“He’s cute,” I thought to myself. “I wonder why he’s still single?”
After a few minutes of pondering, I decided to do something completely out of my shy character. I asked, “So, why is a handsome man like you still single (*wink wink*)?”
I was expecting him to reply, “Oh, I just haven’t met the right woman yet; I’m still waiting on God to send her.” What I wasn’t expecting was, “I’m waiting for my hot, blonde cheerleader, from the rich part of town, who loves Jesus.”
That was the actual, honest-to-God response I received. I waited, thinking he had to be joking. When no “I’m just joking!” came, I was shocked. Not so much at the blonde part — I’ve heard comments like that from nearly every man of interest since childhood — but at the rich cheerleader part. And the idea that all of Dallas’ cheerleaders are blonde … and that he refuses to date someone unless she’s a cheerleader.
There’s a very thin line between personal preference and racism, and I feel this line is crossed all too often within Christian dating circles.
I’ve heard repeatedly, “I’m only attracted to blondes, or Latinas (or insert any other race but black apparently)” or, “Oh, you’re not half-white? Darn. My parents would flip if I brought a black woman home.”
For many years, I thought the problem was that I was living in the Deep South (Savannah, Georgia). But when I moved completely across the country to Dallas, Texas — a city that is #22 in the list of least-segregated cities in America, just after Los Angeles which ranks #21 according to 2015 stats from Priceonomics — and continuously heard the same comments I’d been hearing back home among my new church friends, I realized it’s not just a Georgia thing. I could see maybe this being a problem in the world, but the first commandment God gave the body of Christ is to love Him. Secondly, He told us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:35-39) . Is it loving our neighbor to say we can’t love them because of their skin color?
There’s a difference between saying, “I’m typically attracted to blondes” (personal preference) and, “I will only date blondes.” The latter is racist, especially because it more than likely stems from a stereotype.
The dictionary defines racism as “Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s race is superior,” or, applicable here, “The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.”
Since around my teens I’ve been hearing men say, “I would never date a black woman, I only date X-other race.” I’ve asked why, and they’ve said “Black women are loud and ghetto.” This is racism, because it’s making a choice not to date anyone from an entire people group based on stereotypes. There are white women who are “loud and ghetto,” just as there are black women who are not. A Star article written by matchmaker Sofi Papamarko, affirms that there is great racial preference given by men toward dating “anything but a black woman,” stating that black women are her hardest clients to find matches for due to these preferences.
Racism within dating circles isn’t just against black women though. I also recently heard someone say, “I would never marry an Asian woman.” These same people are always the first to add, “I don’t see skin color, I love all people equally just like Jesus does. I’m definitely not racist because my best friend is Asian/Black/Hispanic!”
I also recently watched a brother in Christ swipe through dating apps. When he came across a beautiful, modelesque black woman, he said, “Wow, she’s hot,” then immediately swiped left. When asked why, he answered, “Oh, I only date white women,” without even stopping to see if it was a match and then say hello. Why? Strictly because of her skin color. And this systemic, disconcerting racism is not only excused within the church, it’s even deemed as acceptable.
I believe that Jesus created beautiful people in all racial groups, and I’m open to whatever color He might have for me because there are plenty of beautiful men in every race. But have I been completely single for nearly 11 years, simply because every man I meet can’t get over the color of my skin?
Yes, physical attraction is important. I get it. I used to be a fashion photographer, which means I’m more visual than most women. I also won’t deny that when it comes to celebrity crushes, my heart skips a beat when I hear Enrique Iglesias crooning over the radio, while I‘m just like “he’s OK” watching pretty much any other actor in a movie. But that doesn’t mean that if a Brad Pitt or Will Smith who was emotionally, spiritually, and financially compatible walked into my life, I wouldn’t accept his invitation to go out. Who knows? He might have the most beautiful heart and be the man God has for me.
A personal preference turns into racism when we say “no” and “never” to a skin color. Attractive people are attractive people, regardless of their race, and if we wish to call ourselves Christ followers, we need to be completely different from the world, which means we need to eradicate racist thinking from our minds. We need to love the way Christ loves, and He looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7), not the color of peoples’ skin. Let’s not forget that we won’t be taking our skin with us to Heaven anyway.
I originally wrote this article many months ago when I was hurting so it was easy to point out the flaws in everyone else and not see them within myself.
Since writing this, God has worked on my own heart and revealed many ways that I have been racist.
My junior year of college I had Hispanic roommates and I said stuff like “you people and your music are really loud and annoying.” I have only ever been on a date with one black man because most of the ones I interacted with growing up fell into negative stereotypes. I was too ignorant to realize that not all are the same until I met him.
Just a couple weeks ago a friend mentioned that she would never date an Indian man “because Indian people smell.” I momentarily agreed with her before I realized that this is a racist statement since it is not true of all Indian people.
I am grieved even just thinking about the ways I use to be racist. While God’s done some amazing heart surgery and I now find men of every race, including the ones mentioned above attractive, I still have to work on the racist thoughts that are so ingrained into society that they’re deemed socially acceptable.
Daily, we must learn to die to our flesh and the biases we have in order to see others the way that Jesus does – which is with no color. If He can love us no matter our skin color, and we call ourselves Christ-followers, this is what we must do. And while we don’t HAVE to date everyone from every racial group, we must learn how to be open to the idea instead of completely closed off to it. Through prayer and eradicating ignorant stereotypes from our minds as well as making sure we belong to really diverse social groups, I believe we can do that.
Finally, I intentionally left out the race of the men who made the example comments contained within this article because I didn’t want it to become a finger pointing thing. But as I’ve since been accused of this being an attack on white people, I want to reveal that a large majority of the men who made the comments actually belong to other minority groups.
Hopefully, readers can understand that my only intention with this article is to shed light around this very real issue that grieves the Father’s Heart. Thank you so much for reading!! 🙂
Candace Perry is a Jesus, doggy, art and wildflower lover. From 2002-2006, she ran an online ministry that grew to 800 members who were committed to waiting on God’s timing for romance and living purely — all before social media existed. She’s excited to return to encouraging singles through writing. A recent transplant to Dallas, Texas, from Savannah, Georgia, she enjoys big-city life, ballroom dancing, singing and writing worship music, and helping women to see their God-given beauty through makeover portraits.