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This episode is based on a question I’ve been asked multiple times: is having racial preferences a form of discrimination? I chose to answer whether or not it’s racist, meaning behavior or thinking that groups racialized people together as inferior or superior to others.
There were over a dozen people invited to influence the writing of this episode. These amazing volunteers gave their time, thoughts, and voices to our effort and I’m deeply grateful to them.
For other perspectives on sex and racism, please check-out:
AKILAH OBVIOUSLY: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDiU0aqqKp0
DECODED: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reuxx06KgMw
UPLIFT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRvKBT9ZCvg
KAT BLAQUE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6m-mbex4f9A
KAT LAZO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tV_10CdkvSI
And if you’re interested in the written resources utilized in building this episode check-out:
http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/05/inquiring-minds-david-amodio-your-brain-on-racism
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3742646/
http://www.news.com.au/finance/work/careers/the-simple-test-that-determines-if-youre-subconsciously-racist/news-story/cfbfc79590e0ee2e636bb991de071ef5
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQdMgtncpoE
https://theestablishment.co/yes-your-dating-preferences-are-probably-racist-e58ae2fd625d#.qzh7olumz
http://everydayfeminism.com/2016/10/white-liberals-perpetuate-racism/
http://www.smh.com.au/technology/web-culture/tinder-has-a-race-problem-nobody-wants-to-talk-about-20160214-gmu0pj.html
http://sk.sagepub.com/reference/humanrelationships/n421.xml
Dr. Lindsey Doe: Hi, my name is Dr. Lindsey Doe, and this is Sexplanations.

-- Intro Cut Scene --

Recently I went to Nerdcon: Nerdfigheria, and on the first day sat down with Laci Green and Matthew Gaydos to do a Q&A about sex. Someone from the audience asked if having partner preferences for certain racialized groups is a form of discrimination. As in "if I will only date Mexicans, is that racist?"

Yes.

Racism is a belief that all members of a racialized group are the same in some way that's inferior or superior to other racialized groups. So if you believe that all people of one group are less attractive, less worthy, less whatever your dating or sexual expectations - then that's racist. Which, as it turns out, most of us are.

Matchmaker, Emma Tesler, who has worked with thousands to find love, is very aware of people's racial preferences - and she says "no one likes being called racist" but it's hard for her to find another word to refer to people making negative assessments of large groups of individuals that they've never met, based solely on the color of their skin.

She continues, this is about social forces shaping our preferences, and we will never progress without acknowledging that fact.

For the record, 55% of Emma's clients identify as white, and 90% of her clients have racial preferences. 89.9% of them for white partners.

The question I'm concerned with is "why?"

The human mind works to find shortcuts so we don't have to think so hard. You see fire, sharp teeth or a gaping hole in the ground, and it's these shortcuts - based on experiences or lessons passed down that go "Beware! Careful! You probably want to go around the hole!"

Simiarly, the smell of cinnamon, or the sound of snoring might indicate that things are calm. Food is being made, someone nearby is resting. They're shortcuts. Where they become harmful is when we only rely on them, and stop thinking complexly.

Take, for example: judging people. Who are the five sexiest people you can think of? They're probably celebrities. What happens when we search online for sexiest people? They're mostly white celebrities. This is because Hollywood tells the stories of white attractive people in multidimensional roles, and other racialized groups - not so much.

It's getting better, but ultimately shows and films foster the idea that white is "good looking, intelligent, successful, and basically the default." So the shortcut in our brain goes "white/good, white/standard."

Similarly because of media depictions and our affinity for these shortcuts, "black" becomes "struggle", "Asian/Nerdy, Latinx/Macho, Muslim/foreign" and so on, until every nuance of voice, eye shape, skin tone, lip movement and dress are associated with a snap judgment.

One of the things Skyler Nicole brought up when we talked about her work in the Porn industry is that lower demand for black performers means lower pay. Even though she's doing the same kind and amount of work as her colleagues, the higher level of melanin in her skin means she makes less money.

To quote anti-racisim activist Jane Elliot "pigmentation should have nothing to do with how you treat another person." I would add "... or whether or not you get off to them."

Here's the science:

Research participants who explicitly expressed positive attitudes towards white and black people were tested on their implicit attitudes - what they think subconsciously about race.

They were asked to quickly categorize words that popped up on a screen, as negative or positive after an image of a black person or white person's face was shown.

Like this: 

Happy, positive. Fear, negative. Anger, negative. Peace, positive... and so on. The results? When the images were of black faces, participants categorized negative words faster and positive words slower. And when the images were of white faces, the opposite happened. What this shows is that, knowingly, or not, it is easy to associate "good" with white" and "not good with non-white." Institutional racism is at work here. That means racism established in our history, socially pervasive and methodically executed by our policy makers, corporations, schools, law enforcement, etc.

So what do we do?

Well if you don't want to be racist (sexually or otherwise) start by acknowledging that you are. Make a list of ten countries and next to each one, write a prejudice that you or your society has about people from there. Why you wouldn't date them. Then, one by one, find evidence to negate the snap judgment or shortcut in your mind and make a new pathway.

This will hopefully help with racist thinking. To address racist behaviors swipe right on tinder profiles if the person's from a racialized group you'd usually pass up. Don't set racial restrictions on your dating profiles, and go on dates with all the people and listen.

Attraction is in part influenced by proximity, how close we are in physical space to others, and the exposure effect which is how often we come in contact with them. So by increasing the diversity of your interactions with people, you're letting attraction become inclusive. You're reconditioning that smart brain of yours to challenge judgments and stereotypes and go in a new and non-racist direction towards love and sex.

You're staying curious.

My hope is this episode serves to spark your curiosity about racism, sexually and otherwise, and that you both continue to ask questions and learn. I've put links to research, writings and other YouTube content on the topic in the description, so staying curious should be easier.

This episode is brought to you by all sorts of diverse humans. The educational content we make together through Patreon goes out to anyone, regardless of race, gender, class, or creed. If you'd like to contribute to our sexual edutainment efforts, please join us as patreon.com/sexplanations