Tag Archives: relationships

Online Dating Shows Us The Cold Hard Facts About Race in America

By Jenny L. Davis, PhD; originally published at Sociological Images

Quartz, a business and marketing website, recently released data on the Facebook dating app Are You Interested, which connects single people with others within the confines of their Facebook networks. Quartz’ data are based on a series of yes-or-no questions about who users are interested in, as well as response rates between users, once notified of a potential suitor. The data show that white men and Asian women receive the most interest, whereas black men and women receive the least amount of interest. The writers at Quartz summarize the findings as follows:

Unfortunately the data reveal winners and losers. All men except Asians preferred Asian women, while all except black women preferred white men. And both black men and black women got the lowest response rates for their respective genders.

Here’s what the data looks like:

1

As a sociologist, I am entirely unsurprised that race matters, especially in such a personal process like dating/mating. However, these findings may come as a surprise to the (quite significant) segments of the population who identify as color-blind; those who label contemporary society post-racial.

And this is why dating sites are so cool. Social psychologists know that what people say and what they do have little empirical connection. Dating sites capture what we do, and play it back for us. They expose who we are, who we want, and of course, who we don’t want. As shown by Quartz, “we” fetishize Asian women while devaluing black people.

With a schism between what people say and what they do; between what they say and what the unconsciously think,  surveys of racial attitudes are always already quite limited.  People can say whatever they want — that race doesn’t matter, that they don’t see color — but when it comes to selecting a partner, and the selection criteria are formalized through profiles and response decisions, we, as individuals and a society, can no longer hide from ourselves. The numbers blare back at us, forcing us to prosume uncomfortable cultural and identity meanings both personally and collectively.

Indeed, before anyone has answered anything, the architecture of online dating sites say a lot.  Namely, by defining what can be preferences at all, they tell us which characteristics are the ones about which we are likely to care; about which we should care.

Both the user data and the presence of racial identification and preference in the first place are revealing, demolishing arguments about colorblindness and post-racial culture.

Jenny L. Davis, PhD, is in the department of sociology at James Madison University. She studies social psychology, experimental research methods, and new and social media. She is also a contributing author and editor at Cyborgology.  You can follow her at @Jenny_L_Davis.

Trayvon Martin’s Parents are Still Co-Parenting—Through Death and Zimmerman’s Trial

 

Tracy Martin and Sabrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin's parents

Tracy Martin and Sabrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s parents

By Guest Contributor Deesha Philyaw; originally published at My Brown Baby

A friend recently sent me an MSNBC article about Trayvon Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, and the trial ofGeorge Zimmerman which began last week.  As the co-founder  of co-parenting101.org and the co-author of Co-Parenting 101: Helping Your Kids Thrive in Two Households After Divorce (both in collaboration with my ex-husband), I was particularly struck by a 2012 photo accompanying the article, a photo of Fulton and Martin holding hands as they listened to the charges being filed against Zimmerman.  It occurred to me that this moving image stood in stark contrast to the image of co-parents that tends to dominate the cultural conversation about parents of children who live between two households: Combative, not conciliatory.  Difficult, not cooperative…and certainly not comforting.

The larger culture generally expects co-parents to be disagreeable with each other.  Fights over child support or one parent’s (usually the father’s) lack of parental participation are familiar reality TV show fodder.  A few years ago, I cringed while watching a scene from Basketball Wives LA in which two divorced African-American co-parents screamed at each other in a therapy session, airing all of their dirty laundry… as their teenaged daughters, also in the session, looked on.

This expectation of conflict and animosity between co-parents is so great, that congenial co-parents are sometimes viewed with suspicion; surely one of them must still be carrying a torch for the other.  I consider this kind of presumption to be a failure of imagination–and a failure to recognize that congeniality between exes can simply be a reflection of two people choosing to love their child more than they dislike or mistrust each other.

And it doesn’t–or shouldn’t–take a situation as tragic and extreme as what Trayvon’s parents are going through to bring co-parents to the point of civility.  For some parents, it’s simply an outgrowth of the love they have for their children, and a desire to spare them exposure to on-going adult drama that pulls them in opposite directions. Some co-parents get along (even if it’s just going through the motions) in order to reassure their children that they still belong to a loving family–albeit across two separate households.

There’s much “what about the children” hand-wringing over single-mom headed households and low black marriage rates, owing in part to the politics of respectability, but also in part to concern over the poor socioeconomic outcomes that many children of single parents experience.  However, as the child of a single mother, I know that these outcomes don’t have to be foregone conclusions.  And as a co-parent, I know too that having both fit, willing, loving, and responsible parents play an active role in a child’s life can lead to positive outcomes, even if the parents are not married and living under the same roof.

As co-parents, we must do the hard work required to heal from our break-ups; to recognize that child support is neither a punishment nor an admission price to see a child; and to honor our child’s relationship with the other parent, however imperfect, as separate from the relationship we had with this person. Devoted parents will speak of being willing to die for our children, but are we willing to truly live for them? Even to the point of moving past personal hurts and disappointments, for their sake?

We don’t know what Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin’s co-parenting situation was like before Trayvon’s death.  If it was a high-conflict situation, that surely doesn’t matter now.  In a very public and united way, Fulton and Martin are grieving and seeking justice on behalf of their son, as co-parents, regardless of the circumstances that ended their marriage in 1999, and regardless of what has transpired between them since.  And there’s a lesson for all co-parents in this.  Whatever happened or happens between the adults, co-parented children deserve to have both their parents loving, protecting, championing, and guiding them.  This is their right.

Despite the differences that led Trayvon Martin’s parents to divorce, there is much that they undoubtedly still share: love for the son they have lost, memories of him, grief and sadness that his young life was taken so violently, and a desire to see justice served.  They have looked beyond themselves, traveling extensively here and abroad to reach out to the families of others’ whose lives were cut short by racial and gun violence.  Looking beyond themselves and beyond their differences is what all co-parents are called to do in order to partner effectively in service to their children.  Fulton and Martin are doing this under horrific circumstances that the vast majority of co-parents will never have to face.  The nightmare they are living puts more typical co-parenting challenges into a humbling, sobering perspective.

We don’t have hold hands with our child’s other parent in order to create the respectful, mature parenting partnerships our children deserve.  We just have to be willing and committed to keeping the focus on our children’s needs and well-being, not our adult gripes and regrets.  It’s not easy; sometimes you have to be the bigger co-parent, sometimes you’re the only one willing to cooperate, and sometimes you have to fake it til you make it.  But our kids are worth it.

Deesha Philyaw is the co-founder of co-parenting101.org and co-author of Co-Parenting 101: Helping Your Kids Thrive In Two Households After Divorce, both in collaboration with her ex-husband. She is a Pittsburgh-based mom and stepmom to four daughters.

Wild Seed [Octavia Butler Book Club]

Wild Seed cover

Doro discovered the woman by accident when he went to see what was left of one of his seed villages. The village was a comfortable mud-walled palace surrounded by grasslands and scattered trees. But Doro realized before he reached it that it’s people were gone. Slavers had been to it before him. With their guns and their greed, they had undone in a few hours the work of a thousand years. Those villagers they had not herded away, they had slaughtered. Doro found human bones, hair, bits of desiccated flesh missed by scavengers. He stood over a very small skeleton – the bones of a child – and wondered where the survivors had been taken. Which country or New World colony? How far would he have to travel to find the remnants of what had been a healthy, vigorous people?

Finally, he stumbled away from the ruins bitterly angry, not knowing or caring where he went. It was a matter of pride with him that he protected his own. Not the individuals, perhaps, but the groups. They gave him their loyalty, their obedience, and he protected them.

He had failed. Continue reading

More musings on interracial relationships

by Guest Contributor Ryan Barrett, originally published at Cheap Thrills

I noticed a funny thing while visiting my family in D.C. for Christmas. Simply put: every female in the house (my mom and aunt, who are African-American, and me and my cousin, who are interracial) was either involved with or married to a White man.

Hmm…

That’s curious.

The truth is, the topic of interracial dating is always bubbling in the back of my mind. I went out on a limb and wrote a post about it some time ago on this blog, which got me into some deep water with a few of my readers (a disagreement that I haven’t fully resolved in my mind).

But just recently, the issue resurfaced during a conversation I had with a fellow blogger (a White male) about how personal Obama’s candidacy was to many Americans. I know, I know… interracial relationships? Obama? The two are linked, sure, but they don’t really go together. Which is what made the conversation so poignant.

My friend asked me whether or not Obama was well liked among the African-American side of my family.

“Of course!” I exclaimed. “My family has always held a fondness for Obama. But what truly won our hearts – well, mostly for my mother and aunt – was his marriage to a dark-skinned African-American woman.”

“Wow, really? Even though they’re both married to White men?” My friend was baffled. “That’s… strange.”

Before that point, I had never thought of it as strange at all. But maybe it is. And after that, a troubling question began creeping into my mind: do some Black women hold an interracial relationship double standard? Continue reading

Are We Too Intense?

by Guest Contributor Wendi Muse

While having dinner with a work mate of mine last night, I ended up discussing acceptance of whites into communities of color and vice versa in addition to interracial relationships. My friend, who is white, noted that I often “didn’t give people enough credit,” and made me to come to the ultimate conclusion that I have a rather pessimistic view of race relations in America, and quite frankly, within the world as a whole. As a black woman, I look around me and am constantly reminded that the group to which I belong is rarely seen as beautiful (unless enhanced by synthetic means of infinitely approaching whiteness), or intelligent, or responsible, or equal. But our discussion made me reflect on the source of my expectations for others.

Was I being harsh because of my personal experiences in which racism worked as a key element in rejection or could it be that people really had changed and I had not given them the chance to demonstrate? Continue reading