How to Know You are Dating a Racist (HTKUADAR)

In lieu of this profoundly short-sighted and blatantly racist piece published at the Huffington Post titled “How to Date an Indian,” I thought it was time for me to write my own dating guide to help us stay away from people that might potentially follow this kind of advice.
How to know you are dating a racist.
1. You realize you have never met their parents and they live down the street. Nothing says, “I love you,” like, “I am embarrassed for my parents to find out you are not the race they want you to be.”
2. They love the Rolling Stones but think that Jay-Z is sexist. I mean, I know it is hard to overlook Mick Jagger’s profoundly progressive views on women, but let’s just try for the sake of argument. *eyeroll*
3. They ask you on the first date if (insert with ethnicity) girls are as (insert with ethnicity related explicit sexual act) as people say they are. It’s like sexist racist mad libs, really.
4. They ask you offensive questions about what they perceive your culture to be, defending their profoundly ignorant question by saying, “I just want to learn more about your people baby!” (via @popscribblings)
5. They ask you if they can touch your hair or skin or eyelash or eyelid before you have even kissed.
6. They want to know why your family acts like “that.”
7. They say something about how it might be easier to date someone from their own race.
8. When you are in a foreign country (or a taxi cab), they look to you to translate even though you don’t speak the language, either.
9. They say something to you like, “You are so different from the rest of your race, I really like you.” OR, they put down other races in front of you, as though it is OK as long as they are not putting down your race. (via Latoya Peterson)
10. They say they noticed you because you look “exotic.” Do I look like a bird of paradise to you? #iamnotyourfetish
All of these may sound like sure signs you are DAR (dating a racist), but it took dating a long line of people who asked if I was a “Kama Sutra Indian,” or told me, “I love Indian food,” (like, dude are you saying you are going to eat me??) or that I have “almond eyes,” or claimed to know more about India than I do, to learn how to detect that I was asked out by or was dating…a racist.
Please, feel free to add more in comments. This information could save us from so many horrible dates!

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70 Comments

  1. SaraLaffs
    Posted June 4, 2010 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    I had the same reaction. One of my closest friends is Indian, and he’s very open and generous, loves to dance. Silly me, I thought those things were just his individual personality traits.

  2. browngirlinthering
    Posted June 4, 2010 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    just don’t do that! those statements are stunningly clueless. since when does you liking aravind adiga or jhumpa lahiri have the slightest thing to do with the south asian person you have just met? when someone meets me and is like “i like [such and such indian thing]” or “i once knew [such and such person of your race]“, all i want to say is “WELL GOOD FOR YOU!” So what? What does that have to do with me? When i meet a white person i don’t tell them how much i like [random white writer/actor/musician/former white acquaintance]! I don’t say, oh, i once dated a blond guy! because that would be random, weird, and totally off topic.
    Don’t stand there feeling like you need to value someone for their “diversity” (read: remind them of their deviation from the default, standard, normal, WHITE). i didn’t work hard to be brown and i don’t need your congratulations for it. Value a person for their actual personality.

  3. kandela
    Posted June 5, 2010 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    It could also mean that they are nervous about introducing a new partner to their family, especially if they haven’t dated a lot before.

  4. Poorva
    Posted June 5, 2010 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    Not to mention that Bollywood? Is not the only source of movies in India. Every region has its own industry, and their movies are often better than most of the crap BW puts out…

  5. kandela
    Posted June 5, 2010 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    #2 Seems rather specific. It also seems debatable (note: not wrong necessarily, but debatable. Something that might need to be considered is, is it right to judge how sexist two different artists are on the basis of songs written 50 years apart?) And people seem to hold a lot of contradictory views about music. I remember being horrified by a girl with largely feminist leanings who told me she “loved Eminem.” All I’m saying is that a person’s relative opinions of The Rolling Stones and Jay-Z seems like a poor method of determining if they are racist.

  6. Broggly
    Posted June 5, 2010 at 2:35 am | Permalink

    As a white guy who likes Chris Rock and Aaron McGruder, I find it really annoying when other white guys take their n****r jokes literally. I’ve always heard them as expressing exasperation that some black people are idiots, which they just know is going to give ammunition to racists, rather than saying that n****r is okay when used against bad blacks.
    Spike Lee might have dropped a few anvils on this with Bamboozled, but they really needed to be dropped.

  7. pacifistvigilante
    Posted June 5, 2010 at 4:36 am | Permalink

    As an Indo-Canadian guy, born in Canada, when I worked retail I often had this conversation:
    “Where are you from?”
    “Canada”
    “I mean originally.”
    “I was born here.”
    “Where are your parents from?”
    “India”
    “Oh! So you’re from India! Well it’s great to have you here.”
    The last remark always made me think, “thanks for your permission to be here.”
    If anyone asks you were you’re from originally, say “Pangaea.”
    I am thankful, and always surprised, that my girlfriend see’s past my race. She’s white and immediately took interest in me for my ideas, although it helped to be the only guy in my Women Studies class.

  8. Tom
    Posted June 5, 2010 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    “i’m not exotic; i’m asian. there are more of us than there are you, so statistically, you’re the exotic one.”
    - lucy, “better off ted”

  9. dogsmycopilot
    Posted June 5, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    So true. And then there is the fear that once the friend sees your racist family they will never again see you the same way nor believe you aren’t secretly nursing Naziesque tendencies. That is if the Rebel flag in the front window didn’t scare them off first!

  10. Hershele Ostropoler
    Posted June 5, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    If you’re seeing a (potential) partner as Italian first and a person second, that’s a problem right there. And if you insist on seeing them as Italian first and a person second while reducing Italian culture(s) to “pizza,” you’re probably irredeemable.
    IOW, the problem is not that all you (generic, I hope) know about Naples/Italy and Neapolitan-/Italian-Americans is “pizza,” it’s that you decide all there is to the specific person in question is “pizza.” All the more so if you don’t intend to learn anything else about them or their culture, or to distinguish between the two.

  11. paper tiger
    Posted June 5, 2010 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Whats the big deal with being called exotic?
    None of this shit sounds explicitly racist, it sounds ignorant.

  12. Lydia
    Posted June 5, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    But, at the same time, I think it’s important not to discourage people from asking questions. It’s good to be curious about things you don’t know. Some people were raised in environments where they did not have that much access to knowledge of other cultures besides their own. That’s not their fault and if they want to learn, that is a good thing.
    I’m not a woman of color but I am a Jewish woman who grew up in an area with very few Jews. And yeah, certain things got annoying like people asking me how we worship “Yahweh”, or my high school musical director constantly asking me if “this is right” during our production of “Fiddler on the Roof”, like being Jewish gives me automatic access to every single obscure detail of life on a shtetl in czarist Russia.
    But then I’ve had people who seriously just want to know more. A friend of mine, who also didn’t grow up around Jews, recently started asking me basic questions about both Jewish culture (including food) and Jewish religion as I’d experienced it growing up. And he kept on apologizing all the time that he was asking things, even though there was nothing disrespectful about his questions. I was actually touched that he wanted to know. Very few people care and most are extremely ignorant, especially when it comes to the religion part. (And both conservatives and liberals too. In fact, often the people I really want to punch are the smug liberal atheists who talk about how “all religion” is bullshit without having a clue what MY religion is all about, or, for that matter, any other religion, besides whatever Christian chuch they’re angry at their parents for making them attend as kids…). I was happy to be a “tour guide” in that instance. And he learned something. I don’t mind being used as a resource, as long as people recognize that that’s not all I am.
    Maybe if my musical director had had more conversations like this, he’d have actually known that there are lots of different kinds of Jews, and that maybe an American Reformed Jewish teenager was not necessarily an encyclopedic source of knowledge on turn-of-the-century Orthodox shtetl customs.

  13. timothy_nakayama
    Posted June 6, 2010 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    Agreed.
    I mean, imagine I met a USian outside of the United States, and upon meeting them I go:
    “You’re American?! I LOVE TGI Fridays! I love SATC! I love MCD!”

  14. A Texan in Bavaria
    Posted June 6, 2010 at 3:54 am | Permalink

    My biggest fear whenever my German husband goes to visit my parents with me is that my dad will spout off general good ol’ boy racism, particularly aimed at our president, or worse, bring out anything complementary about how the Nazis “handled their problems”. I think I’ve made it clear that my husband has as much tolerance for racist b.s. as I do, and even stronger feelings about protecting the environment and that he is way more skeptical of his country having military power than I am. So far, so good. Though one elderly lady at my parents’ church cheerfully asked if he goosestepped. Fortunately, he didn’t hear/understand that.
    So, yeah, I can see where #1 might not be a sign that you’re dating a racist, but that you’re possibly dating someone with an embarrassing family.

  15. e-pro
    Posted June 6, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Whenever I encounter someone who mentions that they “love Asian women”, I usually want to respond by saying “Wow, verrry intelligent of you to characterize about 40% of the world’s women by the only thing they share – a common land-mass of origin.”
    Instead, I say, “You mean Russians?”

  16. W. Kiernan
    Posted June 6, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    I don’t get it. That’s a matter of fact: not all black people are normal, just the ones who do normal things. In my experience that describes most black people; regular Joes and Janes, just trying to get along.
    Oh, oh dear, you meant that other “n-word!” Oh my! Never mind. </Emily Litella>

  17. dormouse
    Posted June 7, 2010 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    [LAST COMMENT MODERATED-- ANNA 6/6] All this talk about Indian food is making me really hungry.

  18. MarissaAO
    Posted June 7, 2010 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    The thing for me is that my boyfriend is half-Chinese, and makes Chinese jokes quite a bit. Which is okay for him because it’s usually based on his actual experiences and his family, or some silly thing.
    But I’ve gotten so used to him saying these things, that when he’s not around and something comes up that would cause him to say, for example, “Cuwse you Mongowians!” I hear him saying it in my head. And a couple of times, like without even thinking, I’ve said what he would say out loud.
    And then immediately think, “shit, that was racist.” And I’ve wanted to explain that my boyfriend is Chinese. But not in a, “it’s okay, my boyfriend is Chinese” kind of way. More a, “my Chinese boyfriend made me say that!”

  19. bigUps2allmyhaters
    Posted June 7, 2010 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    The family thing could go either way. I have only rarely brought any romantic partner of any race around my parents, just because I’m afraid of the cringe-fest that would result; interracial relationships have only exacerbated that for me.
    parents: “Where’s she from?”
    me: “Philadelphia”
    parents: “No, like, where’s she FROM?”
    me: “…Philadelphia”
    parents: (audible sound of brains exploding)
    With that said, I can see how plenty of racists would refuse to bring different-race partners around their family; I would also amend the list to include close friends.

  20. radhika
    Posted June 7, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Wow, so apparently I’m supposed to be offended if someone talks about Indian food with me when I mention that I’m Indian. It’s called being polite and making conversation, it doesn’t automatically make them racist.
    And I know what people mean when they talk about parents. But frankly, POC can be just as racist as white people sometimes, and I absolutely would wait & test the waters first before bringing a partner who was not Indian home to meet my parents out of fear that one of them would judge & just be awful about it.

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