Dominic Ripoli: “Interracial” is the Wrong Word

Dominic and his girlfriend

Dominic and his girlfriend

By Dominic Ripoli

I have loved black women since I have had the know-how of sexual preference. Which if we are all honest with ourselves was at a very young age. I remember my mother bought the VHS of “How Stella Got Her Grove Back”, and she would watch it all the time. I finally asked, “why do you like this movie so much?” her response, “I love Taye Diggs”. This was the first time it occurred to me that people of color could be sexually attractive. You can imagine once I allowed myself to make that connection, my natural sexual preferences were unleashed and would never be held back again.

As most people who are reading this know, “interracial” couples have some complicated issues that they must deal with. Ranging from their confidence in appearing in public to bringing their special person to family affairs. The stares, the glances, the looks, it gets pretty heavy at a certain point. These are issues that everyone who is interested in someone who is their cultural counter part, must face. I am not here to discuss those trials and tribulations. I am here to talk about what these people should be called. “Interracial” is the coined term that is widely used and accepted. I am here to challenge that notion.

“Interracial” as a term that describes two people who have different cultural backgrounds, primarily black and white couples, is a term that I think needs to be left in its linguistically racist past. As someone who majored in communications at Howard University, I learned first hand how important the language we use is to our social constructs and understandings. For instance the word “nigger” has roots in the Spanish word negra, which is black. You can imagine Spanish slave traders using negra to describe their slaves, which eventually became what we know as nigger. The same thing can be seen in the now debunked “scientific” aspects of race. There is the Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and of course my favorite the Negroid. I personally believe that the term “interracial” plays a key part in how we see relationships of different cultures. As a race issue… and straight up that is just ignorant.

By utilizing the term “interracial”, the person who uses it acknowledges that something like race actually exists. Race, in the sense that there are different races (black, white, yellow, brown, etc) is a social construct! It is completely made up, just like our monetary credit system. We just all agree that something like race or credit exists, when it actually doesn’t. So my issue with the term “interracial” as a way to describe a couple is not only ignorant but also just promotes that idea of different races.

This is why I suggest we use the term intercultural. Notice how I didn’t use parenthesis. Someone who is intercultural is someone who embraces the differences of other people. They understand that those differences are exactly the same strengths that our ancestors who started out in Africa relied upon to get our species to the age of the Internet and online forums discussing cultural differences.

So remember when you are talking to people who you respect and they say interracial as a term to describe two people who find each other attractive, don’t be afraid to educate and incultureate (made up that word). Trust me, its ok to express your opinions about “race” and different cultures. If people can’t deal with that then they have a personal issue that is best saved for a different post.

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