A few months ago, I talked with one of my good friends L about a disturbing phenomenon we observe in the Asian American community: Asian Americans who prefer to date white people. While texting her about this issue, I encountered this video about Asian American women who talk about their preference for dating white men. I felt so disturbed watching this video because it reminded me of queer Asian men I know who prefer dating white guys over Black, Indigenous, and other men of color (BIMOC). While this whole video reeked of internalized racism and anti-Black racism, one comment that annoyed me in particular: the notion that white men are “more confident” than Asian men.
I despise the notion of white men being “more confident” than Asian men because that idea so often fails to take into account the effects of white privilege and racism. White men do not exit their birth parent’s womb drenched in some confidence sauce that enhances their perceived self-worth. White men literally benefit from white male privilege engineered and maintained across several generations, which manifests in increased notions of self-competence and psychological safety. Before anyone tries to lampoon me with the “white men suffer too” argument, yes, I recognize white men suffer. I have met many white men with depression, anxiety, intense self-defeating tendencies, etc. At the same time, these white men still have not encountered the intergenerational racial trauma and present-day racism that BIMOC do and therefore have way more resources to increase their confidence and overall position in society.
I also want to acknowledge the racism encountered by Asian men which may affect their confidence (I focus on Asian men here just because the initial video often compared white men to Asian men specifically.) Please don’t get me wrong, I have met many Asian men who are emotionally unavailable or immature, poor communicators, and/or abusive
though sadly I’m still craving to meet an attractive, kind, emotionally intelligent and radical queer Asian man so I can have a new crush to slightly obsess over, lol. A lot of us Asian men have shit to work through and I’m all for acknowledging that. At the same time, Asian men experience racism that white men do not, which often is associated with poor mental health outcomes, increased conformity to masculine norms to regain a sense of self-worth, and other negative repercussions. Instead of obsessing over white men’s “confidence” perhaps we should work to dismantle the white supremacist structures that imbue them with that confidence – as well as their increased access to material resources – in the first place.
I find it so frustrating when fellow Asian Americans view Asian Americans’ preference to date white people as harmless or innocent. As feminists have declared since the 1960’s the personal is political and who we want in our lives, romantic or otherwise, is deeply political. Colorism, or prejudice or discrimination against people with a dark skin tone, is real. Hypergamy, or the desire to marry someone of a superior caste or class, is real. When Asian American people state that they prefer to date white people, they are also complicit in anti-Black racism and the racist glorification of whiteness. Again: instead of trying to assimilate into whiteness and the power imbued within whiteness, why don’t we aim to destroy the systems that give whiteness its power to begin with?
Some people may feel attacked by the contents of this post which feels fine by me. My good friend L and I have talked about how when we question fellow Asian Americans’ preferences to date white people, they often respond with something about how it’s their “choice” to do so. Well, yes, it is your choice, and no one is saying it isn’t your choice – rather, I’m arguing that it’s important to interrogate your choices and what motivates them, whether that be internalized racism, anti-Black racism, the pressure to adhere to heteronormative dating norms or to assimilate into whiteness, or something else. As feminist writers have stated, making a choice that feels empowering in and of itself does not lend to political power. Even if dating a white person feels good, we should interrogate where that feeling of goodness stems from.
The point of this post is not to be mean or petty. In some ways, this podcast about an Asian American woman unlearning her internalized racist dating preferences motivated me to write this post. I too once had a crush on a kinda mediocre white guy in undergrad before I got politicized, a Justin Trudeau look alike. He then posted a snap of a beer can in a pie at 2am one night, which motivated me to read The Will to Change by bell hooks and recognize that having crushes on men is ultimately pointless. Anyway, the point of this post is to encourage us to consider the systemic factors that may incentivize dating white people over BIPOC – as well as to consider the systemic factors that incentivize dating at all, though you can read the rest of my blog for that. I also hope that we can invest the energy we dedicate to finding romantic love to tearing apart racism, promoting healing and non-abusive power for BIMOC, and loving ourselves regardless of whether a man or any romantic partner loves us.
Hello friends! It has been a few weeks since I have posted. I spent a week with one of my best friends, got a fair amount of research done, and have gone on many jogs to Itzy’s wonderful new propulsive song “Not Shy.” This is my first post written using WordPress’s new block editor mode which annoyed the heck out of me, so if anyone has any tips on putting borders around images or adjusting to the new editor overall please let me know. Of course, please also feel free to leave a comment about your reactions to this post and if any of the content resonates with you in any way. I have a few ideas for future posts so even though the fall academic semester starts next week I feel hopeful that another post will emerge soon.
Also, take action to demand justice for Jacob Blake, a Black man shot seven times in the back by the police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Black Lives Matter.