How to navigate this?
Well, first, I've learned to listen. Fetishization occurs when a White men starts telling you how wonderful he thinks people of color are, how rich your culture, how beautiful your skin and how he has so many friends or even a relative who has a level of intimacy with your race. What White people don't know (we'll even throw this out to if you're another race and do this to someone of a different race as well): it's offensive. The reason why it's offensive is because it's identity reduction---I know who Asian people are and their experience because I read the Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. I deeply see Latino people because I went to Puerto Rico in 2008 for vacation. My parents went to a Richard Pryor concert therefore I understand the Black experience. I own a Navajo belt that I bought in New Mexico, I get the Native American experience. These are examples of Assumptive Racism.
Assumptive Racism is when I believe that object or observation means I understand you, it also slyly means that you're so simple as to be culturally understood simply by acquisition/observation. This leads us to the concept of Entitlement. That I can decide to observe, have the right to do so and close the knowledge loop myself without your input, criticism or correction. I have decided how to see you and that's that.
The fact that races would practice miscegenation when there is no physical chance of procreating means then that racial discrimination---whether at the audacious height of the KKK or subtle as "non-preference" supports the outline that racism is a mental illness, that particularly Caucasian people suffer from and other races are neurotically attending to---the way we pretend to be another relative to Alzheimer patients to maintain "peace". We need to view those who dance along the continuum as mentally ill.
Also a deeper level to look at even the discussion on is the position of power and entitlement, which are the forces/factors that inform, empower racism. The positionality here is White men towards Black, Asian or Latinos---the assumption that they are in the power choosing position---which is indicative of our own ingrained racism---that White men act/choose and others react. The history of that is what informs White men that it is acceptable to express such discrimination.
Now I'm not saying that preference/choice can't or shouldn't exist, it's when we express it simply through a racialized lens---there's an internalized blindness to racism that racism itself creates. No one, ever wants to be associated with racism---mainly because White people associate it to character rather than how other races see it, which is by actions. On some level Black people could even "forgive" if White people would admit it then they could be seen as personality erring vs. identity.
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