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Friday Ephemera

Do Not Date Bedlamites

Melissa Fabello shares her interracial dating advice with the chronically fretful readers of Everyday Feminism

While interracial dynamics always add a layer of work to romance, it’s important to note that I’m white. Because when you’re a white person in an interracial relationship, there’s this whole – ohhh, ya know – white supremacy thing hanging in the air. And that has to be acknowledged – and dealt with – constantly.

At this point, the opening paragraph, we could probably cut things short. I mean, if you’re considering dating someone who thinks it important to mention their melanin levels and thinks that “white supremacy” is a feature of any future relationship, something to “acknowledge constantly,” you should probably walk away, quite briskly. Seriously, just get the hell out of there. However, for the morbidly curious among you, Ms Fabello has a list of “things to remember as a white person involved with a person of colour.” It begins thusly:

As a feminist and a woman, I could never be in a relationship with someone who didn’t feel comfortable talking about patriarchy.  

Hey, baby. Wanna talk about patriarchy?

Gender (and the social dynamics therein) is a part of my everyday life, both in how I’m perceived by the world and in the work that I do. So if I tried to date someone who felt discomfort to the point of clamming up every time I brought gender into the conversation, that “It’s not you, it’s me” discussion would come up quick.

Note the words “every time.”

The same goes for race... While it’s okay for conversations about white supremacy to make you uncomfortable (hey, we should be uncomfortable with that shit), being generally aware of how race plays out and feeling fairly well versed in racial justice issues is important.

And feeling mutually awkward while sharing identitarian dogma and confessions of “white supremacy” is what binds lovers together, surely? Sadly, these moments of shared discomfort, however frequent and interminable, may not suffice:

While it’s important to be willing to talk to your partner about race and to feel comfortable bringing it up, it’s just as important to be willing to step back and recognise when your whiteness is intrusive… Not all family structures operate the same way… Maybe it isn’t appropriate for your partner to take you home to meet their parents.

Apparently, the thing to take away from this is that if your partner-of-colour’s family-of-colour don’t want to meet you, a person of pallor, or have you in their home, then, obviously, it’s your fault. Because “you represent an oppressive system” by “virtue of your privileges.”

Because as white people, we’ve been socialised racist.

In short, honkie germs. And for the excruciatingly pious, further complications can loom in the bedroom:

It’s important to remember that as a white person being sexual with a person of colour, you’re in a position of power… And it can be difficult for a marginalised person to feel comfortable expressing their needs without a safe space being intentionally created by the person of privilege… The power dynamics bestowed upon us by our fucked up, oppressive society don’t disappear just because you’re intimate with someone… Sex should be considered in relation to social power.

If you’re creasing the sheets with someone and you’re continually fretting about pseudo-sociology and imagined racial power dynamics, and about who’s being “marginalised” by virtue of their melanin levels, and thinking about sex “in relation to social power,” then it doesn’t sound like a relationship so much as an elaborate fetish.

Seemingly oblivious, Ms Fabello goes on to stress the wickedness of “racial fetishization” and of “exotifying” sex with “people of colour.” “It’s never appropriate to stereotype people,” says she. And yet her own article is premised on “othering” and “exotifying” people with browner skin than hers. Chiefly by viewing them as eternal victims of some all-pervasive “white supremacy,” which apparently renders them “marginalised” and powerless, and in need of endless, neurotic accommodation by immensely sensitive white people, even in the bedroom. 

Still, if further agonised uptightness is what floats your boat, there’s always number-crunching:

I’d love to be able to give you a formula – some kind of fool-proof ratio of number-of-white-to-POC partners – to help you determine if you’re racist.

I bet you would, madam.

But such a thing simply doesn’t exist.

Oh calamity. How will I let people know that I’m Officially Not A Racist™…?

Dating is hard. And being responsible for the ways in which your whiteness affects the world – and your relationship – is hard work, too. But you know what’s harder? Being a person of colour in a white supremacist world.

And everyone wants a relationship that’s hard work and based on pity.


Ms Fabello is a “community educator” and a “fierce feminist activist.” As an expert in relationships, “she currently lives in Philadelphia, PA, with her cat.” 

Spotted by Scott Farquharson, an avid reader of empowered lady journals.