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Race and Sex: Are we as liberal as we think?

By Imaani Cain
On February 11, 2014

The media presence of interracial relationships has increased with shows like The Fosters, Happy Endings and Modern Family, wherein the marriages are shown to be both happy and healthy. However, in light of recent backlash against the Cheerios ad, in which a biracial child is shown talking to her white mother and black father, it begs the question: are we truly as liberal as we think we are?
The more enthusiastic support for interracial dating came from those who were either bicultural, multiracial or were in an interracial relationship themselves. Erica Press, a New York-based blogger, stated that she thinks that interracial relationships open more doors as far as acceptance goes, and that "it's proof that although racism and prejudice and all still linger in the world we live in, it doesn't always win."
"It's weird when you say you wouldn't date some specific type of race," said an employee at Massachusetts General Hospital, "like when black guys say that they wouldn't date black girls. What's wrong with black women? Why wouldn't you like them?" Only a few other people also supported this declaration, stating that they thought it was odd that people wouldn't want to date a particular race, or only prefer to date a certain race. "When you have a racial preference, it's usually just racism perpetuated by traditional standards of beauty" said a senior who requested to remain nameless. "It's definitely racist," said Wyn Andino, a junior, "whether they're conscious of it or not".
However, Gustavo Cruz, a senior, is adamant is that a racial dating preference is just that-a preference. Not wanting to date a particular racial group isn't an issue. "I don't think it's racist, love is love," Cruz said, "you can't control that". He admitted that while the majority of his friend group consists of men of color who date other women of color, there is a definite preference for light-skinned women with long hair. "But it's just a sexual preference," said Cruz. A junior, Alex Schwarz, agreed with Cruz as well, "Everyone has their own preferences," Schwarz said, adding that he personally did not date outside of his racial category but that this was solely based on having a mostly white social group and that he had not yet experienced an attraction to any women of color.
In direct contrast with Cruz's statements, Lisette Rodriguez added that she thought that skin color definitely leads to some suspicious decision making when it comes to interracial dating. "I had a guy point to my skin and go, 'oh, I like that you're light-skinned, I like this'. That's weird," Rodriguez said. "I think people want to say that they don't have any racial preference, that it doesn't matter at all-but it definitely does to some people."
One student expressed that while she has no problem dating men of color, she would be nervous about bringing them home to meet her parents. "They would be weird about it," she said. Another student, Tessa O'Leary, mentioned that her father discouraged her from dating black men when she was growing up under the idea that people would 'make fun' of her. "It's ridiculous. It sounds like he's not trying to be racist, but it's a way of trying to control me and who I date-he has these three rules: same race, same age, different gender. He thinks he isn't racist but he is." Other students said that their parents were a bit subtler in their distaste.
What we must consider is what we label as acceptable-are some races more desirable to us than others, and why? What causes us to gravitate towards a certain racial group over another one? It's always productive to critique who and what you're attracted to, as so to understand not only yourself, but how you view others as well.

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