To know that the majority of the world doesn’t find you desirable because of race is a hard pill to swallow. Learning that at a young age fundamentally changes how one dates, but it’s not all bad. Recently, NPR has been delving into the dating world across racial and cultural lines with some poignant exposes.
The latest post is by junior high school teacher Noah Cho. Cho states the hard truth that he, like all Western hemisphere minorities, had to learn to feel undesirable. Cho’s mother is white and his father is Korean, who he most takes after. In his experience, that isn’t winning the genetic lottery when it comes to attraction. He admits to having built up insecurities about his Korean features by hearing females of all races state their unwillingness to date Asian men.
This topic is of grave interest to me because I am a black woman, standing at 5’10”. I excelled at sports when I was younger, had the chance to model for some time and in general I don’t worry about my looks. However, the fact is my dating life is different than my white best friend’s. There’s a difference between what a man deems objectively attractive and actually pulling the trigger to date me. Reports continue to come out that fail to surprise racial minorities: black men and women are often the least sought after demographics in dating. Does that deter me in looking for love? Of course not! I revel in my “exotic” position, which if you go to the right cities can get you major tail. Even if I have fewer options to pick from initially, I often date the most open-minded and sensitive individuals.
It’s all well and good to say, “Be proud! Why do you care what others think of you?” Simply put, because constant rejection in dating is rough. Holding hands with a white man has caused three separate instances of harassment. At 18, my black track coach insinuated that I “wasn’t black enough” because I was dating a white man at the time. These are not one-off experiences and they have definitely affected my romantic life and how I seek love.
Good things are happening though and as a society we’re becoming more accepting of interracial couples. This past weekend, PBS aired the most recent episode of Downton Abbey where Lady Rose is caught kissing a gorgeous black jazz musician. I get excited every time pop culture ruffles conservatively repressed feathers. There’s even a new reality matchmaker web series that focuses solely on opening people up to interracial dating.
At the same time, Western society hasn’t quite adapted to be more inclusive when it talks about beauty. Look at People magazine’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ stories. Not since 1996 has there been anyone other than white men on the cover. In doing this, how can we expect impressionable minds to see multiple ethnicities as desirable? Gael Garcia Bernal, Chiwetel Ejofor, and Harry Shum Jr. are all available. And have the editors even seen Idris Elba?
What I took from Cho’s story was that it is equally important to find desirability in ourselves and be open to it in others. There doesn’t have to be defeat or anger in acknowledging these facts either. Chin held high and broadcasting self-assurance will always be desired traits – even when the odds are stacked against you.