Why I Don’t Date White Men

Eds. Note: Read columnist Deonna Kelli’s response to this piece: “Dating White, Dating Brown”, here.

Tanzila Ahmed

Tanzila Ahmed

“I have some questions about things you’ve written about,” John asked last week. We were chatting during happy hour at the annual conference where we meet and catch up. He is one of few white folks in my circle of friends.

“It was an article in which you talk about how difficult it is to date,” he continued. “I don’t understand. You’re smart, attractive, and confident. Do you feel like its Los Angeles? Do you only date Muslim men?”

“Dating in Los Angeles is harder than other cities I’ve lived in. And no, I haven’t dated Muslim men exclusively. Though, when it comes to choice, which is what online dating is all about – that’s what I would prefer. But I am open.”

“What about dating white guys?”

“I don’t date white men,” I state frankly.

“Why don’t you date white men? Is it a political decision? Or is it about attraction?” he asked.

I shift uncomfortably, choosing my words carefully. “Well, yes, it started out as a political decision but it has manifested into preference. I really find brown men incredibly attractive now. I just don’t find white men that attractive anymore.”

“Do you find that limiting?”

I wonder if white men get asked the same question: do they find their choice in white women limiting?

“Numerically, maybe. If I happen to find a white guy who shares the same values and there’s chemistry, sure! But, right now? If I’m on a dating site where they ask you and I have to choose, I don’t pick white.”

“Have you ever tried to date a white guy?”

“Yes…” I trail off uncomfortably. “Actually, my longest relationship – two years – was with a white guy. It was back in my twenties. After that, I decided never again. At least, not for a while.”

He sighs in sympathy. “My wife and I have an open relationship. I have a girlfriend and she has a boyfriend. We figured out how to make it work. But your situation seems so difficult.”

I side-eye him. “Isn’t that hard to juggle?”

He responds jovially: “Not really. It’s actually pretty easy!”

Maybe I’ve been doing this dating thing all wrong.


My mom met my dad on their wedding day. She didn’t want to meet him beforehand. “What was the point? I was going to be looking at him the rest of my life.”

Whenever I asked her who was I supposed to marry, she’d always say it’d be an arranged marriage like hers – to a good Bangladeshi Muslim boy.

The thing was, as a child of immigrants in the 80s, the good Bangladeshi Muslim boys in my age range were few and far between. The crushes I developed were the same crushes that all the girls in my grade school developed: on blond, blue-eyed, athletic, popular boys.

By the time I was in high school, this taste was fully developed. Of course, I never acted on my crush – dating was haram, and my parents would never allow it. But what did it matter anyway? As a brown girl, I wasn’t attractive to these boys either. They were drawn to the tall, blonde cheerleaders. I was always the sidekick to the pretty girls – the geeky, nerdy, student government, asexual, “other” Muslim brown girl. I was the girl that guys would talk to so that they could get closer to my pretty best friends.

By the time I graduated from high school, I did not find Bangladeshi men attractive – only white guys were cute. I would later learn about internalized racism and conditioning and how this shapes our preferences and self-worth. I would later learn how living in a society where positive or attractive images of brown men and women were marginalized or non-existent would affect who I thought was attractive. But as a teenager – all I knew was that I was rebelling against my parents’ traditional ideas.  As far as I was concerned, I would only marry a white guy – if I was to get married at all. And, I’d get married when I was old, maybe when I was 28.

Weird how life works out.


One late night during Ramadan as I binge scrolled through my Facebook feed, I saw a picture of my Ex. He’s in a suit with a flower on his lapel, standing happily next to his beautiful bride. Her white veil cascades over her off-shoulder wedding dress. They are holding champagne flutes and they look…in love. It all looks very Norman Rockwell, or like one of those white people fancy wedding scenes that you see at the end of a romantic comedy. He’s surrounded by folks holding beers or dancing, and behind that the Washington Monument is framed in a picture window. It looked nothing like the explosion of colors and madness of the Desi weddings I was used to.

When we broke up ten years ago, we made bets on who would get married first. He was convinced it would be me. He wanted to be the perpetual playboy. I was convinced that I would never find anyone to love after him. He reached out a couple of times a year to see how I was doing. We were good like that, at least.

He wasn’t the first guy I was in love with, but he was first in many other ways – first boyfriend, first Thanksgiving, first parental unit meeting, first living together. We met when were both in our early twenties working as community organizers in Washington, D.C. He grew up in a well-to-do family in an idyllic community just outside of D.C. They had oil paintings on the wall, candlesticks on the dining table, and ordered steak through the mail. To my family, he was a secret. But his family welcomed me with open arms. His grandmother made aloo gobi for me at Thanksgiving. I helped unwrap heirloom ornaments for their Christmas tree.

During those years, I was also learning about what it means to be a person of color and how white supremacy plays out in the U.S. In the petri dish of our relationship, I noticed how his white privilege compared to my lack thereof. I had overwhelming student loans, made much less money then him, and in those years right after September 11th, I stopped being able to fly and was harassed on those Washington, D.C. streets. Though it was comforting to be in a relationship, I still had to explain a lot of what it meant for me to feel exoticized, persecuted, and marginalized. Even I couldn’t quite grasp what was happening to my South Asian and Muslim communities – how could he could ever understand?

Around the 2004 election season cycle, our relationship started getting tense. We had both founded organizations to get out the vote for young voters – except mine was to get out the vote for young South Asians and his was to get out the vote for “the youth”. I saw how easily he navigated it all. How he gained access to power, funding, resources. How I had to struggle twice as hard to raise a quarter of the funding. How his funders didn’t want me to support a joint conference for fear that I would rally the people of color attendees. How they were scared of communities of color gaining power, even in a progressive organizing space.

Our relationship came to an explosive end near election day, 2004. I promised myself that I would never actively date a white man again. I needed to get on solid ground on what it meant to be a Desi, an American, and a racial justice activist. I hated the feeling of constantly being reminded of how little power I had as a woman of color. It felt hypocritical to my political beliefs to be dating white.

Most importantly, my career was about training and educating people on social justice issues. The last thing I wanted to do was come home to a space where I had to continue to educate. I wanted to be in a relationship where I could be my full self, no explanation or education needed. He embodied privilege: white privilege, class privilege, gender privilege, education privilege. How could I be in a relationship with a person who constantly reminded me of how much I was lacking?

But, I didn’t break up with him because he was white. We broke up because he cheated on me.

I haven’t dated a white man ever since.


A few years later, at the age of 27, I was at my parents’ house talking to my Mom about an article I had been working on where I used Census data to figure out how many eligible single Bangladeshi males existed in Los Angeles County.

“So you see, Mother,” I said, “there are only 21 potential Bangladeshi males that I might be able to date in the entire L.A. County. And the chances of them being not stupid is really slim.”

“Yes, there aren’t a lot of smart ones,” she agreed. “But you know, he doesn’t have to be Bangladeshi.”

“I know, Mom.”

“He could be…white.”

“Mooooom!” I exclaimed, exasperated. “I would never marry a white guy! I would marry anything but white. Person of color, only.”

“Ehhh!” Mom responded, frustrated. “Why not? He could convert!”

“It’s like being with the colonizer. Or an oppressor. I can’t do that.”

“But why? What if you are in loooove?”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Was Mom advocating for a love marriage with a white man? “No. It’ll become me teaching my culture and experience. It will be a constant reminder of his white privilege and the lack of mine. Anything but white. Preferably, some kind of brown.”

“Ok,” Mom sighed in defeat. “So there’s no one out there at all? Even potential prospects?”

“It’s not that I don’t want to get married,” I said. “I just want to find some who is smart, and political, and who is good. Someone who is good. I know they exist, because I see all these older women married to really good guys, but you know? I just don’t know where they are. All I find are the stupid ones.”

“Yeah, men are stupid anyways.” I could hear the hopelessness in her voice. “What does it matter in the end? You live your life you die, and people remember you for what, 6 months? A year? Even people like Gandhi. What is life really, anyways?”

“Uhh… Mom? People haven’t forgetten about Gandhi.”


When you are dating as a woman of color, it’s a struggle. But when you are “poor” and dating, the struggles are nuanced and different.

Passing becomes of the utmost importance. Pretending to have privilege is paramount.

You wonder what your significant other will say when they see the peeling paint on the walls of your parents’ house, or the roof that needs repair. How what you thought was a middle class home will be perceived as less than when viewed by privileged eyes. How they’ll see your immigrant parents as less intelligent because of their thick accents. How will they even communicate? Will he remember not to touch you or kiss you while they are watching?

You wonder if you pass enough. You weren’t raised to understand the importance of brands and labels, but as an adult have had to learn enough so that you can have conversations about his car, or her purse, or their baby stroller. You wonder if your first date outfit says attractive or exudes cheap. When he orders food for you, you pretend that you know what you are eating, that chewy calamari or slimy oysters. You tout your master’s degree, but you are careful to not talk about how you carry the weight of your school debt because you learned early on that not everyone carries debt the way you do. You avoid conversations about how you had to work as a teen or how your parents borrow money from you. You hope, after looking at the menu, that this is one of the dates where he picks up the bill.

You choose your words carefully. Never say the words that gave away your improper pedigree, avoid the words you never learned to say. Google big words before saying them just to make sure you are using them correctly. Be carefully vague. Say your Mom works “at the airport” instead of as a cashier in the airport parking lot. Say Dad was an engineer and is now semi-retired. There’s no need for them to hear your family’s survival stories. Talk about how your parents own their house, but don’t talk about how it was almost taken away, or how you the roof leaks now and there’s no money to fix it. When they ask, “Why don’t you put it on your credit card?” pretend you don’t have credit cards for ethical reasons, not because you wouldn’t be approved for one.

You are careful to highlight the “exotic” nature of being brown – how you eat fancy “Indian” dishes, when really you ate at home because it was the cheapest. How you do yoga at home, but fail to mention that it’s because Indophile yogis in Silverlake studios annoy you. Nod when they note the Third World poverty of your motherland. Pretend to know enough about South Asian foreign policy so you don’t look stupid when they mention something they learned in their private school education. Talk about the non-violence movement and smile when they say Gandhi is inspiring. Don’t talk about family vacations as a child – because your only family vacations involved seeing extended family in Bangladesh. Suppress your look of envy when you hear their stories about sleep-away camps, cruise ship family vacations, or family dinners at fancy restaurants.

You never really thought of yourself as poor, but in this relationship you suddenly notice how you were raised with less than. You get confused when you realize that he has a brown girl fetish. You don’t know if it’s a compliment or a microaggression when he calls you exotic. Was that white privilege, class privilege or gender privilege? You are not sure, but you are hyperaware of how you have none of the above.

You are careful about distinguishing “it’s not you, it’s me.” It’s how you feel less than when you’re around white 
people. It’s how you feel you don’t have the same access to things as they do, and you can’t imagine being in a marriage where you’re reminded of that daily. It’s how you don’t want to have to deal with having to educate someone about the nuances of what it means to be a person of color. You just want to figure out who you yourself are as a person of color, first.

You don’t date white guys anymore, but you find brown guys are no better. They don’t understand why your ambitions don’t include doctoring/engineering. They don’t understand why you don’t fit into or subscribe to their model minority myth. They don’t understand that working class South Asians in America exist.

To these brown men you are also exotic. The do-gooder. The strong willed. When you date Indian guys they are quick to share stories of their families’ Islamophobia and Hindu privilege. They’ll date you, maybe even fuck you, but they’ll always cite how you would never fit in with their family when they dump you. They’ll all inevitably say, “You are too good for me.”

When you are poor, falling in love is something a little different. You wonder how you will survive the rest of your life without a second person and a second income. You wonder if you would have picked a different career had you known you were going to have to be financially independent. You wonder at what age you’ll have to turn into the Golden Girls with your sisters because this world is too expensive to be fully on your own.

So you give up on dating. Because when it comes down to surviving and finding love, you can’t figure out how to do both sanely at the same time. You’d rather survive alone. And you wonder, how long you can pass until people discover you are a poser. Or if you’ll spend the rest of your life simply passing.

Read more by Tanzila, here.

Tanzila Ahmed is an activist, storyteller, and politico based in Los Angeles. She can be heard and read monthly on the #GoodMuslimBadMuslim podcast and Radical Love column respectively.  An avid writer,  she was a long-time writer for Sepia Mutiny and is published in the Love, Inshallah anthology. Her personal projects include writing about Desi music at Mishthi Music where she co-produced Beats for Bangladesh, making #MuslimVDay Cards and curating images for Mutinous Mind State. Taz also organizes with Bay Area Solidarity Summer and South Asians for Justice – Los Angeles. You can find her rant at @tazzystar and at tazzystar.blogspot.com.

Read more by Tanzila, here.

Tanzila Ahmed is an activist, storyteller, and politico based in Los Angeles. She can be heard and read monthly on the #GoodMuslimBadMuslim podcast and Radical Love column respectively.  An avid writer,  she was a long-time writer for Sepia Mutiny and is published in the Love, Inshallah anthology. Her personal projects include writing about Desi music at Mishthi Music where she co-produced Beats for Bangladesh, making #MuslimVDay Cards and curating images for Mutinous Mind State. Taz also organizes with Bay Area Solidarity Summer and South Asians for Justice – Los Angeles. You can find her rant at @tazzystar and at tazzystar.blogspot.com.

101 Comments on “Why I Don’t Date White Men”

  1. Sana Naeem says:

    This was a beautifully written, poignant article that captures so much nuance. Thank you for being so authentic and vulnerable – in an incredibly public forum. I consistently follow posts from LoveInshallah, but this by far was one of the most powerful. I appreciate you sharing such intimate details of your life, and also weaving the details into a larger narrative about the challenges of being a person of color in America. Despite the relative levels of privilege that all of us are afforded, we all have a story that has significantly shaped how we view the world.

  2. Freedom toBe says:

    Really, you are truly asexual? *perk*

  3. burton1j says:

    This woman is a brilliant writer with a beautiful soul!!! Much love and respect.

  4. Aliya says:

    Your line about not figuring out how to survive and find love sanely at the same time is incredibly poignant.

    I relate to many parts of your essay. Something I needed to read at this life juncture. Thanks for sharing and being so honest.

  5. i hear you. thank you for the beautiful, insightful, honest writing. i am korean american and was married to a white man for 26 years (stayed to raise our 3 kids). as i evolved in my racial identity, he could not come along. he took every criticism of white supremacy personally, so that i felt like i could not speak from my heart to him. he had too much privilege over me, so that i felt second class in my own home. having been there, done that, i am now choosing to be joyfully unpartnered, no money but in the midst of radical community, doing my life’s work.

  6. This piece is honest, and I appreciate that. I can relate on a lot of levels, but now I hold a different perspective. You see, I held this position for a number of years. I told myself, I could never be with a white man for many of the same reasons that you described. In fact, I went so far as to commit to only black love out of allegiance to black empowerment. I soon realized that matters of the heart rarely conform to our politics, but beyond that I realized that this perspective is reductionist. I truly do think it’s problematic to take one experience and then go on to equate whiteness, a conceptual thing, with cultural/political ignorance & birthright class privilege.

    • Moon says:

      I agree with exactly what you said about it being reductionist and problematic foe exactly those reasons.

      I can sympathize with the author, however I cannot empathize because I come from the same racial, religious, and class background as she does and I disagree with her on so many levels.

      Maybe she just had more embarrassment about where she came from and how difficult it was to survive, and maybe I just have more spine than she does. But I feel like she projects so many of her own issues onto a larger issue, and that’s very off-putting to read.

      • Rashed says:

        Well, the history is a much stronger evidence of the problems this articles talk about and history is not an opinion!

      • AbuCool says:

        First, history is a much more strongly evidence of the social and political problem m this articles talks about and history is nor a mere opinion.

        Second, as Muslims the idea of Western dating is miss-prioritizing life unless one is just Muslim by name or birth.

      • Amandopondo says:

        Exactly. This is not a story of “I revealed my true self to my date and was ridiculed. I told my boyfriend I was poor and he dumped me.” This is “I fear that revealing my true self to my date will result in ridicule. I feel like I need to feign wealth to keep my boyfriend.”
        Her argument for not dating white men, rich men, and later men in general is based entirely on perceptions and fears. Both of which can be incorrect.

        I can agree with the author though. If you’re a young Pakistani woman like myself, don’t date white men. Because you will be hiding the best thing in your life from your family. Your father says he will kill you if he finds out you are dating. Your mother will disown you if you fall in love with a non Muslim. So yes, I have faced difficulty in my relationship with my white boyfriend, but it has had nothing to do with him.

        He helped me realize that being regularly beaten by my father was not ok at the age of 21, regardless of my religion or culture. On days where my parents would not let me leave the house, he stayed home and talked on the phone with me so I wouldn’t feel lonely. I have felt nothing but love and acceptance from his family. I have never been exoticized or fetishized by him.

        Maybe I’m just lucky, but we will never know because the author did not even take the chance to find out if she could fall in love with a white person. Instead, she labelled them as judgemental fetishists before they could label her as a poor brown girl.

  7. Anonymous says:

    “It’s like being with the colonizer. Or an oppressor. I can’t do that.”

    You racist! Blaming an individual for complex political issues to which he or she had no direct connection. Such ridiculous nonsense.

    “We broke up because he cheated on me.”

    Yeah, and that’s the real issue you should be contemplating, not construing this larger political context to reinforce your prejudices. How about considering the qualities of a reliable partner, which do not have any rational basis on race? Cheaters come in all shapes and sizes girlfriend.

    Just some mildly irritated advice from a multiracial person.

    -Bob Mcgee

    • shikha says:

      Everything she has said has obviously passed you by completely and your reply actually reinforces what she’s written – sheer white privilige,.
      Its white privilige which makes you navigate the multiple layers, the textures, the nuances of a multiracialdating context , passing it all by completely while dismissing it by picking ” We broke up because he cheated on me” !!! She has been honest throughout – honest enough to explain that while those racial connotations were there, there’s something beyond that which made her give up…. bringing out the complexities of intimacies whose texture is shaped by our socio-political contexts , yet retains its universal elements cutting across race, class , societies !!
      So you are a multiracial person making ridiculous statements like ” How about considering the qualities of a reliable partner, which do not have any rational basis on race?” ????
      Really ? How many non white people have you dated ( actually i hopefor THEIR sake you have dated none !!)
      Its one thing to try and affirm that one should still try and figure out one’s way through layered intimacies to not give up on them instead of consolidating racial segregation by giving up the hope of getting across and trangressing race …
      But entirely another to dismiss something altogether brought out with such sensitivity and honesty in a crude defensive counter like this ! …..so you are saying none of what she’s said matters or even exists in this cross cultural encounters ? And then you deny you exemplify “embodied privilege: white privilege, class privilege, gender privilege, education privilege ” ??? really ????

      • Mike Ford says:

        I agree with you on this. Bob is obviously unaware or ignorant of how his privilege affects other people. Well said.

    • Moon says:

      I agree! I feel like she projected her anger onto an entirely other issue, and used the cause as some sort of “I’m justified at my blatant irrationality because he cheated, so his entire race is going to be painted with the same brush…”

      • rewa says:

        Phew – LOL – maybe also time to ask yourself why clawing in to this explanation is something you’re latching on to with such enthusiasm in dismissing your discomfort with everything else she’s said ? Atleast she’s honestly laid everything down, providing people like you the perfect excuse to pick what you want and interpret it in a way to dismiss the legitimacy of everything else !

  8. exclusivelyexclusive2 says:

    I relate to so much of this. Thanks for sharing with such honesty.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful. Thank you for this.

  10. john says:

    Very honest. I dig it.

  11. Liz says:

    It was fascinating to read of your experiences growing up i the States and of dating white men. I’d like to offer my own as a counterpoint. I grew up in South India, in a fairly “modern” family. We were mostly brought up on science, read the occasional Bible story when were young, but by our early teens had moved on to philosophical books instead. My entire family is now either atheist or agnostic. With that in mind, my parents knew we would never have arranged marriages (theirs wasn’t) let alone necessarily marry someone Indian. When I was 18, I moved to Australia for university and have been here for a decade now. While I loved a lot of things about growing up in India, many basic things never sat right with me. I often felt like myself and young people I knew were held back by traditions and expectations (religious or cultural) that they didn’t truly believe in themselves and weren’t particularly rational. Coming to Australia felt a bit like coming home in that regard. It was easy. I slid straight into life here. I never felt particularly aware that I was brown, or female, for that matter.

    Since I was 18 when I got here, I’ve only ever dated white men. I’ve been lucky enough to date some wonderful people, including a relationship that lasted almost 8 years. Never once have I felt the need to explain myself to my partners as an Indian. I’ve never felt like they had a privilege that I didn’t. In fact, I’ve often realised that low to middle class Australians have to work quite hard juggling jobs with motherhood, with no one employed at home to do the cleaning, cooking or driving. In India we grew up with people to do all of that for us, even though my mum didn’t work. If nothing I’ve felt a bit ashamed of how much my parents have supported me financially and how I didn’t have to work at Wendy’s when I was 14 to buy my own car. I’m honest about it though, because my circumstances, no matter what they are, are nothing to be ashamed of. They just are. I’m honest about the fact that my family was very poor to begin with. When I’m faced with a typically-white situation that I know nothing about, like eating oysters once, I happily declare that I’ve never done this before and get someone to show me! Is there really a need to feel so much injustice and shame? My attitude to this entire experience has been to be gladly honest about myself and my background and let people react as they will. The assholes will make themselves apparent quickly enough. But the majority of people will react well. I might have to answer questions like “so can you cook a great curry then?”, but that usually comes from people wanting to reach out and not knowing where to start. I felt similar recently, meeting someone from Latvia. What do I know about Latvia! Nothing, but I wanted to learn. So I fumbled my way through some probably silly questions until we connected.

    You’re right, everyone here had better vacations than us while we were stuck at our grandparents’. So what? You’re here now, maybe go camping or kayaking if that fascinates you. All of my boyfriends have met my parents and not one was put off by their accent. They’re from a different country, they have a different accent! I wouldn’t stand for it they thought otherwise. And they knew not to kiss me because they asked me beforehand about what was appropriate. A good partner would do that. My current boyfriend has been fantastic in his enthusiasm to learn about me, about India and about my family.

    I am now fairly poor, and living in the Australian outback, flying planes for a living. I’m in a role that is traditionally male, in a very macho world, where physical strength and mechanical skills are hugely valuable. Neither are my strengths. However, I am yet to feel hyper aware of my gender or ethnicity. I am so much more than ” a south Asian woman”! I carry myself as such and I find that people respond to that. We can have a conversation about turbochargers, switch to cattle farming, and end up talking about India. My being brown is a small part of me, it doesn’t define my every experience. My personality plays a much larger role, as it well should. I don’t expect to be persecuted and I don’t carry myself that way, and as a result I don’t think I am.

    I do hope that you don’t give up on dating, or do anything else as dramatic. While I respect the experience you’ve had, I don’t believe that it has to be quite so.

    • Toni says:

      really wish I could talk to you..

    • Sydney Jay says:

      And there you are, Liz, proving beautifully that it’s all about how you choose to see yourself, rather than wasting time obsessing over what others think. Because most people are, as you’ve found, open-minded and well-intentioned.

      Hopefully our benighted author here will understand that the most important thing she can do is stop projecting her own deep, personal shame and embarrassment over her family and background onto white people, who truly couldn’t care less.

      If she doesn’t get it, let’s hope she keeps herself removed from the dating pool. She’s doing the world a favor sitting it out with her current attitude.

      • rewa says:

        And you have given a perfect example of the ópen minded, sensitive, empathetic , intelligent white over here in all your rants ….its ironical how comments like yours only proove the point she’s making – invisibilising the experience of the other from a point of embodied privilige !!

    • Leyla says:

      Although I’m neither brown nor white, (I’m a beige, mixed-race American Jew of middle eastern and Brazilian origin,) I can relate to some of what you’re saying. Yes, it’s true that our society idealizes the blonde Anglo-Saxon– and as a young woman, I hated being marginalized as “exotic” or “not my type.” But if you go to a working class or middle class school with a mostly Latino population, you’ll find that people idolize the brown, mestizo version of the athlete and perky cheerleader. I teach in a multiethnic, public high school that feeds into an equally multi-ethnic community college and university (Cal State Northridge.) The sororities and fraternities come in all shades– brown, white, whatever– and the one thing they have in common is SOCIAL CLASS. The values and advantages shared by privileged Pasadena Asians, Glendale Armenians, and Beverly Hills Persians are no different than the emphasis placed on “vacations, name brands, and cars” that you characterize as uniquely “white.”
      This is all about CLASS, not RACE.

      Why don’t you date men with whom you might have something in common with? Like educated American men born of working or middle class immigrant parents? Or educated American men who happen to be white, but had it hard growing up in small towns or lower income suburbs? Look for men who are your social counterpart, and never mind their ethnicity or the color of their skin. That’s what I did, here in LA, and I married a 2nd generation child of immigrants just like myself, who knew what debt meant and could appreciate struggle and economic hardship.
      LA sucks for single people, but if you let this city embitter you, that will suck even more.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think it must be nice to grow up in a privileged environment where everything around you was considered normal as opposed to an environment where all of your norms and culture were constantly degraded or always made to feel less. Did you even bother for a second to. put yourself into the shoes of another person and consider how life was for them? Seeing as how I just read a multi paragraph summary of your life and how you would react in certain situations, I’m guessing the answer is no. Try it sometime. It’ll blow your mind.

    • AH says:

      The author is sharing her unique and valuable point of view, Liz. Kudos that you’ve had the dream life of philosophical open-minded parents, perfect Aussie boyfriends and no one blinking an eye as your fly over Australia, all as a brown woman. You’re experience is the exception and not the rule– are you at all aware of the reality of most woman of color, the world over? Finger-wagging that we all should be zipping through life on sparkling wit and charm, slurping oysters with aplomb (like you!) is just plain oblivious, not too mention incredibly self congratulatory. To insinute that other women of color are “expecting persecution” so they get it because they “carry themselves that way” is not only obtuse, it’s horrifying. Sounds dangerously like the “she was asking for it” defense of rape. Take a chance and read some texts on race, class and gender bias and how this frames entire cultural and political systems. Also, respect other people’s experience for what is it rather than trying to diminish with your own privileged “I did it better, what’s wrong with you” response. If you just looking for pats on the back, being an international woman of wonder, discussing engine parts in the outback, try a Facebook post. That way, people just like you can revel together in your joint untouched lives. Thank the Great Pumpkin you are not among the unwashed hapless brown people – we who somehow continue to invite persecution by not (simply) displaying enough personality to bedazzle would-be-persecutors into believing our lives matter.

      • DJTelePsi says:

        Seriously – I always find these “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” arguments annoying as hell. I’m glad it worked out for Liz and all but that in no WAY negates what happened to Tanzila. It’s like people who survived cancer “miraculously” – just because ONE person with horrible cancer has made it doesn’t mean everyone else will and that they should follow the same treatment. It’s not the norm. It’s exceptional. And it should not be a standard for everyone.

    • Ishita says:

      While I enjoyed the original article and very much appreciate the author’s candor, your response is what I completely relate to. You wrote as if you read my mind.

    • K says:

      theres a stark difference b/t growing up somewhere and moving there as an adult.

    • Anonymous says:

      Nailed it. Phew. Thank you for that!

    • Moon says:

      I love your response! And I love your life story too! I feel so boring being a born and raised american with such little travel under my belt.

    • Let this bowl float upstream says:

      Liz’s comment was better than the article. The article seemed whiny and made a lot of excuses for the authors lack of success by claiming others had privileges she did not. The author seems to have an inferiority complex which she brushes off by trying to project it as a subtle superiority complex held by those of a particular race, of which, the one who wronged her happened to belong to. When you condense the culmination of an entire race down to one particular experience you had with one person of that race, you form a stereotype. Now there may be some truth to a stereotype but applying it as an archetype for an entire people is out right racist.

      My advice to the author would be try giving selflessly for a time without a motive or an agenda or a cause. Listen to all, instead of imposing preconcieved notions on the world around you. Seems like your ex and your mother care for you and want you to open your heart to all those possibilities that currently bypass the restrictions you impose upon yourself.

      Or just view this as blue-collar, white male advice. I never went to college. Does my lack of formal education and race disqualify my perspective in your eyes?

  12. Cheyenne says:

    Wow, maybe you can’t find someone who wants to date you because you’re so ugly on the inside, and obviously racist. How can people pretend this is “meaningful” when all you’re doing is stereotyping everyone else. Not every white person is rich and clueless, and not every “Brown” or Indian guy is as judgemental as you.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Not a muslim myself and very much a Brown skinned living in Australia and now married to an Aussie. I was in the same boat as you are and was finally blessed to meet a white guy that loves me for who I am. Keep praying as that’s what I did . God can do wonderful miracles

  14. Melody says:

    I enjoy how you write. You seem like a very real person, with a strong sense of integrity in what you write.

    My thoughts on the content though would summarize as follows: accept yourself. Love yourself and find some pride in your roots, in your story. What is greater than being of color or white or exotic is being comfortable and confident in who you are. Let love love you and love it back. Stories and explanations of difference don’t have to be a wall, they can be a bridge. When you love someone, you just do. When you love yourself, you just believe that no matter what, you have a place where you are and you can be proud of who you are.

    And you should be. You’re great.

    Whether white or brown or whatever; I hope you find a true love that transcends culture or gender or color or whatever other excuse of a barrier we have created.

    Life is simple. Just live it and love it.

  15. Sydney Jay says:

    Let me get this straight: You won’t date white men because that one rich guy you dated that one time got his meat through the mail (did not know that was a sign of high class, but whatever) and had a nice family home. And also, white men don’t understand what it’s like to have student loans. Because white privilege apparently means not ever having to borrow to go to college. And it also means being obsessed with purses and cars.

    I can’t believe nobody else who read this wasn’t completely insulted by your bigotry.

    You must have incredibly limited life experiences if you think there aren’t millions of white, working-class people struggling under huge student-loan burdens. This burden does not make you special. Nor is it remotely a particular province of “people of color” (a community of which you inexplicably consider yourself a member. Maybe because it’s trendy and gives you a grievance? I don’t know.). There are poverty-stricken whites living on lead chat piles in southeast Kansas who will never sniff a college campus. And millions of whites have never touched a brand-name anything because their families truly couldn’t afford it.

    Of course, you would never believe that. I mean, apparently, all white people went to fancy private school in their fancy cars and have fancy candlesticks on their tables, right?

    Anyway, I think the truth about your romantic problems lies in a kernel of revelation you’ve given us about yourself: Despite your, um, admittedly questionable and meager background, you seem to aspire only to two primary qualities in a man: Wealth and status. Your inability to find someone with both who doesn’t make you feel insecure about your embarrassing (to you) background has left you bitter.

    That’s the only way I can explain your obsession with the (imagined) trappings of white people (most of whom, believe it or not, do not have oil paintings at home). It also explains the way you look down your nose at potential mates (every single one of them “stupid,” according to you) in your community who come from your “impoverished” country of origin. And it explains why you’re too ashamed of your own family to tell white people what they do for a living.

    Believe me: 95 percent of us don’t give a crap. Because some of our parents work in airport parking lots, too. And grocery stores. And hotels. And fast-food restaurants. Etc., etc., etc.

    Maybe if you just…travel more outside the wealthy coasts, meet more people, get some perspective, learn about people, give people of all types a chance, and, most importantly, aim lower.

    But something tells me you’d never stoop to dating a mere computer scientist, or even — yikes! — someone working class, like a janitor. No. No! Only men who get mail-order meat are good enough for you!!! And only the most expensive restaurants that you can afford only with a credit card! It’s just too bad that no white families — despite the fact that one was way more open to you than your family was to their son — will accept that your mom works at an airport, right??

    Get over yourself.

    Your biggest problem, really: You don’t sound like a very fun date.

    Lighten up, “Frances.”

    • rewa says:

      Really, give yourself a break woman …what are you so defensive about in this counter vitriol you’ve spilled out. People like you actually proove what she’s saying .
      She is talking about her own experiences in an honest and sensitive ways and identifying with them – she talks about how her experience was layered by the context of race, gender, class…..and how the intersectionalities there affect the lived experience of someone who’s the other of that …where has she said “áll white men are like this ” ? she’s just talking about how her lived experiences have made her make certain choices and created her own perceptions about her experience as a brown women belonging to a working class family in US …really who gives you the right to dismiss that ? what about your priviliges and who you are ? Really , what creates this defensive attack – offence is the best defence ???
      really woman grow up . If you cant relate to others experiences- dont dismiss what you ahve no idea about !

      • Talking about your own individual experiences in an honest and sensitive way is perfectly fine. That’s obviously not the problem here. The problem is that she is using her own individual experiences to broadly define the cultures and values of a large and socially diverse segment of the world population–namely, the white race (which, to include a few, includes everyone from Anglo-Saxon Americans to East Europeans to people of the Caucasus region to Central Asians to Turks/Iranians/Afghans to Jews and guess what? even some Northern Indians, and so on). And that doesn’t even introduce the intersections of class, gender, and citizenship status. So yes, I think it’s wonderful that she’s sharing her personal experiences, but when she draws vast judgements about an entire race (how they are all bathing in “privilege” and “ignorance” and have fancy champagne weddings in the suburbs of Washington) it robs other people who identify with the white race, but who don’t necessarily inhabit the upper middle class WASP perch, from being able to voice their own struggles and contributing to the narrative. It very much echoes the subconscious methods privileged, close-minded WASPs use to discredit the experiences of other people. I immigrated to this country from Eastern Europe in the 90s, and I experienced many of the same things the author describes, despite not being a person of color. People made fun of my parent’s accents, I become ashamed in front of family friends when I admit that I am not a STEM major, and nothing was more embarrassing than coming home with a friend to be greeted at the door with the strong stench of pickled cabbage. I appreciate the author’s story, but her generalizations are suffocating.
        Let’s repeat: the vast majority of white people in this world are not WASPs.

        • shikha says:

          Where has she said ” All white men are WASPS “? She has stated how her own personal experiences have made her make certain choices , without making it personal for anyone she states very clearly at one point her openness to different possibilities too – ” If I happen to find a white guy who shares the same values and there’s chemistry, sure! ” ……… Infact she is very careful in not blaming anyone personally , even her boyfriend, while talking about how her specific subjectivity of feeling as’ lesser ‘was a product of a certain class, race ,and gender dynamic.
          Really people here need to grow up and stop cudgels on behalf of their entire race merely because they are white themselves and feel defensive.
          She infact brings out beautifully how whiteness is normalised as the ‘natural’ so often that her experiences and her feeling as the lesser was often internalised by her herself !!! Its not any specific individual’s fault often , nor is its conscious, but race pervades our very being and living in hundreds of conscious and subconscious ways …creates the very lived experience of the other without the dominant – in this case male , white, christian -even being aware of it !!….we need more than ever narratives like these to enter the space of the other and understand where they are coming from…
          instead of jumping in defence and attributing personal motives to everything ! she’s refrained from steering clear of personalising in spelling out her experience in a way half the people commenting here have niether thegrace nor the ability or willingness to understand …

    • ParsiDikra says:

      Well said. I’m so glad I don’t see life this way, that would suck. As someone from a working class family that is wealthy is the most substantial of ways (but not monetarily), and has worked since age 14 to fund myself, my life and my college tuition. I am not pissed off about this nor do I feel underprivileged. I in fact take pride in being self-made, and am proud of my working class family for being the strong individuals they are. I’d rather have it this way. I’ve also mingled with people from absolutely ALL walks of life; all races, mixed races, all “classes”, all genders (and there are more than 2), ages, etc. and they have all taught or showed me something that has made the person I am today. If I belonged to a “class”, that may have not been the case. I don’t believe in stupid shit like classes anyway, its useless. I believe in merit. And merit will take you wherever you want to go if you develop it.

  16. wordofarebel says:

    I have to thank you for sharing your story. It let me know that my experience is a shared one, both sadly and thankfully at the same time.
    I relate to that feeling of frustration and preparing for a possible solo life, instead of the connection with an ally that all people desire.
    It’s our strategy for protecting ourselves and steeling ourselves so that the other goals and desires of our lives are not halted over the emotions we feel in this part of our lives.

  17. xm567 says:

    I’m not Bangladeshi-I’m black-but I do so understand so much of what you’re saying.

  18. cloudys says:

    thank you. it’s so confusing to explain to people why I feel alienated and repelled from/by the very people I’m attracted to.

  19. anonymous says:

    i have to agree with several other respondents, your candor is honorable but your closed racial views are not.

    i am a white muslim convert guy and if my wife’s family (gujarati indian) hadn’t accepted me, we would not have married and had our two wonderful sons. it is unfortunate things have not worked out for you, but to write us all off into WASPy privilege is full of bias.

    i grew up in solid middle class america, went to public schools, worked, drove used cars, and public university. i have at times felt and/or seen the closed minded views, inherent in white america, in all classes. we are not all that way, however, and your bias to think we white folk cannot open our minds is racist. i can’t choose what race i was born any more than you could’ve. all i think we can do is try to see the person in front of us as human, with hopes, dreams, and needs, regardless of their origin.

  20. As a person of relative privilege (indebted and lower-class BUT white, American, Western, educated – and other ways) who is dating a woman of color, and an activist, this piece really spoke to me and helped me continue to decolonize my own mind. Thank you for beautiful writing and activism.

  21. Muslim Revert says:

    Congrats keeping racism alive and well in the ummah. Also why is a Muslim propagating dating? Allah SWT brings people together, you do not. Shame on you and Muslims lke you.

  22. Mr.Mr.Mr. says:

    As a white guy dating a brown girl, thank-you for this. I really understand and connect with the part about class privilege, when you’re part of it you don’t realize you are so privileged. but damn it makes me feel dumb, once you see you “middle class” family home compared to what others in the middle class world have.

    I can travel the world for 18 months on my own dime since i got a free education and a great job out of college, due to my fathers connections. Then i can come back and get another good job due to the experience at the previous job. This world doesn’t make sense. And now after traveling, and not being friends with just other well off white people in their late twenties I have realized how backwards I was. The only thing I can say is demonize white guys in a way to push them to learn, some are so stupid, and closed minded you get nowhere. AKA all of my 5 white male 30/40 something co-workers.

    But more or less I am trying to say thank-you. As a liberal white male, there is a saviour complex pushed on you which is gross and unnecessary. I don’t need to be running around “saving” anyone, (see white people in Portland with adopted children of color from developing countries) maybe use my privilege for good to make the world a place where no one needs to be saved, and where my privilege no longer exists? All the while being a good human. I could still be wrong here and would love some advice on what others think,

    Thanks for the educational read. Doing my best to be a less horrible example of a white man.

  23. Sam says:

    Not everyone who is white has the privileges your exboyfriend had and it seems quite racist to be honest. Many Muslim white convert men I know are from poor, white trash backgrounds and they didnt get their steaks in the mail. Not to mention the nonmuslims.

    I am disappointed at how this post paints me and fellow white Muslims. Yes, white privilege and racism exist, but lets not act like every white person is well educated and well connected. Luckily enough I am treated like any other spirituak seeker by most of my fellow Muslims.

  24. Desipriya says:

    Thank you for writing this and sharing. I needed to read this today.

  25. Sawyer says:

    I enjoyed reading this. Thank you for sharing.

  26. MQ says:

    Thank you for writing this. I know my experiences as a South Asian Muslim man cannot be equated to being “the same” as yours, but I can relate to much of what you’ve shared here.

    I think it’s awful how people are accusing you of being “racist” in response to your post. I was having a similar conversation recently with a friend about how people get accused of being “close-minded,” “self-limiting,” or even “racist” if they express preferences against dating or marrying someone white. As you said: “I wonder if white men get asked the same question: do they find their choice in white women limiting?”

    There are also white men who prefer to only date women of color, but they don’t get accused of being close-minded. They’re seen as open-minded or even progressive. But if a woman of color expresses that she doesn’t want to date white men, suddenly she’s “racist”? (“Reverse racism” isn’t real, people — google it).

    I have similar concerns you mentioned about having to deal with white privilege and constantly having to educate someone (who may potentially get defensive or even hostile about race) if you were to date/marry someone white. When I was in high school, I struggled with a lot of internalized racism, not too different than what you’ve described. In addition to not seeing myself as attractive, I didn’t find South Asian women attractive at that time either. When I think about it in retrospect, I attribute much of that to the images and messages we constantly get from people, society, the media, etc. That is, white people represent the standard for beauty and are “the most beautiful” whereas people of color are “less attractive” or “ugly” (hence the reason we hear people say, “You’re pretty attractive for a brown woman/man”).

    People who are accusing the author of being “racist” should ask themselves why the same hostile attitudes are not directed at white men? Having a preference to not date/marry someone white should not be seen as “regressive,” “close-minded,” or “racist.” No one has the right to tell a person who they should or should not date or marry.

    • anonymous says:

      lets make some things clear, that most could agree upon:


      only seeing one race as attractive/willing to only date one race=racism
      stating that only one race is attractive or that all of one race as unattractive=racism

      assuming all persons of one race are going to act according to a stereotype=prejudice
      white men who only date white women=racist.

      having to educate someone on your background and beliefs=all people’s personal responsibility, regardless of origin. might even need to establish progression from status quo within your own ethnic group (ie women’s suffrage, race equality)

      coming to the conclusion that you’re not going to be happy married to someone=reasonable, showing some insight and reflection

      given the above, the original post’s statements regarding expectations of white men ARE racist and closed minded (in other words, coming to the conclusion that white men are going to act like privileged pricks and not understand differences in origin, social status or perspective).

      just because a group is in power, it doesn’t give anyone the excuse to be exclusionary or prejudiced, be it from within or without of the group. what if the power structure changes? is retribution allowable against the one in power while in power but not after?

      justice is fair, allowable, but not biased.

      • MQ says:

        It sounds like you have a very mainstream understanding of what racism is. What you described in your comment is not racism. Racism needs to understood as a system and within the context of white supremacy. I highly recommend reading Elizabeth Martinez’s article (which many, including myself, have used in classrooms):


        I am confident that if you are genuinely interested in understanding racism better, you will make the time to read it.

        You are missing the point of this entire post. I cannot speak for the author, but I did not get the sense that she was saying “all white people will behave the same way.” You need to understand what white privilege means — along with class privilege, gender privilege — and how all of these things can impact a person’s dating preferences. Dismissing the author’s article as “racist” is an attempt to derail and overlook serious challenges that many people of color face in romantic relationships with white people. Some make them work, while others choose not to date white people — and there is nothing “racist” or bigoted about that. That is a person’s choice.

        I have heard lots of white men say, “I don’t date foreign women” or “I don’t date black women,” or “I only date white women.” Do you see the same hostility and accusations of racism towards white men when they say these things? I know there have been other women of color who also wrote about not dating white men and the reactions they received were hostile. Why is there is more hostility towards women of color when they express this?

  27. fk says:

    I went through this and came out on the opposite side of the fence. I prefer nonjudgmental, non-corrupt, respectful, accepting white people to racist, mean, underdeveloped, corrupt, dishonest South Asians, who seem fixated on materialistic, superficial nonsense. You get all kinds everywhere, but as a race, Whites tend to be more honest and less screwed up. My two cents.

    • MQ says:

      Wow, do you even realize how racist your comment is?

    • john says:

      Easy to afford gentility when you are the dominant culture in a society. POC struggle with this every day, putting down identity versus cleaving to it. Either way, leaving self loathing out of the equation helps

  28. Purple People Breeder says:

    I stumbled upon this post while browsing through wordpress. I like your insightfull writing, although i am not american and i am white but i refuse to think that love can be so easily categorized using ones colour. Just because your great love was white and wasnt the right person for you that doesnt mean there are no white men out there who can love you. It feels racist for me that you decided not to give a chance to other white man just based on this experience. It is always a struggle to live as part of a minority in a foreign country, but you are there because probabil its still better than living in your home country. I am from europe, from a country that is not so well developed and where almost everybody is dreaming about just visiting the US but only a few actually will get to do that. With the most recent imigration crisis here (maybe you heared about that on the news) we see what means to be poor, we see that even if we have like 200euro salary its alot compared to those who have nothing. So i understand why people go to other countrys in search of a better life, but you cant expect that a nation so big and full of bride like america to accept imigrants unconditionally, maybe, sure i wrote this wrong, i mean in a country so big there allways will be people who think that they are superiour because of their colour, gender, family tree but you cant seriously think that everybody is like that. Different cultures and diferent religions can make or break a relationship, but i think if you find the right men those things wont matter. I hope i didnt offended you with my comment, im a newbh in tha blog business.

  29. I’d like to second what Leyla mentioned about LA. The author has dealt with two parts of the country well known for being socially difficult regarding class issues (in different ways): DC and LA. SoCal has a lot of great people in it, but the pressures and social censuring for not projecting a certain image are wearying. Dealing with upper middle class types in LA is simply different from elsewhere. I’m an unusual-looking European American (from a marginalized group in the old country), from a very low income family that had problems assimilating. The rejection and isolation problems if you are thrown in with upper class types in SoCal is very real. Racially, as a kid in SoCal my designation was “ugly.” My designation when we moved to Arizona in my teens became “exotic.” (Try looking like notebook paper in August in the Sonora Desert, and you’d get called exotic, too.) Since I never lived around my sub-ethnicity, I didn’t know my looks were “ethnic” until grad school. I didn’t look like the family who raised me, either. Suddenly, at age 20, men came out of the woodwork: almost all upper class “old growth” WASP guys. (It’s still a mystery to me why the type of guys who might have made my life hell as a little kid were aggressively pursuing my company as a young woman. I have found that the precepts behind the study of post-colonialism most helpful in making some sense of that.) And, boy howdy, did I get the fantasies projected onto me. I married into literally the only WASP family I’ve ever felt ok around–but he was really, really different from everyone else. Despite our class and ethnic differences, we’re simply the same kind of weirdos 🙂 It’s worked! The more you can say how you actually think and feel without “translating” for a person, the better the companionship and attraction, whatever one’s dating parameters. What it took for you to recognize previous patterns and current needs in this essay equals progress for getting what you need. Hang in there!

  30. As a black woman who has dated white men and crushed on white men…I totally get where this woman is coming from.

  31. Grace says:

    I am a white woman, but I can relate to a lot of the things you have said here. It can be really hard to find someone that shares your outlook on life, and I am kind of disturbed by how many people are commenting that you have standards that are too high. I don’t think trying to find someone intelligent and empathetic (which, based on these stories, he was not) is having too high standards. When I lived in East Africa, I dated a man from the country I was living in and I felt that we frequently had to battle the awkwardness of dealing the with the privileges we had both been afforded in life. I will say it was quite frustrating to be “single storied” all of the time (not by him) as a rich white girl who has no financial worries. Race and class are frequently intersecting issues, but as a white girl with tons of student debt, a mom who borrows money from me, and a series of low paying NGO jobs, I would be careful about assuming all white people do not understand financial woes. Of course, I understand that I still have white privileges, but acknowledging privilege is different from being a stereotype of my entire race.

  32. faeriehana says:

    1. She doesn’t OWE white men a chance, let alone anything.

    2. Someone else in the comments said this, and I repeat: There are also white men who prefer to only date women of color, but they don’t get accused of being close-minded. They’re seen as open-minded or even progressive. But if a woman of color expresses she doesn’t want to date white men, suddenly she’s “racist”?

    3. What is with all these privilege-assed people in the comments trying to delegitimize the author’s experience?

    4. Just because you’re white and poor doesn’t mean your white privilege suddenly vanishes. There is a history of poor white people still relishing in their presumed racial superiority over poor people of color because at least they still get to have that privilege. Poor white people don’t have to navigate racial identity politics, and poor white men don’t always critically address their male privilege either.

    6. White people fucked up our histories not that long ago, as in our grandparents still remember their atrocities, so why aren’t we allowed to not want to date them?? How is this hurting anyone?? Why are you so butthurt??

    • Theodore says:

      I think the problem with #4 is that they don’t know history. A long time ago there wasn’t issues with race. White people like the Irish sat along side the Blacks as low class. The upper class decided to create a social construct to split organized efforts to rise up by giving the lower class Whites more privileges than the Blacks including jobs and better wages. So yes White people can still be poor and “lower class” but still maintain privilege through the bond of their skin color.

  33. Alex says:

    Whouaou Tanzila,

    To start with I’m a mixed kid, french and armenian living in India… I’m going to marry a beautiful Desi woman, and let me tell you that good or bad your story is very sad.. Really the white man “embodied” what you hate from the western society?? I read something different and Liz above actually summed it up very well. I hope you read that because it can only help you, all those comments from various people, if your target was to create a debate for sure you reached it. Anyway i’m not sure you are that smart as you basically explained your racism very openly through your personal hatred from feeling inferior.
    I as a rich white boy started to work at the age of 14, never went on holidays with my parents, needed to be fed by NGOs as my parents were unemployed, worked to pay my studies…and I will not develop on the shits that any of us can endure in our lifes. I in fact date an Indian woman who has had zero of all the mentioned above, who has gone one holidays with her parents and I will never allow my self to make such generalized comments on any people upon their colour.. Your are spliting
    Yourself thanks to your own view of people.
    I dont Know who is embodying what now “the bad white priviledged boy or the self-splited (almost racist) girl” sociopathy could be the word.

    Dont feel inferior, never. Be atheist (best ever religion) date good men, feel free to eat chapatis sent by mail. Dont ever date kid gold spoon fed.

    Basically live the Life as you want.

    From a white Boy who is going to have the most beautiful Chocolate kids ever.

    Last please stop Yoga try boxing or rock climbing it helps fight your own fears.

    • Theodore says:

      Alexandre your point of view may be completely correct and can live along side of hers. You live in India. The problem is that culture and race are very coupled together and in America White represents both the culture and race. You are defending your race because you probably don’t practice the white culture that exists here which is completely legitimate.

      • Alexandre says:


        I appreciate your reply and there is probably an issue in America that is stronger than I can think off..
        However it is still very hard for me to conceive that because of your self esteem you draw a portrait of another person and generalize it to his skin color.

        If she had a bit of sens she would understand that the inferior person was the individual itself who didn’t make an effort to understand her culture not her… And if she was probably stronger and smarter she would take the individual as the denominator not the skin color.

        Sometime failure brings hatred, as it looks she hates not only the privileged but her own community as well, after hating both the sides what is left to think of??

        Maybe a step back and a self critic of what create her miss judgment is needed for that person.

        Good Luck Brown girl. Try to find happiness in your life, not reasons to hate it. The world has always been unfair and will remain like this Ad Vitam Eternam.


        • shikha says:

          so condescending really – she has found her own ways to her happiness , thank you ! Rally , all she’s doing is speaking of her own personal experience without making it personal for anyone she states very clearly at one point her openness to different possibilities too – ” If I happen to find a white guy who shares the same values and there’s chemistry, sure! ” ……… Infact she is very careful in not blaming anyone personally , even her boyfriend, while talking about how her specific subjectivity of feeling as’ lesser ‘was a product of a certain class, race ,and gender dynamic.
          Yes the world is unfair – so ?? we should all accept that and do nothing about it – not one speak about our experiences – she is talking about WHY SHE because of her life experence has decided not to consciously date white men because of her own experience ….her choice , she’s not saying all white men are like that, niether is she asking for anyone’s condenscation over here !

  34. […] asshole to you cuz his kid’s serving in Afghanistan. Today, reading Tanzila Ahmed’s  “Why I Don’t Date White Men”, that idea that I can’t date white men was reinforced, and I wholly related to and agreed […]

  35. Theodore says:

    I’m an East Asian male and I can relate to a lot of things you’ve said. I was born in the US and had a community of Asians, both East and South, yet I was born more or less in poverty where I had to deal with issues of race in not only my southern state but in my own lower-income neighborhood.

    That neighborhood didn’t have the East and South Asian community that I mentioned. That community resided in the rich houses farther from me so as much as they were POC just like me, their wealth provided an ample buffer for them to never realize how the reality of how people saw them.

    “Talk about the non-violence movement and smile when they say Gandhi is inspiring.”

    My male peers would consistently try to relate to me by telling me how much they wanted to fuck an Asian girl and how much of a fetish they have. It bewilders me how they think it’s a way to connect with or compliment me. Most women don’t know this and still continue to date outside of their race because of their blonde hair blue eyed fantasy of status climbing.

    “Don’t talk about family vacations as a child – because your only family vacations involved seeing extended family in Bangladesh. Suppress your look of envy when you hear their stories about sleep-away camps, cruise ship family vacations, or family dinners at fancy restaurants.”

    These people could never understand why I never brought food from home for school (because I was so poor my lunches were from school and subsidized) or why I never went on these extravagant ski trips to my time share cabin for “Christmas Break”. They couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t donate to the canned food drives when we’re the ones who would receive them.

    “You never really thought of yourself as poor, but in this relationship you suddenly notice how you were raised with less than. You get confused when you realize that he has a brown girl fetish. You don’t know if it’s a compliment or a microaggression when he calls you exotic. Was that white privilege, class privilege or gender privilege? You are not sure, but you are hyperaware of how you have none of the above.”

    I try to defend women who have to deal with this but the crazy thing is they don’t even second guess where these comments come from and welcome if from their significant others. It’s crazy to see how blind they are and how I become the bad guy when I mention it because they want to live in their blissfully ignorant self-directed Hollywood movie. I wish they would use a tape recorder to hear themselves. How much glee came in their voice when they realized a White guy was going to help them finally assimilate and finally become Katie Holmes or Tiffany Amber Thiessen.

    “You are careful about distinguishing “it’s not you, it’s me.” It’s how you feel less than when you’re around white 
people. It’s how you feel you don’t have the same access to things as they do, and you can’t imagine being in a marriage where you’re reminded of that daily.”

    When growing up in the South, White represented the best life. A world without racial slurs, stereotypes and prejudice, rich vacations, and wholesome families that communicate — like the Foldgers commercials in the 90’s.

    “They don’t understand why you don’t fit into or subscribe to their model minority myth. They don’t understand that working class South Asians in America exist.”

    Probably the hardest thing to deal with. Not only did I not feel accepted by my friends that were white but even my own people couldn’t understand why I couldn’t be a model minority like they were.

    Rant —

    As an adult I can understand what is actually happening and where my feelings came from but what I still can’t understand is why there aren’t more WOMEN like you that can understand the internalized self-racism that pushes females to date White males. The reason I say women is because if you’ll notice that more East Asian males will talk about this day in and day out because they see their own culture being swept from underneath them and there’s nothing they can do about it. It’s either they find a women that can understand them and what they’ve dealt with all their lives or they have to adapt to the status quo of American values in order to be a prospect. And I reject the idea that America is “Western” values because that still forces us to believe we don’t belong here and we’re changing a nation for the worst.

  36. bobaandgames says:

    As a fellow model minority female in my late 20s who has experienced dating a white man, this blog more or less sums up how I felt during that experience, and why I refuse to date other white men.

  37. YankeeMuslim says:

    CAVEAT: How do you define “white”? As a privileged white male myself, I support what this author is saying because I interpret her definition of “white” not as a strict racial category, but more of a particular subgroup of Caucasians who identify as the dominant, normative culture. I absolutely do not think that she is saying that white men can never overcome their “whiteness” (read: chauvinistic privilege) or even that she would not become committed to a man who did succeed in this (although if she wants to eschew all white men just to be safe, how is that any worse than a man who prefers an Arab woman or an Asian woman???). Furthermore, even for us whites who are critical of white privilege, we have to be honest that this is something we have to constantly struggle against – we are not permanently saved from our privilege just because we convert to Islam or are engaged in progressive politics.

  38. writetolive says:

    Reblogged this on one thing to look forward to and commented:
    A little off topic of my regular posts, but I found this truly honest, brutal and insightful. It is also a good reminder to check my privileges when I talk about my struggles with mental health. I am lucky to have many supports and fallbacks that do not exist for others. I am able to be independent and support myself. That doesn’t take away the pain of living with mental illness, but it certainly puts it into perspective.

  39. NorthernVirginian says:

    Curious what colonialism and self-hatred have wrought on dark complexioned people all over the world. The fact that the only alternative to dating other Asians was white men (for you & your mom) is quite telling. Would anyone else be considered?

  40. Lee says:

    Interesting read even though I don’t agree with some of her points. If I were to ask the author, what would happen if you found a white guy that happens to be Muslim and had similar situations as an immigrant, i.e. from Bosnia, Herzegovina, Albania, North Africa, and many regions in the Middle East. I say that because they actually do have native peoples with “white” features. I definitely like the comments left by Liz.

  41. Darryl says:

    sadly, the problem isn’t white men or men period, You are the problem. Your head is filled with so much leftist nonsense and propaganda you can’t think straight. You have been taught to see the world through political, racial, and economic lenses instead of your own eyes. You continuously fight reality, preferring to cling to your own delusions instead of accepting what is real. Until you accept who you are and become happy with yourself, nothing will change.

    Unfortunately, you won’t figure this out till you are another ten years older. Then no man will want you. Enjoy you’re lonely life.

    May I suggest getting a couple of cats?

  42. ashvboyd says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this story with us. I think it’s very courageous for you to put yourself out there and share your truth. I think it’s a truth for many other Brown and Black women. Dating white is a struggle and it’s not reductionist (as other comments have suggested) to see racial dynamics play out in a relationship. If we can talk about microgressions with friendships and work then we can talk about them (and other things) in our romantic relationships.

    Thank you, thank you.

  43. Steve Holmes says:

    Well, this blonde white guy didn’t cheat. In fact he married the Bangladeshi girl, had 2 lovely daughters with her and has been married for 16 years. To each his/her own.

  44. letstalk20 says:

    Reblogged this on LetsTalk20 and commented:
    This article is AMAZING! I can relate to it in so many ways, but there are other instances in this article that are eye opening to me. Being from a middle class family, some of the worries she had, I didn’t have. Also, being of another race, played different roles in how I was perceived. Love it! Thank you for sharing!

  45. Jaime says:

    100% Relate to this a Black American woman. When I set-up my life vision, and relationships, I always thought I was open to dating interracially, as long as my mates were fellow people of color and identified as such. I am generally not attracted to white men.

    I grew up in white suburbia, and always felt “different.” And had a lifetime of those comments, you know “you aren’t like other black people; you sound white…”

    And of course, I remember the comments from relatives, while we were all children, thinking about how dating non-black people would give our future kids good hair and light skin. Growing up mostly middle class also adds extra levels of respectability politics and classism. To consider in dating as well.

    All if the -isms impact every level of our life and how we perceive ourselves.

    I just want to have less to explain.

    So thanks for your words that mirror my own thoughts too!

  46. Daniel says:

    And it sounds more, that you have a problem with the country/ system you are living in. That there is no equality for everybody. Thats a shame, I agree.
    But in my eyes you come to wrong conclusions.

  47. First off, not dating white people because you aren’t attracted to them…. makes sense. No fault there. You aren’t going to date people you don’t think are hot. That can be a combination of factors, but you just aren’t excited by white men, you just aren’t.

    What does bother me though, is the fact she only refers to “white people”. Since when are white people all one group? There is huge difference between say a Swedish person, a Canadian and an American. Statistically speaking, men from all three of those countries are most likely white, but are VERY different in their attitudes and cultural values.

    Much like how people from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh might have very similar skin colours and outward appearances, their culture and values are probably very different.

    I mean, wouldn’t people on this forum be mad if I simply lumped all brown or black people into one group?

  48. Nur says:

    Before loving anyone else, it is of paramount importance to love yourself. Thinking of oneself as poor and underprivileged is a recipe for disaster not only for love, but also for life. It appears as though the writer is suffering from considerable inferiority complex. In any cross-cultural relationship, there are always things to learn, and this makes the relationship more exciting. It is positive that people of other countries and cultures know about Bangladesh and/or South Asian countries. As representatives of those countries it is enjoyable to educate people otherwise, if they have come to know something that is not exactly right. And always, if these topics come up and one does not want to discuss it, s/he can say, “What you are saying is probably true, but I left [my country] when I was very young, and since then I haven’t been too much in touch. I will definitely look up though, if what you are saying is in fact the case.”

    Which “color” of people the author wants to date is absolutely her choice, but saying that poor people can not date is ridiculous. Poor people around the world find love, and live fulfilling, though, struggle-filled lives. This is just the reality. Playing victim because one can not afford fine dining is an improper attitude that should not be perpetuated through written essays. There are many people around the world who can not afford a credit card. Welcome to reality.

    Talking about perpetuation of bad attitude, what is this “if you had thought of a different career had you known you’d have to be financially independent”? Women of the world, everywhere, are now fighting for this independence, and you are actually wishing to depend on a second income coming from your husband? Then, let’s see, you yourself wouldn’t date a brown guy who is in love with the theater and wants to act in small theater productions for the rest of his life because he knows he’ll never make it into Broadway. Aren’t you in this way, full of bias, and looking for someone to “support” you instead of a marriage where people equally support each other?

    It is easier said than done & no body is perfect, but as human beings, it is necessary to live a life with the head held high, defending one’s decisions with resolve and passion. It is important to realize that the past, no matter how bleak, is something from which we derive strength, not shame. No matter your financial status or pedigree, family comes first, and when you hide your parents’ jobs and situations from others, they know what you are doing. And they loose respect for you. Love and pride towards family is what makes pedigree and garners honor. Not Benjamin Franklins.

  49. Asha says:

    Look, look. I’m a mixed race woman. I get it.

    You’re tired of getting odd looks from others when you walk down the street with your wealthy, white, then-boyfriend. You’re tired of seeing all these presumed benefits he gets, just for being white.

    So naturally you should project all that irritation and exhaustion onto your then-boyfriend and other men like him, right?

    Because not dating white men is what’s going to turn all this around, right?

    Because white men really care that much about you and the fact that you’re not dating them … right?

    … Guys?

    Seriously though? You know who always looked at me and othered me when I didn’t fit into a specific niche? Men and women. Of all creeds and colors.

    Human beings have this very old, very outdated mechanism built within themselves to automatically “other” people who don’t fit in just right. It’s mostly because that’s what kept them and their tribes safe back when we were living in grass huts and isolated communities with nothing but wilderness and wildlife separating us from some other, stronger community that would come in the night to kill our men and male children and steal our women.

    And for whatever reason, we haven’t completely evolved away from that. We’ve learned to temper it, to ignore it, to build over it with empathy and common ground, reasonable thinking and rationality.

    You know what’s not helping you evolve from that?

    “I’m gonna stop dating white men.”
    “Kill all men.”
    “All whites are part of white supremacy and inherently racist!”

  50. ParsiDikra says:

    Your attitude is terrible; perhaps that’s why you’ve felt your endeavors to be less successful/a struggle. Some of the most successful, appreciated, and funded individuals I’ve ever met are Desi (both genders).

    I feel it’s too easy to see things through the cliché self-proclaimed victim perspective you describe. What state, and what century are you living in? Why are you so materialistic, and envious at all? Why do you speak like money equates to worth? Why aren’t you appreciative of your family and the life you’ve experienced in it, your culture (with the exception of an exoticized reference to shaadis, and a condescending bit on yoga).
    Why aren’t you thankful to have the realest, most integral experiences; home cooked real food, a tool/practice(yoga) you understand and carry with you no matter where you are that benefits your body and mind state, etc.?

    Why do you describe to be jealous of all the shittiest, fakest materialistic and elitist aspects of what you consider “white people culture”?
    Why would you want any of that? As opposed to all the aspects and nuances of Bangla culture that make it awesome and many Bangladeshis proud.

    Money doesn’t equal worth. Maybe try looking at the world with love and good intentions .

    If you always come out “swinging”, people will block/put up a guard

  51. Yoo-kyung says:

    Please know that despite the flood of ignorant “haters” (as is the current Internet slang term for these types of people) there are more people that didn’t comment that absolutely understand and relate to your words and leave being enlightened and feeling validated. Thank you for being brave enough to write them and share with us, knowing that you are exposing yourself to hatred, racism, and ignorance. You are not wrong at all and I wish you the best of luck in finding the right person – s/he is out there! Don’t compromise yourself and what you believe in!!!

  52. Yoo-kyung says:

    Please know that despite the flood of ignorant “haters” (as is the current Internet slang term for these types of people) there are more people that didn’t comment that absolutely understand and relate to your words and leave being enlightened and feeling validated. Thank you for being brave enough to write them and share with us, knowing that you are exposing yourself to hatred, racism, and ignorance. You are not wrong at all and I wish you the best of luck in finding the right person – s/he is out there! Don’t compromise yourself and what you believe in!!!

  53. ParsiDikra says:

    Not every Desi man is a doctor or engineer, and not every white man is a rich trust fund baby. Such generalizing is useless, and so is over-glorifying. Also, “brown” and white are not the only ethnicities there are, and cultures are not colors. Perhaps you would have a better experience if you look at people as individuals, and not bring all your preconceived notions, stereotypes, and bitterness you have as a result of them with you everywhere you go. It is easier to use these things as excuses to not try or be open, than it is to be vulnerable.

    You also didn’t mentioned how alienated and exoticized Desis can make others feel, even in America. All of that is unimportant though, because it is not constructive.

  54. Thank you for your article. Thank you for your honesty.

  55. Hanni says:

    beautiful essay, great observations !

  56. OnePeople says:

    I genuinely wonder if the author would date a Mexican or African man. I’m guessing based on what she has described, the answer is no. If she reads this, please answer this question and tell us why.

    Date the individuals you find attractive, loving, good-intentioned, whole-hearted, inspiring and substantial to you… the ones whom with you find synergy. Do not date the ones you don’t. Simple. Who cares about all the background noise or skin color. How hard have people worked to rid humanity of sickening and deconstructive ideas like those? Everyone has something to contribute to each other, which is how we cultivate growth and community (not race related). Even Einstein spoke this way of a janitor.

    Perhaps aspire for a higher, more beautiful perspective with which you appreciate all of the world around you. Appreciation is contagious.

  57. OnePeople says:

    This article and thread is bringing out the most ignorant, small-minded, useless, stereotypical, assumption-based, generalizing, deconstructive, covet-ridden, empty bullshit sentiments in people.
    Well done? Progress made?

  58. Lia says:

    This article was so honest and truthful. It was amazing how much of this I can relate to. It’s refreshing but at the same time disheartening because this is the society that we live in. Thank you for sharing.

  59. Beulah says:

    You don’t have to apologise for anything. Just be yourself, that’s all you can be. To pretend to be some thing other than yourself will only compound the situation. Shakespeare” to ones own self be true. Be who God made you to be.