Have you ever said something like "I don't fancy black girls" or "Asian guys aren't my type"? Have you ever smacked "no rice, no spice" on your dating profile? Well, here's a news flash for you - you're being racist. The good news? Society doesn't seem too bothered by it.
I'll admit that that was a rather abrasive way to broach the subject of racism in dating. I realise I'll curry little favour by labelling a vast portion of the population racist from the outset but try and bear with me here.
Everybody has had conversations with their friends about the kind of people they fancy - cutely summarised as a person's 'type'. And, if we're being honest, we've all had conversations pertaining to what constitutes our 'type' and heard people say, or have said ourselves, that people of certain races and ethnicities don't really get the juices flowing.
Categorically ruling people out for anything, be they professional, social or sexual is discrimination in the purest sense of the word. Won't date a black person? Then you are minimising the reason for being romantically incompatible with someone to the colour of their skin.
Let's just imagine that you see the guy or girl of your dreams at a bar, you approach them, ask them out but they decline. Minutes later, their biological identical, bar their skin pigmentation, comes over and asks you out - would you really say no?
I know what you're thinking, surely not being attracted to people with certain skin tones is just the same as not liking guys with big noses or girls with freckles - well, no, not quite. The point of this argument is not to debate whether only dating certain ethnicities is racist but to point out that it categorically is. The crucial difference between finding, say a big nose, off-putting is that this is not exclusive to one race or ethnicity. This is still reducing people to physicality albeit, not racially.
Similarly, racism in the dating sphere can occur through overly strong attractions to specific races, leading to racial fetishisation. Much of this boils down to mythical stereotypes pertaining to certain demographics, such as attraction to black women because they're perceived to be 'sassy' or Asian women who are often portrayed as sexually passive towards men.
Similarly, black men face the expectations of hyper-masculinity, thuggish behaviour and exceptional endowment when operating in dating spheres. The endemic of this typecast was captured by Rutgers University, who piloted a study in 2015 that found 87% of white women surveyed wanted to sleep with black men but only 13% would consider dating or raising a family with a black man. These sorts of attitudes are problematic and reduce people, and often, ethnic minorities, to objects of sexual fantasy and nothing more.
Often, when I discuss my views on this subject with friends, they combat my opinion by asking if the fact I'm homosexual makes me a misogynist. Fundamentally, biological sex actually changes the type of sex a person is having, so the two are not comparable. If I have sex with a black man or a white man, the sex I'm having is still the same.
The specifications of our own attractions are not problematic in themselves. For instance, I have a preference towards men of Mediterranean descent - to my mind, this is an attraction that I cannot control - and for most of us, the situation will be similar. It is not bigoted to have a racial preference in dating, however, having blanket bans on people of certain ethnicities is, by the letter of the law, racist. The fact that 30% of people "strongly prefer" to date members of their own race is problematic, and symptomatic of a society who hasn't shed racial stereotypes as well as it thinks it has.
I would, and have dated men of various ethnicities, this close-minded approach that all people of one race are physically, romantically and sexually the same is bigoted. Of course, I will reiterate the point once more - we cannot choose who we are attracted to. So, while I have no doubt that ruling people out of your dating pool based on skin tone or ethnicity is racist - it also poses the question, given that we can't control our sexual drivers, is it the only place in society, where being racist is okay? Personally, I reject that notion, but that's another debate for another time.