When it comes to dating, sex and love – do you ever find yourself going after someone of a particular race, or are you colorblind when it comes to matters of the heart? I’m here to ask: what role does race play within a relationship?
Black. Hispanic/Latino. White. Asian. Native American.
Does it matter, and if so, how much?
We live in a country where race is still a taboo topic of conversation. Although things have progressed for people of color in America, racism is still something that plagues our nation. It comes in overt acts that we see on the news all of the time and sometimes in the language that we use — but in other instances, it’s a little more subtle. Interracial relationships have been increasing over the past couple of decades, and account for about 15% of new marriages as of earlier this year! Celebrity couples like Heidi Klum and Seal (even though they’re no longer together) among many others, have always been open about their relationship, race being an issue that barely existed. Although people have always been incredibly accepting of them, I wonder, is interracial love commonly accepted, or criticized?
The reason I ponder this is because Welsey and I have been in a relationship for a few weeks now. Although everything has been going exceptionally well, there is one item that comes up from time to time.
Wesley is White, and I am not.
This is Wesley’s first experience dating someone outside of his race whereas I have had plenty of experience being involved with White boys. Although identifying as a Latina is technically labeling myself as part of an ethnicity and not a specific race (you can be of a different ethncity and still consider yourself White, Black etc.), I’m still going to label this relationship as interracial due to the fact that we come from different backgrounds, speak different languages (okay, only I do) and of course, the big give-away: we have different skin colors.
Though I don’t narrow down my search for dates to guys of a particular race, I must admit, I would love to bring back a guy who could speak to my parents in smooth Spanish, but at this point in my life, it’s certainly not a deal breaker. I look for a guy who’s open to understanding where I come from, and where my parents come from in spite of the big gap in culture. Wesley has come over to my house, met my parents, endured my 4-year-old nephew’s hyperactive ramblings, devoured my mom’s cooking and did I mention that he adores me? I never thought of it to be a big deal, especially since my older sister’s husband is White, hence why I was taken aback when my best friend, Sade, continued to focus on the fact that he was White.
What about his whiteness? What about my non-whiteness?
I knew that Sade was looking out for me. Past experiences of being exoticized due to the texture of my hair, my accent, and other traits had made me weary of White men, but I hadn’t cut them off completely, though perhaps Sade thought that I should. Since then, I couldn’t help but analyze my relationship with Wesley in terms of black and white. I could come up with a thousand ways in which we were different. I grew up in a city and he lived on a blueberry farm in upstate New York. He has green eyes and I have brown. He took classes to learn Spanish whereas I was in bilingual classes to learn English. My parents immigrated to this country and his family has been here for generations.
I started noticing all of these differences, and then I thought so what? All of these things have the possibility to still exist regardless of whether or not the person checked off the same square box as I did on the census. I wasn’t seeing Wesley because he’s White, nor was he seeing me because I’m Latina. We are with one another because we like each another, because of the existence and in spite of all of our differences.
So does race matter in a relationship? I would say yes. However, I dont’ believe it has to be the defining factor of a relationship. Society might be uncomfortable with it, and there might be stares every now and then as you hold hands down the street, but a relationship isn’t about the common opinion of society – it’s about you and the person that you’re with.
Whether you’re Black and you’re dating someone who’s White, or you’re Asian and seeing someone who’s Hispanic or you’re seeing someone who looks a lot like you — it’s not the skin that matters, it’s what’s beneath it.