Via Freepik

How Racial Fetishisation Works Within Dating, And Why Your Preference Might Be Harmful 

I said what I said.


All of us have our preferences when it comes to swiping right, sliding in DMs, or straight up approaching someone. However you shoot your shot, there are things you look out for in a potential partner whether you realize it or not. Some of us may prefer extroverts over introverts, darker hair over blonde hair, etc., but if you prefer to date a certain race over others, you’re a product of the system. 

This goes without saying but if Person A chooses to only date white people, regardless of their own race, Person A has a racial bias and this shouldn’t have to be explained. Before you ask how POC can be racist to others of the same race, look up self-hate. I told y’all already, Google is free. If Person A chooses to only date Black people and they are not Black themselves, again, they have a racial bias, but this bias can be labeled as fetishization. A racial preference is defined as attraction based on a range of factors which includes race, but also extends to environment, culture and background. A racial fetish is defined as a fixation on an individual's race, with this transcending any consideration for their individual identity. When you seek someone specifically because of their race, you are not seeing this person as an individual with their own values, goals and ambitions, you are stripping them down to their race and their race only, perceiving them as a tool to satisfy your own personal interest. If POC choose to only date others of the same race, they may do so in search of cultural similarity and shared cultural and race-based experiences. This eliminates the need for an individual to have to explain to their significant other how microaggressions to blatant racism are offensive, because as a POC themselves, they will already know. And we have explained enough. 

Racial fetishization capitalizes on racial harmony and the idea of progressive interracial relationships. Using race as a reason for going for a particular individual can be disguised as a positive preference, when really, it's most likely just a fetish. Phrases like “Once you go Black, you don’t go back” and the dumbass overused analogy of loving the taste of chocolate are not only ignorant, but a stark example of the fetishization of Black people, as the color of our skin becomes the motivation for an individual’s intrigue. It is easy enough to say, “That’s just what I like”, or “It’s the same as saying I prefer blue eyes over brown”, but we have not been taught to discriminate over eye color, hair color, etc. We have been taught to discriminate against POC, with racism permeating every aspect of society since forever. Wake up. 

Dating apps most commonly used among younger people like Tinder, Bumble and Grindr, places the focus on aesthetic. The main thing driving your decision is how the other person looks (followed closely by spelling errors in bios), which is then picked up by the algorithm which decides who to show you and who not to show you. So if your dating app(s) are only showing you a particular type of person, or if there’s the absence of a particular type of person, then my good sis Elli has you covered. 

Eight times out of ten when I am approached either online or in person, I am never not asked about where I’m from. Don’t get it twisted, I don’t mind being asked about my heritage, it’s an important part of my identity. Why wouldn’t I want to share that? But when I’m asked within 10 seconds of the first conversation, it becomes demeaning, as if my perceived racial ambiguity has overtaken my status as an actual human being. My existence becomes exoticized. And I’m not the only one. 

“Racial fetishization is a regular occurrence as I am half south-Asian, half Black. I think the fact this is a less common crossover evokes a lot of questions and curiosity but it becomes more excessive and irritable in the dating realm. I have been asked embarrassing and degrading things like “what color are your nipples?” and faced weird comments about which genes they would like our babies to get from me. I can tell that colorism and internalised racism motivate a lot of these comments from men – it repulses me, I just avoid or block any men who speak to me in this way.” – Anon, 21

Hypersexualisation, colourism AND misogyny??? Why do men automatically assume people even want to pro-create with their stank ass? 

“My early remembrance of someone having a racial fetish over me was when I was like 16, one white girl said she liked how big my lips are, said they reminded her of Jay-Z’s lips. At the time I thought that was weird. White girls always love to ask if they can touch my hair when they’re chatting to me and act so amazed by it.” – Cozart, 22

Alexa, play Don’t Touch My Hair by Solange. 

“The amount of times I’ve been asked what I’m mixed with and men will literally REFUSE to believe that I’m white because they want me to fit their narrative of an ‘exotic’ woman. And when I say “Nah, I’m just tanned,” the follow up comment is “Yeah, but your features don’t look English,” and honestly I don’t know what that’s meant to even mean. These comments have happened with my natural tan so it’s not just a case of I’m fake tanning to the point of racial ambiguity.” – Yasmin, 19

Here, fetishization is shown to also affect non-POC who are perceived to be of a different race, spotlighting our society as not only fixated on image but refusing to accept fact in favor of their own problematic narrative. 

“My ex used to get a kick out of people thinking I was foreign.” - Isabella, 23

Key his car, sis. 

Again, regardless of their own racial background, if Person A only seeks a partner of a certain race, this is not a natural inclination. None of us are exempt from the stimuli and influences we have been receiving our whole lives that degrades POC. If you think your desire for Black women is your effort to be anti-racist, please understand we are not for your consumption. Who said we wanted you anyway?