Not everything in life is black or white.
In my world, it's both. As a biracial man, I get the pleasure of checking off the "I Identify with two or more races" box on job applications, surveys, census research, and dating profiles. My father is black, my mother is white, and I resemble the latter more than the former. If I’m being honest, I look like a white boy who bought the edited version of Get Rich Or Die Tryin'.
Dating has been a blessing and a curse. I've been able to dabble pretty seamlessly in dating between races, something let's admit still doesn't happen all that often in 2016. It's unique to be able to exist in both worlds of whiteness and blackness -- but it's also a challenge, as I don't entirely fill out either mold.
It's always interesting to watch people's reactions on date one (or two, but rarely three) when they inevitably ask what I'm made of. Sometimes I see surprise -- the holy-shit-are-you-kidding-me look. Yeah, surprise! Other times it doesn’t go well. Once the proverbial cat crawls out of the bag, the enthusiasm over bringing me home to meet the parents has a tendency to dry up.
In all fairness, it's pretty damn hard to relate to the realities of anyone who's got a different set of life experiences than you -- and being biracial can be a tough reality to embrace because we so often don't quite fit in anywhere. I'm not white enough for white privilege, not black enough for black heritage. And while I'm happy to see more mixing than ever before, it's still staggering how confusing I can be to people.
Biracial dating is basically the same...
There's nothing more frustrating to a biracial person than when people ask you, "What's it like dating when you’re biracial?" As if dating is somehow totally different when you're mixed. Newsflash: love is a pretty universal language.
You become attracted to someone, you introduce yourself, and hopefully you go on a few dates. If all goes according to plan, you can meet each other's families, move in together, and live happily ever after. It's the basic gist of most love stories, Disney movies, and classic literature regardless of how much melanin you've got in your skin. I have all the same fears and hopes around my love interests as the next guy.
... except for a few stark differences
I'm sure it's tempting to feign colorblindness in the hopes of avoiding uncomfortable discussions about race. We could all just carry on in joyous indifference to each other's varying histories and traditions. Sorry everyone, but that's ridiculous. This line of thinking is just a steamy load of bullshit promoted by people too intimidated, lazy, and pig-headed to address race issues in a meaningful way. Racism is unfortunately alive and well -- and there is not a person of color (mixed or not, and even white) who has not experienced some form of it in his or her life. And that extends to dating.
There is always a fear that the other person will heavily judge you based on your race and not on your character. When you're biracial, your background is the subject of many conversations -- far more so than mentioning your Italian grandmother or Passover traditions. Sometimes the curiosity is heartfelt; other times it crosses over into determining exactly what kind of upbringing I had to ensure I'm good enough. Or exotic enough... which brings me to my next point: when you’re biracial, people who do pursue you often do because you are biracial. You are an object.
When you’re biracial, people ask you about your sexual performance and compare you to the first stereotypes they learned in a grade-school bathroom. You have to explain certain family customs that are sometimes foreign to your partner. There are times you'll be on a date that gets ruined because of a tense conversation. You meet a nice girl, but her family isn't comfortable with you. I've been broken up with because someone who had never met my family decided they wouldn't all get along.
It starts with some self-love
Of course, unless you’re biracial you can't fully relate to what I'm saying. And that's the damn truth of the matter: it is what it is.
Dating is just different.
As much as people want you to believe we live in a hand-holding society where blacks, whites, Jews, Latinos, Asians, and even Muslims gather in circles to sing "Kumbaya" and become background actors for various commercials, I want you to know: the rumors are simply untrue. Yes, dating is dating regardless of one's ethnic blend. We're all prone to judgments, anxieties, and insecurities. At the end of the day, suffice it to say everyone just wants to be appreciated for who they are... and all the better if the person doing the appreciating of me is good in the sack. But biracial people are a mixed bag with a unique set of challenges, more explaining to do, and more understanding to be gained.
And like so many issues we face today, we've only just begun.
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Anthony Robert is a freelancer for Thrillist and a longtime advocate of promoting original thought. He's blue collar enough to get votes from the common man and white collar enough to be dangerous. Creep and follow him on Facebook, Google, and Twitter: @winnloseordraw.