Tag Archives: interracial relationships

Dating White Vs. Dating Light?

by Guest Contributor Danielle Small

black-couple-holding-handsI always thought relationships would get easier as I got older.

Back when I was in high school, I lived in a small Wisconsin town where white people were 95% of the population. Obviously, my high school boyfriend was white. Every time we went out in public we grew accustomed to the stares, the pointed fingers, the gasps, and the whispers. And that was the every day racism. There were also the not so subtle instances, like when a boy in his high school (we went to different high schools) went out of his way to get Taco Bell’s special Halloween black taco shells and put it in my boyfriend’s locker with a note that said, “Eat this, bitch.”

Needless to say, when I moved to New York for college, I was hopeful at the opportunity to somewhat escape the prominent role of racism in any future relationships.

But life is never that simple.

I’ve been with my current boyfriend for three years. He is mixed race, specifically German and Haitian and has light brown skin and wavy black hair. He identifies as black. I never really thought much of his physiognomy until I saw how other people perceived our relationship. Some of the troubling instances were all too familiar.

The first differences I noticed happened when I would hang out with any dark-skinned black male friend of mine. I noticed that most of the time my friends and I were together in public, someone would come up to us and say, “You’re such a cute couple” or “I can tell you’re in love.” They assumed we were together because we looked like we belonged together.

But when I’m out with my light-skinned wavy-haired man who I’m very much in love with, most people don’t assume we are together (unless we are engaging in hardcore PDA), let alone comment on how in love we are with each other. Unlike the times I was in the company of my dark-skinned male friends, people seemed to think there was a disconnect between our hues. My boyfriend and I did not look like we belonged together.

The most extreme example of people refusing to acknowledge our relationship took place when I lived in my school’s dorms one summer. My boyfriend slept most nights in my room for three straight months and my black suite mates still assumed he was just a friend. I mean, what else could we have done to hint at the contrary? Have sex in the communal kitchen?! Continue reading

Walking the Tightrope: Good Indian Girls, Race, and Bad Sexuality

By Guest Contributor Chaya Babu; originally published at Feminist Wire

Image by xpgomes11 on Flickr

Image by xpgomes11 on Flickr

I was a few weeks into my freshman year at Duke when my sister, a senior at the time, said to me, “Indian girls who date black guys are sluts.” Just like that.

We were sitting in her car in the circular driveway behind my dorm. The night was warm and wet in the late North Carolina summer. I had just told her about the budding flirtation with a boy from Memphis who lived across the grassy quad. I would spy him coming back from class and get the jitters. He asked me to help him study Spanish. I got excited just talking about it. And her sisterly response? Indian girls who date black guys are sluts.

I think I was already mildly aware of this idea. It had lurked in the periphery of my consciousness in high school because of the way my family looked suspiciously upon my adolescent tryst with a lanky, dark-skinned boy from a neighboring town and even my interest at a young age in hip hop music. They didn’t say anything, but they didn’t have to. The unspoken messages about how they viewed blackness and sexuality and the intersection of these two things – and how I was attaching myself to it – were successfully transmitted. And lately, at 30 years old, I wonder if I’m still working through them somewhere deep beneath the surface as I finally try to reclaim and redefine this part of my identity as my own.

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Awkward Interracial Dating: High Hopes for Season 2 of Awkward Black Girl

By Guest Contributor Tracey Ross

(Note: Spoilers if you did not watch episode 7.)

I’m the kind of girl who walks down the street and doesn’t realize I’ve been singing out loud. Or offers a pregnant lady a seat on the metro only to find out she’s not pregnant. I’m awkward. And black. This is why I love the web series Awkward Black Girl and, like many ABG fans, am counting down to the premiere of season two.

Towards the end of the first season, the audience was left with a cliffhanger episode where the star “J” (played by show creator Issa Rae) finds her two love interests “Fred” and “White Jay” at her doorstep. If it’s not obvious, White Jay is white. And Fred is black. Given the choice before J, the show created an unlikely platform for conversations about interracial dating, and spurred much debate over whether it is OK to date outside one’s race. We can expect season two to highlight J’s new relationship with White Jay, but it would be a mistake to allow the characters to fall into the familiar tropes used to depict interracial dating.

Typically, there are two ways television and movies handle interracial dating. The first is the traditional approach where the family has a problem with the relationship. From the 1967 classic “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” to the 2005 role reversal of “Guess Who.” The second is the imaginary, post-racial approach where no one seems to notice that the happy pair is an interracial couple. Not even the couple themselves, as seen on many new sitcoms. Continue reading

Sundance Pick: 2 Days In New York

“Madcap comedy” is the only phrase that really describes the absolute ridiculousness that is Julie Delpy’s 2 Days In New York. There really isn’t any other term that fits–the experience is akin to watching a circus unfold in your living room, which I assume is the point. Julie Delpy is Marion, a deeply eccentric Parisian-born artist based in New York who is trying to juggle the demands of a new and blended family with her art. When her French family is flying in to support her solo exhibition, her tranquil relationship with her radio host blipster husband Mingus (Chris Rock) is put to the test. Over 48 hours, the entire household is thrown into chaos.

A few things that happen in the film: a violation of sexual boundaries involving an electric toothbrush, wanton keying of limousines, smelly situations at customs, a French nudist captivates a bored American doctor, the children decide they want to be a dead princess and a dead bunny for Halloween, stoned shenanigans in the co-op elevator, and Marion sells her soul, which results in a minor brawl.

And did I mention a cardboard cutout of Barack Obama is a major character?

Delpy, who wrote and directed the film, makes the most out of the short screentime cramming in as much commentary on family life and the art world as she possibly can. A follow-up to 2 Days in Paris, Delpy balances the pace of her city subjects with the quiet calamity of modern life. The film spins so fast that in the middle of the madness, it takes more than half of the movie before I realize 2 Days in New York has managed to pull off an amazing depiction on an interracial relationship. Race is not the most important thing between Marion and Mingus, and it certainly isn’t their primary conflict throughout the film. Instead, where race intersects with their lives is subtle.

If race is blatantly brought up as part of the plot, it is often played for cringe-inducing laughs. Manu, Marion’s former flame who is currently dating her sister Rose, is a one-stop shop for racial ignorance posing as innocence. He tries to curry favor with Mingus’ sister Elizabeth (Malinda Williams) by saying she looks “just like Beyonce, only sexier.” Chagrined at finding out that Mingus doesn’t smoke weed, he off-handley remarks that Marion “found the only black guy in New York that doesn’t smoke.” And when Mingus’ friend from the Obama Administration comes to town, Mingus is mortified when Manu starts randomly calling him “Kumar.” (This friend was not played by Kal Penn.) Luckily, after a day or so, Manu is deported for lighting up in front of a police station.

2 Days in New York is a fun romp, with a strange, but satisfying ending that proves that love (mostly) conquers all.

Quoted: Diane Farr on White Privilege and Interracial Relationships

Diane Farr and Family

 Seung had been told, all his life, more or less, that he was not allowed to marry someone like me.

Pronunciation aside, it hadn’t occurred to me that Seung and I made a mismatched couple. Mixed-race yes, but I couldn’t fathom that my race could make me the “wrong kind of girl” for anyone.

Yes, it was white privilege that blinded me to the fact I might be the bottom of the barrel on someone else’s race card.

Perhaps even more so because I have been listening to the dialogue about how to make America more post-racial — mostly as it pertains to black and white culture — for so long that it never occurred to me that an Asian immigrant family might cry foul when their son fell in love with an all-American girl like me. [...]

This man I had woken up with earlier in the day now seemed like a stranger to me. Specifically, he seemed like someone of another culture that I didn’t know or understand. Which was in fact true, because as much as we had in common, I was completely unaware of what it meant to grow up Asian-American — both in his home and in the outside world. [...]

Using my words, gently and respectfully, in many, many, many subsequent conversations about how I felt did in fact lead Seung Yong and I to marry — with the full support of all our parents.

But it was only through continuous dialogue — at the dinner table with friends who could advise us, and using calm voices in the bedroom with one another, and keeping an open mind on the couch at the therapist’s office — that we were able to find a way to make our familial cultures meet in the middle at our mutual American one.

 

“His parents said, ‘Not with a white girl’,” Dianne Farr writing for CNN’s Defining America series

(Image Credit: CNN)

(Thanks to reader Mickey for the tip!)

Mixed Media Watch: Love Bites and Single Ladies Showcase Interracial Relationships

Love Bites
Single Ladies

Is it more realistic to paint a world where interracial relationships don’t matter at all, or one where race is just one of many issues?

In most projects that make it to both the large and small screen race is either the largest issue for the couple being portrayed, or it isn’t mentioned at all. Two new shows spent the summer season exploring the tangled world of race and relationships: but where VH1′s Single Ladies chose a racially aware way to present interracial relationships, Love Bites chose intentional color blindness…which ultimately reverted into the usual predominantly white cast with the occasional PoC best friends (and one foray with Donald Faizon).


Love Bites pulled two million viewers last week as of the last recorded numbers – after a disappointing premiere Love Bites has limped along, able to be charming, but not much else. That’s a shame, since Cindy Chupack (the show creator, who dropped out as showrunner) was one of the talented main writers behind Sex and the City. And a lot of the cast has already moved on to other projects, so the project appears doomed. Continue reading

“Colorblindness,” “Illuminated Individualism,” Poor Whites, and Mad Men: The Tim Wise Interview, Part 2

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

Of course, I could talk to author/activist Tim Wise about 5,000 things all day long; he’s a fascinating conversationalist.  I even asked him a question on my mom’s behalf about the Tea Party.  (I relayed his response to her.)  We flowed from the problems of  “colorblind” rhetoric as social/political policy to what we do at the R, pop culture…including the politics of porn.

Cosby Show castAndrea Plaid: Let’s talk about addressing race and racism on TV, with the discussion about Mad Men and how it does or doesn’t do that.  What do you notice about how race and racism is addressed on TV, especially on shows that take place in contemporary times, like The Cosby Show, Friends, and Grey’s Anatomy?

Tim Wise: Mad Men, from what I understand, is a fairly realistic portrayal of that time. The question is, Why do people love [the show] so much, why do they so enjoy a period piece like this one, which portrays a slice of life, and a period where people of color aren’t present? That’s interesting to me sociologically.  But my question is not about Mad Men so much, as it is about other shows like Friends, which is in the contemporary period in New York, and yet there are no people of color around, or Grey’s Anatomy or the Cosby Show, where we can have representations of folks of color, and “race,” but rarely if ever deal with racism per se. So, they can have the occasional, or even central characters of color in the case of Grey’s or Cosby, but it’s as if these people never deal with racism in their lives. It’s not that every episode needs to be about race, but when virtually NO episodes are, that’s unrealistic. I mean, even a show my kids watch, in re-runs, That’s So Raven (with former Cosby star Raven Symone) had an episode about racism: a really good one in fact. If they could do it, why can’t these shows for adults do it?

AP: The flip of that is how working-class and poor whites are portrayed as a group of people others can feel free to turn their noses at due to their outspoken bigotry and/or their impoverished lives.  Latest case in point: Arlene and Sam Merlotte’s family, the Mickens, on True Blood.  Your thoughts?

TW: Well, there’s a long history of portraying bigots as backwoods “trash” or whatever, because it allows the hip, urbane TV viewer to assume an outsider stance, where we can say “oh, thank God I don’t know people like that!” Or, “I’m not like that.” It’s why whenever one of the talk shows, like Jerry Springer or whatever would have on a racist family, it would always be some family from rural Georgia or whatever, missing teeth, mispronouncing words, or whatever. But of course, people can be elites and incredibly racist, without slurs, without bad dentition, without any overt signs of bigotry, because they have the power to do their stuff in private: old boy’s networks for hiring and contracts, zoning laws that restrict where people can live and where they can’t, etc.

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Is Star Trek Exposing Your Latent Racial Issues?

by Latoya Peterson

I came across this gem while browsing the Hathor Legacy.  Blogger Ankhesen Mié has been watching the debate on fan forums about the Trek reboot (specifically the Spock-Uhura relationship) and decided to create a quiz around some of the most common sentiments:

1)    Do you feel horrified when you see Spock kiss a woman who looks like Uhura, and don’t know why?

2)    Do you look at Zoe Saldana and feel you “just can’t trust her” but can’t say why?

3)    Do you think Uhura’s not a very feminine character, but just can’t say why?

4)    Would you prefer Spock to be with Christine Chapel over Uhura?

5)    Do you think the Spock/Uhura relationship—in the story—is controversial because of Uhura?

6)    Do you consider yourself a “die-hard” Trek fan but still don’t agree with the pairing?

7)    Have you watched all things Trek—shows, films, interviews, etc. pertaining to this cast—and still think this pairing “came out of nowhere”?

8)    Do you think the kissing was “just wrong” and that Zachary Quinto was hurt by the writers? Continue reading