Microaggressions are comments or actions that unintentionally alienate or demean a marginalized person or group.

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Though racial microaggressions are felt by every marginalized group within the dating realm, I am building upon my own personal experiences with heterosexual, cisgender white men to offer suggestions on how to ease racial tensions that may arise in a white man/black woman pairing.

Once, I was at a bar with friends when two white men approached me.

These are harmful stereotypes that will not only make your black partner uncomfortable, they will further marginalize them.

You should want to date a person because you like who they are and have compatible views and interests, not because their race is the next thing to do on your bucket list or because you were enthralled by their “exotic ways” (honestly, are you doing an anthropological study on black culture? If you answered no to these questions and you think those assumptions on black womanhood are downright absurd (hint: they are), then perhaps you are well on your way to showing a black woman that you want to date a complete person and not a stereotype!

He kept touching my hair without my consent, was legitimately disappointed that I could not twerk, and called me “sassy” whenever I voiced an opinion that was different from his.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the first or last awkward date I’ve had with a white man.White men have the privilege of not having to actively think about their intersections of race and gender, which is starkly different from black women’s realities.White men navigate society with relative ease while black women are teetering on the precarious margins of race and gender that they do not have the privilege to ignore.We’ve recently offered suggestions on how people of color can approach their white partner on the issue of race.And while of course the topic of race should be an ongoing conversation with your significant other, things would go a lot smoother if men — — were able to identify and prevent racial tension from the very beginning.I wish I could say that I’m surprised and appalled by the ignorance that white men tend to show when they approach me, but I’ve come to expect it.