On Interracial Dating -The Black Panel (1 of 4)

Essence Dating Package

Welcome to the Black panel on Interracial Dating.  Our panelists are:

N’Jaila Rhee, the mastermind behind BlaysianBytch.com (link NSFW); Damon Young, better known as The Champ and one of two VerySmartBrothas; Ashley – longtime reader and friend of the blog; Cheryl Lynn, Digital Femme extraordinare, rabblerouser, and longtime friend of the blog; Andrea Plaid – our own Sexual Correspondent; Dani – long time friend of the blog; Sewere – long time commenter, one time contributor, and friend of the blog; Tami Winfrey Harris, long time contributor and editor of Love Isn’t Enough and What Tami Said; Kadian Pow, friend of the blog and occasional contributor, and Helena Andrews, author of Bitch is the New Black.

What types of messages did you receive about interracial relationships growing up?

N’jaila: I always thought that interracial meant when a non-White dates a White person.  I think there were a lot more positive representations of Black men with White women than the other way around.  

Damon: It’s possible that Pittsburgh, Pa is a cultural vacuum. Actually, “possible” isn’t the right word. “More than fucking likely” fits a little bit better. I’m bringing this up because, while I’ve always been aware that people of different races could date, sleep with, and marry each other, it never really entered my consciousness as something that people actually did until I got to college. I even remember having a slight crush on a white classmate in 8th grade, but never approaching her or even mentioning it to anybody because, well, that’s just not what people did.

What made this feeling even weirder was that it wasn’t rooted in any racial hang-ups and/or neurosis. It — interracial dating — just didn’t compute as a possibility because I never saw any of my peers do it. I guess it’s kind of like the KFC Double Down in that way. I wouldn’t have fathomed that you could make a chicken/meat/chicken sandwich until I actually saw it done.

Ashley: I always joke that I didn’t “discover” race until I attended Howard University. Sure, I knew the different colors of the ‘racebow’, but I didn’t know what it meant for me or my peers.  I grew up in a predominantly white suburb in Michigan (right outside of Detroit and not too far from 8 mile…). There were a ton of interracial relationships in my family. For the longest time I assumed my white aunts were just fair-skinned black women. Our family didn’t talk about race, but we were still “black” (if that makes sense). Meaning, you could catch anything from B.I.G to Bill Withers on the stereo on any given day. So the messages that I received were that it was, “all good.” I don’t recall any funny looks or whispered conversations about the interracial couples in our family. My uncles didn’t run to the family bbq expecting an award for bringing a woman of a different race around. It was something we were just all used to seeing.

Cheryl Lynn: The topic of interracial relationships wasn’t (and still isn’t) a topic that is discussed in my family. Still, I definitely got the impression that that there were interracial relationships that weren’t an issue and interracial relationships that were. Romantic relationships between blacks and Latinos were/are so common in my family and community that I often forget that they actually are interracial relationships. My family and friends have never frowned upon romantic relationships between blacks and whites…but it is a thing. It’s an elephant in the room.  I remember the raised eyebrows when I went to the prom with a white guy. It was the only time I dated a white guy and the only time I ever got those raised eyebrows. Once I brought home an ethnically/racially ambiguous Asian guy. My mom was really sweet, but as soon as he left asked, “What is he?”  I told her “He’s not white.”  And that was all the answer she needed.  But if you bring a white person home, there are little jokes, little looks. Nothing mean, but your relationship is marked as different. The one exception? If your significant other is gay. I guess there’s a minority requirement…but they don’t care what minority!

Andrea: My maternal family–especially my mom and aunts, who were the last two generations to see that “whites-only” sign racism in the US–let me know that it was not OK to get with the ofay. Other men of color were seen as “not quite” what the fam wanted to see me bring home to them. But my mom also said that, if she had her preference in seeing an interracial couple–like you, N’jaila, she thought of “interracial” as PoC and White pairings–she’d much rather see a Black woman with a White Man than a Black man with a White woman. In her mind, the Black woman is “getting hers.”

Mind you, none of these opinions mattered to me. I’ve been interracially dating and mating since my senior year in high school. My senior prom date was a White guy who asked me to go. I told my mom, and she adamantly said no. Determined to go to prom, I told my date to meet me there. I lied to Mom about going with anyone, insisting that I was going with my girl crew. She bought me the dress and accessories. I went and had a great time.  Only when I casually displayed the prom photo did Mom figure it out. By then, what could she say? ::shrug:: My first kiss was with a White guy. My first sexual partner was a White guy. My ex-lovers have spanned and still span the “racebow” (love that phrase, Ashley!). The only person I ever loved deep down–and who loved me back–was a White woman. My long-term relationships, including my marriage, have been with White men. And no, I wasn’t moving up any socio-economic ladder with these pairings.

Dani: I went to a predominately white school, K-12. Of the maybe three boyfriends I had in high school, two were white and one was Iranian. I went to prom three times – twice with white boys and once with a Korean-American guy. This was all in the early- and mid-90s. No one in my family commented on this, as far as I remember. Neither did friends, as it was understood that the dominant culture at my school was not black. I can only remember one black boy in my grade the whole time I was in that district. In terms of family, my aunts who were married or otherwise attached to men were with black men, so that was presented as the norm. Being single was modeled as a normal, healthy thing, too. I remember looking through old photos with one of my aunts and coming across a picture of a white guy. She told me she had dated him in college. That would have been the 70s and she wasn’t talking about it in hushed tones or anything, so it didn’t seem particularly taboo. My mom and her sisters had grown up in the same predominately white school district I did, so having close friendships with white and non-black people wasn’t considered strange. Of course, dating people from school was something that I could do (though it wasn’t completely without problems) that wasn’t accepted for them in the 60s.

Tami:  I’m not sure that I received any messages growing up about IR dating. There are some IR relationships in my family, but the assumption likely was that I would eventually marry a black man (and I have), but in my youth I was a kid with an obsession for New Wave and English boys, so I doubt anyone would have been surprised had I brought home someone of a different race. I always grew up open to the idea of IR dating and did date people of various races when I was single.

Sewere: I didn’t grow up in a multi-racial country but a lot of the messages I got about interracial relationships were very similar to the messages I got about inter-ethnic relationships, which was “Don’t. Ever.” The reason was always the same, cultural differences are too difficult to overcome.

How does class factor into these conversations?

N’jaila:  I think there’s sometimes an assumption that dating White equates dating “up”, obviously this isn’t the case. I’ve heard a lot of non-Black people say that they don’t date Black people because of “cultural” issues which are usually racist assumptions that they can’t find a Black of the same educational background or in the same tax bracket.  Some non-Blacks also assume that especially Black women will be loud , crass and a walking Rap video 24/7.

There are so many ways that people decide what is of “high class”  and most of those definitions exclude Blackness even down to body types.  “Ghetto Booties” “Bamma Black”  are a few examples I can think of where Black bodies are degraded as innately low class.  I think certain looks and types can date out a lot more easily than others.

I’ve always found it funny when non-Black men give examples of the Black women they would date. “Oh well, if I would date a black woman she would have to be like Beyonce” as if to say the run of the mill Black woman wouldn’t cut it.  Apparently even though they work at the shoe section at Sears, a black woman would have to be a light bright millionaire to get with them. Puh-lease#

Damon: From the common (and completely off-base) stereotype that black men sprint to non-black women the moment we sign up for our 401k’s to the fact that all of the recent discussion about black women “dating out” seems to be targeted towards upper-middle class black women living in major metropolitan areas, the class elephant has been present for each of the last, I don’t know, 250 interracial relationship conversations I’ve been involved in. No one seems to give a damn about who non-degreed and/or working class people date (well, no one seems to give enough of a damn to have a multi-layered discussion about it).

Also, as N’jaila touched on above, there’s (reportedly) a strong correlation between a man’s social class and the physical features he desires most in a woman. Basically — and this is argued to be true among all races of men — the more money a man makes, the more likely that he’s going to be more attracted (and more likely to marry) taller and thinner women. Apparently, the theory states, lower status men tend to desire “thicker” women more because their thickness suggests a fertility than will allow her to have more children to help them work on the farm or some shit.

This may in fact just be some evolutionary psychology gobbledygook, but this theory might have relevance when trying to understand how class, race, sex, and dating are intertwined.

Ashley:  I think class plays a huge role! It seems that the more money a black person has, the better their options are of dating outside of their race (if that’s what they want to do). I’ll argue, though, that non-blk folks can generally date outside of their race regardless of class. It seems like it’s just much easier.

Sewere: Definitely, there were implicit messages regarding interracial dating based on the false hierarchy of races i.e. white at the top, black at the bottom and everything else in-between. The general idea from what I can recall, was that dating someone white was generally better than someone who is black even though non-Nigerians were generally viewed as lacking grounded culture (whatever that meant).

Andrea:  I completely agree that class plays a role in these conversations. I think it plays out largely, though, in terms of educational privilege (getting a bachelor’s degree and beyond), if not in terms of financial privilege (like working as a VP in a corporate environment and the disposable income that goes with that). That’s what Ralph Richard Banks meant by, “the reality is, if you’re a college-educated Black woman, you have less in common with the guy you grew up with from the neighborhood who’s driving the UPS truck and more in common with the White guy who sat next to you in history class in college.” Banks is, in arguing for (middle- and upper-middle class) Black women to “date/marry out,” for, really, keeping the social classes as they are. To him, that glue and gateway is that bachelor’s-and-beyond education. Wrapped in that is the idea the IR couple with similar educational backgrounds would “have more to talk about” and find out that they have more in common, which is seen as the basis of a possible relationship.

Tami: A magazine like Essence seeks to preserve the black middle to upper class. While there is plenty of disdain for the dating and procreation habits of the working and lower class, I’m not sure the “powers that be” really give a rat’s ass whether a single mom in Englewood, Chicago, gets married. This marriage thing is a “crisis” because it impacts the middle and higher classes and our ability to assimilate into the majority-white status quo.

Cheryl Lynn: Honestly? It doesn’t factor into the conversations I have at all. It’s funny. I’m surrounded by people in interracial relationships, but there’s very little dating outside of one’s socio-economic status–if any. And women who date outside of their class–who date “up”–are mocked as trophies. I’d feel a little awkward and out of place dating a very wealthy person who wasn’t black or Latino. But I feel like there would be enough of a shared connection culturally with a rich black or Latino man that I wouldn’t feel strange. But I’m coming from a very strange place. I was raised working class, went to private school with rich kids (scholarship), and in later years watched my parents “move on up” to “comfortable.” Long story short, I’d feel strange dating someone poor or rich that isn’t black. I can relate to working class or middle-class men.

Latoya:  To break the mod wall for a sec – Class is huge for me, and it’s one of the reasons why I generally don’t get involved in these discussions.  The “Educated Black Woman” they keep talking about isn’t me.  I’d like to think I have some kind of gray matter up there, but I’m a college drop out. If it weren’t for grace, luck, and the internet, I’d be just like most of the folks in my fam and friends circles, clerking it for an hourly wage at some day gig and making it up to myself on the weekend. And the guy I am partnered with is also a college drop out (though he intends to finish),  so we don’t fit the paradigm.

Helena: The class issue can be huge. I grew up partially in South Central, Los Angeles but went to a very diverse private school in downtown LA. I remember my cousins warning me not to bring home an “head bangers” which I assumed was code for crazy white people? Iono. But we only had ONE white kid in our class and he was from like New Zealand or something. My class was black, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Mexican, etc.

The issue also comes up with my family because we are acutely aware that my great great grandmother’s children were fathered by a white man. My great grandmother, who lived to 100 and who I knew well, looked white to white people. I remember visiting her in her “assisted living” facility and her telling us about how the old white man down the hall was bad-mouthing “those people” and she’s all like, “what people?” Anywho despite being very fair she married very dark skinned men, which I’m assuming was somewhat intentional on her part. Once she passed a family member called my grandmother to ask about my great grandmother’s father, who we know was white and who most likely owned members of our family. My grandmother was livid when this other family member said something to the tune of, “you can’t help who you love.” Love between master and slave was unthinkable to my grandmother.

Dani: In my experience, age and geography have been bigger factors than class, though I guess it’s all related. Through college and most of my 20s, all my serious boyfriends were black. As I’ve gotten older – in the last five years or so – that’s changed. In my late 20s and early 30s, I’ve moved a lot for work and have been part of several cities’ transient class, in which I’ve tended to spend time with people who are also not native to those cities and who do work similar to mine. In these circles, it’s been less likely that I meet black men, at least black men who aren’t colleagues. I also realize that a large part of not dating black men in recent years is related to having ended up on the West Coast, where interracial dating – especially among people who aren’t from here – is apparently required. During a phone conversation years ago, a black man who I had dated and who had moved to the Bay Area from the East Coast boasted about how much access he had to non-black women now that he was out west, and how much he was enjoying that. I remember asking who black women were with if black men were scrambling to be with white and Asian women and Latinas. He kind of snorted and said, “I don’t know. Each other, I guess.” He was going out of his way to be an asshole and I get that, but now that I live here, I see what he meant. Black men and women to seem to have a kind of aversion to each other out here. I still haven’t figured it out.

Kadian: I can’t ever remember my family discussing interracial relationships or even voicing an opinion. Perhaps because no one in my family ever dated outside their “race”? My family is Jamaican, and they pretty much have an issue with dating outside the culture. So even Black Americans are seen as culturally very different. However, the message that I received from the wider society/culture is that “interracial” pretty much means the romantic mixing of Blacks & Whites with no other real attention to other “racial” pairings.  I do remember finding such pairings in film and television exciting, but somehow doomed to fail.

Want more? (Jump to part 2, or see all conversations.

  • http://www.OneInTheHandBlog.com Ashley

    Also, I should say that I am really trying to figure this out, I’m not just like, “OMG what’s wrong with her?”

    I mean, I feel as though I’ve clearly been making the point that I’ve been around this stuff for years, it’s impacted me personally, I’ve thought about it enough to note certain motivations, I’ve made major life decisions because of this stuff, I’ve said I don’t hear certain things *as often* as I used to. I made the point that I work at a liberal organization yet still acknowledged that we have work to do in this arena . . . and that translates into you reading “I have no concept of these issues and have never noticed any of it. We should all be colorblind and just love whomever makes us happy. La la la!”

    So I wonder, when I talk about this face to face with friends, co-workers, family . . . when I talk about it online . . . how or why am I understood there, but in this conversation seem to have been so misunderstood? 

  • http://www.OneInTheHandBlog.com Ashley

    nicthommi, I’m not sure when I said I’ve never heard of these things you refer to. Why are you assuming that? In the comments I made that you responded to, I have said: 

    “Almost always, the IR pairing was Black guy, White girl. White guys dated Asian girls and Latinas sometimes, and White girls dated Latino dudes, but I rarely saw an Asian guy dating anyone other than an Asian girl.”“There was and still is definitely a stereotype that White girls who date IR are either unacceptable to White guys so they have to downgrade to minorities who will date them just because they’re White”“I just don’t hear this stuff very often any more.”“I’m online a lot so I see people talking about these things, and can remember when hearing them personally was more a part of my daily life.”“For example, I might hear someone use the word “ghetto” casually, but I am not hearing people say things like  Black women being undateable, unmarriageable, etc.”“A major reason we moved to Chicago was because we didn’t want our kids growing up to never (or rarely) see anyone who looks like them or their Dad in a position of success or power or education.”Regarding my statement about not hearing people say things about Black women being undateable, etc – I preceded that statement with a couple instances of saying, basically, “I used to hear about this in my personal life more often, but notsomuch anymore.” How does that equate to NEVER having heard of it, or not understanding the concept/situation? Do you really think that I could (per my last quote above) choose to move to a different city because I didn’t like what my children were seeing modeled for them in terms of race, and not have any concept of the issues surrounding beauty and women of color, specifically Black women? I also commented on several other posts in this series and though I can’t be certain, you likely saw at least some of what I wrote there, because I saw you commenting on those same posts. I commented quite a bit, I responded to people who engaged me and I shared MY experiences as well as some thoughts on what I perceive as other people’s experiences.Where is all this “never” coming from?

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  • Anonymous

    Interesting.  My family is more concerned about religion, cultural background, and class than race.  We are black, upper-middle class and my parents have been pretty vocal about not marrying down the social ladder or marrying a spouse from another religion especially Islam.  They rely on the news for their knowledge of Muslims, and everyone in our close circle of friends and family is Islamaphobic. 

    If marrying outside of my race, the individual has to be westernized and from a westernized family.  For blacks, it is already difficult and stressful enough to navigate racial issues within a westernized society without dealing with  culture clash. Even within American societies there are still small culture clashes.  A major culture clash AND racial tension would be a deal breaker.  However, if dating another black person, I would be willing to marry into a non-westernized family since the issue of race is not there.

    My parents seem to like the idea of me marrying a black, latino or white (especially white) guy from the same class/social background as us.  We are also more exposed to other whites and blacks than other races in our area so this is what we are more familiar with.  We’ve touched on the issue before, and from their attitudes I know they would have problems with me seriously dating/marrying anyone with a Middle-Eastern, Southeast Asian, East Asian or African-Arab background.  If I did they would assume I was going through a phase and would snap out of it soon, or that I had just decided to jeopardize my future.  In the end though, they would accept whatever I chose.   It’s my extended family that will cause issues, because they will CLOWN anyone who is not black, and if you look “foreign” then you will probably get the cold shoulder and many “WTF” looks.

  • Hope

    @8491f9107f20d9ab2299ab6d532e9ced:disqus N’jaila”I’ve always found it funny when non-Black men give examples of the Black women they would date. “Oh well, if I would date a black woman she would have to be like Beyonce” as if to say the run of the mill Black woman wouldn’t cut it.  Apparently even though they work at the shoe section at Sears, a black woman would have to be a light bright millionaire to get with them. Puh-lease#”

    I TOTALLY agree. I also find it annoying I have heard black women say things like “Oh he would have to be a ___insert conventionally attractive white male celebrity here___ before I’d consider dating him

    Face palm.

  • nicthommi

    To me as a black women or for other POC, it IS in fact progressive to be bombarded by images of white people as the epitome of beauty yet still prefer people who look like you. I will always like dark skin the most, and it is not close-minded of me to think so.  
    I don’t really think I need to find white people attractive to prove that I’m liberal.   The reasons why I do not are not the same reasons that WP do not date black people.So yes, Chicago is segregated but I love the fact that black people seem to love themselves and have their own spaces.  I always feel very at home there.   And it is true that a lot of them don’t date out because they don’t need to and the don’t want to.  If I’m a BW and I’m surrounded by BM who think I am attractive, then I don’t need to consider other men.  And if I’m a BM who has grown up in an environment that lets me think black women are the most beautiful, and there are thousands and thousands of those women, then again, I don’t need to look elsewhere, and it’s not a sign of narrow-mindedness.  

    For a person of color, I think it’s actually backwards to always reject the people who look like your parents and siblings.  This is NOT the same as saying that I don’t get how people can date interracially, but there are far more POC who have bought into the idea that their own people are not attractive than the other way around.

    • http://www.OneInTheHandBlog.com Ashley

      I agree with your points about standard of beauty, choice, etc. I want to be clear in saying that what I’m referring to is taking attraction out of the equation. I’m referring only to what people might consider right or wrong, or what’s socially acceptable, what’s legal, what someone should or shouldn’t do. That’s where I was seeing progressive (or not). The only time I’d heard ANYONE make the choice to only date within their race, was in examples of Whites who thought miscegenation was wrong.

      I’m not sure where you’ve gotten the idea that I think it would impossible or strange for anyone to prefer one type of person over another, specifically that Black men wouldn’t find Black women sufficient. I was simply relaying a change in point of view I had after moving from one place to another. The first conversation I had about this with anyone in Chicago happened to be with a Black man, but if I’d had that conversation with someone from a Pakistani, Puerto Rican or Polish background, I’d have been surprised as well. I thought in a place like Chicago with so many types of people, I’d be coming across something like 1 out of 3 couples dating interracially. I was surprised when that wasn’t the case, because to me, the only barriers had ever been what was acceptable by society. I figured in a place where the barriers weren’t as strong, it’d be all over the place.

      Regarding attraction, the only time I’d heard anyone say they weren’t attracted to anyone but their own race, it was being said by White people I considered to be bigots (for a variety of reasons, not just their statement on attraction). In my mind, their attraction was shaped by their bigotry, so if a person was less bigoted, they’d be more open to dating interracially, whether they ever did it or not. I’ve since learned that there are other factors that play into these choices, but at the time, I didn’t. That’s all I was trying to convey. I’m sorry if I’ve given you the impression that I don’t understand how Black men or women could find each other sufficiently attractive, or more attractive than Whites. That isn’t my belief and wasn’t what I was hoping to communicate.

    • http://www.OneInTheHandBlog.com Ashley

      I agree with your points about standard of beauty, choice, etc. I want to be clear in saying that what I’m referring to is taking attraction out of the equation. I’m referring only to what people might consider right or wrong, or what’s socially acceptable, what’s legal, what someone should or shouldn’t do. That’s where I was seeing progressive (or not). The only time I’d heard ANYONE make the choice to only date within their race, was in examples of Whites who thought miscegenation was wrong.

      I’m not sure where you’ve gotten the idea that I think it would impossible or strange for anyone to prefer one type of person over another, specifically that Black men wouldn’t find Black women sufficient. I was simply relaying a change in point of view I had after moving from one place to another. The first conversation I had about this with anyone in Chicago happened to be with a Black man, but if I’d had that conversation with someone from a Pakistani, Puerto Rican or Polish background, I’d have been surprised as well. I thought in a place like Chicago with so many types of people, I’d be coming across something like 1 out of 3 couples dating interracially. I was surprised when that wasn’t the case, because to me, the only barriers had ever been what was acceptable by society. I figured in a place where the barriers weren’t as strong, it’d be all over the place.

      Regarding attraction, the only time I’d heard anyone say they weren’t attracted to anyone but their own race, it was being said by White people I considered to be bigots (for a variety of reasons, not just their statement on attraction). In my mind, their attraction was shaped by their bigotry, so if a person was less bigoted, they’d be more open to dating interracially, whether they ever did it or not. I’ve since learned that there are other factors that play into these choices, but at the time, I didn’t. That’s all I was trying to convey. I’m sorry if I’ve given you the impression that I don’t understand how Black men or women could find each other sufficiently attractive, or more attractive than Whites. That isn’t my belief and wasn’t what I was hoping to communicate.

      • Anonymous

        Hi,
        I appreciate you explaining your position.  It’s sometimes hard to know what people’s thoughts or opinions are, especially since some of the things I mention are what others commonly say.  So thanks for the clarification.
        You have to understand that BW get a lot of grief and get called a lot of names.  We get called undateable and unmarriageable.  We get called racists for not wanting to date non-black men or for disliking it when we see our brothers and peers dating women of other races (and doing this more often as they move up the economic ladder).  

        So it was hard to take when it seemed as if you were in fact questioning why in one particular part of the country, Black people like each other best. And as your rightfully acknowledged, the reasons why Blacks might stick together for dating and marriage are not the same as the reasons why Whites don’t, and aren’t the same reasons why people of other races often avoid us (yet will aspire to date or marry white people).  

        I do think that the history of sexual exploitation and coercion makes black women wary of white men, whereas black men are conditioned by society to view white women as prizes.  

        And my position in society does not give me the privilege of trying to be color-blind and just viewing people as people, and that is true despite the fact that I have socio-economic privilege and have had it my entire life.  

        Perhaps your already know this but the history of Chicago is one in which blacks were allowed to accumulate property and become educated and live decent lives, as long as they did it in their part of town.   There is that saying that in the North, they don’t care how big you get as long as you don’t get too close.  In the South, they don’t care how close you get (since you raise their children and clean their homes and if you are female are frequently used sexually), as long as you don’t get too big.  Considering that most of those black people came from the South where they weren’t allowed to have anything, you have to understand that to understand why Chicago is the way it is, and isn’t changing anytime soon. 

        So my friends who are second and third generation Chicagoans have black grandparents who got to go to college and were comfortably middle class. That is not the experience that my own ancestors who stayed in the South had, where you either didn’t get to go to school or went to school and still had to use your college education to clean houses, wash clothes, or sew for people.

        • http://www.OneInTheHandBlog.com Ashley

          I’m thinking about this, and realizing that I just don’t hear this stuff very often any more. Not saying I don’t think it’s out there, but I am currently in kind of a bubble. I work in a liberal organization that prides itself on it’s commitment to the value of diversity . . . I still see instances of racism, privilege, etc. every day but in the grand scheme of things it’s far ahead of the rest of the country, in terms of places to work. Then I get on my train where no one talks and spend my evenings & weekends almost exclusively with my husband and kids in a very mixed suburb. I’m online a lot so I see people talking about these things, and can remember when hearing them personally was more a part of my daily life. And of course there are the things that people DO say around me that just go over my head because, well, I’m still working on all of this. Add in my being vocal about this stuff at work (so people learn what they shouldn’t say around me) and not spending as much time in the city with my husband’s family (due to unrelated tensions) and I am just not around the harsher side of this stuff that often. For example, I might hear someone use the word “ghetto” casually, but I am not hearing people say things like  Black women being undateable, unmarriageable, etc.
          Though (in my first comment) I was focusing on my surprise at people in a (more) progressive place not being interested in interracial dating, I think there is probably some truth to what you read into my comments. It’s not a bias that is obvious to me the way others are.  So I am going to have to dig into that more, and I appreciate you bringing it up, though it stung, to be honest. What you said about Chicago’s background makes a lot of sense. Though I don’t consider Kansas to be part of the traditional South, it is structured much more like your description of “you can be close, but not big”. A major reason we moved to Chicago was because we didn’t want our kids growing up to never (or rarely) see anyone who looks like them or their Dad in a position of success or power or education. To that purpose, Chicago is such a balance of the good and bad. The poverty and everything that comes with it is much harsher here, but there actually IS a Black middle class! That doesn’t really exist in Wichita, at least beyond individual families…or maybe I should say that the Black middle class in Wichita doesn’t look much like the White middle class. A major difference is that in Wichita, a Black middle class family likely has adults working in someone else’s business/org – a school, a hospital, a store . . . and less represented in leadership roles. I worked for a large, prominent company in Wichita that employed almost a thousand people, and I’d say we employed less than 20 Black people, none in very high positions, several in some of the lowest positions. Compared to Chicago where you’ll see more Black-owned businesses, Black principals, doctors, news anchors, etc. 

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  • Lucille L

    I’m not sure the “powers that be” really give a rat’s ass whether a single mom … gets married. This marriage thing is a “crisis” because it impacts the middle and higher classes .
    I totally disagree! As a Black woman, I think a good  marriage is important whatever one’s social status. Of course, it is glamourous & empowering for celebrities to lead single families. But what   about normal people?
    As far as stereotypes are concerned, people actually fear poor single headed families. These families are accused of producing thugs, dis oriented, mentally unstable… children & generally violent men.
    Whether it is true is debattable. Yet, a lot of psychologists, religious people (monotheistic religions) & social scientists are concerned by single parenthood.

  • Alias

    “Dani: In my experience, age and geography
    have been bigger factors than class, though I guess it’s all related. Through
    college and most of my 20s, all my serious boyfriends were black. As I’ve
    gotten older – in the last five years or so – that’s changed. In my late 20s
    and early 30s, I’ve moved a lot for work and have been part of several cities’
    transient class, in which I’ve tended to spend time with people who are also
    not native to those cities and who do work similar to mine. In these circles,
    it’s been less likely that I meet black men, at least black men who aren’t
    colleagues. I also realize that a large part of not dating black men in recent
    years is related to having ended up on the West Coast, where interracial dating
    – especially among people who aren’t from here – is apparently required. During
    a phone conversation years ago, a black man who I had dated and who had moved
    to the Bay Area from the East Coast boasted about how much access he had to
    non-black women now that he was out west, and how much he was enjoying that. I
    remember asking who black women were with if black men were scrambling to be
    with white and Asian women and Latinas. He kind of snorted and said, “I don’t
    know. Each other, I guess.” He was going out of his way to be an asshole and I
    get that, but now that I live here, I see what he meant. Black men and women to
    seem to have a kind of aversion to each other out here. I still haven’t figured
    it out.”

     

    OMG Can we talk about this??? This is worthy of it’s own
    discussion!!!!

    Im from the West Coast but recently moved to the South and
    no one believes when I talk about this!!! Sooooo relieve to hear it come out
    the mouth of someone else…. Yayy, im not crazy after all! lol

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  • Stuffisthings

    Yeah, I’ve had a lot of discussions with her about this, but at the end of the day SHE is the black person who grew up in France so my tendency is to respect her interpretation — it would be sort of ridiculous for me to try to ‘explain’ French racism to her, right?

    Plus, there ARE actually some good things to balance the fucked up things, like the fact that Martinique and Guadeloupe are départements, unlike, say, Jamaica; they had Africans electing members to the Assembly in the 1940s, and maybe more importantly they banned slavery throughout the French empire in 1794 (though Napoleon brought it back). The fact that the authorities aren’t allowed to collect statistics on race also has a sort of noble but pigheaded logic to it which is very French. Oh, and FWIW she has gotten shit from French African people who look down on West Indian black people because ‘you got enslaved and we didn’t’ — no joke.

    But yeah, getting back to the point of this panel, after spending some time in DC/MD it definitely seems much more racially mixed and tolerant than what I’m used to down south, at least in suburban Florida, where everything is still hugely segregated (weirdly, Georgia seems way better in this regard). So I guess I’m not actually too worried on that front. Much more likely, it seems, is the danger of her getting into some heated discussions about France and racism. I’m gonna love to see peoples’ reactions when the busts out the ‘poor suburban kids just don’t try enough in school and make things harder for everyone else’ routine!

  • Tjholmes

    I almost clicked off when Ashley said she knowingly went to a Black college and that’s when she discovered race. Hmm-I hope this is summarized and perhaps you didn’t get the best parts of what she was saying. I am deeply confused. I’m struggling to respect it. 

    Growing up I overheard the grown folks talk. They would say the White women who dated Black women were very much not like “us.” And that was nothing we should be ashamed of. They would say they were “being used by the Black men for their money”, “nasty”; “sexually devious”; “fat”; “trashy”; etc. And the Black women were just “ugly”; “black men don’t want them.” I was to stay away from White men because they were so nasty and they would get me and my goodies.

    Marriage? Who married interracially?

    These are the stereotypes I grew up with. I grew up in a midwestern city of around a million people, on my side of town. Went to segregated public schools (I graduated high school in 2002 not 1942). I now live in the Washington, DC area and am a well traveled and educated woman. I understand the intricacies of dating expectations and stereotyping amongst races. I appreciate this article. 

    • Anonymous

      Comments are presented as they were typed by the panelists.

  • nicthommi

    Love this roundtable.  
    I found N’Jaila’s comment interesting because many of the black women that my white male friends date or find beautiful are not the ones that many other black people would identify as pretty.   So I’ve seen them totally nonplussed about or unaware of the black women that the black men were gaga over (whether celebrities or women we knew in real life), but totally losing it for women that the black men never pay attention to.  

  • http://twitter.com/RachelTheC Rachel C.

    we like to joke that my mom’s side of the family is a product of black and white slavery: my great great… grandmother was from Ireland, but was sold to an English family as a servant. when that family went to Jamaica she fell in love with one of the black field hands and ran off to the caymans. i maternal cousins with unsure paternity that look Asian, a bunch of tall dark skinned black cousins, and a mother who is a short, ethnically ambiguous lady that can (depending on where she is ) pass as black, Hispanic, middle eastern, and white.

    My father is a seventh generation Texan with vague Cherokee ancestry. The legend is that my very Irish family almost exclusively sold guns and booze to the Cherokees in S. Carolina, so when they moved, we moved, except we decided Texas was better than Oklahoma. My grandparents didn’t seem to care too much that their son was dating/ married a Hispanic woman, but they did care that their daughter was dating a New York, Cocaine addicted, Anarchist, Jew ten years her senior.

     I grew up in East Austin, TX in the 90s. it was still mostly black and hispanic, but from my experience in San Antonio and  Houston, TX, New Orleans, and Montgomery, AL,  black and hispanic in austin is still ‘very white.’ When i brought home my first boyfriend, nobody cared that he was Korean, they cared that his (white) parents were kind of wierd. since then, i’ve dated a black guy, a few hispanic fellows, and mosty white people. it’s usally bother the boyfriends parents more than it’s bother mine. and i’d like to think that the parents are bother that their sons are dating a fat, college drop out with green hair from a rough side of a very safe town.

  • http://www.OneInTheHandBlog.com Ashley

    Yikes, sorry about the extra spacing in my super long comment! That’ll teach me not to write in another format & copy/paste. 

    Anyway, thinking about class, here’s some more Wichita/Chicago comparison: while minority individuals and families might be middle class and higher in Wichita, minority communities aren’t. Wichita is a largely working class city as it is, as well as having a decent-sized middle class, smaller upper-middle class population and very few truly wealthy families. So if you’re White, regardless of your class – if you date someone non-White in Wichita, you are likely dating someone from a class lower than yours. Whenever I heard people (like someone’s parents) objecting to IR dating, the objection was to the race, not the class. I wasn’t privy to any conversations that might have given more detail about the objections. But the negative stereotypes are definitely tied to class, as they focus on poverty, welfare, single-parenting, absentee parents, having multiple baby-daddies, etc. That (almost) only Whites are part of the middle & upper classes, in terms of earnings, residential neighborhoods and in positions of success & leadership is a much larger reason we left, than even the IR stigma I felt.

    In Chicago, there are definitely more minorities established in the upper classes and in positions of success, leadership, power. I’ve seen a mixture of dating patterns among middle-to-upper class minorities. Some have stated clearly that they only date within their race in an effort to “lift” the race and to stop diluting the race. “Our community needs to see successful Black couples” and so forth. Others seem more comfortable dating outside their race, but there’s some pushback against them. For example, I’ve heard comments about a successful Black man who dates outside of his race – that he’s letting down the Sisters, betraying his people, hates himself, etc. The Black women who date outside of their race supposedly think they’re White! 

    I’m sure there are also other attitudes regarding dating that I don’t know about, but those are the most common things I’ve heard.

  • http://www.OneInTheHandBlog.com Ashley

    I was a teen in Wichita, KS in the
    90s and IR dating was somewhat common among teens, but rarely seen among
    adults. Wichita is majority White with some Black, Latino (mostly Mexican) and
    Southeast Asian, and a tiny sprinkling of lots of others. Almost always, the IR
    pairing was Black guy, White girl. White guys dated Asian girls and Latinas
    sometimes, and White girls dated Latino dudes, but I rarely saw an Asian guy
    dating anyone other than an Asian girl.

     

    There was and still
    is definitely a stereotype that White girls who date IR are either unacceptable
    to White guys so they have to downgrade to minorities who will date them just
    because they’re White . . . or if the girl is cute and middle/upper class, she
    has a “thing” for non-Whites and only dates non-Whites (much to the
    consternation of her parents). I (White) dated White, Black and Latino guys in
    high school and college, and actually dated more White guys than anyone else,
    but dating anyone non-White at all branded me somewhat as the type that’s only
    interested in Black guys.

     

    I married a Black
    man and we have 3 kids. We moved to Chicago, where my husband is from, for a
    variety of reasons, one being the racism in Wichita and the stereotypes about
    IR couples there. It wasn’t so much that he or I couldn’t handle those
    problems, but we didn’t want our kids growing up with others assuming that my
    husband wasn’t in the picture, or that they all must have different dads
    because they have different skin & hair color, or not seeing many positive
    examples of relationships like ours. Because that’s the way it is in Wichita –
    there are TONS of mixed race kids now, mostly Black and White, and they’re seen
    as the products of Black guys who split + White girls who made a mistake. On
    one hand we were glad to be an positive example of an IR relationship but the
    negative aspects, when added to the other reasons we chose to move, were
    sizable. I know that I personally struggled, probably more than my husband,
    because I was from there and hated being seen as some White girl who’d gotten
    herself in trouble with a Black guy.

     

    So we moved to
    Chicago and for the first year lived in Englewood, an all-Black neighborhood on
    the South Side. I remember being very shocked when moving to Chicago because
    though it boasts way more racial/ethnic diversity than Wichita, it also has
    lots more segregation. In Wichita, as I said, it’s very common for certain IR
    dating. I was surprised to meet young Black men in Chicago who’d never even
    considered dating a White girl and doubted it would ever be part of their
    future. It wasn’t that I thought they should want to date White women, it’s
    that beyond it being a taboo (and it is), it wasn’t even considered. I thought
    about this a bit and realized that if you grow up and don’t go to school, work
    or church with anyone outside of your race, it probably wouldn’t occur to you.
    In Wichita, the city isn’t big enough for minority groups to sustain their own
    schools, churches, businesses, etc. Sure, there are small churches or very
    small businesses that are in the Black or Vietnamese residential areas, but
    they are few & far between, and they struggle. But in Chicago, a person can
    be born and raised in a Black or Puerto Rican or Irish or Polish or South Asian
    neighborhood and go to school, church, work, shopping, entertainment, etc – all
    in their own neighborhood, and never have to venture out, and rarely be exposed
    to people of other backgrounds.

     

    My husband’s
    experience was different. His mom left the city and moved to a mostly-White
    suburb, so he was one of the only Black kids, one of the only non-White kids,
    all the way through high school. He dated girls of all backgrounds, but he was
    the only one in his family who did. He lived life in the suburbs with his White
    friends and life in the city with his Black family and church. His family all
    said it was no surprise that he married a White girl. Now we live in a very
    mixed suburb (race/ethnicity/class) and our kids go to a good public school
    that looks like the United Nations (in terms of the students).

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  • http://www.mondaysbaby.com Monday’s Baby

    I think the class piece is a huge one in interracial relationships, especially as it pertains to BW.

    N’jaila said: I think there’s sometimes an assumption that dating White equates dating “up”, obviously this isn’t the case. I’ve heard a lot of non-Black people say that they don’t date Black people because of “cultural” issues which are usually racist assumptions that they can’t find a Black of the same educational background or in the same tax bracket.  Some non-Blacks also assume that especially Black women will be loud , crass and a walking Rap video 24/7.
    There are so many ways that people decide what is of “high class”  and most of those definitions exclude Blackness even down to body types.  “Ghetto Booties” “Bamma Black”  are a few examples I can think of where Black bodies are degraded as innately low class.  I think certain looks and types can date out a lot more easily than others.
    Yes, 100 this. I was a voracious consumer of books and magazines growing up. When I saw photos of and/or read about BW who were in IR relationships (mainly with WM), they were usually slim, tall, and upper-middle class and/or wealthy celebrities. That includes women like Diahann Carroll, Roxie Roker (Lenny Kravitz’s mama), Diana Ross, Josephine Premice, Naomi Campbell, and Iman.  In the 1990s and 2000s, I saw a few more women in the public eye that I could relate to a bit more as far as (so-called) class/educational background and physicality who were in IR relationships with men of color, mainly Rolanda Watts (married to a Japanese-American man), Ayana Byrd (her husband is from Colombia, I belive…and he’s not a white Colombian), and Lori Tharps.  However, I still feel that the BW IR pairings that are most visible in the media eye are those in which the BW is very beautiful (and usually thin) and more often than not, wealthy (see: George Lucas and Mellody Hobson).  Another good example of how this idea of BW being of “lower class” (even when they bear no markers of being such) are some of the comments on New York magazine’s very recent article on Shala Monroque. While she’s beautiful and a current fashion muse (NY mag’s words), she immigrated to America from St. Lucia and worked as a restaurant hostess in Manhattan. At some point she met Larrry Gagosian (very wealthy international art dealer, much older than her, white), and is in a relationship with him. She’s vague about how they met. And, clearly, dating him has opened career doors for her and afforded her an uncommon lifestyle. I have no issue with it, but some of the commenters there basically called her a gold-digging whore. Other readers said that she’s done nothing different than white women who are beautiful (and models/It girls/etc.) have done. So, yes, I agree, BW are classed not just based upon the usual class markers but upon the bodies in they inhabit as well. And I often think BW are tarred (no pun intended) with the “of low bearing” tag just by virtue of being black.  And like many other aspects of their lives, when it comes to relationships (especially IR with a certain kind of white men?), they have to be above and beyond their white peers to be deemed acceptable or worthy. It gets tiring.

    • nicthommi

      See, maybe it’s not kosher to say but I’d put Mellody Hobson in that category of black women that I would think black men would pass up, and who would not be described as beautiful by many black people.  
      But in terms of body type, I’d say skinny or thin is probably more common in BW/WM pairing, but again I’d point out that Mellody Hobson’s body type is not one that I think is idealized in black culture either.  

      • Amen Abdul

        I’d date mellody in a heartbeat……nothing better than a shapely chocolate queen! I’m not mad at ole george……

    • Mickey

      I once came across a Youtube video by a young Black guy who talked about BW who decided that they were going to start dating WM. He argued that the average WM does not date the average BW and that the only BW that they would date/marry are: 1) those that are skinny, 2) those that “act white” & 3) those that are natural (whatever that means.) A White woman gave a rebuttal stating that a man will date whatever woman he deems worthy regardless of race and cited her uncle who is married to a BW that her family adores. So the “Black tax” argument is tiring.

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  • http://profiles.google.com/aiyana.knauer Aiyana Knauer

    Man, I can’t wait for the rest of this series.

    I am half-Chinese, half-Jewish, and have mostly been partnered with white males (with hapa, black, and latino in there as well), but have recently begun dating someone else who is also mixed white-asian. One of the things we talked about recently was the race of our eventual partners if we decided to have children. I confessed that I had a hard time imagining myself having a child with someone who is only of white descent. Why? Because, being half Chinese, my child would be a quarter Chinese and 3/4 white, and there is a good chance they might end up passing as white. I know that might initially sound like a kind of horrible thing to say, but hear me out:

    My racial identity has been an omnipresent force in my life, and it has informed so many of my experiences. I also think that it has given me an interesting and forcibly informed perspective on things, that I often find I share with other mixed-race or non-white people. I want my child, if I ever have one, to be able to understand that part of me, and to have that perspective as well. This isn’t a way of knocking on interracial relationships involving white people (after all, I’m the product of one), I just think it’s a decision that is specifically suited to my mixed identity.

    Unexpectedly, the person I’m seeing agreed with me. (I figured it was an unpopular opinion.) I recall there being a similar discussion/article on Racialicious in the past, but I can’t find it right now. I’m specifically really looking forward to the Mixed and Asian portions of this series, because I’ve often felt like other discussions of interracial dating left out the mixed and asian experiences. Good work, Racialicious. 

  • http://profiles.google.com/aiyana.knauer Aiyana Knauer

    Man, I can’t wait for the rest of this series.

    I am half-Chinese, half-Jewish, and have mostly been partnered with white males (with hapa, black, and latino in there as well), but have recently begun dating someone else who is also mixed white-asian. One of the things we talked about recently was the race of our eventual partners if we decided to have children. I confessed that I had a hard time imagining myself having a child with someone who is only of white descent. Why? Because, being half Chinese, my child would be a quarter Chinese and 3/4 white, and there is a good chance they might end up passing as white. I know that might initially sound like a kind of horrible thing to say, but hear me out:

    My racial identity has been an omnipresent force in my life, and it has informed so many of my experiences. I also think that it has given me an interesting and forcibly informed perspective on things, that I often find I share with other mixed-race or non-white people. I want my child, if I ever have one, to be able to understand that part of me, and to have that perspective as well. This isn’t a way of knocking on interracial relationships involving white people (after all, I’m the product of one), I just think it’s a decision that is specifically suited to my mixed identity.

    Unexpectedly, the person I’m seeing agreed with me. (I figured it was an unpopular opinion.) I recall there being a similar discussion/article on Racialicious in the past, but I can’t find it right now. I’m specifically really looking forward to the Mixed and Asian portions of this series, because I’ve often felt like other discussions of interracial dating left out the mixed and asian experiences. Good work, Racialicious. 

  • http://profiles.google.com/aiyana.knauer Aiyana Knauer

    Man, I can’t wait for the rest of this series.

    I am half-Chinese, half-Jewish, and have mostly been partnered with white males (with hapa, black, and latino in there as well), but have recently begun dating someone else who is also mixed white-asian. One of the things we talked about recently was the race of our eventual partners if we decided to have children. I confessed that I had a hard time imagining myself having a child with someone who is only of white descent. Why? Because, being half Chinese, my child would be a quarter Chinese and 3/4 white, and there is a good chance they might end up passing as white. I know that might initially sound like a kind of horrible thing to say, but hear me out:

    My racial identity has been an omnipresent force in my life, and it has informed so many of my experiences. I also think that it has given me an interesting and forcibly informed perspective on things, that I often find I share with other mixed-race or non-white people. I want my child, if I ever have one, to be able to understand that part of me, and to have that perspective as well. This isn’t a way of knocking on interracial relationships involving white people (after all, I’m the product of one), I just think it’s a decision that is specifically suited to my mixed identity.

    Unexpectedly, the person I’m seeing agreed with me. (I figured it was an unpopular opinion.) I recall there being a similar discussion/article on Racialicious in the past, but I can’t find it right now. I’m specifically really looking forward to the Mixed and Asian portions of this series, because I’ve often felt like other discussions of interracial dating left out the mixed and asian experiences. Good work, Racialicious. 

  • http://ethecofem.com April

    Great discussion.

    I dated interracially in high school (and crushed interracial before then, when I was far too dorky to date anybody).  My experiences with how their families handled this were interesting.  I’m white, and I never thought much of interracial dating, probably because I was raised by a single mother who also dated interracially.  She never had an issue with it, so it never occurred to me to have an issue, either, but I realized other people definitely did.  Many white friends of mine told me about how their parents would straight-up forbid their daughters from dating black guys, or ridiculed their taste for rap music because they were racist against black people and had some kind of idea in their minds about what a relationship between their white daughter and any given black male might look like, based entirely on frequently-perpetuated and inaccurate stereotypes.  I didn’t really have to deal with that, since my mom dated a few black men in my younger years and she never had an issue with it, but I had other experiences with interracial dating, anyway.

    I was good friends with a girl in high school who was Chinese.  Her mom hated me, because I had highlighted hair and seemed like a generally bad influence on her daughter for reasons I don’t even remember anymore… but when I started dating her son, she suddenly loved me.  She was so happy her son was dating me.  Their family was pretty patriarchal, so a lot of this had to do with the fact that my friend was a girl and rarely allowed to sleep over or go out with me or anyone else, but their family thought of boys much differently.  Her brother, my boyfriend, could sleep over at my house with no problem, as a high school student.  My boyfriend at the time later told me, when I asked about whether or not our different ethnic backgrounds were an issue with his family, that they didn’t mind interracial dating– as long as they didn’t date black people.  I was shocked at the blatant racism. 

    Later in high school, I dated a guy who was Hmong.  His family, who had moved here to Minneapolis (which has a fairly large Hmong population) from a city in Washington state (an area in which there were very few Hmong people).  His mom said, “we moved to a place with so many Hmong girls!  Why are you still dating white girls?!” They did not like me, at all.  They were polite to my face, but my boyfriend and his brothers and cousins always apologized for their family’s coldness.   And the social reaction was so much different his time around, too.  Our high school had a very large Hmong population, and when it became known that the white girl was going to prom with the new Hmong guy, many Hmong girls, who were otherwise perfectly friendly to me face-to-face, started mean-spirited rumors about me and my apparent (non-existent) boob job, and how I somehow convinced him to ask me to prom, when he really wanted to go with a Hmong girl.  It was something I didn’t anticipate having to deal with.  

  • Doodleface

    I grew up in England with very liberal hippy parents who are totally cool with my interracial marriage (although i do have a problem with the concept of ‘race’: socially, in regards to perceptions and privileges it TOTALLY exists, but as a defining concept that exists in terms other than rainbow tones, no. Ethnicity definitely yes, race no. IMO). Anyhoo, I have step siblings that work for the government, the ‘brown Arab’ part of my husband is fine, but the fact that he’s brown because he’s Palestinian caused a bit more of a problem…they work for the anti-terrorism unit…so there were worried looks from some (but luckily very few) extended (again, luckily, not close) family members. When I first introduced my husband to my family i have to say I was totally proud of them – not because i was surprised that they weren’t racists- but because the majority had made a real effort before we arrived to read up about current issues and really engage and listen to a completely different life experience. I felt then and still feel totally proud of the people I love in those moments because I was nervous at first and then realised that I underestimated them and their openness. 

  • Enter Name Here

    I grew up in a predominately black city, and didn’t really think about interracial dating. When I was in high school I very briefly dated a white guy, but he’d been born and raised around the hood. LOL I guess I didn’t really see him as “white.” But most of the interracial dating I saw was in high school and usually Latino/Black since there were very few whites at my school. There was a Filipino guy that only dated black girls, but again he lived and went to black schools so it wasn’t a shock to me.

    Thing shifted when I was in college because it opened me to meeting other men. I was open to interracial dating but just ended up with two black boyfriends by chance. In Japan, I mostly dated Japanese guys…when it Rome right? And now I’m living in the DC area and have dated all kinds of men (my current boyfriend is Chinese).

  • http://jasminllenadegracia.blogspot.com Jasmin

    I’m loving this panel. My parents (mom especially, my dad doesn’t like to really think about his daughters dating anyone) encouraged me to date anyone, regardless of race from when I was very young. (It wasn’t until later that I found out that rule applied to sexuality as well.)

    I remember in elementary school, I was close friends with a couple of White boys because we were in the G/T program and were in class together for a few years in a row, and our moms would joke about marrying us off one day. (This was in South Chicagoland in the 90s.) I wasn’t one to confide much in my mom about crushes, but I went to high school dances with both White and Black guys (I went twice with a White guy with Tourette’s who my mom just loved), the first boyfriend I brought home to my parents was Black and they liked him, and my current boyfriend (who I now live with on the other side of the country)  is White and Jewish (we’re Christian) and they love him the most out of any guy I’ve dated.

    I mentioned on my blog before that although I can understand their purpose, I’ve never really been drawn the Black Women’s Empowerment blogs that focus on IR dating because there was no familiar taboo for me to overcome. That being said, I have 6 sisters and no brothers, and I think it would’ve been different if I had a brother that brought home a White girl (specifically; In Chicago 2 non-White people dating isn’t really considered “interracial”). It’s not that they would forbid him from seeing her, but I think they would be suspicious since a) there are some publicized accounts of White girls dating Black guys and then falsely accusing them of assault and b) there’s a stereotype that White girls aren’t interested in a genuine relationship with Black guys or their “people”, so there’s an expectation that she’ll be standoffish or snooty.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SRMP4LTHXW42DPOTIPTFP5Q2MY Lynn

    I think that people tend to date and sleep with and marry whoever they’re around during their formative years. So race and class are definite factors. Unfortunately for many people of color who grow up in predominantly white environments, their tastes run towards preferring white folks over folks of their own race. This is only natural because those are the folks they have spent the most time with and so are most comfortable with. I say “unfortunately” because many times the white folks they are hanging out with do not have reciprocal feelings and do not consider these people of color to be relationship material. 

    So they may have trouble relating to other folks of their own ethnicity, i.e., “their own kind” due to class issues but then the people they are attracted to  – white folks with a similar upbringing — don’t want them either. It can be hard to find people to relate to.

    Things are changing though and becoming more open, I think, with each generation. I have a 15-year-old son and will be fine with him dating interracially, just so long as he doesn’t develop an aversion to black women (as he tells me some of his black male peers in high school have already admitted to).

    • http://jasminllenadegracia.blogspot.com Jasmin

      Right on. In my experience, the Black people (generally girls/young women) who were most averse to socializing with other Black people were the least likely to date interracially (most times, they were the only Black person in an all-White group) because they were relegated to the sidekick role pretty quickly. I think Black guys can overcome this, since there’s a stereotype of Black guys as cool with “swagger”, but I’ve yet to meet a Black girl/young woman (college age or younger) who is the Queen Bee (or even an equal) in her crew of all-White female friends.

    • Anonymous

      Good post. That is why I kind of cringe when so many black women are advocating for interracial relationships as a cure. It ignores that it takes two to tango. And as you said many middle class college educated white people might not be open to middle class educated black men or women. I also have a hard time believing middle class black people can’t find other people with similar education and backgrounds.

    • Anonymous

      Good post. That is why I kind of cringe when so many black women are advocating for interracial relationships as a cure. It ignores that it takes two to tango. And as you said many middle class college educated white people might not be open to middle class educated black men or women. I also have a hard time believing middle class black people can’t find other people with similar education and backgrounds.

    • nicthommi

      I don’t know.  I think there is more to it than that. I grew up in a predominantly white environment, went to college in one, and based on my job and geography, am still largely surrounded by whites and at no point have they ever been that attractive to me.  
      I never wanted to look like them, never wanted to have their hair, and I never pictured myself with one of them.  
      Yet based on who I’m around and who seems to get me, they are probably a good match, or at least, there are more of them that match me in other areas that I consider important (e.g. education and upbringing or “class”).

  • Stuffisthings

    This is really interesting to me, as I am white and currently in a serious relationship with a black girl I met while living in England. I never really thought much about interracial dating either way growing up — like probably a lot of people of my race and class, my parents were liberal but almost everyone I knew or came into contact with was white (or at least Not Black), though I did date mixed race girl briefly in college. My current girlfriend is from Paris and her parents are from the West Indies so she has a very, very different perception of race from what I am used to hearing about in the US. As far as I’m aware race is not at all an issue for her or her family — nor, she claims, is it a big deal in French society generally — and we’re both middle class so I don’t think there are any significant class issues. Her mom is a scientist and places great importance on education, and I have a Master’s degree so that’s good enough for her.

    Anyway, the point of all this background is that I now live in DC and I am curious and slightly apprehensive about how we will be perceived here. I know that most white people are by now trained not to say anything even if they’re thinking it. But my (very, very limited) understanding is that in the US black community there is some negative feeling towards these kinds of relationships, and also, to a lesser extent, towards non-African American black people (FWIW she doesn’t really identify as ‘Afro-Caribbean’ either — she’s just FRENCH). Anyone care to educate me about how real this perception of mine is? Or am I just working off some old/exaggerated stereotypes here? Thanks, and I look forward to the next installment of the series.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cocojams-Jambalayah/100000590546331 Cocojams Jambalayah

    Since all the other commenters have related personal experiences, I’ll add that I don’t recall any interracial couples in my Atlantic City, New Jersey high school (1961-1965). And the only interracial couples I recall from my college in Northern Jersey were those White girls who slept with the Black football star, but he  didn’t actually date those girls.

    I’m African American and I’ve had just one relationship with a White man. It was a very significant relationship which was based on mental, emotional, and physical compatibility and not on skin color. That relationship didn’t last but it wasn’t racial issues from us or others that caused it to end. Some relationships just aren’t meant to last.

  • http://commentarybyval.blogspot.com/ Val

    Hmmm. Well I went to a few different high schools in a few different states. My first high school was in California and was 99% White. So I dated White girls mostly but I fell really hard for a Black girl, who wasn’t a lesbian, unfortunately for me.

    My second high school was in the deep south. The high school was about 50-50 Black/ White. But I only dated a Black girl and was really, really in love with her.

    My last two high schools were in NYC. I dated Black and Puerto Rican girls. And dating Puerto Rican girls really didn’t seem like interracial dating to me.

    As an adult I’ve dating South Asian, Filipina, Persian, Black and Puerto Rican women. I suppose I do have a preference for African American and Puerto Rican women. Only because it always seems that they have a deeper understanding of me than women of other ethnic groups. 

    As for how my family felt about my inter-ethnic dating; they were more concerned that I was dating women rather than who I was dating.  

    And as for the class thing. I grew up upper middle-class and now I am a college educated trying to be middle-class woman. I think that class as it relates to dating has just given me more access to different kinds of women.  I always hear that college educated Black women have a tough time dating but I assume that is only str8 women? As a college educated African American women my dating options seem limitless.

  • http://www.21stcollegian.com Rishona Campbell

    @Damo@techjitsu:disqus n’s first comment – I am curious as to how old you are? I am 32 and I also grew up in the Pittsburgh, PA (Mon Valley) area. When I was in Jr./Sr. High School, dating interracially was still pretty taboo. People toyed with the idea…but you would be clowned for having “Jungle Fever”. If anything, White girls would hook up with Black guys. But in spite of some pregnancies popping up here and there, for the most part these relationships did not last (i.e. make it to the marriage stage).

    Today the situation seems to be quite different. I’m starting to see bi-racial children all over; in the Mon Valley at least. My own BF is White, but he is also 10 years younger than me (scandelous…I know); and his peers seem way more at ease with dating across the color line than my peers do/did. All over I notice young people…from the middle school ages on up who are in interracial relationships.

    A lot of these conversations talk about society’s and family acceptance of your interracial love interest. But the real key is acceptance of ourselves and our love interest. It will never work if you see your interracial relationship as a means to make a statement, or to live out some sort of fetish that you have. You have to love the soul first and firemost. And while it is true that souls are strongly influenced by nuturing and culture; that is NOT all that defines someone. I’ve dated many types of men from different backgrounds and places. But now I am comfortable with another low-income resident of the Mon Valley who shares and understands my lifestyle.

    Looking forward to the continuation of this series! :-)

    • Damon Young

      We’re the same age. (I’m more of an “Eastside” guy, but I have love for the Mon Valley too) But yeah, I went to a pretty mixed high school (Penn Hills), and the only (open) interracial relationship I can remember was between a black girl and a Vietnamese guy (And that didn’t really count, because everybody considered him to be black anyway, lol. He had more pairs of Tims and FUBU jeans than any of us!)

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cocojams-Jambalayah/100000590546331 Cocojams Jambalayah

      I’m another Pittsburgher who agrees with Rishona. There are A LOT  of interacial couples in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (mostly Black man/White woman) but also vice versa in much smaller numbers. 
      I’ve been living in Pittsburgh since 1969 and while there seems to have been an increase in interracial couples in the last forty years in this area, I can definitely recall seeing those couples forty years ago, mostly in the outlying working class communities outside the city of Pittsburgh itself.  And I also definitely recall seeing A LOT of children of Black/White ancestry in the city and nearby who appear to be raised by single White women and their families.Remember Pittsburgh, Pennslyvania only has about 20% Black population (12% in the county). Also, there are very few Latinos in Pittsburgh. And the Native Americans I’ve met ”had Black in them” and basically identified as Black people-though there probably were some other Native Americans I met who I just considered to be either Black, or White based on their physical appearance.  There are also noticiably increasing numbers of East Indians. Asians, and Middle Eastern people in the city of Pittsburgh and in the Pittsburgh area. But I rarely see any Black/East Indian. Black/Asian, or Black/Middle Eastern couples and very few children from those couplings (with the exception of one Black/Japanese male who would be about 35 or so now, and one Black/Filapino family I know. The children in that family identify as African American and as far as I know have all married African Americans). I should also note for the record that I don’t see many White/East Indian, White/Asian, or White/Middle Eastern couples or children of those couples…Just thought I would note all this for the record… But if the point was that a number of people in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania have problems with race/racism…I agree with that.

  • Sanoe

    I’m surprised at how positive or neutral some families are in regards to interracial dating.  When my mother (White) began dating my father (Black), her family disowned her until they divorced. I was raised by my mother and went to predominately White high schools. White girls who dated Black men were assumed to be acting up to anger their parents while White boys would sometimes joke about taking their dicks ‘chocolate dipping.’

    When a White friend of mine ended up pregnant by her Black boyfriend, I recall everyone gossiping about it. Most of my White school mates seem to think it was a type of punishment/comeuppance for dating outside her race.

    This was the 90s in a middle-class, liberal identified suburb of Portland, Oregon.  

    • Anonymous

      My wife wanted to move to Portland after we got married out of the belief that Portland was ‘color-blind’.

      • Rachel

        my experience with portland is that it is very white. 

    • Mickey

      My mom was a high school teacher and taught at a racially mixed high school that was still predominately white. She told of stories of white girls who dated black guys behind their parents’ backs and if they had a child, they would lie to their parents claiming that the father of their children was Latino so the parents would not be angry since Latinos were more accepted than blacks when it came to interracial dating.

  • Anonymous

    Growing up in Missouri in the 80′s-90′s, I was placed in a weird spot with interracial dating: my mother would thwart my dating prospects by telling me “you know that is your cousin, right?” whenever she saw me with a black girl. At a certain point, you start checking out the other prospects- regardless of how much she frowned or warned me that I could LITERALLY get lynched [it happened to one of my cousins].

    Further confusion came from the pre-Wesley Snipes era of “dark skin w/ thick lips is unattractive”- and black women telling me I was ugly, reminded them of JJ from ‘Good Times’ or Chris Rock when he played “Pookie” in ‘New Jack City’. So, why keep getting smacked down by one group when a different group was catching the ‘fever’ a la ‘Theo Huxtable’? I stopped trying to stay within the boundaries and just went wherever I was appreciated.

    • Anonymous

      Your mom seemed to have an aversion of you dating black girls. Why do you think that was?? Mostly black mothers encourage their black sons getting with black girls. 

      • Mickey

        I got the impression that his mom just didn’t want him dating, period.