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Love in Black and White Pt II

By Aïda Croal

Even Rebecca, who has dated interracially, finds herself taking issue with certain black men who do the same. "You see attractive black guys with some of these women and you think, damn, he'd rather be with the skankiest-looking white chick than with a black woman."

Interracial liaisons are as old as time. "Anyone who knows anything about American history knows that there has been a tremendous amount of interracial intimacy, of interracial sex, coerced in some cases," says Harvard Law School professor Randall Kennedy. The plantation slave system gave white masters ample sexual access to their black property. In some instances, like the famed relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, the participants were even said to be in love. Kennedy, who is currently working on a book that discusses the legacy of racial mixing in American history and will include a chapter on Jefferson and Hemings, says. "It shows something about the other side of American consciousness.We have in fact a much more multiracial society than many people want to acknowledge." 

Post-slavery, the simple suggestion of an interracial liaison could result in a lynching death for the black man involved. During the Harlem Renaissance, however, bohemian blacks and whites found underground ways to come together for art, culture and sex. The civil rights 60's brought blacks and whites together again, resulting in a number of interracial unions and by 1967, the Supreme Court's Loving v. Virginia decision struck down anti-miscegenation laws (some which had been on the books since 1661). The legal right to intermarry has been won, but for many blacks today the fear is that too much intermarriage is destroying the African American community.

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Situational considerations such as class, geography and occupation also affect the decision to date and marry interracially. Interracial marriage is twice as frequent among blacks who have completed post-graduate studies and as much as five times more frequent for those in the military. And while mixed marriages among blacks and whites in the South continue to be infrequent, recent studies say that 32% of the black men in the Pacific Northwest, 20% in California, 30% in the Rocky Mountain states, and 19% in the New England states married outside their race.

Some say power is the greatest aphrodisiac and that black men and women who date outside of their race are simply trying to climb the social ladder. Others claim that, in a culture of sameness, the exotic notion of "the other" plays a large role (and that both black and white people are curious about the truth behind racial stereotypes - Are white women and Asian women really more submissive? Are black men really better endowed?). These factors are to a certain extent, unquantifiable; few people would admit to choosing their mates for such superficial qualities.

These days, as Americans of all backgrounds are trying to figure out the dating game, many are desperately turning to personal ads and the internet to meet that special someone. And many are turning to mates outside of their race. As the debate continues to rage and the numbers continue to swell, only time will tell if these aspiring lovers are truly finding the right love connection.

Copyright Africana.com All rights reserved. Reprinted at www.beautyworlds.com with permission.

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