Guessing my race isn’t a pickup line

By Mariah Bennett | Assistant News Editor

Dating is just a weird experience — for everyone. We all have one horror story of a date gone wrong or an interesting character. Meeting new people can bring on a lot of viewpoints. And dating as a person of color adds on a wave of unwanted weirdness from potential dates, which I think is stupid and shouldn’t happen, but it should at least be talked about a bit more.

To start, I know I personally don’t have the worst of it at all. I’m lucky to have experienced just weirdness rather than straight up discrimination like others have. Research shows the online dating world is stacked against Black women and Asian men.

But what I’m writing about is different — it’s the weird comments people of color can receive when trying to date, and how they aren’t OK. I’ve personally experienced it, I have friends who have experienced it and I’ve seen multiple stories online. Wildly enough, it comes from people who don’t come off ignorant on paper.

If I had a nickel for every time a seemingly grown, educated man made a weird comment or had a strange excitement or stereotype about me being Latina, Filipina or whichever random race of the week he was trying to guess I was, I’d have a lot of nickels. If I combined those profits with my friends experiences, we’d probably be millionaires.

I think the feeling one gets when someone makes an off comment relating to race was best summarized by Priya Rao when she received an odd Bumble message about making “adorable East Asian babies” and wrote about her experience.

“I think he was trying to be complimentary, but I couldn’t help but feel distilled down to a category. I wasn’t Priya; I was nonwhite person No. X,” Rao said in her article.

Why people feel so comfortable making odd comments about race in general is beyond me. When it comes to online dating, though, the answer is quite simple, according to Ivanna C. Rodriguez-Rojas, author of “Fetishization for Dummies: Columbia Edition”: It comes down to a lack of accountability.

“The internet provides a level of safety … since they know their actions will probably not have negative consequences (for them, at least),” Rodriguez-Rojas said in a Bustle Article.

But why people choose to make such strange comments — online and in person — I honestly couldn’t pinpoint from my research. There are multiple factors, and it depends on the situation. Some people are ignorant. Some are plainly superficial. Some don’t understand appropriate social cues. And yes, there are some out there who are blatantly racist, who I’ve been blessed enough to not run into personally, but I won’t be surprised if I do in the future.

I know writing this article isn’t going to fix much either. Love truly is a battlefield, as Rao said in her article. Dating has good and bad parts; this just happens to be one of the bad ones people of color face. Some people I date or try to date aren’t going to stop throwing random stereotypes about “wild” Latinas to me, or weirdly obsess that I am Filipina, or guess that I’m a million different races unprompted or worry if they’ll be hunted down by my loved ones. But points for creativity, I guess.

People who make weird comments about mixed babies like Rao’s experience aren’t going to be reading this article. They don’t really know or possibly care that they’re doing anything wrong.

But I know talking about these experiences and researching it made me feel a lot less alone and annoyed, like I wasn’t the only one going through it and it’s happening to fellow smart, bright, fun women as well. It just sucks, and it isn’t deserved or a reflection of who you are as a person. You’re more than “nonwhite person No. X.” You’re a whole person.

If you’re experiencing weird comments about your race when dating, understand that they aren’t normal but that they are unfortunately common. It’s strange, and it sucks, but you aren’t alone. You don’t deserve it, and it doesn’t reflect who you are at all or your value. And you’re allowed to block, unmatch or even call out the person — or even do nothing at all. What matters is what makes you the most comfortable. This is an unfortunate added obstacle in dating that I really hope can one day be resolved.