In the past, I’d have sought that comfort out in a white man, but that night I knew it wouldn’t be enough.It’s not that I don’t think white people are anxious; two months into Trump’s presidency, most of the white people in my life are activated.They’re not thinking about the fact that this is a widespread phenomenon.They’re just thinking about their own personal preferences. It’s cultural, it’s national, and it’s fucking everywhere. Christian Rudder, co-founder of Ok Cupid, writes: Scrolling through Ok Cupid’s blog, you’ll stumble across a myriad of depressing race stats.“White women prefer white men to the exclusion of everyone else — and Asian and Hispanic women prefer them even more exclusively.” “Men don’t write black women back.” Their gay data reads the same: “Blacks get fewer responses.” Have you closed your browser and crawled into a hole to live out the rest of your days unencumbered by society and its bullshit yet?As is protocol with sweeping epidemics, people should start by honestly talking about the problem (see: for suggestions).To take one of the most obvious and simple examples, consider Hollywood, which is notoriously white. That means the math equation looks something like this: If Hollywood=White, and Hollywood=Hot, then White=Hot. We are not the passive victims of our own internalized biases. As author and psychologist James Giles writes, “That is not to say that romantic attraction is fully under our control, but only that it is not fully our control.” So when are our love lives going to start reflecting that? People are happy to acknowledge that hiring someone based on their skin is racist.According to the 20 Hollywood Diversity Report, minorities “remain underrepresented on every front.” They’ve reported that “more than half of films had casts that were 10% minority or less.” (The Every Single Word Spoken project is a great illustration of this.) Hollywood is also hot. The problem is that no one is inundating us with hot Asian guys, or hot black women who aren’t Kerry Washington. Studies have shown that we are attracted to what we know and are used to, but as Deborah Ward writes, “Repeated exposure to certain people will increase our attraction toward them.” This means that a conscious change in behavior will impact subconscious desires. Whether workplaces to their goals of diversity is another, much longer, discussion, but the guidelines are there. But somehow, dating someone based on their skin is not.
Sometimes, they’re enraged — like the time when I called my last boyfriend after I left American Apparel in search of nipple covers for a white bodysuit. And then there are the quieter times, the ones that weigh more heavily, that bring us closer together.But no one will talk about this, because no one likes being called racist.Except it’s hard for me to find another word to refer to “people making negative assessments of large groups of individuals that they’ve never met, based solely on the color of their skin.”Now, do I think that everyone is lying when they say they’re not attracted to black women or Asian men?So when I ask my clients who their celebrity crush is, they pick white people. I know it’s awful, but I’m just not attracted to black people.”Often, what I want to respond is:1) There are other races besides white and black.2) You’re not attracted to black people? You’ve met all of them, and not a SINGLE PERSON does it for you? Of course it Now switch the scenario and pretend it’s an employer, discussing who to hire (maybe replace children with interns? We’re comfortable (theoretically) with integrating our schools and workplaces, but we stop short when it comes, quite literally, too close to home. As Ward says, “You cannot control what you’re not aware of.And when you close your eyes and think of someone hot, you’re probably thinking of a white person. Man, you must be exhausted after traversing the ENTIRE GLOBE searching for just ONE black person that you could get it up for! But this kind of racism is so deep-seated, so ingrained, that people believe their attractions are chemical. But you can develop awareness and create a new pattern.” Without recognizing that this is an issue, we don’t stand a chance at fixing it. It’s a pretty good way to pass the time from Brooklyn to midtown. I spent my childhood surrounded by black and brown kids, but when I got to high school, suddenly everyone around me was white.And on those rare occasions a white boy kissed me in the copy-machine room at our high school, or when a white boy told me over the phone he had a crush on me, the acknowledgement made me feel chosen. The white boys I grew up with were cool: They rode their skateboards on private property.That they’re actively harboring racist fantasies about certain minority groups? I think they genuinely don’t feel all hot and bothered when thinking about them.But there is definitely a reason beyond “they just don’t do it for me.”This is about social forces shaping our preferences, and we’ll never progress without acknowledging that fact. And our society has tacitly decided that those guidelines only apply to your professional life.They smoked weed in their parents’ houses with abandon. If they wanted me, I thought, it was because I seemed free like them.White men have preoccupied me my whole life, from the schoolyard to the subway, but these days I’m seeing them differently.