Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Why I Like Asians and Latinos

If you look to the right under the section with suggested reading for people just finding my blog, and you see the post about Asians and Latinos and whiteness, you'll notice if you click on it that near the end I resolve to learn more about other cultures. I am particularly interested in why so many who are not black or white feel discriminated against and/or resent whites in much the same way blacks do. Since then, I have been on that quest, not just focusing on that question, and some interesting things have come out of it, though I still can't say that I understand these people any better at this point. I am far from done, though.

For whatever reason, I have been thinking more about interracial dating outside of a black/white binary more and more lately. One thing that has always bothered me about interracial dating, especially for me, is not really knowing whether or not race is the appeal. So when trying to find out this kind of information from a perspective mate--and pretty much never being able to get a real answer--I have been irritated, not to mention suspicious. I don't think I've ever heard a real answer from people who "prefer" one race or people who claim to "date everybody" as to what the appeal is. By "real," I mean an answer that shows someone has actually sat down and thought about why they are attracted to the people they are and/or isn't just trying to pretend like race is no big deal. I think for anyone who dates interracially, race is one of the appeals because race affects what someone looks like...and physical attraction is pretty much always a factor. So this is something I acknowledge.

Being that I find it irritating when someone can't clearly answer a question such as "what do you like about black women?" I have been trying to figure out why I seem to be more attracted to Asians and Latinos than blacks and whites. And although it's not, by any means, required that I explain myself...so many people demand it in some form, and I do think it would be good for someone to articulate interracial attraction, at least from their own experience. So, here goes:

It might seem odd that I am attracted to groups of people that I don't understand or know much about. However, I've come to the conclusion that, for me, that's probably the actual reason why I'm attracted to them. Some people argue that their interracial attraction is innate, or make arguments that basically sound like that. Mine definitely isn't. I didn't really start having this attraction until mid-way through high school. For me, I meet someone and they are a trigger. So, when I was in high school, I met this guy who happened to be Asian, and we liked each other. Immediately after him, I dated other Asians. During that period of time, I was learning more about Asian culture and participating in their chatrooms, websites, etc. I would say he triggered that interest, and for a while the majority of my friends were Asian. Those experiences have stuck with me, and I know enough about Asians to surprise anybody who meets me--even other Asians--just for the simple fact that blacks aren't supposed to be interested in Asians...thus, aren't supposed to really know anything about them other than the "smart" and "submissive" stereotypes.

I met the first Asian guy, also, right after I became disenchanted with whites, and I think that makes a difference. I talked about in one of my posts last month or the month before how when I started learning more about white vs black (and, honestly, white vs everyone else in the world) history, it just changed how I felt about whites and they were no longer the race I was most attracted to. I can't be sure, but I think I might have been more attracted to whites for a while because that's who I was around most and that's always who I saw in the media, i.e. brainwashing. Being around Asians more was great to me because I was learning something new and experiencing a different kind of people. I learned in the process, though, that a lot of Asians--unlike blacks--don't really appreciate being thought of as "different," whereas I, personally, think that's a compliment and a good thing. So I didn't understand it for a long time. That's not to say blacks like being thought of as different, just that we don't fight it. The majority of us will tell you in a second that blacks aren't like anybody else, especially if you're trying to imply that we are.

With Latinos, I simply did not grow up around any. My schools were pretty much always a mix of whites, blacks and Asians.

I don't want this to seem like a "they're exotic" explanation, because I've never thought that. What it really is, I think, is the fact that every time race comes up, it's the black/white binary. I think I've been sick of that, even though I definitely participate--it's hard not to, given that black and white is really what I know about...the former because that's what I'm considered to be, and the latter because it's shoved down everyone's throats in this country. But being that I get bored easily, I am sick of "black people" and "white people," i.e. in terms of hearing about and being around them. I know "all" there is to know about them. You can't go anywhere, it seems, without white people being there, and it seems like blacks are always trying to be where white people are, if for no other reason than that it's our right. It's just boring to be bombarded with the same images and the same dynamics all the time.

So I like to think of it not so much as exoticizing Asians or Latinos as just...well, unfortunately, maybe it's "curiosity." But I don't think it's the kind of curiosity where you try it out once and then go back to your own race, with no intention of ever getting serious with someone who is of "that" background. It's just some kind of pull to those that don't get the spotlight, which has always been my nature--I have always preferred things that other people don't and get annoyed with things that other people do prefer, from songs and singers to, apparently, people. Racially, it's obvious to me that whites do prefer Asians and Latinos, but I think they prefer them as an extension of whiteness, even within the "exotic" stereotype. I mean, Asians and Latinos can look "exotic" and practice aspects of a culture whites find "exotic" all they want...but they are still somehow enough like white people for white people to be okay...that is, of course, unless they're not, i.e. they show too much racial/ethnic consciousness. You can be different in any way, just not that one. I want the conscious ones.

But I also just find Asians and Latinos physically attractive. There are people of all races who are physically attractive. But there's this theory that people tend to prefer those who "look like them." For me, that would actually be Asians (particularly the "brown" ones), Latinos and mixed or light blacks, because we have the same skin color and similar features. Lo and behold, those are the groups of people I do prefer--Asians (particularly the "brown" ones), Latinos and mixed or light blacks. I am attracted to some color, but not "too much." For some people, it's the contrast of color that plays a role in attraction. I just happen to be happy with the color I am, not to say that those who prefer a contrast don't like their color.

Usually, when I'm wondering about why someone has an interracial attraction, I'm wanting to be reassured, even if it's not my business, that what is true for me is also true for them. For me, it has nothing to do with who I think might be like me. Knowing my personality, not many people in this world are going to be like me. Usually, when I find someone who kind of is, they are actually white or "white-washed." And yet, I find a lot of "hot" white women in Hollywood to be very overrated.

It's not about black women being bitches and white women being more approachable and Asian women being submissive and Latinas being spicy. That's all crap. I find it irritating that a lot of the time when people try to talk about their interracial attraction, they want to attribute personality traits and/or life experiences to an entire group of people. And I know they think they're being complimentary. I've seen white women say, for example, that they admire black men's strength, black men go through yada yada in the US, etc. Similarly, white guys will talk about black women's strength. I just have a problem anytime your attraction to an individual is rooted in something associated with a group. Then when that individual turns out not to fit that stereotype you've placed on them, you don't understand it or you're disappointed or you think they're not being who they are or are supposed to be. That's just not what I want to be liked for, and, in turn, I don't like people for that and don't eliminate people based on that.

It's also not so much about just being open to everyone. I am, but I require a certain social consciousness level, too. And then I'm also willing to admit that certain features that politically correct people don't want to attribute to racial differences...you know, because "race is a social construct," which I actually am not exactly convinced of...are part of attractiveness, albeit individual-preference attraction and not universal attraction the way a lot of people try to make it seem.

In other words, as I said before, race has something to do with the way someone looks, so you can't entirely say you "don't see race." One of my white friends has said that one of the things she likes about black men is the skin color, which is, as I essentially just said, one of the things I like about Asians, Latinos and mixed/light blacks. To me, brown-ness is part of what makes someone attractive, as well as some of the physical features traditionally associated with the racial makeup of these people.

I also know that, for me, physical attraction isn't always the first attraction to a person, which is probably the only time I can honestly say race has nothing to do with anything--which is also probably the best scenario. To give an example, when I met my latest crush, I didn't notice her physically at all--probably because she was my boss. I mean, obviously when you meet someone, you notice how they look. But there's not always a judgment on it, or, rather, the judgment might not always relate to whether or not they're physically attractive. I think my take on Angel was she was nice, approachable, easy to talk to, laid-back--fleeting personality observations that we tend to make about people we haven't known long enough to really be doing so. This was in contrast to my other boss, who was more no-nonsense and intimidating.

Then the more I talked to Angel about topics that had nothing to do with work, the more it made me pay attention to who she was outside of being who I worked for. Then I noticed she was attractive. And the more I thought about it, the more I thought that the mix of Asian and white came together quite nicely, in her case. That's not to say that mixed Asians look better. That's to say that it's one of the things that affects how she looks, and in a good way for her--not necessarily for others, despite the stereotype that mixed people look better than everyone else. We don't always, just like not all whites look better than all minorities and so on. Anyways, with Angel, it was the fact that we got along so well and she had a great personality that made me notice her, not that she was Asian. So sometimes, there's that, too.

I hope this post kind of makes sense. I feel like discussions like these really could, at least, put a dent in some of the hostility surrounding interracial relationships, because I think one of the main issues is we just don't understand why some people do it...another issue is also that we make immediate assumptions about why someone does it or why they are attracted to someone else. It's to interracial daters' benefit to find a way to articulate what's going on in their head, even though that shouldn't be required.