There’s no doubt that race plays a huge factor in dating. The numbers prove that some racial groups--white women--have a statistical advantage in the overall number of men (of all races) interested in them and the likelihood that they’ll receive a message from these guys. Black women and Asian men, on the other hand, have statistically and anecdotally fared the worst. Being Indian American, I’m usually thrown into the general “Asian” category, which is a problem for many reasons; the most obvious, Asia is a continent and we don’t all look alike. So, what’s it like to DWI (date while Indian) on and offline? Here are some of my most common experiences.
1. . So, what are you?
The most common question I get by guys on (or before) the first date is about my race, specifically, what race I am. This question can range from vague (“Where’s your family from?”) to direct (“What race are you?”) or even offensive (“So, what are you?”). What a great introduction to the potential love of your life.
2. . Wait lemme guess...
Sometimes guys will skip asking me what race I am and just start guessing. I’ve been called everything from Latina to Middle Eastern to Guyanese. Why a stranger (who doesn’t work for the U.S. Census) needs to put me into a nice, neat racial box is beyond me.
3. . So you're Native American?
If I tell a guy I’m Indian, there’s always a chance that he confuses this for Native American. The follow up, “What tribe are you?” or “My grandmother had Cherokee in her” are common. It’s always embarrassing to school a grown man that India is a country and Native Americans are from America.
4. . You're exotic.
In India, I’d be one in a billion--but in America, I’m different. Guys often categorize me as “exotic,” which is a strange, loaded word that I’m not quite sure how I feel about. What’s exotic anyways? Isn’t it just a nice way of saying strange or weird?
5. . Do you know....?
With actors like Aziz Ansari, Mindy Kaling and Priyanka Chopra in the limelight, Indians are slowly garnering exposure in Hollywood. This is awesome. What’s not awesome is the assumption over coffee or dinner that I personally know EVERY INDIAN PERSON in the entertainment industry. Or worse, that I may be related to them.
Bottom line: Every person—Indian or otherwise—is unique. Dating is about discovering and appreciating someone as an individual. Love me for me.