Racial Dating Preference and Fetishism
Phrases like “If she ain’t foreign, she’s boring!” or “No spice, no rice!” might sound crude to most people. But what’s wrong with just liking * insert race here * people anyways? That’s more like a compliment right? Wrong.
Many may argue that being attracted to people with certain skin tones is equivalent to liking girls with brown eyes or men with bushy beards, but there is a crucial difference— race. The difference between finding a few features of a person as attractive or unattractive is that this preference is not exclusive to one race or ethnicity. Although this is still reducing people to their physical characteristics, it is not racially based. The issue of racial preference in relationships is that society deems it acceptable, which has an influence on larger issues like institutional racism. Having a racial preference or fetishizing a race is fundamentally racist, stereotypical, prejudicing and objectifying. Much of the time, prejudice is due to a lack of overall cultural knowledge. It is important to know the difference between race, ethnicity, and stereotypes.
Racism: the belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. (Merriam Webster)
Having a racial preference in dating is seemingly harmless and commonly accepted. For example, someone may comment that they prefer athletic girls with brown hair, two characteristics that do not correlate whatsoever, but are not interested in dating Latina women. Would the same acceptance be given if someone were to comment that they enjoy working with enthusiastic people, but not working with Hispanics? They would be called out for racism. So why do people accept it when others say, “I’m not really into black girls?” People respect it because it is a personal preference, but when that preference is applied to a person’s race, it should not be socially acceptable. There is a history and culture of a person’s race that they have no control over. For example, a blonde girl might walk down the street and decide that she does not want to have blonde hair anymore, so she dyes it. A black woman cannot walk down the street and decide that she does not want to be black anymore. She cannot decide to stop affiliating herself with hundreds of years of culture that is associated with her race; it is a part of history that cannot be ignored.
Ethnicity: the shared social, cultural, and historical experiences, stemming from common national or regional backgrounds, that make subgroups of a population different from one another. (University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing, 2017)
Where race is simply inherited physical aspects, ethnicity is the cultural and historical aspect of a person’s race. When a person claims to have a racial dating preference, which is related to ethnic preference, they are not only forcing a person into a generalized group of physical characteristics, but stripping the person of their identity entirely—reducing them to nothing but physical aspects and stereotyped assumptions. Whether a person’s racial profiling is stated in a positive manner or a negative manner, it is still inherently racist.
While many people assume that positive stereotypes should be considered compliments, it is ultimately another form of objectification. This issue of positive stereotypes often leads to the fetishization of race. These racial fetishes are often paired with slang terms to describe people who gravitate towards a specific race like: ‘Yellow Fever” “Jungle Fever” “Curry Fever” and “Beaner Fever”. These dehumanizing terms to describe racial fetish are outright disrespectful and objectifying. Racism is so ingrained in society that people associate their attractions as out of their control. Biology is not the problem. The problem is societal and institutional, eventually leading to larger problems like institutional racism. For society to move past racial adversity, it needs to progress towards a future where race is not the sole deciding factor in any decision whether it involves a job interview or someone’s opinion of another.
Many people do not see the topic of racial dating preference or racial fetishization as an issue. In fact, it would be unrealistic to say people should not have preferences when they date. People are inclined to surround themselves with others who are they are comfortable around which often has to do with culture, morals, and interests. It becomes an issue when people undermine the deeper-rooted racism. People may not be able to control what they are not aware of, but through education and awareness, society has the opportunity to prevent racism. Without recognizing that this is an issue, society has no chance of progressing.
University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing “10.2 The Meaning of Race and Ethnicity | Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World.” Open.lib.umn.edu. 8 Apr. 2016. Web. 12 Dec. 2017. http://open.lib.umn.edu/sociology/chapter/10-2-the-meaning-of-race-and-ethnicity/
Merriam Webster “Definition of RACISM.” Merriam-webster.com. n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2017. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/racism