Seeing people based on color is not always racist

Armstrong Williams | 12/5/2013, 4:22 p.m.

There are some aspects of seeing people based on color that we simply are not going to ever eradicate from the human race, even though we would like to be able to. Some people don’t want to hear this—and people might even consider such a statement racist—so let me start in a gingerly way by discussing other forms of discrimination that don’t provoke the same reaction.

No one seems to have a problem with Jews who prefer to date and marry other Jews, or Catholics who prefer to do the same or Mormons, atheists, Democrats, Republicans and so on. Why? Because it makes sense that people naturally gravitate toward those who share their worldview or, in the case of religion, the same other worldview. If, as a devout Catholic, you believe that those who don’t accept Jesus as their savior are going to hell, you’d naturally prefer to marry someone not destined for fire and brimstone and whose presence won’t risk hellfire for the children you have together.

Some people might consider such thinking kooky, especially if they’re not religious, but at the very least, they would probably respect the right to see the world this way and not judge them as bigoted. Most reasonable people consider it perfectly legitimate for someone to “discriminate” in his or her dating choices by limiting options to those with the same religious beliefs.

Then there are the practical mechanics of making a lifelong marriage work. Marriage is hard enough. There are struggles about finances, parenting philosophy, personality differences and whether to watch the ball game or “Scandal” without adding an even bigger struggle over the basic questions of who we are, where we come from and where we’re going when it all comes to an end. So, from a practical standpoint, marriage and dating are simply easier with people with whom you have all this in common.

The same is true when it comes to politics. No doubt many “intra-political” marriages work just fine, but for the most part, Republicans and conservatives date and marry other Republicans and conservatives. The same typically goes for Democrats and liberals if only because they usually spend time with like-minded friends and colleagues, making it a sort of self-selecting, self-limited pool of dating prospects.

All of this most of us understand just fine. Because few seem to have a problem with folks limiting their marital choices based on religion, worldview and maybe even politics, let’s turn the discussion up a notch. What about Blacks who prefer to marry Blacks, Asians who prefer to marry Asians, and whites who prefer to marry whites? Are they racist? Not necessarily. Sure, some might be, that goes without saying, as racists come in all sizes and shapes. However, I’d argue that the vast majority of them aren’t racist.

For the most part, it’s a question of inexpressible taste. When a Black person dates only other Black people, it’s more than likely not because of a conscious or even subconscious racism, but because they happen to be attracted to other Black people. There are some Black men whot might be attracted to white or Hispanic women and might even casually date them, but who would never consider marrying and having children with someone outside their own race. When pushed to say why, you’d likely get one of two answers: that it could never work socially, including his parents’ disapproval, or because—although he may never have thought about it, much less expressed it—he wants his children to look like him.