Race, religion and dating
My dad sat us down on his bed. I was eight, my brother, twelve. He turned to us and said, “No inter-dating and no intermarrying. Is that clear?”
We nodded; it was understood. We were Jewish (we still are, really) and rule numero uno was that you didn’t date outside of the community. Dating leads to marriage, and Jews marry Jews. I was pre-pubescent, and even I got that. The restrictive reality of only looking inside the fold held me down through high school graduation and by the time I came to Wash. U., non-Jews didn’t even exist as potential partners. It was a fact I accepted, but my breakout from the Jew bubble of my first eighteen years of life into a (relatively?) diverse population that was only a third Hebrew made me uncomfortable with what could be perceived as a bigoted romance policy.
Fortunately, no gentile girls went for me. I was Semitic, single and safe from my closed-mindedness. Then, I began to notice. I wasn’t the only one who preferred the women of my own culture. All around me, I saw minorities dating minorities, ethnicities dating ethnicities and coreligionists dating coreligionists. I wasn’t alone. I realized that people go for slightly altered versions of themselves a good part of the time. As for me, I
wasn’t being a racist, I just liked me the Jewess. I still do.
Maybe this is why interracial dating is such a novelty. Hey, there’s even a Facebook group for it. Society, for better or worse, has come to expect this intra-community love. And to be honest, it makes sense. I’m just as likely to meet a girl at Hillel as someone else is at ALAS, ABS or the CSC. Or, for example, Green Action. It’s a group, right? If you love the environment, join the fun. Take off that hemp shirt.
This isn’t, obviously, a general rule and there’s plenty of diverse action going down on Lover’s Lane. When a Jew buddy of mine began dating his Asian crush, I was happy for him. Who am I to down his mojo? Her reaction, however, on finding out about my dating limits wasn’t so don’t-ask-don’t-tell.
We were hanging out over the summer, and before she had to go, she dropped the conversational bomb.
“Are you against his dating me because I’m not Jewish?”
I stammered for a second and when I got my bearings, tried to explain myself. Maybe that’s what I’m doing again in this column. I don’t think I’m a racist, but I, like anyone, have my limits. I only date Jewish girls. Period. And you know what? I’m not alone.
But here’s the other hand: I have nothing against the interracial game. If you’re not me, go ahead and rock that balsa and mahogany. Feed your tolerance. Get to know another culture, in the biblical sense. And my friend? He can do what he wants. If they get married, I’ll be there with the first toast.
So now you know. And on that note, if you are a nice Jewish girl, feel free to look me up. The number’s on Facebook.
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