I’ve been forced to ask myself the same question. Does my partner’s whiteness have any effect on my blackness? His whiteness hasn’t prevented the microaggressions and presumptions I face daily. It doesn’t make my family immune to structural racism and state violence. I know this for sure: The person that called me a nigger on the street a few months ago wouldn’t be appeased by knowing that my boyfriend is white.

This might be an obvious point to make, but it’s one that feels especially important right now. At the heart of the “woke” objections to interracial dating is the belief that people of color date white people in an attempt to assimilate, or out of an aspiration to whiteness.

As a black woman who’s with a white man, I can attest that nothing about the situation makes me feel more white. In fact, I never feel blacker than when I’m the only black person in the room, having dinner with my white in-laws (lovely as they are).

Others who bash men of color for dating white women have argued that the dynamic of women of color dating white men is an entirely different ball game. Some have gone so far as to suggest that when black or brown women date white men, the act is exempt from their criticism because it can be an attempt to avoid abusive dynamics present in their own communities. This is a dubious argument at best, and downright dangerous in a time when the far right is smearing whole categories of black or brown men by calling them rapists and abusers.

I understand the overarching point of much of this criticism: Portrayal of black or brown characters in popular culture is often terrible. People of color are not seen as desirable, funny, or smart. And we’re not past the point where a white co-star or love interest is sometimes necessary to get the funding for movies telling the stories of people of color.

But attacking interracial relationships is not the way to get better representation. On screen, we should be demanding better roles for people of color, period—as lovers, teachers, comedians, friends, and flawed heroes in shows and moves that tackle race, in those that don’t, and in everything in-between.

While I appreciate some of the nuanced discussion on how race intersects with dating preferences, there’s something quite stinging about reducing the choices we make in romance to just wanting to be white. As the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates noted in 2010, there’s a real danger of taking something as intensely private as someone’s relationship, marriage, or family, and criticizing it with the same zeal as we would a social institution. As Coates points out, “relationships are not (anymore, at least) a collectivist act. They really come down to two individuals doing business in ways that we will never be privy to.”

In her conversation with Zadie Smith, Adichie concedes that it’s an impossibly complicated issue: “I’m not interested in policing blackness,” she eventually says.

And indeed, those quantifying another’s blackness by the darkness of her skin or the race of the person he loves might do well to remember that race is, ultimately, a social construct, not a biological fact. “The only reason race matters,” Adichie points out, “is because of racism.”

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