Written by Stephanie Amaya
How many times have we heard people say things like “not to be racist, but I don’t find Asian guys attractive”, firstly, if you need to say “not to be racist” before you speak, chances are what you’re about to say is in fact racist. But what happens when these statements are actually challenged? Well you’ll usually get something along the lines of “Well it’s just MY preference”. This makes it personal and thus not about race at all, right?
You’re Just Not My Type
Before we discuss the harms of racial preferences; we must first establish the difference between having a type and being racist. It’s ok to have a type, because not all preferences are inherently biased and oppressive. The difference lies in the fact that racial preferences are exclusionary and based on generalizations. Saying you have a preference to certain traits isn’t harmful, but stating you wouldn’t date an entire race is reducing the people of that race to stereotypes based on a hierarchal system that puts white men and women on top. If you still don’t believe white features are the standard in beauty, just google ‘beautiful woman’ or ‘handsome man’ and see what pops up. If you still think your racial preference is not racist, ask yourself if you can truly claim that you know for a fact that every single person of a given race or ethnicity has no chance with you based entirely on physical appearance. Some might argue that they lack “exposure” to that certain race to defend their racial preferences. This just makes your judgement even more misguided because you clearly haven’t had the opportunity to try and form a relationship with anyone of that race, so how could you possibly know you won’t be attracted to people you’ve never met.
Still clinging on to those preferences? If I asked you why, the answer will probably be rooted in a stereotype. Whether you try to play it off as a physical taste “I don’t like Asian eyes” (racist), or even try to get around race and make it about their personality “Mexicans are just so lazy” (racist), the fact remains the same (this is racist). Stereotypes erase individualism and reduce that person to a generalization you have created or learned, and these aren’t a demarcation of individuality or any of the things that make you you, racial preferences aren’t your birthright and you certainly weren’t born believing these stereotypes. These are learned cultural biases, plain and simple.
Don’t You Fetishize Me
Racial Preferences can be inclusionary too, and these are just as harmful. Saying you only date a certain race is also reducing the people of that race or ethnicity to stereotypes and your prejudice. No not all Latinas are exotic baby-making machines, and Asian women aren’t your oriental, submissive, China dolls. Assuming that someone’s racial background makes them more desirable reflects harmful histories of colonialism and the exotification and fetishization that went along with it. So think about that the next time you hear Childish Gambino portray Asian women as objects in his songs, then follow up by saying this isn’t a fetish. So, what? Race in itself has no bearing on a person’s personality or their impact on a relationship. If someone’s race alone is enough to make you attracted or not attracted to them, take a step back and ask yourself why.