Interracial Relationships: How To Navigate Them As A POC & What Red Flags To Look Out For

Internalised racism: what is it and how to manage it?

So before we get into interracial dating, it’s important to understand how internalised racism plays a part in it. Internalized racism can be described as having a lot of either fear, embarrassment, humiliation, avoidance or anger etc. toward your own race and culture. It’s something that is often used to reinforce white supremacy by people of color.

Some examples of internalized racism could be things like: Being embarrassed to wear your cultural clothes, or being embarrassed to tell somebody where you’re from.

The reason why internalised racism is embedded in our dating lives is because your own insecurities around race will inevitably come out in your dating life.

If you don’t value your own culture and you do value whiteness, then it’s going to show in your dating life when you start dating people that embody the values of whiteness that you’re trying to aspire to become. 

Speaking from personal experience this is 100% true. I constantly feel that I have to reassure people of my proximity to whiteness. I’m Black. I’m not white, but I was born here. It’s so exhausting and even though you think it won’t affect how you date, it always ends up coming up.

Navigating interracial relationships

So you’re dating someone of a different race? Now what?

Well, first it’s about being aware of your own internalized racism and accepting your culture, which allows you to set firm boundaries with your partner.

You really need to have your boundaries and a strong sense of self because it’s really easy to start ditching your culture and losing your identity to suit a white S.O.

Part of being in a relationship with someone of a different race (particularly if they are white) is about ensuring they understand what is and isn’t acceptable behavior.

The moment you accept some casual racism from your partner at the beginning, it’s going to go downhill from there.

You can’t normalize it and allow it to happen.

It can be a constant educating process, and can be emotionally exhausting. I think it’s one of those things where you’ve got to be dating somebody that you really like, just because it won’t be worth it. They’ve really got to be willing to grow and learn constantly for you.

Racial preference and fetishisation: where do we draw the line?

Another issue that often comes up in discussions of interracial dating is the idea of racial preference/fetishisation. One time a friend of mine told me that she only dates white guys, and I think I vomited a little in my mouth.

So is having a racial preference actually racist? Well yes, and no.

It’s ok to have a type. But to have an active racial preference, where you date specific people of a culture, or you specifically don’t date people of a culture, or you think some cultures are just inherently more attractive than others is racist.

It’s assuming that they all look the same. Having a racial preference reduces them to skin colour. There’s actually a lot that makes up a person and that makes up your attraction to a person. You’re never just with somebody because of their race

On the flip side: to say that you’re just not into a certain type of race, to me, is just incredibly and quite blatantly racist. Because there is that assumption that every person of that race is unattractive.

Pretty privilege also plays a part in this discussion, because if the only time you’re attracted to black women is when they’re models, it doesn’t count as being attracted to black women, it counts as being attracted to models.

Status and wealth and all those things play a part.

We shouldn’t have to jump through all these hoops to be attractive to people. We shouldn’t need to be models, or rich, whatever to be seen as hot.

Why should we care? How can we learn more?

Because it’s important! It’s not something that can be swept under the rug. Growing as a person is about analyzing your own behavior and being self-aware enough to realize that your dating habits may be inherently racist (internal or not).

It’s all about critical thinking and I feel like not enough people do this. Do the reading, there are so many people talking about it online.

Speaking of, here are some great resources on the topic.

Internalised Racism Here’s The Thing, Tho with Soaliha

Interracial Dating – Here’s The Thing, Tho with Soaliha

Date My Race (2016)– SBS on Demand

Navigating cross-cultural dating and living with your partner Bobo and Flex podcast

Q&A is my white boyfriend fetishizing me? – Bobo and Flex podcast

Nathan Odige