Posted on February 21, 2020

Should You Ask About Race on a First Date?

Kelsey Yandura, Rewire, February 20, 2020


Apps have changed a lot about how we date, including making interracial dating more common. But with first dates so inherently awkward, should you bring up differences in race or ethnicity right away?

First of all, calm down

If you’ve already started overthinking, take a deep breath. Being overly self-conscious will set you up for nervousness.

“Anybody who is too aware is weird,” said Trey Hamik, a Denver-based bartender who is black. “Anyone who is making an effort to be too self-conscious or too intentional about the way they provide space… that will always come off weird.”

Don’t put too much focus on the topic right away.


Get to know them, not their stat sheet

Should you subtly try to figure out someone’s cultural background with back-door questions? Should you just come right out and ask? Hamik says that’s a false dichotomy.

“I don’t look very black or very white,” Hamik said. “On dates I’ve been on, people have asked, ‘Oh, is your mom black?’ It’s always pretty jarring.”

Asking “What are you?” isn’t OK either.

“That’s a question you ask a toy on a shelf or a puzzle,” Hamik said.


Don’t be defensive

On the other hand, if your date wants to talk about race, be open to listening and learning.


Don’t make assumptions

No matter how the conversation does or doesn’t go, never make assumptions about anyone because of their race.

“Racial groups are not homogenous,” Hunter College sociology professor Erica Chito Childs told Today. “African American people have different perspectives; some may support Black Lives Matter, and others don’t. Some Latina people support DACA, others don’t. Don’t make assumptions…

“You and your partner don’t have to agree, but you should know where each other stand and try to understand each other’s perspectives.”