Written by: Sydney Ko
In an ideal world, people can be with whoever they want.
In an ideal world, we could stare at each other lovingly, sipping on our coffee while gazing into each other’s eyes; because you’re admiring everything that I portray, and I’m deeply fascinated with all things you have to say.
But sadly, this isn’t the case.
This isn’t the case because as women of colour, we live in a world where history continues to haunt us. We live in a society where our skin colour determines our status and how desirable we are to others. We live in a highly critical community where we are perpetually walking on a fine line between trying to fit in and holding on to your true identity.
For many of us women of colour, dating is uncharted water. We find ourselves constantly on a cautious look-out for simply being able to fulfill someone’s fantasy rather than being admired for who we are.
But before we get too far ahead- hear me out. This isn’t another race-based condemnation. It’s a piece coming from a hopeless romantic still in search of that perfect rom-com moment.
When Matt James, the first Black Bachelor from the Bachelor ended his relationship with
Rachael Kirkconnell, due to her history of racist actions, James stirred a discourse.
He said he can’t continue the relationship with Kirkconnell because she doesn’t truly understand what it’s like to be a Black man in the United States. While the relationship ended,
James did not completely dismiss the possibility of the two getting back together; instead, he informed the audience that Kirkconnell simply has to work on herself first before the two could progress as romantic partners.
While we may all be on the same page of seeing racism as this behemoth that needs to be defeated, we tend to overlook our own racial biases. This is why empathy is such an important factor when navigating through the dating scene.
It is especially important in an interracial relationship to be empathetic. Being able to empathize with your partner and understand the struggle they go through as a visible minority is crucial in making a relationship work. After all, part of being in a healthy relationship is to be a support for your romantic partner – someone who cheers for you on the sideline.
Obviously, this isn’t to denounce the struggles others may be facing; but it is crucial for someone who’s not a part of the BIPOC community to understand the rocky route we continue to confront. From ensuring that someone doesn’t just fancy us for our “exoticism” to wondering if we’re an experiment for people to gain “experience,” to phrases such as “you’re really pretty for an Asian,” to “I’ve always wanted to travel to Asia,” renders us to endless cynicism. In fact, it is degrading, because it often leaves us wondering if we’re just your gateway to experiencing more culture? Or do you truly see us as your equal?
With empathy, members of the BIPOC community are valued as individuals. We’re valued for our thoughts and ideas, features that are more than skin deep like our quirks and mispronunciations.
It reaffirms we’re not just another subject to dispose of once your “study” is done. So, let’s start dating with more empathy, and maybe for once, Hollywood’s most cliched rom-com moments will be a part of our dating experience too.
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