... the other Black experience

Dating "preferences" are political, this is not up for debate.

Every few weeks or so, there is a piece published in some major left-leaning publication denouncing the racism of racial dating “preferences.” The titles are always eerily similar:

‘No Blacks’ Is Not a Sexual Preference. It’s Racism.” - Daily Beast

Yes, Sexual Preference Based on Race Is Racist” - Alternet

Saying I'm Not Into Black Girls Isn't a Preference. It's Racist” - AFROPUNK (see, we can be self-reflective!)

More recently, this trend has extended past the realm of race and into conversations around dating and other social categories:

Can Having Genital Preferences for Dating Mean You’re Anti-Trans?” - Everyday Feminism

Why Are You Still Rejecting Short Guys?” - Jezebel

Though the titles in the latter cases are usually a bit more inquisitive, there remains a not so subtle “you” highlighting to whom the piece is directed. Collectively, it’s as if these articles are a plea to white/cis/able-bodied people, made in hopes that simply telling them how they are racist/transphobic/ableist will force them to stop being who they are.

By Hari Ziyad*, AFROPUNK Writer

These articles, as well-reasoned and intentioned as they usually are (I have long acknowledged that if your politics end at your bedroom door, they're not your politics) rely on the premise that white/able-bodied/cis people have no idea that they are racist, ableist or transphobic. If only racist white people could be shown how they were racist–again, and again, and again–they would stop, the story goes. But maybe that’s not how oppression works.

I have been told that I must think white people are stupid because I have such low expectations for them, but that is actually the opposite of the truth. I give white people far more credit than what my critics seem willing to give, because I come into conversations with the assumption that they are at least as aware of their own cognitive processes as I am. I just also know that they are rewarded for choosing to do nothing about their racist thoughts and desires, and so I expect nothing more.

Similarly, I know that before I committed to unpacking my own participation in fatphobic violence, for instance, I made excuses for the things I did to contribute to it. And, being constantly subjected to the unrelenting but baseless message that sex and love are some oddly sacred practice untainted by social conditioning, excuses are easiest when it comes to anything dealing with them.

Fact 1: I knew that I had issues with fat people long before I admitted that’s why I didn’t want to date them. I knew this because I would think things about health and weight–my own and others’–that were very clearly fatphobic. I did not acknowledge it, because everyone knows to be labeled fatphobic is shameful, even if being fatphobic is not. And the fact that people were engaging my “preferences” as if my way of thinking was valid enough to have to explain, slowly, over and over and over again, what I already knew, made not acknowledging my own fatphobia that much easier.

The scientific fact that whom and what you’re attracted to is political and influenced by society is indisputable, and putting it up for debate only encourages the same disingenuity I clung to for so long.

Fact 2: Black people, trans and gender non-conforming people, disabled people etc. do not need everyone to want to date them. If we agree that a person’s bedroom politics are part of their larger umbrella of politics, a person who refused to date a trans person simply because they are trans yesterday is not going to stop being transphobic just because he starts dating a trans person today. Black people, trans and gender non-conforming people, disabled people etc. need fucking assholes who are committed to violence against them to shut up and stay the fuck away.

Many of these conversations seem intent on changing just one small part in the cog of what makes a person oppressive, sometimes because the people complaining about sexual racism have equally violent white-centric beauty standards and just want to be with white boys while ignoring potential partners within their own communities, for instance. Even if the pleas underlying these articles were successful, getting a racist white person to finally date a Black person is no better than focusing on the problem of being labeled racist instead of focusing on the problem of being racist.

Racism, transphobia, and fatphobia/ableism are a part of everyone’s life. Arguing this is an act of disingenuousness on both sides. Rather than try to get violent people to face the violence in their dating practices, we might be better off committing to knowing that a person who doesn’t reflect on the violence in their dating practices is someone who should be avoided at all costs, not legitimized through debate. Most importantly, we should commit to being able able and willing to reflect on our own sexual/relationship politics, even and especially when it is uncomfortable.

Banner photo via Boldly

*Hari Ziyad is a New York based storyteller and writer for AFROPUNK. They are also the editor-in-chief of RaceBaitR, deputy editor of Black Youth Project, and assistant editor of Vinyl Poetry & Prose. You can follow them on Twitter @hariziyad.

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Comment by L.R. Hudson on May 13, 2017 at 12:16pm
AfroPunk is quoting and linking Riley Everday Menism, heterosexual, white male who IDs as a "Translesbian" with a penis...

About "cissexism".

Just flat out... no.

What Riley is focused on, is his demand to be validated in REDEFINING lesbian women's sexuality for his own political and sexual wants.

It's repackaged, male focus, junk science, "spiritual enlightenment"...
Conversion Therapy.

The ONLY difference in this tactic is that INSTEAD of making a lesbian or bi-sexual woman INTO a "good" heterosexual woman who complies to men....

It's focused and manipulated virtue signaling to be a "GOOD lesbian or bi-sexual woman" who will COMPLY to men.
Comment by Andrew J Brown jr on May 10, 2017 at 3:12pm
"Most importantly, we should commit to being able able and willing to reflect on our own sexual/relationship politics, even and especially when it is uncomfortable." I mean, what the hell? If imma he uncomfortable in this, I might as well do that in this forum. Being a small minority, Black man, in this majority white community north and west of Boston, my dating has brought me to challenge my proclivities as imposed then adopted. In my process of awakening I can say to myself, ask myself, "I know that part of why I find her attractive is because I've been so indoctrinated?" I then go to remember how as a teen I was inflamed by Black girls, dark-skinned-Last-Poets-Black-Thighs black girls. OK, I've grown up, but, DAMN!! The Blue-Black Sudanese women I see in some ads, the Somali woman who I'd see monthly at my meetings, that Black nurse who smiled at me as I awaited my medical exam... I just say one day I'll find mine, we'll find each other. Yeah, 61 years-old and I got hopes. One of the good things in dating white women is that this is underscored time and time again: they are humans, not fetishistic objects/goddesses descendant from on high, but humans upon whom society has cast this cloak of lies, this garment of myth yet so many of them believe that shit that it's less and less surprising and satisfying. I Know authenticity comes in all hues. I just need to hang in here, in hopes that I will find authentic connectedness in a dark, ebony tone. I'm just trying to get woke.


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