Bad Arguments Against Interracial Dating

Erin Gloria Ryan responds to a silly op-ed from Ralph Richard Banks suggesting black women date men of different races by rehashing some campus liberal sociology that implicitly embraces certain values I'm guessing she doesn't actually buy into:

His argument might make sense on one level; yes, if black women decided to respond to a limited dating pool by dating outside of their race more often, more of them might get married, but, like many ideas brewed by academics, there's little likelihood that this could be implemented in a practical way. This isn't economic policy; love isn't a logical decision; if you told me that men with blue eyes were much less likely to produce offspring who get cancer than men with brown eyes, I wouldn't be able to logic my way out of preferring the latter. A short girl who loves dating tall men won't suddenly like short guys because someone tells her that the physics of sex with a man close to your height can make the act more fun for all involved parties. I can't suddenly think my way into falling in love with some rich guy I work with because he would be a better provider. The heart wants what it wants. Suggesting that black women react to their smaller dating pool by simply changing their tastes and abandoning the hope that they'd be able to raise a family with someone from a similar cultural background is borderline absurd.

I have my doubts about whether Ryan would agree with the idea that romantic tastes are somehow entirely unmoored from social pressure about who constitutes a desirable partner if expressed in just about any other context. Usually folks on the left are inherently skeptical of the role societal pressure plays in romantic interactions, but for some reason, when it comes to attraction based on race, that skepticism gets thrown out the window in favor of some guilty campus liberal nonsense rationalizing that self-imposed racial prohibitions on dating partners is somehow natural.

One of Jay-Z's most memorable lines on The Black Album is when he alludes to his successful status by virtue of the type of women now attracted to him ("all the wavy light-skinned girls is loving me now"). In his book, he elaborates:

“There are no white people in Marcy Projects...that didn’t mean white people were a mystery to me. If you’re an American, you’re surrounded on all sides by images of white people in popular culture. If anything, some black people can become poisoned by it and start hating themselves. A lot of us suffered from it – wanting to be light-skinned with curly hair. I never thought twice about trying to look white, but in little ways I was being poisoned, too, for example, in unconsciously accepting the common wisdom that light-skinned girls were the prettiest—‘all wavy light-skinned girls is loving me now.’ It was sick.

Now most liberals can easily identify as this kind of thing as the result of "sick" social forces, but that skepticism fails when confronted with a remark as ignorant as "I don't find group x attractive." It's convenient for all sides -- no one has to interrogate the nature of such blanket statements, because we've all agreed that there's nothing weird about it (unless of course it's a white person saying it. Then we cringe). 

Most people's dating histories are homogeneous because we live in a segregated society, a fact some of us retroactively justify by pretending we actually know enough people from other backgrounds to pass that kind of judgment made above. And an element of living in segregated worlds is that we look for partners that possess the kind of social capital we're looking for, whether its wavy light-skinned girls or whatever. But let's not pretend that the heart is not the brain and that the brain is not easily manipulated into wanting what it is told it is supposed to want, or that writing off entire groups of people and then falling back on the kind of dime-store nationalism that says you're entitled to the bodies of "your people" doesn't result in a degree of suffering that is self-imposed. "I'm not attracted to white men/black women" isn't much more sophisticated than "no fat chicks."

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