I’ve always been a bit different than my Latin peers. I preferred to listen to alternative rock instead of bachata, I preferred to eat sushi while out instead of Dominican food and yes, I preferred to date white men over Latinos. I never considered myself a sellout, traitor or a self-hating POC. But as soon I mention this aspect of my life, I’m immediately categorized as one of these terms.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by different cultures, languages, and customs. I’ve always had the desire to travel and submerge myself into another culture. Part of this desire lead me to seek a companion different than myself. I do believe that opposites attract. While this desire has always driven me, it never led me to self-hatred or a dislike for my family, my culture nor my language. In fact, I’m proud to be a Dominican, an immigrant and a woman of color here in the US. I love teaching people about my heritage, and I bring it with me everywhere I go, especially in my relationships.
Though I have mostly dated white men, I have also dated men of color both Latinos and Black. The few that have crossed my path, however, have always made me feel like I’m not good enough. I didn’t have enough color, rhythm, not even enough derrière. I was mocked for not knowing enough baseball, how to cook habichuelas or for not understanding the latest Dominican or South Bronx slang.
I was recently interrogated by another woman of color, and a Black man, (I considered them both to be progressive, open-minded and inclusive) about my preference and suddenly my beliefs as an intersectional feminism were put into question. Apparently, I couldn’t be a real champion for the people if I’m dating the oppressor. It seems that my work as an intersectional feminist means nothing if the person that I’m attracted too happens to be white.
This assumption and the constant feeling of not being enough Latina and Dominican, are in an ongoing duel with my personal and individual desires. Having to continuously proof my love and appreciation for my culture including the men in it, is exhausting. What’s more frustrating is that the criticism comes from so called educated liberals. Believing that there must be something with me for liking white men, I was pressured to give an answer as to why. It was my fault for falling into this track and believing there must be a logical explanation for my attraction.
I began to think: maybe because of my father, a Dominican man who was not a great husband, perhaps because most of the media I was exposed too was white, maybe because I feel more comfortable in a Florence and the Machine concert than a Romeo Santos one. Maybe it’s because of the rampant domestic violence and machismo in the POC community. The real reason is, I don’t know and you shouldn’t care. To me, color has been a preference such as height and other physical attributes one might find attractive.
Since the recent election, I can see how now more than ever it is imperative to empower POC and showcase more positive narratives about men of color. However, these shouldn’t be tied to the person you love. I realize that I will never satisfy people’s expectations of a young Dominican intersectional feminist. No matter how many men of color I chose to date or marry, it won’t change my beliefs. This is also true if I continue to date white men. This preference does not and will never hinder my ability to speak up on racial and gender injustices.
At the end of the day:
Whom I blow doesn’t dictate my individual social beliefs and the work I do to empower others.
Who I sleep with doesn’t determine how WOKE I am.
Some may believe that relationships between whites and POC are highly problematic and political. Speaking from experience, there’s definitely a learning curve and many conversations about microaggressions do take place. However, these never stopped me from expressing my opinions and critiquing white supremacy, patriarchy, and racism.
Stay tuned for part two!