What not to do around your non-white date

by Michelle Law - 17/11/14, 4:04 PM

As a non-white person living in a western country, life can be a little complicated, especially when it comes to romance and dating. And as a white person dating a non-white person, how do you navigate the fraught yet potentially sexy cultural minefield that is the evening before you? Fear not, my friends. Inspired by the many videos about the awkward and sometimes downright offensive remarks made to non-white people, like this one and this one, I've devised a handy list of what not to say and do around your non-white date. Let us begin. 

Make derogatory comments about other non-white races

Trash talking people because of their race is a big no-no. Trash talking minorities in the company of someone who also comes from a minority background is the biggest no-no. Recently, I had a taxi driver rear-end a non-white driver and then blow him an obnoxious kiss as we passed. "He didn't react once he saw I was white," he said. "They sort of retreat into themselves, you know? I'm not racist, but—ha, am I right?'" I just stared at him blankly, astounded by the fact he hadn't clued onto the fact I wasn't exactly white myself. Then I hurled myself into oncoming traffic. Don't assume that you're out of the woods because you're badmouthing another non-white race. Because your date comes from a minority background, and I hope, is also a decent person, they are well versed in leaping to the defense of other minorities because they understand how despicable it is to be racially vilified because of your ethnicity. It's, like, such a romance dampener.



Wonder aloud about whether your date knows other non-white people you've met

Contrary to popular belief, your date doesn't know every other non-white person on the planet, just as you don't know every white person on the planet. Nor are they interchangeable with other non-white people you've met. Countless times, I've been approached by a stranger and asked something along the lines of, "Are you Karen's sister? You look so alike." When I deny knowing Karen, the person shakes their head, disbelieving, like if I tried harder I would eventually conjure up Karen's image in my encyclopedic memory of Earth's ever-growing Asian population of four billion plus. I do not know Karen. I do not know any Karens. And it's not cool when I tell you that unlike your friend Karen, who is Filipino, I am Chinese, and you respond by saying, "Sounds about right." That was a stranger. Imagine this happening on a date. Imagine sitting through dinner, or hiking up a mountain, or watching a movie with this heavy weight hanging between you both. No. Bad date. Do not pass GO. Do not collect 200 date dollars.

List defining characteristics of your date's race

"Yes, this is my natural hair colour. Yes, it sticks up like that/is straight like that on its own. No, you cannot touch it."

Did you know that non-white people own mirrors? Often, they look into these mirrors and notice for the trillionth time that they have big or small eyes, or thin or full lips, or that their complexion is fair or dark. They don't need to be told again. They also don't need to be told that the size of their genitalia directly correlates with their race, unless you are a doctor and can back this up with significant medical evidence. (If your date is an Asian woman, do not ask them, 'Do you know what a Chinese finger trap really is?' unless you want to be straight up murdered.) Also if you are a doctor, my parents would like to arrange our marriage.  


Deny having [insert non-white race] fever

Chances are your date already suspects you have some kind of non-white fever, and the fact that you've now brought it up highlights that you're thinking about it too and now everything is awkward. It's fine to talk about past relationships, but bring up the race factor organically, or at least allow breathing space between dates for your love interest to privately stalk your relationship history on Facebook. Whatever happens, don't talk about how you never thought one day you'd date a non-white person. You're forgetting that behind our non-white features is a functioning human brain with a bullshit detector finely honed over decades of having to deal with this kind of cluelessness. #everydayracism #dontcallmeillcallyou

Greet your date in their national language

This will never be okay. Don't ever do it. Just save the both of you some embarrassment. There's every chance you'll mispronounce whatever you're trying to pronounce. And there is every chance your date won't understand what you're saying because English is their first language too. And while we're on the subject, don't show your date your non-English tattoo that you think means 'courage'. Chances are it does not mean courage.

Ask where they are from originally

"Do you mean my birthplace? Because I was born in a small town in coastal regional Queensland. They farm a lot of ginger there; the soil is very fertile. Oh, you mean my parents. No? Oh, you mean the origins of my family back several generations through to the beginning of time. Let me consult while you order another drink. Please hold."

Your date's interested in you and probably what's going on under your shirt/blouse, not giving a lesson on world geography. It's fine to be curious about someone's background, as long as it's not the first thing you ask about. First, establish that you're interested in them as a person and not what they represent. But now that you mention it, I am interested in hearing about your background. What's England like? 'ELLO GUVNA. Are your teeth a twisted mess? Western culture is so exotic.




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