- Gender and Relationships
It's Not Racist, It's Preferece
Dating in this day and age is much more complex than what it was in the 20th Century. Back then, you would meet somebody in class or at work or through a friend, fall in love and get married. Now it's unlikely your friends will find you somebody, as breaking up and cycling through as many partners as you can is common place now. Also complicating the issue is online dating, and the freedom to express what you want without fear of consequences. That is until a group of people decide that you stating you won't date a certain race is racist and try to shame you for it.
Is it racist to prefer one race over another? Samantha Allen over at The Daily Beast, lays out an argument that it is in the article "No Blacks" Is not A Sexual Preference. To bolster the claim, Allen cites an Australian study that was conducted by Denton Callander, Christy Newman, and Martin Holt. They surveyed 2,000 gay and Australian men about how they felt about race and dating, using a Quick Discrimination Index. Allen quotes the results, "After putting these two data sets together, the trend was clear: 'Sexual racism… is closely associated with generic racist attitudes, which challenges the idea of racial attraction as solely a matter of personal preference.'" As this seems to be based solely on people that are white, does the same thing work the other way? A few of my friends are Caucasian but only like Black or Asian guys, is that racist as well? Or does it only work if it's a white guy (or girl) saying it about another ethnic group?
This is a dicey topic, one in which I personally have no stake in. I'm open to anybody who can make me laugh and hold a decent conversation. Does that mean I discriminate against Rednecks or Republicans? Perhaps, however I think of it as more of a personal preference. I also like blond hair on guys, but all of my boyfriends have had dark hair. Is there a reason for this? Hamilton Nolan over at Gawker tries to answer this in the article Is There A Biological Reason For Sexually Preferring a Certain Race? His answer is very scientific but essentially he says that it's more about evolution than anything else. Attraction evolves the same way that everything about the species has, and that it's more about the environment than about race actually.
...mate choice was an important adaptive problem facing our ancestors, so we should expect natural selection to have produced specialized psychological mechanisms designed to solve this problem. Mate choice actually comprises many different problems, so we should expect the evolution of many different mechanisms to solve them. Some problems might be solved by mechanisms that requires little input from the environment, and therefore develop in the same way in every environment. E.g., what's the ideal amount of acne or other visible skin diseases in a potential mate? Presumably zero. So a psychological mechanism that follows the "rule": "prefer unblemished skin, all else equal," would have been adaptive everywhere, and would develop in a relatively "innate" manner. But what about, say, skin color? Ancestral human populations lived in a wide variety of environments and consequently evolved very different skin colors to cope with those environments. And there was always some gene flow throughout the range humans lived in, which is why we remained a single species. So one would not expect selection to have favored an "innate" preference for any specific skin color. What would have made adaptive sense is a mechanism that detects skin color in the individuals one sees growing up and specifies a rule "prefer a mate with the average skin color you've seen." And that seems to be more or less what did evolve, with one caveat. Human female skin that is a bit lighter than the local average was a reliable cue of nubility (women's skin in the environments of evolutionary history tended to darken a bit with age and successive pregnancies). All else equal, the best mate was a nubile woman, so the most attractive female skin color in ancestral human environments probably was a bit lighter than the local female average. Although it's been some years since I read the scientific literature on this topic, the evidence I'm aware of supports this prediction.
Now we have two different theories as to why people are attracted to different races. One says that if you don't love everybody and see past skin color, then you must be racist. The other says that attraction is born in the environment you grew up in. What if there is a third option though? Personal preference is a thing, whether people want to acknowledge it or not. Shaming people for saying that they are not attracted to a certain race is akin to the girls who tell gay guys that they just haven't found the right female yet. In this day and age it is shameful that people are being shamed for who they are attracted.