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Earnest Harris

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The Importance of Skin Color in Choosing Who We Date

Posted: 03/05/10 12:00 PM ET

I saw this interesting article about all these dating websites, like eHarmony and the like, and how when it comes to dating across cultural lines, very few people, percentage-wise, are electing to consider dating someone that doesn't look like them. I was actually surprised by that to tell you the truth. It's not that I see an overwhelming number of so called "interracial couples," so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. But based on my own life and circle of friends, I think maybe I have a warped view of reality.

Here are some segments from the article, titled "My Race Based Valentine" from Time magazine:

This Valentine's Day, more of us than ever will be looking for love online. And if recent studies are any guide, relatively few women on mainstream dating sites will bother to respond to overtures from men of Asian descent. Likewise, black women will be disproportionately snubbed by men of all races. Yes, even though America has been flirting intensely with a postracial label for some time, color blindness is not upheld as an ideal in the realm of online romance. On some sites, it's not even an option.

And there was this:

After attempting to control for attractiveness (using something OkCupid calls a picture-rating utility) and compatibility (on the basis of answers to questions covering everything from spirituality to dental hygiene), the study found that black women garnered the fewest responses of any female group. White women responded at much higher rates to white men than to men of color. Asian women's and Latinas' response rates showed even stronger preferences for white men.

But as the piece asked, does closing the door on the possibility of anyone that doesn't look like you, equal racism? Or is it just that old, "people are more comfortable being around other people who share their background and experiences" thing?

Frankly, I have to say it is both.

Which means it is undeniably, partially racism. And when I say it is a racist decision, in this case I am simply meaning it is a decision based in part or in whole on the color of someone's skin. As in I will not consider dating someone outside of my "race" or within a certain "race." It isn't necessarily the "I hate these people" variety, but "race" based decision making it is. And it is true whether one is White, Black, Asian or any ethnic group. And by the way, I am also not saying because you date or marry someone of the same culture you have made a "race-based" or culture-based decision. Maybe you just happened to find Mr. or Mrs. Right within in your culture and because you came across each other quite naturally. Here, I am talking about a definite decision to exclude from the possibility anyone and everyone that is in a certain group.

To purposely not check a certain box signifying a certain group of people that you would consider dating, by definition means you are making assumptions about that group and everybody in it. Or you are expressing a dislike for members of that group, as least when it comes to relationships. If all that matters was finding a mate that matched your interests and backgrounds then there would be no need to de-select any ethnic group because all of your other preferences and likes and dislikes would already filter out anyone who didn't share your values and background. Which might or might not eliminate most of certain groups anyway.

But de-selecting a certain group means even if they shared your values and interests, you wouldn't date them anyway.

Now some will argue that this is still not necessarily racism, but rather for some, a fear of what others around them might think and therefore it is simply the avoidance of unnecessary problems. And I can actually buy that. I do think for a lot of people it is too much to have to deal with society's judgments, which unfortunately, do still exist when it comes to certain types of relationships.

Which begs a whole different question.

Is it racist to give in to racists?

Read the full article here.

 
 
 

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