Interracial relationships an opportunity for mutual growth

I am a Pilipina dating a white guy. Contrary to popular belief, interracial relationships are still difficult endeavors to undertake. Sure, relationships in general are tough, but I would argue that interracial dating requires a lot more effort for both parties to understand each other.

Whenever I’m with his friends and family, I can’t help but wonder if they’re thinking, “Ooh, big ups for baggin’ the exotic brown chick!”

This type of thinking is disgustingly perpetuated by the media. Remember Vince Vaughn’s famous line from “Wedding Crashers” when he talks about his first time with an Asian? I’ve been asked, “No, really. What are you?” at a dinner party or two, as if I’m something other than human.

Though it can happen to men, women of color are constantly being fetishized, commodified and exoticized. We’re seen as something other than the white standard – a daring new experience one step higher than the sexual experience with a white person.

My relationship is complex and can’t be summarized by a racial binary, but I’m cognizant of what some people assume when they see my boyfriend and I: “There goes another Asian woman going for a white man.”

Within communities of color, there is often disdain when women go for white men and when men go for white women.

Looking at the billboards on my way to school, images of perfect-looking, skinny white women scream to me that my brown, curvy body is something to be disdained. When I look around in my classes, I’m acutely aware of how few black people are in the room.

Outlandish and blatant racism is very unpopular in the age of adopting little black babies (Hi, Angelina Jolie and Madonna), but this fashion statement only serves to make more invisible the concrete ways in which white privilege continues to oppress. As a Pilipino woman conscious of this ingrained racism, I’m constantly addressing these issues.

It would probably be a lot easier for me to date a Pilipino. I could wake up in the morning craving SPAM, eggs and rice and probably be met with equal enthusiasm as opposed to judgment and disgust. Meetings with the family would probably be easier as well.

Indeed, it would probably be easier for my boyfriend to date a white girl who isn’t constantly trying to teach him about the struggles of people of color and instead opt for a “Sex and the City”-esque relationship devoid of any racial or class tensions.

Nonetheless, while sticking with people from your same background may be easier, the fact that people come from different backgrounds means there is more room to grow through cross-cultural exchanges.

While I sometimes feel agitated by the need for me to teach my boyfriend about the struggles of people of color, he teaches me a lot as well.

He has taught me that sure, he’s white and that it inevitably affords him numerous privileges and opportunities, but he comes from an eastern European background, which is markedly different than a more idealized western European heritage. Apparently, there’s a hierarchy and difference of cultures within white communities as well.

If there is one piece of vital information I can offer to people embarking upon an interracial relationship, it’s that color doesn’t define how much a person will care for you, respect you, motivate and inspire you. And it’s these aspects more than anything else that really make a strong relationship.

Anna Sterling is a student at UCLA. The original column was run on Feb. 13 in the Daily Bruin, content was made available on