experiences.

A Black woman might prefer to date other Black people in rejection of the negative stereotypes that tend to muddle the minds of non-Black people and the communities they belong to.

It’s like, “No, I don’t want you to take me to Popeye’s, Christopher!”

And “you’re so pretty for a Black girl,” is *so* not a compliment.

It’s fine to not want to deal with the gaslighting and microaggressions that may come with dating outside of one’s race. There are many cultural nuances that often make it hard for white partners to relate to their counterparts of color. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve gotten crazy comments about my hair, my body, and just general things about the Black community that white people feel they are at liberty to express. And don’t get me started on the ones who think it’s cool to say the N-word because they are dating a Black person. Gross.

Bottom line, it’s racist to fetishize and/or generalize a group of people. Racial preferences are often used as some lame justification for being a certified piece of s***. But they can also be used by people of color as a defense mechanism against stupidity, stereotypes, and heightened stress.

It all depends on the reasons behind your racial preference. Are you self-aware enough to challenge generalizations and the commodification of a race outside your own? If you are sitting there questioning yourself as a white person who prefers to only date white people, ask yourself why. There is implied racial prejudice behind any preference, but ones that favor whiteness, white beauty, and white privilege are the most destructive. Feel free to challenge that narrative.

On the flip side, does your racial preference align with any fetishizational tropes associated with people outside of your race? There’s an overwhelming prevalence of Black and Brown men preferring to date outside of their race in an attempt further remove themselves from blackness and adopt the perception of being mixed or “foreign.” Many men, regardless of their race, will seek out partners who benefit their socioeconomic image, with the most preferred groups being whites, Asians, and Middle Eastern people. Do you exoticize these groups?

All in all, if you find yourself having a sexual preference for a specific race, it’d be best to just keep that to yourself. There still exists a strong culture of white dominance in real life and on dating apps, and no good ever comes from the discrimination perpetuated by a “No Blacks, no Asians” gay from the suburbs of Indiana.

Ivana Fischer is a film and media enthusiast who specializes in cultural studies. You can find her across all socials @iv.fischer