We all have that well-meaning friend or acquaintance who thinks his or her knowledge of politically correct lingo and the current line-up of "ethnically-authentic" television shows automatically grants special membership to an ultra-exclusive club of hip minorities.
There's always, for instance, that non-black friend with a penchant for racial slurs who blurts out "But my best friend is black!" any time he or she is accused of racism, the same friend who proudly declares "I watch 'The Wire'!" anytime a black person enters the room.
Increased interracial dating serves, for some, as strong, heartwarming evidence for the existence of a post-racial world. With a significant jump in the percentage of newlywed couples in interracial marriages--from 3.2% in 1980 to about 15% in 2010--it's hard to believe that race-based restrictions on marriage were only completely invalidated in 1967.
Others, however, are quick to point out the race and gender imbalances behind interracial dating. My Chinese-American ex-boyfriend once pointed out an Asian woman and a white man locking hands as they left a store together in Times Square. "I'd like that more," he whispered to me as he shook his head, barely hiding his disdain for the young couple, "but you never see it the other way around. No Asian man is considered attractive enough to be in that kind of relationship."
My quiche! I'm clearly embarrassed to be Korean
Picture this: After consulting with everyone you know who owns a spatula, you prepare for your friends the best 3-course meal of sweet potato mash, steak, and spinach salad you've ever cooked in your entire life. Now imagine that, as you nervously watch people pick at your beloved culinary creations, a friend turns to you and says, "Listen, everything is great. But this salad has Italian dressing, the potatoes are from Ireland, and the wine is from Spain. This isn't an authentic representation of your unique ethnic roots."
"I just think," another friend quips, "that you're ashamed of your culture."