White Men, White Women Black Men - Interracial relations
WHAT'S BEHIND THE ESCALATING TREND?
Almost anywhere you go these days, you will encounter
mixed-race couples: at the grocery store, the mall, the theater, at a
company function, at: a concert, even at church. And while for years
the Black man-White woman couple was more prevalent, today many social
observers say that the pairing of Black women and White men is just as
That certainly seems to be the case in cities such
as St. Paul-Minneapolis, where interracial couples long have thrived.
But the social trend also is quite evident in other large cities such
as Chicago and New York, Atlanta and Detroit, where there is a
noticeable and striking increase in the number of mixed-race couples,
especially Black women with White mates.
"Interracial couples are more noticeable and
prominent than ever," says a Midwest-based author who has observed the
changes in social trends for some 40 years. "But the recent numbers of
Black women being escorted by White men is, well, startling, to say
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 1997 there
were 311,000 interracial (Black-White) married couples, more than six
times as many as in 1960. Of those, 201,000 were comprised of a Black
husband and White wife, while there were 110,000 couples in which the
husband was White and the wife Black. Some estimate that today 10
percent of married Black men have mates of another race.
Some social observers say that the increase in
cross-cultural relationships is tied directly to the breakdown of
school and residential segregation and the 1967 overthrow of the last
laws. That year the U.S. Supreme Court unconstitutional laws barring
racial intermarriage in states. A mixed couple in Virginia had
challenged the state's 1924 antimiscegenation statute in response to
their being forced by local law officials to live apart, to jail or
leave the state.
In addition, most grade schools and colleges are
integrated, and so are workplaces and neighborhoods. Many middle-class
Black kids grow up in affluent White areas and socialize with White
kids from kindergarten on. When they adolescent and teen years, they
naturally are attracted to those within the same social circles in
which they and in which they are comfortable.
Alvin Poussaint, MD, a professor of psychiatry at
Harvard School, says there is an increase in interracial marriages
this time because Black people are moving more more into what he
refers to as the "mainstream of American society," and social barriers
are dissolving. He and others also say that taboos against interracial
dating and marriage are easing.
"Some of the negative attitudes toward interracial
marriage have been lifted considerably," says Dr. Poussaint. "Today
you see young people watching MTV [where they see Whites and Blacks
interacting in the music videos]. You see more mixed dating and mixed
couples. This has become less taboo. You also see an easing of a kind
of Black-consciousness mentality. There is not the same kind of
pressure on Blacks who are thinking about dating or marrying
interracially. That is easing up and allowing people to feel more
accepted. When you go to a Links ball or to the Boule, you see people
who are interracially married. No one tells them that they can't be
accepted into the social group because they have married outside the
race. Since there is no social sanction in the Black community, people
feel free to say, `I like this person and this is what I want to do,
so I'll do it.'"
The specific reasons behind the escalating trend of dating and
mating across color and racial lines vary from individual to individual. Some
Black women say they were attracted to their White spouses because they had
found it difficult to meet Black men on their social and income levels. Others
say their mates treat them well and share common interests.
Some people seem to simply prefer to date people of another
race. For instance, Robert DeNiro has had two Black wives and has dated a number
of Black women, including models Naomi Campbell and Tookie Smith. O. J. Simpson
continues to demonstrate a preference for White women, and Whoopi Goldberg
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While interracial mating is more accepted in today's society,
there nevertheless are stereotypes and other negative aspects to be considered.
Society in general has a history of frowning on Black-White marriages, and
despite integration elsewhere, many people in the White as well as the Black
communities do not approve of integration in the bedroom. In many cases, couples
who fall in love and marry outside their cultural group are disavowed by their
families, shunned by friends and insulted by strangers. One Black woman who is
married to a White man tells how she and her husband were greeted with the
proclamation, "Remember O. J.!" when they encountered a group of Black youths. A
city judge who is married to his second White wife said he would rather not be
quoted by name in this story. "Sisters already are I don t want to upset them
further," he said. A Black sports coach expressed a similar sentiment.
Many Black women feel betrayed by the Brother who marries a
White woman, especially those who show a preference for other women. The problem
is exacerbated by Black men who exclude Black women in favor of White women due
to what some call "racial brainwashing." Black women are annoyed, to say the
least, by Black men who say they favor White women because Black women are "not
as feminine," "too strong," "too demanding," or "sexually uptight."
Social psychologist Dr. Julia Hare says that ironically, these
same Black men often are the ones who ostracize Black women when they date White
men. And Brothers are incensed by Black women who say they marry White men
because Black men don't know how to treat a woman."
In addition, many people assume a White man is with a Black
woman because of her sexual prowess or that he thinks he owns her. They assume
that a White woman is with a Black man because of his sexual prowess, or that he
is attracted to her because she represents the "forbidden fruit." Both mindsets
reflect our history of being enslaved by Whites.
In reality, say relationship therapists and Black women
themselves, many Sisters end up dating and marrying White men because they have
difficulty meeting and connecting with Black men. Dr. Hare says many Black
women, especially college-educated, professional Black women, believe there is a
shortage of Black men on their income and status levels. "Black women marry.
White men because they want to make a commitment," says Dr. Hare. "They are
maturing and their biological clocks are ticking. They want to find a man who
they feel will love them. They realize they have to look elsewhere if they want
to start families."
Dr. Hare cautions that Black women and Black men both should
not mistakenly think that those of another race can or will love them more or
treat them better than those of their own race. She explains that society
expects women to "marry up" or better themselves by their choice of husbands.
"But a good Black man may not be able to be defined as we define a good White
man," explains Dr. Hare. "If the Black man doesn't have the job, financial
security and nice home, then we assume he is not a `good Black man.' But that is
not fair. We have forgotten about the spiritual qualities that the UPS driver
and other blue-collar men may bring to the relationship."