Dating Outside Your Race & the Impact of Stereotypes

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dating outside your race, interracial dating, interracial couples, interracial relationships, black women with white men

Image: Flickr / Josh Liba

Racial Preferences & Stereotypes

My nephews came in town previously with my brother and his wife. I didn’t spend too much time with them due to work (they couldn’t come by the lab because we were busier than I thought we would be) and the homecoming festivities, but I spent enough time for this situation to happen.

My nephews are ages 13 and 11. They have been in private schools all their lives, except for preschool, which was a majority Black preschool, and one of the best in the city. By them being in private school, they’re mostly around White children. I wanted to converse with them about their experience and the academics. So I’m talking to my eldest nephew, and we get on the subject of cell phones. I take his cell phone and look through it; I just wanted to be nosey and see how many numbers he had of girls in his phone and tease him. So as I’m looking, my youngest nephew blurts out, “No Black girls are in his phone.” My oldest nephew gives him the look, and says, “Shut up.” So as I’m looking through his pictures on his phone, all of the females are White. So I ask him, “Do you not like Black girls,” and he says nothing. He then says, “Not really.” So I ask him why, and he says, “Well, I do like them, but I like White girls too. I like White girls more though.” Then the youngest one says, “Black girls don’t exercise, they yell too much…,” and that’s when their mom got into the conversation.

I’m not going to lie; my heart dropped when I heard this. No, they’re not my children, but I’ve treated them as such. I’ve been there for both of their births; I’ve been there during just about all of their milestones thus far. I’ve fed them, changed diapers, kept them for periods of time, admonished them, spent money on them…you name it, I’ve done it. I’ve even started a college fund for them. In essence, they’re like my children, and I will always view them as “my babies.” However, hearing these negative stereotypes not only saddened me, but it also made me want to say, “So how do you look at your mother, your grandmothers…ME???” I exercise, I’ve never yelled at them…if anything, I’ve spoiled them, and so have both of their grandmothers. One of the main reasons why I do what I do is so that I can be a representation to them of not just a Black woman, but a woman period. I’ve always wanted to represent a productive member of society, and I want them to do better than me.

Dating Outside Your Race & Equal Opportunity Dating

While their mom was talking to them, I watched how she was giving them a speech which included “Black is beautiful,” and as I took a moment to mentally ingest what she was verbalizing, I thought about a scene in the movie Jungle Fever.

The scene was when Flipper Purify (Wesley Snipes) and his wife Drew Purify (Lonette McKee) were arguing in Bloomingdale’s where the wife worked, and she says, “Well I guess I wasn’t light enough for you!” I thought about that moment because my little nephews’ mother is also very light-skinned, thin bodied, and has thick long hair that easily grazes her waist. She is always complimented on her “Beyonce” looks with her keener facial features. Watching her talk to her sons about why they better not bring home a White girl or that she would physically harm the non-Black young lady made me wonder what she was thinking about at that moment. Was she thinking she didn’t do enough? Did she think even her appearance, as much as it’s regarded as a high status in the Black community, wasn’t enough for her sons?  Then it made me think, what would I think if my son brought home a White girl…how would I feel?

I’m an equal opportunity dater, so I can’t tell them who they should and shouldn’t date when it comes to race. I won’t be marrying a Black man, and if we have children together, they will be biracial. If I gave birth to a biracial son, who grew up and introduced me to his new girlfriend who didn’t look like me, would I question why she wasn’t Black? Would I be upset if my biracial daughter brought home a White guy? Would it be fair to not question her bringing home a White guy but question my biracial son for bringing home a White girl?

I won’t know what will be my reaction until I cross that bridge, but I do know that I don’t want them to make any decisions based upon negative stereotypes.



  1. getgln says

    People have their preferences for different reasons, and those preferences can change over time. There may be people who don't have preferences – but I suspect that most people have their preference. Hopefully preferences are from respecting the culture and phenotype more than disliking other cultures and phenotypes.

    • JazzFest says


      I've heard over and over this idea that it is unusual to have no preference. Why is that the case? Is it really that strange to not have a phenotype preference?

    • JazzFest says

      @getgln He getgln,

      I guess I don't understand why it is so unusual to not have a preference? Is it because we assume we would be attracted to those we are used to or (in a lot of cases) those who represent something different? I'm not trying to minimize the role of conditioning but why is it so "perfectly normal" to have a phenotype preference?

    • JazzFest says


      Hi getgln,

      I guess I don't understand the nature of why it would be unusual to have no preference (outside of individual character). I've read different comments of different sites about how it's normal to prefer one phenotype over the other. Is it because we assume we would be attracted to those we are used to or (in a lot of cases) those who represent something different? I'm not trying to minimize the role of conditioning, just asking why the whole "it's perfectly normal to have a phenotype preference" thing from a lot of places (i.e. blog authors, commentors)?

      • says

        @JazzFest Good questions. I think many have a preference for their own phenotype because humans are tribal by nature. (Birds of a feather…) My preference was someone who doesn't look like me because I look like the oppressor and I'd rather that my children don't look like oppressors.

  2. says

    The stereotypes of Black women from a young teenager and a pre-teen saddens me. It just goes to show how kids can pick up stereotypes of other races indirectly.

  3. Faith says

    interesting post … hmm, i never ever thought about what my future kiddos would choose to date . i wonder how i would feel if i had a son who brought home a woman who wasn't black … would i feel hurt, betrayed, happy that he found someone he loved. i think as long as a raise my children the right way … make them know that every race is beautiful and as long as they marry the person they love then it does not matter who they bring home. i hope that if i raise them that way then i won't be worried if they brought home someone of the other race as i have done the same.

  4. says

    This topic really interests me. My husband was told growing up not to bring home anyone but a Mexican girl. Despite the fact that he embraced diversity more than his folks, he was still afraid to bring me home for fear of their disapproval. Needless to say, his programming caused some issues between us in the beginning, but I agree with some of the sentiment. Children of color need to be raised in such a way that they realize the beauty and value of other people of color.

    I think from a parenting stand point though, that this is better accomplished by demonstrating positive actions, rather than telling them so directly. I also think that setting down harsh barriers against one race or another can be just as detrimental as voicing stereotypes, so while I understand the urge, it's not something I would personally do.

    Really great post and thanks for sharing your example. There's definitely a lot to be learned from stories like this.

  5. Xai says

    It's not that he prefers white women, ITS THE REASONS WHY he prefers white women! His reasons are entirely bogus, he has had probably one close association with a BLACK woman……You. You performed the functions these types of males expect from a dark skin black woman, that of a selfless giver. It is taken for granted by these types of males and beware this belief is modeled for black males early on…. from birth. They have also had modeled for them the worship of all things LIGHT AND BRIGHT, since birth. Do you think their dad loved their mom for her chocolate skin, her kinky hair? Add on the media, peer group think and it should be no surprise. I've witnessed this in young black males as early as 5 years old. It's the main reason I refuse to profit any black male, no matter his age or relationship to me. It's harsh but it's true. Why don't you try an experiment: Start talking to young black boys about the types of girls they like, have them write down a physical description of what she should look like. You will see clearly why all black girls, especially PHYSICALLY BLACK GIRLS…..should be steered to men of other colors. JUST LIKE THEIR MALE COUNTERPARTS!!!

  6. says

    It's very disturbing (and telling)that the young men in Eliss's story were loved, nurtured and provided for by Black women their entire lives would say such things. Young Black girls should not be raised to be "race women" and brought up to positively interact with people of all backgrounds…

  7. says

    So many mixed feelings in this post. i feel i learnt : talk explicitly about race often and openly. Challenge though questioning and expose them to different things. This article made me think about my boys.

  8. says

    I was born in Mexico,a mestizo,not by choice,wish I had stay the way it was before Columbus came to mix races,been living in the USA for 45 yrs and seen just about everything about race and color,in my family we have a mix of latino,oriental,european,and I love them all the same,life is short to spend it with foolish attitudes ,you are what you are and should love yourself the way you where born and respect the ones that are different from you,if your kids finds someone different than what you wanted,accepte it is their choice,almost nobody puts a gun to your head to force it to be with you,acept the consecuences ,this is my opinion,Im super happy and proud the way Im

  9. says

    i also love dating outside my race,honestly i understand where the boy is coming from,we live in a different society and times
    life is too short to worry about what people look lkie as long as love that someone

  10. says

    Interesting enough to write a book on the subject. The boys are living in a culture where 'white women" seem to have a greater definition of general beauty. We applaud our beautiful women of all colors, but when you see movies, kid shows on Nick, cartoons, or other media, you don't get the feel of multicultural exposure. And when you finally see an awesome woman of color, it's in a different role. The boys aren't against their mom, aunt, or grandmothers. The young man is developing his taste on his surroundings and it begins with comparisons outside of his home. Mom will be mom and aunt will be aunt, which is nice to use as a rule for behavior. Looks are a different story all together. A Choice to Yield.. awesome book.

    • THE ALCHEMIST says

      The only thing this young man is developing are his rhetorical skills at justifying his Jim Crow dating "preferences". Sometimes racialized misogyny is just racialized misogyny and nothing more.

  11. says

    What I don't get is why you felt bad or surprised at your nephews – yet you say you won't be bringing home a black man???? Your whole family sounds confused.

    I suggest you get/keep a man around to help raise kids properly. Especially in the area of discipline..