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The lack marriage of prospects for Black women and a different way of looking at the problem
August 7, 2011 10:33 AM   Subscribe

"I'm trying to get to a point where I accept that marriage may never happen for me."

Audrey belongs to the most unmarried group of people in the U.S.: black women. Nearly 70% of black women are unmarried, and the racial gap in marriage spans the socioeconomic spectrum, from the urban poor to well-off suburban professionals.

African-American Professor of Law Ralph Richard Banks has an intriguing solution: Interracial marriage.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (183 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
More than two million men are now imprisoned in the U.S., and roughly 40% of them are African-American. At any given time, more than 10% of black men in their 20s or 30s—prime marrying ages—are in jail or prison.

Tragic and unforgivable.
posted by bowline at 10:48 AM on August 7, 2011 [25 favorites]


Does unmarried mean single or single, divorced, widowed, in an umarried stable relationship or civil union, etc.?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:51 AM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


OK, right at the outset, I have to point this out. The biggest reason why there is a shortage of marriageable black men isn't mentioned at all in the article. The US' absurd war on drugs. End the drug war that imprisons black men by the millions, and you will fix this problem within one generation.

That having been said, as a white man married to a black woman, I'm not really comfortable with the idea of being portrayed as the solution to a problem. How about this: marry who you love, regardless of their race? It worked for Mrs. Deadmessenger and I.
posted by deadmessenger at 10:55 AM on August 7, 2011 [102 favorites]


It looks like at least some data is broken down by cohabitation (.pdf, page 37). That data is from 2002, and pulls from CDC/NCHS, National Survey of Family Growth, Cycle 6 (2002). It looks like this is the latest data-set from that particular survey. I'm not sure what data the article is operating off of.

OK, right at the outset, I have to point this out. The biggest reason why there is a shortage of marriageable black men isn't mentioned at all in the article. The US' absurd war on drugs. End the drug war that imprisons black men by the millions, and you will fix this problem within one generation.

I think they mention it circuitously by claiming incarceration of black men as one of the elements of the situation, but it's true, it's never directly named for what it is.
posted by codacorolla at 11:00 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, so yet another fucking reason it's all our fault. Is this editorial writer fucking joking? He cites no statistics, and the only stats he references point to the idea that black women are the least desired dating partners - and it has nothing to do with who they want to date.

Here's a couple easily googleable examples, because he couldn't be bothered to point out the stats in the first half of his article, seeing as how the lack of stats in the second half would highly contrast - Satoshi Kanazawa says Black women are 'least attractive'. and OKCupid says men don't write black women back.

In contrast, it is nothing but pure anecdata to state that black women don't/won't date non-black men -- so of course, it's our fault for remaining single (and less often, childless, which is a separate issue he doesn't get into, but should have).

Additional bullshit:
"Even if a majority of white men are uninterested in dating black women, that still leaves more than enough eligible white men for every single black woman in America."

I'd (again) like to see stats on this. Please include not just what people say, but what they do. Also, what about the many guys who'll date but not marry black women? And what about the guys who see black women as fetish objects instead of partners?
posted by lesli212 at 11:01 AM on August 7, 2011 [54 favorites]


My apologies, deadmessenger, the "intriguing solution" was my wording. A better way to phrase would be "African-American Professor of Law Ralph Richard Banks suggests an intriguing alternative: Interracial marriage."

Oh, so yet another fucking reason it's all our fault.

Who's "our"?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:04 AM on August 7, 2011


I'm a black woman. Sorry, I left that part out in my grrariness. But now you know.
posted by lesli212 at 11:05 AM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Given her milk-chocolate complexion, green eyes and curly hair, Cecelia worried that a biracial baby might come out looking white. Cecelia wanted chocolate babies not just so they would stay connected to black culture, but for another reason as well: So that no one would ever question whether they were hers. With biracial children, she feared that she might be mistaken for the nanny. Many black women share her anxiety about having a biracial child.

Ok, so this is, sadly, right on the nose. Our (biracial) daughter has sandy blond hair, hazel eyes, and a very light complexion. Most people would NEVER know that she's biracial from looking at her, and the "nanny" thing came up more than once when our daughter was little.
posted by deadmessenger at 11:06 AM on August 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh, so yet another fucking reason it's all our fault. Is this editorial writer fucking joking? He cites no statistics, and the only stats he references point to the idea that black women are the least desired dating partners - and it has nothing to do with who they want to date.

Cite please?

And what about the guys who see black women as fetish objects instead of partners?

I REALLY want to see a cite for that, please.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:08 AM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well that was a patronizing little article.

I kept waiting for some sort of stat for the number of unmarried black women, how many wished to be married. That was the subtext of the article, right? But instead it was basically a "ur doing it rong" lecture.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 11:08 AM on August 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm wondering if it makes sense to categorize people according to skin colour here. It's more about culture and shared experiences, isn't it? Is "interracial marriage" such a big deal anymore? BTW, I'm writing this from Canada's West Coast, so I am not all that familiar with American realities beyond what I read or absorb through media.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:09 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


so, what about the many guys who'll date but not marry black women?

Very true. When we first started dating, Mrs. Deadmessenger was warned by one of her aunts that "white boys don't stick around." This aunt later apologized to her (and indirectly me), after it became clear that I had stuck around.
posted by deadmessenger at 11:10 AM on August 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


That's interesting lesli212, I didn't see the article as blaming black women, but looking at several factors which contribute to the disparity. I don't understand your viewpoint, could you explain why you think it's blaming black women?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:11 AM on August 7, 2011


I REALLY want to see a cite for that, please.

Presumably personal experience.
posted by atrazine at 11:12 AM on August 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm wondering if it makes sense to categorize people according to skin colour here. It's more about culture and shared experiences, isn't it?

In the U.S., skin color and shared culture and experiences are tied together very tightly.
posted by rtha at 11:12 AM on August 7, 2011


hal_c_on: "Cite please?"

I was summarizing the author here; I'd like a citation too.


"I REALLY want to see a cite for that, please
"

Again, I'd love a cite for that too; my point is that, as far as I know, there aren't any stats, but the author doesn't take that into consideration in service of his larger point.
posted by lesli212 at 11:13 AM on August 7, 2011


No apology necessary at all, Brandon. I actually didn't even notice your use of the word solution - I was commenting about the article itself.
posted by deadmessenger at 11:13 AM on August 7, 2011


>>And what about the guys who see black women as fetish objects instead of partners?

>I REALLY want to see a cite for that, please.


Here's a black woman, posting her personal experience on MeFi, and you want a cite? This is choice.
posted by stbalbach at 11:14 AM on August 7, 2011 [36 favorites]


In short, it looks like the deck is stacked against black women. (Surprise!) And on top of that, a tendency for black women to stack the deck against themselves. The latter seems to be the more novel part of the equation.

This kind of fits my anecdotal observation.


I'm wondering if it makes sense to categorize people according to skin colour here. It's more about culture and shared experiences, isn't it?


For better or worse, probably yes.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:14 AM on August 7, 2011


If only black people could be more like white people, they'd be normal.
posted by cashman at 11:14 AM on August 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


It's more about culture and shared experiences, isn't it?

Well yes, definitely, but it's a heavily-qualified 'yes': culture and shared experiences are still, unfortunately, very highly correlated to skin color in a lot of places. I don't know if we really want to go down this road, but there's definitely a race/class/culture ouroboros that feeds on itself and is deeply interrelated.

And yeah, interracial marriage is still a big deal in some parts of the U.S. Even in some 'liberal' places, it's like homosexuality: perfectly fine in the abstract, as long as it's somebody else's kids are doing it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:17 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I REALLY want to see a cite for that, please"

Again, I'd love a cite for that too; my point is that, as far as I know, there aren't any stats, but the author doesn't take that into consideration in service of his larger point.


Purely anecdata, but some of the comments I've heard over the years from my friends confirm this beyond the slightest shred of doubt, at least in my mind.
posted by deadmessenger at 11:17 AM on August 7, 2011


Yeah, maybe this varies regionally, but the black women I went to law school with (in the Midwest) did not constrain themselves to dating only black men. If they didn't get dates with non-black men, it wasn't because they weren't willing to date non-black men. (I do wonder if there are differences in cities like Washington D.C., that have a long history of a black middle/upper class, that doesn't exist in some other cities.)
posted by devinemissk at 11:18 AM on August 7, 2011


From the OKCupid stats: "Black women are by far the most likely to respond to a first contact attempt. In many cases, their response rate is one and a half times the average, and, overall, black women reply about a quarter more often that other women.... Black women reply the most, yet get by far the fewest replies. Essentially every race—including other blacks—singles them out for the cold shoulder."

The chart of reply rates across races also suggests that they are the MOST willing to date outside their race. So all of that is very disheartening, and makes it seem like they're making an effort to date outside their race, and to get dates in general, and are getting snubbed across the board.
posted by naju at 11:19 AM on August 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


@KokuRyu I'm wondering if it makes sense to categorize people according to skin colour here. It's more about culture and shared experiences, isn't it?
In part, but the fear that offspring will have Caucasian features is purely a racial issue.
posted by jwhite1979 at 11:20 AM on August 7, 2011


Well, Brandon, one thing I agree with in the article was that the weariness over the "oh not another crazy things I do with my hair discussion*" is really symbolic of my weariness over having yet another conversation about "why it's our fault that black women are single".

I see this article as part of a larger narrative that blames black women for their own choices because I've seen it so many times. Steve Harvey might be the most outspoken and obnoxious promoter of this idea, but the idea that the choices black women make are self-sabotaging is a frequent undercurrent of the "why black women are single" literature. The most frequent culprits I encounter are that we're overeducated (and refuse to hide it) and that makes black men feel stupid; and that we're over-salaried (and refuse to pretend we're not), and that emasculates black men who can't be providers for us.

For a quick, good rundown for those who are more interested, here's a search for marriage over on racialicious, for example. One of my favorites is, you can't find a man because you're wasting your time in Church! This one is a classic example of the genre.



*I once had a funny one about horse semen (it wasn't horse semen).
posted by lesli212 at 11:27 AM on August 7, 2011 [24 favorites]


Whenever I watch British TV shows - especially soap opera-type shows like EastEnders - my American eyes are always struck by the number of interracial relationships, and the ways in which they're portrayed (that is, they are unremarkable). I don't watch much American daytime TV (unless there's a L&O marathon on and I'm home sick), and not much American broadcast primetime TV, true, but I can't think of more than a couple of shows where there are interracial relationships at all, let alone ones that are portrayed as just an ordinary part of life.
posted by rtha at 11:27 AM on August 7, 2011 [16 favorites]


Here in Chicago they have (or used to anyway) an annual "Expo for Today's Black Woman". Every single year the was a half-day seminar on (parphrasing) "How to Find A Good Man." The paragraph description always seemed to dance around the issues of education, employment, and incarceration. It's a real issue, albeit one I don't uderstand the way those affected must.

With that said, the quote from the woman who turned down a man because she "wanted to have chocolate babies.", that rubbed me the wrong way. Perhaps I should just be glad, than unlike African Americans, or devout Jews, I don't have to consider the preservation of a culture when making marital choices.
posted by timsteil at 11:28 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


stbalbach: "Here's a black woman, posting her personal experience on MeFi, and you want a cite? This is choice"

I actually completely disagree. My experience is anecdata; I love cites, and we need a bigger idea of what's going on rather than, "Uh, my hairdresser's best friend told me."
posted by lesli212 at 11:28 AM on August 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


Is "interracial marriage" such a big deal anymore?

Unfortunately yes. At the personal anecdote level, one of my wife's friends from semi-rural Ohio married a black man and as a result was ostracized by family in her parent's (boomer) and older generations. In my experience this part of Ohio is pretty much as close to the definition of "mainstream" America as you get. Not so hostile as the deep south to racial issues, not so progressive as the coasts or larger cities.

It comes as no surprise that at the current moment African American women are playing against a stacked deck of cultural habits, prejudice and expectations, from all sides, on these issues.
posted by meinvt at 11:29 AM on August 7, 2011


@ Leslie212 I'd (again) like to see stats on this. Please include not just what people say, but what they do. Also, what about the many guys who'll date but not marry black women? And what about the guys who see black women as fetish objects instead of partners?
Is there a difference between a guy who is attracted to black women and a fetishist? Does the desire to pursue a lasting relationship turn a fetishist into a non-fetishist? If a white man is attracted to blondes with blue eyes but doesn't want to pursue a relationship, is he a fetishist when he seeks them out for casual encounters. I'm willing to go with you on this, but my first impression is that "fetishist" is a way of making white guys uncomfortable for thinking black women are hot.
posted by jwhite1979 at 11:29 AM on August 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


You should really email that OkCupid link to Prof. Banks, lesli212. OkCupid loves producing interesting and/or socially beneficial statistics from their data. I'd imagine they'd happily give him any data he wanted.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:31 AM on August 7, 2011


You should really email that OkCupid link to Prof. Banks, lesli212. OkCupid loves producing interesting and/or socially beneficial statistics from their data. I'd imagine they'd happily give him any data he wanted.

Well, he has a book on the subject due out on Sept. 1st, so thumbing through that should be interesting.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:33 AM on August 7, 2011


Maybe this is a hijack, and maybe this is a TMI hijack at that, but reading articles like this (when I'm not deconstructing them for problematic assumptions) always makes me feel as if I'm abdicating a duty that I have.

As a statistical rarity (at least, the way these articles always describe it, a well-off, educated black guy is hard to find), I feel as if I have a responsibility to marry a black woman in the same category.

But I'm also gay. Oops!
posted by subversiveasset at 11:34 AM on August 7, 2011 [38 favorites]


but the fear that offspring will have Caucasian features is purely a racial issue.

No, that has a social/cultural component too, if the fear on the mother's part is that she will be assumed to be (and treated as) the child's nanny in public. This plays into a long and troubling history of black women raising white children both during and after slavery.
posted by scody at 11:34 AM on August 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


You shouldn't worry too much about tourists/fetishists. I'd imagine they'll happily stick around for the long haul if they meet the right girl. In fact, there is way more risk they'd stick around even with the wrong girl, well I know one who did that.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:35 AM on August 7, 2011


Perhaps I should just be glad, than unlike African Americans, or devout Jews, I don't have to consider the preservation of a culture when making marital choices.

Well, you could if you really wanted to I suppose.
posted by Winnemac at 11:36 AM on August 7, 2011


jwhite1979: "Is there a difference between a guy who is attracted to black women and a fetishist? "

I knew someone was going to ask this. Yes, there is. It's hard to explain, but I'll try. I've often seen Asian (or part Asian) women explain it really well, but I can't think of an example at the moment. I think, in the US at least, they have to deal with fetishists more often than any other demographic.

I can only think to put it like this: there's a difference between a guy that wants you because you're X, a guy who wants you despite the fact that you're X, and a guy that wants you because you're hot, smart, awesome, and he's attracted to you.

So yeah, it's just as possible to be creepily attracted to only blue-eyed blondes. It's the creep factor, not the demographic.
posted by lesli212 at 11:38 AM on August 7, 2011 [29 favorites]


Is "interracial marriage" such a big deal anymore?

Unfortunately yes. At the personal anecdote level, one of my wife's friends from semi-rural Ohio married a black man and as a result was ostracized by family in her parent's (boomer) and older generations.


My sister is marrying a black man later this month, and it's been a bit of an issue with my parents and the extended family in general. They've tried to frame their objections based on age (he's 10-15 years younger than her), but they've never made any similar objections or even brought up the point in previous age-inequitable relationships she's had with white men.

I think they've gotten over their bullshit, but overall the entire experience of her dating and living with him and now marrying him have left a decidedly racist portrait of my (until now generally not outwardly racist) immediate and extended family.

I won't be going to the wedding, but that's because my sister still refuses to acknowledge my relationship with the man I've been with for nearly 20 years at this point. But that's neither here nor there in a discussion about interracial marriage, which has been legal far longer than homosexuals have had realistic dreams of not being excluded from mainstream relationship dynamics.
posted by hippybear at 11:40 AM on August 7, 2011 [22 favorites]


There's always implicit blame lingering around the edges of this issue... "Black women aren't marrying guys who make less money than them - they're so shallow!" or "Black women are just too picky - they should lower their standards!" or "Black women aren't marrying white men - they're so racist!"

The article did fairly well with the first two, but crap crap crap at the last one.

The authors didn't even look at the possibility that men of other races aren't open to dating black women, despite it being the more likely scenario with the history of race relations in this country (they just vaguely mention it and then hand wave it away). Instead, it's only black women keeping themselves from interracial relationships.

I think that's why, despite some other even-handed information including in the article, it draws ire.

And what about the guys who see black women as fetish objects instead of partners?

I REALLY want to see a cite for that, please.


Are you really unaware this is a fetish or do you want actual population numbers? Race is deeply fetishized (interracial porn is a huge category), and it's not just about guys who salivate over petite Asian chicks. Just browse Craigslist's sex ads and you'll find lots of guys looking for black women based solely on the stereotypes around them.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 11:41 AM on August 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


@scodyNo, that has a social/cultural component too, if the fear on the mother's part is that she will be assumed to be (and treated as) the child's nanny in public. This plays into a long and troubling history of black women raising white children both during and after slavery.


For sure. I shouldn't have said that it is "purely" a racial issue, as if there were no cultural considerations. What I meant was that the issue would not arise if both people were of the same race; race has to be considered if we're talking about this at all.
posted by jwhite1979 at 11:44 AM on August 7, 2011


wow hippybear, you're living in an episode of The Golden Girls! I hope you someday get as happy an ending as they did.
posted by lesli212 at 11:45 AM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Is there a difference between a guy who is attracted to black women and a fetishist? "

One is attracted to black women for who they are, the other is attracted to black women for the image they have of black women in their head.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:47 AM on August 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


FWIW I read this in the actual paper, what two days ago? And while it was intriguing, isn't there just the slightest chance, this is just another college professor, who published something he was pretty certain was going to raise a lot of folks' hackles, to gain himself some notoriety, get his face on TV for the next ten days, and raise his academic profile? Given he is African-American, and telling African-American women to just go marry a white guy already adds some fuel to the argument I suppose. I think there is a degree of PT Barnum going on here, that everyone is too tied up in their visceral response of "YOU CAN'T SAY THAT!", to dig in the the method behind his, whatever you would call it.
posted by timsteil at 11:50 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This isn't specific to the black female question specifically, but the Pew Research Center now reports that 1 in 7 marriages in America is now interracial or between two people of different ethnic backgrounds. That's 14.6 percent overall - but to answer at least one of the upthread statistics questions, 15.5 percent of interracial marriages include one black spouse.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 11:51 AM on August 7, 2011


Is there a difference between a guy who is attracted to black women and a fetishist?

I think the more interesting (and uncomfortable-making) question is the opposite of this. Is someone who is completely unattracted to black women a racist? What if they are a black man? If the OKCupid data are true (which doesn't surprise me in the least), this seems to me to have a lot more to do with the media, beauty as a construct, cultural stereotypes, and how those relate to ongoing, insidious societal racism. The added level of blaming black women for this, which lesli describes, is adding even more insult to injury.
posted by drpynchon at 11:52 AM on August 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm always interested to see what OKCupid's blog has to say about racial issues, but I'm also always mindful of, you know, a small self-selected sample size and whatnot.
posted by box at 11:53 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is "interracial marriage" such a big deal anymore?

Surprisingly, it is. My aunt, a white woman, married a black man in the late 1970's -- second marriage for both. He was awesome, far more educated and financially stable and all-around a better guy than my aunt's first husband, but my grandfather disowned her and her two children just the same. He "made amends"... decades later, only after they were divorced and she'd married another white guy.

My cousin is married to a black man, they have two teenage boys who look mostly like their dad, and most people assume she's their stepmother. She's been accosted by strangers in public for "rejecting her own kind" (they live just outside Portland, in a weirdly rednecky area).

My officemate C. was married to a black man for fifteen years. Before their wedding she referred to her MIL-to-be as Mrs. Blank. After the wedding, she asked her MIL, "Can I call you mom now that we're family?" MIL responded, "You married my son, but we're not family. Call me Mrs. Blank." Five years later, when C. produced the family's only grandson, she asked again. "The boy can call my Grandma, he's my blood. You're not my blood." And on C's side, her big Irish Catholic family painted it as concern for the future offspring of the marriage -- C.'s so pale and Irish looking, but surely the children would be brown, and wouldn't that be confusing for everyone, and cruel to the child?

And that's just the black/white marriages I know of. The Asian/white, Asian/black marriages are a whole other kettle of fish that someone else could probably touch on...
posted by palomar at 12:00 PM on August 7, 2011 [5 favorites]



One is attracted to black women for who they are, the other is attracted to black women for the image they have of black women in their head.



How 'bout if one is attracted to large breasted women for who they are, the other is attracted to large breasted women for the image they have of black women in their head?

The fetish thing is a fine line. If you're attracted to trait X, is it a fetish? You folks make it sound like a bad thing.
posted by 2N2222 at 12:05 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I certainly hope Mrs. C. taught her child to call his grandmother Mrs. Blank. /petty derail
posted by Space Kitty at 12:07 PM on August 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


The fetish thing is a fine line.

Eh, I don't think it is, really.
posted by cashman at 12:10 PM on August 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Well, crap. Maybe this explains why black women on OKC come on so strong when I reply. And by strong I don't mean sexually forward, I mean just way too intensely emotional or inappropriately romantic right off the bat in ways I haven't experienced with other demographics on OKC.

Even if I'm not interested I'm polite and I reply, but the few times that's happened that's often prompted even more intense 2nd messages, like the fact that I replied at all somehow means I could be convinced to change my mind or something?

And I've been struggling with this personally for a while. I'm a Euro/Scandinavian Euromutt. I'm really pale. Glow in the dark pale, blue eyes, straight dark hair, etc. I come from the land of ice and snow, I dream of furry boots and long boats - and I'm very much attracted to similar features.

I've only had one brief fling with a woman who was black and while I like her a lot as a person I really had a hard time getting over the fact that the biological or aesthetic attraction or whatever just wasn't really there. Sure, there was a lot of emotional and intellectual attraction which is why we were making out in the first place.

I'm still not sure if that makes me racist, though. I'm also not particularly attracted to blonde hair and a number of other physical features. There's definitely something intensely powerful regarding genetic/biological attraction in some people.

But none of my friends would care if I was in an interracial marriage or relationship. And I don't care if my parents would care - and they would, but it would be minimal, but it's not a deterrent at all. And I could really give a flying fuck about what society thinks, or what "conventional beauty" is. I'm very much attracted to unconventional beauty.

It actually bothers me that I'm somehow not able to be attracted to black women because it eliminates a major portion of cool, interesting people who I'd probably get along just fine with, but the physical attraction just isn't there for me personally.

Anyway, fast forward a couple of hundred years and we're all going to be a more similar shade of beige. At least those of us that aren't wearing polychrome nanotech tattoos.
posted by loquacious at 12:11 PM on August 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Many people here seem to conflate a bit. While related, white woman + black man is really a pretty different social dynamic than white man + black woman. The latter is far more rare, and a somewhat different set of issues. Social power and gender dynamic is opposite.

One nice thing, is that racism is at a huge historic disadvantage. Eventually there will be no "races", and everyone will look more or less the same. People will look back upon the era of such racial concerns with great curiosity.
posted by VikingSword at 12:13 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


In contrast, it is nothing but pure anecdata to state that black women don't/won't date non-black men -- so of course, it's our fault for remaining single (and less often, childless, which is a separate issue he doesn't get into, but should have).

It is anecdata but then I know *a lot* of black women, who, because they insist on dating black men, remain single or/and end up dating convicts. It makes absolutely no sense to me. At this point I've chalked it up to just another uniquely American mass delusion. The article is interesting if only because it should be basic common sense: if there are no marrigeable prospects within your race then buck up and look elsewhere.

What's also interesting (and here comes more anecdata) is that this actually appears to be kind of an East Coast thing. This problem isn't quite so pronounced on the West Coast and it actually looks like the "best cities" for interracial dating are all on the West Coast, particularly Seattle and San Francisco. Frankly it's something to consider if you're a black woman in NYC or Boston.
posted by nixerman at 12:15 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh FFS, not this again. And from that bastion of progressive social thought, the Wall Street Journal no less. Please. Has the writer of this article been living in a cave somewhere? If only it were as simple as Black women choosing who they wanted to date and marry. If only it were as simple as any woman being able to make that choice.

I kept waiting for some sort of stat for the number of unmarried black women, how many wished to be married. That was the subtext of the article, right? But instead it was basically a "ur doing it rong" lecture.

Yep. Sam Kinison used to do a joke about world hunger. The punch line was for the victims to wise up and move to where the food is. This article strikes me a being the same sort of mentality except it's no joke for millions of unmarried African American women who as a whole will hardly even be considered as a last resort by men of any race, mainly because of their race.

Steve Harvey might be the most outspoken and obnoxious promoter of this idea

With his despicable "romantic" history with Black women, it's rich for him to be trying to tell Black women what's wrong with them.

The only "intriguing" thing I find about the article is where it was published. If the author has enough juice to get published in places where the readership is probably not significantly comprised of AA women, perhaps he should consider directing his suggestions toward non-Black men. I think their (in general) unilateral disregard of Black women as marriageable or dateable is a large if not the larger factor in this issue.
posted by fuse theorem at 12:16 PM on August 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


i just....can't......white people.....i.......

to the color of people voluntarily scrambling to teach white people about their experiences and trying to convince them that your life exists while constantly being doubted: bless your hearts, i wish i had that much patience and energy.
posted by DJ Broken Record at 12:17 PM on August 7, 2011 [16 favorites]


people of color*
posted by DJ Broken Record at 12:17 PM on August 7, 2011


The fetish thing is a fine line. If you're attracted to trait X, is it a fetish? You folks make it sound like a bad thing.

It's less about the guys who are attracted to black (or insert other feature) women, and more about guys who approach and pursue you solely for that reason, expect you to fall in line with stereotypes, and ignore the rest of your worth or personality. I think people are largely more familiar with the fetish for Asian women in this regard, but the dynamic exists for many women who have features that get fetishized.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 12:17 PM on August 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


Fetishim is really not a fine line, but it is a blurry one, and people have different levels of comfort for how much they'll accept being a sex object to another person, and how much they want a sex object for themselves.

I think what Brandon Blatcher was trying to do was draw a distinction between "physically dark skinned" and "sassy, bitch, with a big booty and a weave". People see black women and do a lot of assuming. As an example of what I mean, at a time when I weighed 100lbs wet, I once encountered a guy who crowed over my big ass. People, even at my fattest, I have a normal ass, not even close to a hottentot venus, which is how he was reacting. He was literally seeing what was not there because of my skin color.

With the "big breasted" example, it wouldn't just be "has big boobs", but rather "big boobs" vs "airheaded, blonde, and vain".

In both examples, one is a physical attribute and the other are traits stereotypically associated with that attribute.

The reason I don't agree with Brandon's exact phrasing is that I don't think it's particularly healthy to seek out one thing at the exclusion of all others, (especially when some of those attributes are changeable). I mean, you should know your preferences, and if you don't like black women then don't force yourself to date them, but I do think it would be creepy to meet the perfect woman and then decide you can't marry her because she's black, or fat, or flat chested, or blonde, or whatever.
posted by lesli212 at 12:21 PM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Just anecdotal, but black women do in fact refuse to date me.
posted by planet at 12:21 PM on August 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


Eventually there will be no "races", and everyone will look more or less the same.

I'm pretty sure the disappearing blond thing (which is basically the one world race idea) has been debunked. It's a dangerous idea since it can spur racism, but there's no scientific evidence for it.
posted by stbalbach at 12:22 PM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is "interracial marriage" such a big deal anymore?

I think a lot of people, especially people from progressive areas, forget that segregation really wasn't that long ago. I was born in 1980 but in the small Southern town I grew up in, you could still see where they'd scraped WHITES ONLY signs off doorways and water fountains and such. Most places were still whites only, of course, but unofficially. A lot of areas in the very rural south are still pretty unreconstructed even nowadays.

I was out of the house when my (white) sister started dating, but my mom called up to tell me she was dating black guys and I shouldn't have a problem with that because it does kind of bother her but it's 200whatever it was and we just have to accept these things nowadays. Note that I've never had a problem with my sister dating anyone (so long as they aren't assholes), but that she instantly assumed I'd have a problem enough that she wanted to call me and warn me so I could brace myself for it.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 12:22 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


i just....can't......white people.....i.......

to the color of people voluntarily scrambling to teach white people about their experiences and trying to convince them that your life exists while constantly being doubted: bless your hearts, i wish i had that much patience and energy.
What white person has brought this comment on? The author of the article self-identifies within it as a "black man". Or are you perhaps referring to other MeFi commenters?
posted by Flunkie at 12:23 PM on August 7, 2011


Needs a "mansplaining" tag. The racial angle just disguises the fact that this is another twist on that oldest of column ideas "What You Ladies Need to Do to Get a Man, by A. Man."

And unsurprisingly it rests on the typical sexist assumptions:

1. All women want and need to be married to a man.
2. Any woman who's not married is just being too picky.

Fuck that shit, seriously. Who does this guy think he is to tell women how to run their lives and how to set their own relationship standards? Why is it any of his fucking business whether women are married?

One of the tragedies of the drug war is the incarceration of so many people of color, because it wastes lives and potential. Hand-wringing over the knock-on effect of lots of unmarried black women, as though THAT were the main tragedy, is seriously missing the point; telling black women to just get over it already and marry a white dude is incredibly patronizing in that it assumes that they are just refusing to do so for stupid or shallow reasons, and even worse, that it's Some Random Dude's job to get into their lives and set them straight.

Fuck. That. Shit.
posted by emjaybee at 12:23 PM on August 7, 2011 [75 favorites]


As more black women expanded their options, black women as a group would have more leverage with black men.

what
posted by Gator at 12:25 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


emjaybee:

And unsurprisingly it rests on the typical sexist assumptions:

1. All women want and need to be married to a man.
2. Any woman who's not married is just being too picky.


You know, there was this Family Guy episode (I know, bear with me) that featured a brief spoof of Rom-Com film tropes, where a successful but "type A," career-minded, overworked woman has a man enter into her life. He unplugs her phone (to which she is stereotypically overattached to/distracted by) and he says, "Let me tell you how I can fix all of your problems with my penis."

It was funny at first because it made fun of a Rom-Com cliché, but ever since then I've been seeing this sort of statement buried in a lot of popular discourse about women's lives.
posted by LMGM at 12:32 PM on August 7, 2011 [30 favorites]


As more black women expanded their options, black women as a group would have more leverage with black men.
what
I believe that the author is saying that if more black women were open to dating men other than black men, that would put more pressure on black men to attempt to make themselves more desirable to those women, as they would have to face increased competition over those women from other men. And thus those women would have more leverage over those men.

Of course, from the comments here, it seems like the underlying assumption that "black women are, generally speaking, not open to dating men other than black men" may not be particularly well-founded in the first place, but if you take it as an assumption (which the author does), then that sentence you quote doesn't really seem dumbfounding to me.
posted by Flunkie at 12:33 PM on August 7, 2011


It's less about the guys who are attracted to black (or insert other feature) women, and more about guys who approach and pursue you solely for that reason, expect you to fall in line with stereotypes, and ignore the rest of your worth or personality. I think people are largely more familiar with the fetish for Asian women in this regard, but the dynamic exists for many women who have features that get fetishized.

This still depends on one party perceiving such attraction as a fetish. If that perception isn't there, is it still a fetish?


The reason I don't agree with Brandon's exact phrasing is that I don't think it's particularly healthy to seek out one thing at the exclusion of all others


I'm not sure I would say it this strongly. I mean, I'd like to think I consider all aspects when choosing a mate. If I have a thing for round hips, or red hair, do I have to explain why it isn't a fetish? Should I be open to same sex relationships for the sake of inclusion? At some point, I just like what I like.
posted by 2N2222 at 12:34 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Given he is African-American, and telling African-American women to just go marry a white guy already adds some fuel to the argument I suppose. I think there is a degree of PT Barnum going on here, that everyone is too tied up in their visceral response of "YOU CAN'T SAY THAT!", to dig in the the method behind his, whatever you would call it.

I'd be interested to get other perspectives on this blog post, which suggests that the word "miscegenation" comes from a Civil War era hoax/trollfest. His authority is P.T. Barnum, who strikes me as the very definition of an unreliable source.

I was browsing around Project Gutenberg and stumbled on a book with this magnificent title: The Humbugs of the World. An Account of Humbugs, Delusions, Impositions, Quackeries, Deceits and Deceivers Generally, in all Ages. And it’s by none other than P. T. Barnum.

So I thought, that could be interesting. And one of the things that caught my eye from the contents was ‘The Miscegenation Hoax‘. Barnum explains:

the history of Ancient and Modern Humbugs would not be complete without a record of the last and one of the most successful of known literary hoaxes. This is the pamphlet entitled “Miscegenation,” which advocates the blending of the white and black races upon this continent, as a result not only inevitable from the freeing of the negro, but desirable as a means of creating a more perfect race of men than any now existing. This pamphlet is a clever political quiz; and was written by three young gentlemen of the “World” newspaper, namely. D. G. Croly, George Wakeman, and E. C. Howell.

posted by zamboni at 12:34 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd be interested to get other perspectives on this blog post, which suggests that the word "miscegenation" comes from a Civil War era hoax/trollfest. His authority is P.T. Barnum, who strikes me as the very definition of an unreliable source.
The OED gives no cite for "miscegenation" earlier than 1863, and gives the following as its etymology:
Irregularly < classical Latin miscēre to mix (see MIXED adj.2) + genus race (see GENUS n.) + -ATION suffix. Coined by David Goodman Croly and George Wakeman in an anonymously published hoax pamphlet circulated in 1863, which implied that the American Republican party favoured mixed-race relationships (see quot. 1863 at sense 1). Compare Portuguese miscigenação (c1960).
posted by Flunkie at 12:39 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


There was a 25-minute programme on the BBC World Service about a year ago on this very topic: "It's hard finding your man in America if you're black and single". I don't have time to listen to it again right now, unfortunately, but in spite of the terrible awkwardness of a major news organisation launching an transatlantic investigation into why people like me - my sister, my cousins - can't seem to get any, I remember thinking it was pretty interesting. I recall they found an educated, professional black woman and a drug dealer and had them go out together to see what would happen if black women broadened their romantic horizons to include felons, etc., like everyone is always asking them to do. There was also a bit where the dealer explains what he's thinking as he harasses women who go by on the street. I found it quite sad all around. Here's the associated article.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 12:40 PM on August 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Eventually there will be no "races", and everyone will look more or less the same.

Reminds me of my absolute favorite scene from Bulworth:
Bulworth: "Rich people have always stayed on top by dividing white people from colored people. But white people got more in common with colored people then they do with rich people. We just gotta eliminate them. "
TV Interviewer: "Eliminate?"
Bulworth: "Eliminate."
TV Interviewer: "Who, rich people?"
Bulworth: "White people. Black people too, brown people, yellow people, get rid of 'em all. All we need is a voluntary, free spirited, open-ended program of procreative racial deconstruction."
Cut to confused TV Interviewer.
Bulworth: "Everybody just gotta keep fucking everybody til they're all the same color."
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 12:40 PM on August 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


Personally, I find the idea that people in their 20s are considered to be of "prime marrying age" a bit odd.

Also personally, were I to marry again, I would rather marry someone who looks different than me than someone who looks the same as me (I would make an ugly woman). Traits such as skin color are just degrees of difference.
posted by moonbiter at 12:40 PM on August 7, 2011


I understand that this article is troublesome and not without issues, but I really appreciate the chance to read this point of view. It was very, very interesting and illuminating. I get that there may be problems with the light being cast, but I am glad to have read it and am still thinking about it.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:40 PM on August 7, 2011


Metafilter: Reminds me of my absolute favorite scene from Bulworth.

I love us.
posted by timsteil at 12:43 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd be interested to get other perspectives on this blog post, which suggests that the word "miscegenation" comes from a Civil War era hoax/trollfest. His authority is P.T. Barnum, who strikes me as the very definition of an unreliable source.

That's what Wiki suggests as well. Their source is this page, which references a journal article (here, JSTOR) and says it came out of the New York World newspaper. (I got far enough in the article to confirm that bit, but it's long and not the most engaging writing ever.)
posted by hoyland at 12:46 PM on August 7, 2011


One nice thing, is that racism is at a huge historic disadvantage. Eventually there will be no "races", and everyone will look more or less the same. People will look back upon the era of such racial concerns with great curiosity.

Yes, but then we'll find some other basis for discrimination. People seem hard-wired to find some reason to not like each other.

(I'd love to be proven wrong.)
posted by madcaptenor at 12:46 PM on August 7, 2011


Yes, but then we'll find some other basis for discrimination. People seem hard-wired to find some reason to not like each other.

I was just about to say - you realize race is social construct, right?
posted by cashman at 12:56 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Strangely enough that bbc article written last year that two pointed out very much confirms exactly what I see all the time. It's surprising that, given this is such a big and obvious problem, there's no a lot more research into precisely why there are so many single black women but the numbers that are out there are pretty damning.
posted by nixerman at 12:57 PM on August 7, 2011


It's surprising that, given this is such a big and obvious problem, there's no a lot more research into precisely why there are so many single black women

Cough up a grant.
posted by Ardiril at 12:59 PM on August 7, 2011




What's also interesting (and here comes more anecdata) is that this actually appears to be kind of an East Coast thing. This problem isn't quite so pronounced on the West Coast and it actually looks like the "best cities" for interracial dating are all on the West Coast, particularly Seattle and San Francisco. Frankly it's something to consider if you're a black woman in NYC or Boston.

Well, that would seem related to the male-to-female ratio in the east coast vs. the west coast.
posted by palbo at 1:00 PM on August 7, 2011


Purely anecdata, but some of the comments I've heard over the years from my friends confirm this beyond the slightest shred of doubt, at least in my mind.

OH...got it.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:02 PM on August 7, 2011


hal_c_on: "Purely anecdata, but some of the comments I've heard over the years from my friends confirm this beyond the slightest shred of doubt, at least in my mind.

OH...got it
"

This is pretty disingenuous. You call me out based on a misreading, and then smugly respond to someone else? Please don't do that.
posted by lesli212 at 1:04 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's also interesting (and here comes more anecdata) is that this actually appears to be kind of an East Coast thing. This problem isn't quite so pronounced on the West Coast and it actually looks like the "best cities" for interracial dating are all on the West Coast, particularly Seattle and San Francisco. Frankly it's something to consider if you're a black woman in NYC or Boston.

NYC: 25% black. Boston: 22% black. San Francisco: 6% black. Seattle: 10% black.

(All from Wikipedia articles, which get this information from the census. Obviously comparing cities based on population within the city limits is flawed, because city limits are kind of arbitrary. But oh well.)

So this may be more of a thing in cities with larger black population.
posted by madcaptenor at 1:08 PM on August 7, 2011


saying what?
posted by lesli212 at 1:08 PM on August 7, 2011


And to who?
posted by box at 1:09 PM on August 7, 2011


This is pretty disingenuous. You call me out based on a misreading, and then smugly respond to someone else? Please don't do that.

Dude, I don't want to get into a fight with you. You responded with:

Again, I'd love a cite for that too; my point is that, as far as I know, there aren't any stats, but the author doesn't take that into consideration in service of his larger point.

and another user responded with:

Purely anecdata, but some of the comments I've heard over the years from my friends confirm this beyond the slightest shred of doubt, at least in my mind.

I have no reason to be disingeuous or smug here. That user kinda helped me out to see it from your perspective better than your response did.

Thats all. Cool?
posted by hal_c_on at 1:17 PM on August 7, 2011


I'm always interested to see what OKCupid's blog has to say about racial issues, but I'm also always mindful of, you know, a small self-selected sample size and whatnot.

I think you're needlessly ass-covering :) By "small sample size" you mean several orders of magnitude larger than any other studies in the history of the world on the topic (they often use seven-figure sample sizes), and by "self selected" you mean "single people who do what modern single people do". (These days, I'm pretty sure more singles than not give online dating a try at some stage. There will be demographic influence, but not like there used to be.)

If I was a psych or social student or similar, I'd probably be in despair - knowing that never in my career will I ever get to touch tools even remotely close to being in the same league as what the OKcupid guys developed on a whim as a mere side-project to their main interest. :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 1:18 PM on August 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


That blog by Beautiful Struggler puts the stake in this 'marriage prospects' myth.
posted by Ardiril at 1:18 PM on August 7, 2011


Needs a "mansplaining" tag. The racial angle just disguises the fact that this is another twist on that oldest of column ideas "What You Ladies Need to Do to Get a Man, by A. Man."

Interesting, I didn't see that at all, figured he was just talking to women were interested in marriage.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:19 PM on August 7, 2011


hal_c_on: "

I have no reason to be disingeuous or smug here. That user kinda helped me out to see it from your perspective better than your response did.

Thats all. Cool
"

Yes, we are; I read "OH...got it" as sarcasm, sorry.
posted by lesli212 at 1:24 PM on August 7, 2011


Does everyone who comments actually read the whole piece or just the post here? He's got a book to sell, so of course, he's in the WSJ. He was on KQED too.

At every income level, black men are less likely to marry than are their white counterparts. And the marriage gap is wider among men who earn more than $100,000 a year than among men who earn, say, $50,000 or $60,000 a year.

and

They are less than half as likely as black men to wed across racial lines. Only about 1 in 20 black women are interracially married.


I wish he'd given sources for these stats, because they're pretty interesting.
I think he's the brother of Sandy Banks, an LA Times columnist, and I'd be interested in her view.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:29 PM on August 7, 2011



So this may be more of a thing in cities with larger black population.


Yes, that would probably explain a good bit of it. From my own experience, like I said above, I know lots of black women who can't find a decent man and the vast majority of them are on the East Coast but then (duh) the vast majority of black people I know are on the East Coast. It still always strikes me as one of the most significant differences between the coasts, this seemingly large population of beautiful black women who, for whatever reasons, remain single against their will. And frankly I'd agree with the article and also might tack on that black women should consider moving west where they are, it seems, in a lot less supply. (Though, oh noes, that sounds super patronizing.)
posted by nixerman at 1:30 PM on August 7, 2011


Yeah, the whole article sounds kind of tone deaf and even patronizing. And Banks doesn't even offer a creative solution, instead telling women to change their minds. He does mentions other minorities, but he doesn't talk about Black African immigrants, who are the most educated minority group in the US. Since they don't lag in education among their African-American counterparts, whouldn't they be the most in demand among African-American females?
posted by FJT at 1:32 PM on August 7, 2011


Yes, we are; I read "OH...got it" as sarcasm, sorry.

No worries. Stay cool.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:33 PM on August 7, 2011


Interesting, I didn't see that at all, figured he was just talking to women were interested in marriage.

That's completely understandable, Brandon, and I am glad you posted this piece. Not being a woman (presumably) you might never have noticed the unending deluge of magazine pieces, often authored by men, telling women a) what their problems are and b) how to fix them.

Almost never do said dudes take into account what actual women say their problems are, or give them credit for having enough brains to know what can and can't be done about their problems.

In other words, mansplaining. Not at all limited to white dudes.
posted by emjaybee at 1:46 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is there a difference between a guy who is attracted to black women and a fetishist?

I'm not a black woman, but I am a fat woman, and I can tell you that there is absolutely a difference between a guy who is attracted to fat women and a fat fetishist.

The first guy is attracted to fat women, and interested in learning more about them, and if they click, maybe pursuing a relationship with them. The second guy is attracted to all fat women, indiscriminately, and only fat women, and wants to fuck them and doesn't care about who the person is, so long as she's got a BMI over 30.

I sit in a privileged position from a huge number of perspectives, but I fall outside the mainstream in that one regard, and I can tell you, it's absolutely possible to detect the difference between one group of men and the other. I suspect the experience is similar for women in pretty much all non-mainstream groups.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:49 PM on August 7, 2011 [27 favorites]


Ideefixe, I'm quite sure the statistics came from the same site I linked to which no one apparently read: the Pew Research Center.

If you look there, it says the breakdown of interracial marriages for newlyweds in 2008 are: 14.7% male, 14.4% female.

Amongst black individuals, that includes 22% males, 8.9% females. Scroll about halfway down the page here and you'll see it.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 1:50 PM on August 7, 2011


About the interviewed woman's concern about being mistaken for the nanny: I briefly dated a Punjabi. I had a sudden thought that my kids wouldn't look like me at all and people would think I was either the hired help or that I adopted. I was floored by how much this upset me so I sympathise.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:50 PM on August 7, 2011


And frankly I'd agree with the article and also might tack on that black women should consider moving west where they are, it seems, in a lot less supply. (Though, oh noes, that sounds super patronizing.)

Guess you didn't see my comment above about the Sam Kinison joke? Oh yes, "just move" = super patronizing.

Nutrition and exercise also go a long way in securing a desirable mate. Just saying...

Suggesting that the reason Black women are unable to secure a desirable mate is because they're malnourished and don't exercise goes a long in securing the public perception that you're a bigot. Just saying...

Since they don't lag in education among their African-American counterparts, whouldn't they be the most in demand among African-American females?

Again, it's largely not about who AA females want, it's more about who wants them.
posted by fuse theorem at 1:50 PM on August 7, 2011


These kinds of threads make me happy and sad at the same time -- happy, because I get to figure out who the other Black people are on MeFi; happy, because it's a subject that is relevant to my life; happy because I get to see empathetic and open-minded White (and other) people express their opinions as well.

Sad? Because this issue even EXISTS; sad, because it calls to mind how often I go out and see an attractive man who I can tell doesn't even see me; sad, because I am educated and creative and NOT A STEREOTYPE and yet that somehow makes me even less attractive; sad, because my White and Asian girl friends are highly sought-after and keep asking me why I'm single...

My mother was married three times, and had a couple more proposals after that - she hasn't been single since she was 18 years old. Me? I grew up in Northern California, and my personality today reflects that. I went to college. I listen to rock. I like Asian guys. I like White guys. I like Black guys too - but in *my* experience, the men (of any race) that I find attractive and would consider "at my level" are almost universally interested in White women. Or they think I wouldn't date them, without even really investigating.

I have lowered my standards and dated a felon - and it was a complete fucking farce. He was White, by the way.

Yikes. I posted in that harassment thread the other day about how being Black makes me feel somewhat worthless in society - and shit like this is a big part of it. My mother is a wedding dress designer, both my sister and brother are married - and I'd love to have a big wedding and be a mom and have the American Dream like other people do. But I mean...? If it happens it happens, if it doesn't, it doesn't.
posted by polly_dactyl at 1:54 PM on August 7, 2011 [21 favorites]


If you look there, it says the breakdown of interracial marriages for newlyweds in 2008 are: 14.7% male, 14.4% female.

No surprise there, seeing how most marriages involve one man and one woman.
posted by madcaptenor at 1:55 PM on August 7, 2011


I could never have a successful romantic relationship with a black woman. I would have such a major inferiority complex believing--with good cause--that she was settling for me after spending her twenties looking in vain for a black man. And also my wife would be puh-hissed.
posted by jwhite1979 at 2:02 PM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


happy, because I get to figure out who the other Black people are on MeFi;

We should form a bad or something. I can play bass!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:05 PM on August 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


That's completely understandable, Brandon, and I am glad you posted this piece. Not being a woman (presumably) you might never have noticed the unending deluge of magazine pieces, often authored by men, telling women a) what their problems are and b) how to fix them.

Dude, I used to hold this view until I opened up a cosmo and looked at the names of the authors and more importantly, editors. I was all "WTF?!?".
posted by hal_c_on at 2:05 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, there's a higher rate of obesity among black women than white women. Beauty standards are obviously different between cultures, and obesity doesn't carry the same kind of stigma among blacks as whites. However, that may help explain the relative scarcity of white men who date black women.
posted by Sloop John B at 2:07 PM on August 7, 2011


Is "interracial marriage" such a big deal anymore?

Judging from what I see (and reaction to my daughter's interracial marriage at the time) I would say it is entirely generational. Her generation seems to have absolutely no problem. my generation-well, it depends on who you ask-and my parents' generation-o horrors.


I will say that a majority of the interracial relationships I have seen have been with the woman being white and the man being African American. Not sure exactly why that is. And frankly I am also seeing that there are a lot of women I know who desire to be married but aren't, and they are of all races, not just black.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:08 PM on August 7, 2011


Not being a woman (presumably) you might never have noticed the unending deluge of magazine pieces, often authored by men, telling women a) what their problems are and b) how to fix them.

I'm male, not blind. I just didn't think this particular piece fit under mansexplain, but that's just me.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:10 PM on August 7, 2011


Socimages, Interracial Marriage & the Meaning of Multiraciality:
...Asians and Latinos intermarry at much higher rates than blacks. About 30% of Asian and Latino marriages are interracial, but the corresponding figure for blacks is only 17%. However, if we include only U.S.-born Asians and Latinos, we find that intermarriage rates are much higher. Nearly, three-quarters (72%) of married, U.S.-born Asians, and over half (52%) of U.S.-born Latinos are interracially married, and most often, the intermarriage is with a white partner. While the intermarriage rate for blacks has risen steadily in the past five decades, it is still far below that of Asians and Latinos, especially those born in the United States...

...The legacy of the one-drop-rule remains culturally intact, explaining why 75-90% of black Americans are ancestrally multiracial, yet only 7% choose to identify as such. It also explains why we, as Americans, are so attuned to identifying black ancestry in a way that we are not similarly attuned to identifying and constraining Asian and Latino ancestries.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:13 PM on August 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


I could never have a successful romantic relationship with a black woman. I would have such a major inferiority complex believing--with good cause--that she was settling for me after spending her twenties looking in vain for a black man.

Hmm. That's a strange and unfair assumption to make of all black women. If attitudes like yours were common, interracial dating wouldn't exist at all.
posted by naju at 2:17 PM on August 7, 2011


There's definitely something intensely powerful regarding genetic/biological attraction in some people.

I definitely wouldn't say it's racist for people to date people of the same skin tone, or not, but I think calling it "biological/genetic" is putting a sort of scientific spin on something that's largely sociological, not biological. I'm of Indian origin and also have some English/French background, and as an Indian much of my background is Aryan, which means that I'm closer "genetically" to German blue eyed/blond people than I am to some other dark skinned cultures. Also, I've gone on dates with even other Indian people who spend the whole time being really surprised that I have lighter skin and curlier hair than what they think Indian people should look like, so I spend time on dates with Indian as well as people of other races explaining why I'm not Hispanic, half black, Polynesian or whatever else, whereas it's really just that Indian people can look like a lot of different things. I really doubt that anyone has found me attractive because of some biological pull. Usually they tell me my hair reminds them of an old girlfriend or something, or they just like short girls or whatever.
posted by sweetkid at 2:23 PM on August 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Her generation seems to have absolutely no problem [with interracial marriage].

I'd like to believe us millenials live post-racial utopian lives, but it certainly hasn't been my experience.
posted by naju at 2:24 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I came away convinced of two facts: Black women confront the worst relationship market of any group because of economic and cultural forces that are not of their own making; and they have needlessly worsened their situation by limiting themselves to black men.

What's the evidence for that first fact? I don't see where he gives any standard for what counts as a good or bad "relationship market" and then applies this to blacks, whites, men, women, etc.
posted by John Cohen at 2:27 PM on August 7, 2011


I'd like to believe us millenials live post-racial utopian lives, but it certainly hasn't been my experience.

It's not supported by the data, either.
posted by box at 2:30 PM on August 7, 2011


I'd like to believe us millenials live post-racial utopian lives, but it certainly hasn't been my experience.
posted by naju at 2:24 PM on August 7 [+] [!]


While there is racism among our generation (and how could there not be? This is America, where chattel slavery was legal a mere 150 years ago), I would say that the racism of 18-30 year olds is at least a 1000% less than that of our parents, which is in turn a 100% less than the racism of their parents. We've gone from open segregation and burning crosses on people's lawns to "Oh, you're dating a black dude? Uh, ok." in 50 years.

Progress has been made, in some real sense.
posted by Avenger at 2:31 PM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hmm... I'm a black woman who's never really cared about the race of the person I'm seeing. Incidentally, I've only ever dated white people... never actually had a black person ask me out. I'm also one of those people who's never really single... never really had to think "hmm what if I don't get married?"

Buut... If I was only interested in black men, the fact that they don't appear to be interested in me would probably suck. But the solution wouldn't be to "settle" for someone of another race. I wouldn't be particularly happy if I was seeing someone who "settled" for a black woman because they couldn't find a white woman. I mean, what the heck is that?
posted by biochemist at 2:31 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


@naju If attitudes like yours were common, interracial dating wouldn't exist at all.

I don't think that passes the prima facie test given what we've read in this thread.
posted by jwhite1979 at 2:32 PM on August 7, 2011


Progress has been made, in some real sense.

Oh, agreed. I think it's the "absolutely NO problem" thing that's giving me trouble.
posted by naju at 2:33 PM on August 7, 2011


I'm willing to go with you on this, but my first impression is that "fetishist" is a way of making white guys uncomfortable for thinking black women are hot.

This, a thousand times this.

A rather large percentage of my ex's have been redheads, and i do admit a weakness for them, bt it's not a fetish in the least. They are who i fell in love with and dated, unrelated to their hair/skin color. Now say i date an asian or other "ethnic" girl, it'd be condemned as a fetish. Doesn't matter if we have all the world in common and fall in love regardless of race, people would say it. I had a friend who was close to four feet tall and skinny, and she kept saying guys only wanted her because they were secretly pedos, but is now married. Never understood her reasoning, as they could have liked her for her, and she just projected on them.

Basically, i'd have no problem dating any race, as long as there are similar interests, and that's the issue. It's hard to even find someone of the same race who shares the interests (sci fi, horror movies and books, mmos, comics, and goth/ebm music, house rabbits, besides others, in a small town of around 12k, yeah, good luck, heh) i have, much less any other race, but if i did, the race wouldn't matter at all.
posted by usagizero at 2:35 PM on August 7, 2011


I wish we could stop using the word "fetish" in this context, because in most cases it doesn't really apply (see : the definition of fetishism). There's nothing wrong with having a "type". In fact, I hear women talking about having a "type" all the time. "Fetish" has distinctly male overtones, and a negative connotation to boot.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:37 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Her generation seems to have absolutely no problem [with interracial marriage].

I'd like to believe us millenials live post-racial utopian lives, but it certainly hasn't been my experience.


A quick Google search shows that St. Alia is generally right. She said that millenials seem to have no problem with interracial marriage, not that they live in a post-racial utopia, whatever that is.

It's still sad and wrong that there is less acceptance of interracial marriage with African-Americans than there is with other races, but that's still only 12% of that generation being so backwards. That's down from 26% of people in the 30-49 age range being against interracial marriage with African-Americans.

Interesting to see so many people of older generations being so against people marrying white people, too.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:38 PM on August 7, 2011


Thanks Theophile that article is extremely interesting. I'd favorite you but I think favorites are stupid. I'd definitely be interested in other research on interracial marriage and I find this concept of "black exceptionalism" introduced in the conclusion to be very enlightening and, in retrospect, very obvious.
posted by nixerman at 2:38 PM on August 7, 2011


(although as an active fetishist (in the classic sense) I chafe at the negative connotation given to "fetishism" mostly by people who don't really know what they're talking about)
posted by Afroblanco at 2:40 PM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Like naju, I would like to believe that millennials live postracial utopian lives, but I see a lot of people live in this worrisome racially fatalistic way when it comes to certain racial issues. They don't find themselves raciat; they just "aren't attached to black people." and the aren't worried about that because, well, "you can't help who you're attracted to."

That's probably one of my least favorite scientific rationalizations for things.
posted by subversiveasset at 2:41 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Being polled about something in the abstract is very different from actually being okay with it in reality. My generation loooves to be progressive about race on paper. You can probably see the stark difference in "people who are okay with interracial marriage" vs. people who have ever dated outside of their races even once.
posted by naju at 2:43 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, there's definitely a difference between a fetish for things people do, a fetish for things people are, and having a type; I hope people realize that I'm referring to the second. Can anybody propose better terminology to distinguish? I'd be happy to use it.
posted by lesli212 at 2:51 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


So the WSJ is advocating that the solution to black people's problems is to have more white people in their lives?
posted by geoff. at 2:54 PM on August 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Typing on a phone on-screen keyboard is difficult. Try "attracted" instead of attached, among other goofs.
posted by subversiveasset at 3:00 PM on August 7, 2011


A rather large percentage of my ex's have been redheads, and i do admit a weakness for them, bt it's not a fetish in the least. They are who i fell in love with and dated, unrelated to their hair/skin color. Now say i date an asian or other "ethnic" girl, it'd be condemned as a fetish.

Comparing people with different hair color with people of different ethnicity or race doesn't really make sense though. First, one can change their hair color with ease, but not their ethnicity or race. Second, since race and ethnicity is a social construction, certain cultures, religions, world views, and class comes with different races. I don't think the same can be said for hair color.

Also, I think it's incorrect to group all concern with interracial dating as a unified condemnation. Of course, there are people who are critical of anyone who dates outside of an accepted norm. But there are also instances where people exclusively seek out a certain group to date only. It can be attraction, but it can also be that they think a certain race or culture is more promiscuous, obedient, etc. It can also be they think this certain race indicates higher social status, more money, etc. Finally, even attraction itself is subject to examination, since most people in Western society have grown up slowly steeped in a popular culture that promotes a certain kind of beauty, and a certain kind of pairing that places white males as the ideal partner.

Of course, there is the possibility that two people genuinely like one another. Which is one of the reasons why I don't speak about these things in most company, even among certain friends.
posted by FJT at 3:02 PM on August 7, 2011


lesli212: Can anybody propose better terminology to distinguish? I'd be happy to use it

I submit predilection. It doesn't convey the exact same intent but at least it isn't laden with issues.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:02 PM on August 7, 2011


Being polled about something in the abstract is very different from actually being okay with it in reality.

Fair enough, but what exactly is your point? Do you have proof that millenials are substantially less okay with interracial marriage than they claim, or is this just a gut feeling? Do you feel that, if millenials were as okay with interracial marriage as they claimed, that they'd do it more often? How often would millenials have to marry interracially for you to believe them when they generally say that they accept interracial marriage? Why would any of this be pertinent to the question asked in the Pew Research study, which was about whether they would accept a married-in family member of another race?

As for situations that would disinhibit interracial marriage, being personally okay with something in the abstract is also very different from the threat, explicit or tacit, reactive or preemptive, of being disowned by your (typically older) family members, or of other factors that may inhibit people from even meeting people outside of their own race in the first place.

FWIW, my perspective comes from being in an interracial long term relationship and having a sister who's in an interracial marriage. Nobody we knew gave even the merest scintilla of a fuck.

I know people who have gotten in trouble with their older family members for dating outside of their race, but I don't personally know too many people who have been actively policed by fellow millenials for dating outside of their race. From my own set of anecdata, I will say that the people I do know who have this issue are people who come from particular minority backgrounds, who feel that to seriously date outside of their own people would force them to abandon their culture. Not all ethnic/racial/religious/whatever groups place this sort of pressure on people.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:05 PM on August 7, 2011


Well, there's a higher rate of obesity among black women than white women.

A "higher rate" does not equate to "all" or "most".

However, that may help explain the relative scarcity of white men who date black women.

Well now, Black women are generally fat and therefore White men are generally not attracted to them. So that's the answer? Black women just need to go on diets and hit the gym and then White men will be coming after them? Really?

Look, if you're a non-Black man who doesn't want to date/marry a Black woman, then don't But don't try to couch your own preferences or prejudices in some, "they're too fat" b.s. That's no different that saying the reason many Black women won't date outside of their race is because "they're too pale".
posted by fuse theorem at 3:06 PM on August 7, 2011 [13 favorites]


Something that has surprised me has been how openly negative my black male friends have been about black women interracially dating, like they're entitled to having black women hover while they date whomever they want, just in case they want to marry a black woman later. But there's a lot of blaming the black women for the shitty state of black men amongst the black dudes I know (who are mostly neighborhood and school friends).
posted by klangklangston at 4:00 PM on August 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Do you have proof that millenials are substantially less okay with interracial marriage than they claim, or is this just a gut feeling?

The insistence on proof is problematic, isn't it? If my argument is that they're not being honest (with themselves or with others, in polls or to people's faces) about whether they're okay with interracial marriage, then it's hard to formulate a study that will get at the truth, aside from looking at people's actions in macro. And in macro, interracial marriages just aren't happening that much, as usual. (If the statistics show that interracial marriages have jumped exponentially with millenials, I apologize.) To me, that speaks volumes about whether people (again, in macro) are okay with interracial marriage.

Do you feel that, if millenials were as okay with interracial marriage as they claimed, that they'd do it more often?

Looking at congregate data, I absolutely think this says alot about generational attitudes towards interracial marriage.

the threat, explicit or tacit, reactive or preemptive, of being disowned by your (typically older) family members

As someone who's had plenty of angry conversations and threats of disowning from my parents about this subject, I admit this can be a thorny subject. Still, barring exceptional circumstances, I ultimately don't think it absolves any free-thinking, independent adult to say "I don't date outside of my race simply because my parents won't let me."
posted by naju at 4:36 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


congregate - er, aggregate.
posted by naju at 4:43 PM on August 7, 2011


The ad served to me at the top of this post is for a service specifically for interracial dating. I wonder how their stats compare to OKCupid's.
posted by autopilot at 4:44 PM on August 7, 2011


Purely anecdotal, but I've noticed that at times, my white peers have indicated confusion at (if not outright noted as unusual) my finding black women attractive, being white myself.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 4:45 PM on August 7, 2011


I kept waiting for some sort of stat for the number of unmarried black women, how many wished to be married. That was the subtext of the article, right? But instead it was basically a "ur doing it rong" lecture.

If you're suggesting that the reason that marriage rates for black women are significantly lower than for other races is that black women just don't want to get married, then that's quite a daring hypothesis and you'd need to back it up with some evidence, or at least some plausible logic. What is it about black women that would cause them to eschew such a pressing and prevalent social norm, exactly? If I've misunderstood your point, I apologise.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:46 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


If my argument is that they're not being honest (with themselves or with others, in polls or to people's faces) about whether they're okay with interracial marriage, then it's hard to formulate a study that will get at the truth, aside from looking at people's actions in macro. And in macro, interracial marriages just aren't happening that much, as usual. (If the statistics show that interracial marriages have jumped exponentially with millenials, I apologize.) To me, that speaks volumes about whether people (again, in macro) are okay with interracial marriage.

Surveys that just ask flat-out, "do you approve of interracial marriage" are overwhelmingly going to get the politically correct answer. In fact, I'm not even sure it's fair to call it political correctness, because I strongly believe there is an intense element of self-deception. This is the basis of aversive racism: "the idea that evaluations of racial/ethnic minorities are characterized by a conflict between Whites' endorsement of egalitarian values and their unacknowledged negative attitudes toward racial/ethnic out-groups".

I also don't really get why most of the survey questions are about interracial dating/marriage relationships, but the one question that could give some insight, "have you dated outside your race", is switched out for "do you have non-white friends". And even that question is not necessarily answered honestly. In Racism Without Racists (may be just a little outdated for the millennial generation since it is based on lates 90s/early 00s data), Bonilla-Silva shows rather brilliantly how white people tend to deceive themselves by calling black people "friends" whom they barely know. "Yes, I have black friends, like the janitor at work/the black girl I knew in college but can't remember her name (though I can name all of my close white friends)".

Interestingly, educated whites were more likely to display this aversive/colorblind racism than working class white women. I am positive this is because of segregation. Actually being around black people makes the difference: particularly when growing up and in school years. Yet schools are more segregated now than they have been in decades. Segregation is steadily on the rise in neighborhoods as well, particularly black/white segregation.

The problem is racism has taken new forms but I do not believe it is less powerful. And racism is barely addressed in the FPP. There is an anecdote from a black woman who doesn't want white-looking babies, I see that. But it's ridiculous to overlook the very large problem of racism aimed at black people, and specifically black women. Racism plays a role, not only in non-black's unwillingness to date blacks, but in black women's unwillingness to date outside of our race. For more on that perspective, see "Why so few black women marry white men" by Ankhesen Mie.
posted by Danila at 5:06 PM on August 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


DarlingBri: "I submit predilection. It doesn't convey the exact same intent but at least it isn't laden with issues"

What about a consensual vs a nonconsensual fetish? I was thinking about it, and I think that's what bugs me most. It could be fine for a person's ethnicity and the ethnicity of their partners to be part of their fetish life, but pushing your sexual fetish on an unconsenting person before you have begun a relationship (sexual, casual, dating, or otherwise), is the part that's creepy.
posted by lesli212 at 5:13 PM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I chafe at the negative connotation given to "fetishism" mostly by people who don't really know what they're talking about)

I think what people were talking about here is exoticism more than anything else.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:23 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The 'fetishism' thing: sometimes it's not really a fetish so much as 'ticking the boxes'. My girlfriend tells me she used to get propositioned by guys (and girls, come to that) who had already ticked off 'blonde, brunette, redhead', and were looking to collect 'black, brown, yellow'.
posted by HastyDave at 5:29 PM on August 7, 2011


So, what FelliniBlank said.
posted by HastyDave at 5:31 PM on August 7, 2011


You know, there was this Family Guy episode (I know, bear with me) that featured a brief spoof of Rom-Com film tropes, where a successful but "type A," career-minded, overworked woman has a man enter into her life. He unplugs her phone (to which she is stereotypically overattached to/distracted by) and he says, "Let me tell you how I can fix all of your problems with my penis."

Metafilter: It Fixes All of Your Problems With Its Penis
posted by jonp72 at 5:58 PM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Fuck. That. Shit.

I couldn't agree more. African American Professor of Law Ralph Richard Banks should definitely listen to more Yo! Majesty.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 6:30 PM on August 7, 2011


rtha mentioned upthread that British TV shows have a lot of interracial relationships. I didn't know this until I started watching Doctor Who recently, and I was surprised that it's never ever a "thing." Like there's never a subplot about how Jackie is appalled that Rose is dating Mickey or Martha's mom is encouraging her to date a black guy. I don't know if British people are really that much less racist than Americans, but it's really astonishing the way it's just not even considered as a potential source of conflict. And then I'm sad that I'm astonished.
posted by desjardins at 7:23 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, why has no one mentioned that some black women don't want a black man because .. they don't want a man at all? What percentage of black women identify as lesbian?
posted by desjardins at 7:33 PM on August 7, 2011


desjardins, you do know that people can't be part of more than two minority groups at the same time, right? We can't have identities getting too complicated.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:34 PM on August 7, 2011


Again, if you're looking to attribute this large difference in marriage rates to personal preference - like not wanting to get married, or being gay* - you're just answering a question with a question. In this case, 'Why are there so many more gay black women than gay white women?'

*No, I"m not saying being gay is a choice. I'm saying that gay women probably prefer not to marry men.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:38 PM on August 7, 2011


Again, if you're looking to attribute this large difference in marriage rates to personal preference - like not wanting to get married, or being gay* - you're just answering a question with a question. In this case, 'Why are there so many more gay black women than gay white women?'

So? Why is that not a valid question? (Not that I can find any statistics indicating that there actually is a higher percentage of black women who identify as lesbians.)
posted by desjardins at 7:45 PM on August 7, 2011


I'm going to bypass race, for the record though I am a black man.
I think one thing that any person who is having difficulty finding a partner should do is to approach and initiate with people they find attractive. Women aren't enculturated to take an active role and instead, in my experrience tend to wait and then accept/reject when approached.
I've heard women complain that approaching is too hard, after they've tried it a few times and experienced rejection.. but it's much better than waiting. If most men chose to wait, they'd be waiting forever.
posted by TheKM at 8:33 PM on August 7, 2011


Perhaps I should just be glad, than unlike African Americans, or devout Jews, I don't have to consider the preservation of a culture when making marital choices.

This shit is thoroughly good!
posted by flabdablet at 8:51 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


We have two sons. One attends an elementary school here in Canada. There are a lot of kids with Japanese heritage at the school, a legacy of the ties that have been created between Canada and Japan over the last 25 years or so.

So my sons definitely look Asian (and in Japan they definitely look "foreign"). In Canada, it's not even talked about.

I don't understand why people have to marry people with the same skin colour, or have to marry people from the same cultural background.

This CBC Ideas documentary Marrying Outside really bugged me for that reason.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:46 PM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't understand why the article characterizes a black woman marrying a guy of lower educational attainment or lower income as "marrying down," as if it is a bad thing.

I do not see people saying that men who marry a woman of lower educational attainment or lower income are marrying down.
posted by jayder at 10:03 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


The 'fetishism' thing: sometimes it's not really a fetish so much as 'ticking the boxes'. My girlfriend tells me she used to get propositioned by guys (and girls, come to that) who had already ticked off 'blonde, brunette, redhead', and were looking to collect 'black, brown, yellow'.

Gotta catch 'em all.

(I know that people are not pokemons. But, wouldn't it be cool if they were?)

Not one of the women I have dated, black or otherwise, have asked me to marry them. Is there something wrong with me? Also, I often forget that people think that marriage is important. It's not ever something I seriously think about until I see a story like this, because marriage makes no sense to me.
posted by runcibleshaw at 10:57 PM on August 7, 2011


Wow. You crazy Americans.

Anyway - consider it anecdata, but me and the g/f have had minimal trouble bridging the interracial gap. She's had more grief than me. Black friends of hers have expressed disappointment at her "fetishism" of white men. Other than that, we sometimes get a double take from the older generations.

But nobody has ever said anything and to be honest, I really get the feeling that nobody particularly cares.

Makes me glad to be in the UK really.
posted by seanyboy at 11:22 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, stop fetishizing me.

Seriously though, this FPP is worth it for the wealth of great blogs of people of color linked on Ankhesen's blog. Especially, Field Negro who seems to be from my hometown of Philly.
posted by runcibleshaw at 11:55 PM on August 7, 2011


Even if I'm not interested I'm polite and I reply

--white guy in reference to black women messaging him on OKC

UGH don't write back if you're not interested. The fact that you're writing them back implies you're interested! It's way more polite to just not write back.
posted by bootswiththefur at 12:22 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I do not see people saying that men who marry a woman of lower educational attainment or lower income are marrying down.

I believe this comes from the idea that women are supposed to marry a provider (so, older and with money is OK or good) while men are supposed to marry a mother (so, younger and attractive are good). Women are homemakers, and men are breadwinners.

There aren't too many articles that suggest the opposite is true in our society -- that women should pick up some cute young thing who will make and raise pretty babies and have a nice casserole ready when they come home, while men should pick up an older woman with an established career who will be good providers for the family even if they work long hours in their high-powered jobs.

That's slowly changing.
posted by Houstonian at 3:26 AM on August 8, 2011


UGH don't write back if you're not interested. The fact that you're writing them back implies you're interested! It's way more polite to just not write back.

Please don't speak for the rest of us.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:48 AM on August 8, 2011


I believe this comes from the idea that women are supposed to marry a provider (so, older and with money is OK or good) while men are supposed to marry a mother (so, younger and attractive are good). Women are homemakers, and men are breadwinners.

Yeah, this a whole other ball of sociological worms, one that is (thankfully?) unrelated to race. There is definitely a stigma to "marrying down" for most women.
posted by devinemissk at 5:04 AM on August 8, 2011


I've been thinking a lot about this thread today. It's a bit of a murky subject for me and I'm not sure what to say about a lot of it (do/should people want relationships across racial lines, why are those racial lines there, etc, etc), but one thing is for sure: the number of black men in jail for drug-related crimes -- and beyond that, the number of black men with criminal records for drug-related crimes -- which make it difficult for them to get good, stable jobs, and be in healthy, stable relationships is an absolute travesty. The war on drugs has got to end.
posted by mantecol at 6:49 AM on August 8, 2011


Responding to naju:

The insistence on proof is problematic, isn't it? If my argument is that they're not being honest (with themselves or with others, in polls or to people's faces) about whether they're okay with interracial marriage, then it's hard to formulate a study that will get at the truth, aside from looking at people's actions in macro. And in macro, interracial marriages just aren't happening that much, as usual. (If the statistics show that interracial marriages have jumped exponentially with millenials, I apologize.) To me, that speaks volumes about whether people (again, in macro) are okay with interracial marriage.

St. Alia's point was not that racism had disappeared - that we live in a "post-racial utopia," as she was unfairly straw-manned - but that millennials generally don't perceive interracial marriage itself as an issue. There are many other issues with regard to race (and class and gender and more) that inhibit more lasting interracial relationships from occurring, but there isn't any proof that objection to interracial marriage itself is a big factor for millenials in general.

As someone who's had plenty of angry conversations and threats of disowning from my parents about this subject, I admit this can be a thorny subject. Still, barring exceptional circumstances, I ultimately don't think it absolves any free-thinking, independent adult to say "I don't date outside of my race simply because my parents won't let me."

The people I know who've had this come up are non-white adults who can't abide the idea of being disowned by their family. I'm sure they have more important stressors in their lives than whether or not you absolve them.

Responding to Danila:

Surveys that just ask flat-out, "do you approve of interracial marriage" are overwhelmingly going to get the politically correct answer. In fact, I'm not even sure it's fair to call it political correctness, because I strongly believe there is an intense element of self-deception. This is the basis of aversive racism: "the idea that evaluations of racial/ethnic minorities are characterized by a conflict between Whites' endorsement of egalitarian values and their unacknowledged negative attitudes toward racial/ethnic out-groups".

I understand and accept the concept of aversive racism. However, the concept itself doesn't quite apply here as a critique of the results. This is not a survey about general racial attitudes. It is narrowly tailored to issues of interracial marriage. While other factors relating to race (and class and gender etc.) go into whether people generally get into interracial relationships in the first place, interracial marriage itself is a separate issue.

A way in which interracial marriage would be discouraged, without a rejection of interracial marriage itself, would be for example in conditions relating to the general status quo value of people bonding most with people of their own socioeconomic stratum, with women facing additional pressure to marry men of means greater than their own. Even if we reduce everyone just to the median wealth, we already see a disconnect between the average white woman and the average black man - marriages between people of such different classes would be infrequent even if race weren't a factor at all. Members of disadvantaged races are of course harshly affected by this, but without rejection of interracial marriage itself as a larger concept as the true core issue.

Further on the aversive racism idea: the survey did not find significant differences across races for their answers. If white people are dishonestly answering the survey because they do not want to appear racist to themselves, then why would their views rank so similarly with members of all other races?

No one is asserting that race and racism (as well as issues of class and gender and so on) no longer have powerful effects on our lives. There are many, many, many ways in which the various races of America are pushed apart. I don't know anyone who argues otherwise - certainly not in this thread.

However, what is being argued, and shown, is that interracial marriage itself as a concept is not generally viewed with opprobrium by millenials, even by ones who no doubt hold many other racist attitudes, conscious and unconscious.

Further, the people whom I personally know, who consciously choose to not date outside of their ethnicity, are all members of various minorities - from my own personal set of anecdata, from at least three discrete groups from off the top of my head. They accept interracial marriage, but they have internal and external pressure to maintain their own ethnic identities, separate from the concept of interracial marriage itself as a larger concept.

Their answer on the survey would be one of honest approval, but factors other than rejecting interracial marriage itself are at play for them.

This is why they intentionally designed the survey to avoid the question of "would YOU marry outside of your own race." It is crucially important in surveys to narrowly tailor them to the precise issue are you studying.

I also don't really get why most of the survey questions are about interracial dating/marriage relationships

Because interracial relationships were specifically what the survey was about. It was not an all-encompassing survey about race views in general.

Your point about white people claiming they have black friends just because they remember a co-worker's name is well-taken, as are your further points about racism in general. However, those points are simply not relevant to the point St. Alia had brought up, and which I am defending, which is that the vast majority of millenials are generally unfazed by interracial marriage itself.

This does not rule out racism appearing in other, equally powerful and insidious forms.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:29 AM on August 8, 2011


"We should form a bad or something. I can play bass!"

Band of Bruthas (and Sistas)
posted by Eideteker at 12:43 PM on August 8, 2011


A 'fetish' is an object. Fetishism, in this case, at least, means loving the person as an object more than a person.
posted by Eideteker at 1:01 PM on August 8, 2011


<PetPeeveFilter>
People who make the inevitable references to the Bulworth solution always come across as glib and naive to me. TheophileEscargot's post references the fact that the majority of African Americans are already multiracial: that will NEVER render us all the same color, nor do I believe that it will reduce or eliminate racism. Please help to move conversations like this beyond the range of a Genetics 101 lecture!
</PetPeeveFilter>

Past that I guess I'm leaning more toward skepticism-- deadmessenger and emjaybee touched on the influence of the War on Drugs. Are we just ignoring that?

I would also like to point out that there have been race-based policies of forced assimilation and containment in some nations with "undesirable" minority populations (or majority, as in South African apartheid) throughout the past few centuries. Is our present-day situation going to be another one of those things that gets retroactively denounced? Given the entrenched nature of racism and its effects up to this point, I'd think the burden of proof would lie with those who think we're on the verge of some sort of... ahistorical racial sea change. The Millennials will embrace equality? What are you basing that on?

Furthermore, Tony Brown once said that black people very often serve as bellwethers in American society: we get hit early by problems that go on to afflict the nation as a whole. So, African Americans have been excoriated as drug abusers (meth epidemic has tamped that down a bit) black women are stigmatized as young and/or unwed mothers (16 and Pregnant, Teen Mom-- enough said) and black men's low college attendance rates are pointed out (increasingly a problem for white men too). Is this marriage thing going to follow a similar pattern? Is it really just something endemic to black women?
posted by tyro urge at 5:33 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


It may be best for the survival of black culture that black people have black families. It may be best for a black woman to marry a white man who's less likely to spend time in jail. It doesn't really matter; people don't read intellectual tracts before deciding whom to marry. They mostly marry whoever they want to marry, the sociopolitical implications be damned.
posted by miyabo at 8:17 PM on August 8, 2011


Sticherbeast, I don't think the survey questions can provide an accurate assessment of modern racial attitudes towards interracial relationships. Only what people will say. So I would say it is true that younger people are more likely to profess a liberal attitude toward interracial marriage, but that's not the same as having a more liberal attitude toward same. Aversive racism is the concept that cuts right to the difference and that's why I think it's relevant. This also means that we don't really know if millennials approve of interracial marriage unless we acknowledge the confounding effect of aversive racism on the answers.

I understand and accept the concept of aversive racism. However, the concept itself doesn't quite apply here as a critique of the results. This is not a survey about general racial attitudes. It is narrowly tailored to issues of interracial marriage.

Not sure what you're getting at here. It's a survey about racial attitudes towards interracial marriage. Why wouldn't aversive racism apply?

A way in which interracial marriage would be discouraged, without a rejection of interracial marriage itself, would be for example in conditions relating to the general status quo value of people bonding most with people of their own socioeconomic stratum, with women facing additional pressure to marry men of means greater than their own. Even if we reduce everyone just to the median wealth, we already see a disconnect between the average white woman and the average black man - marriages between people of such different classes would be infrequent even if race weren't a factor at all. Members of disadvantaged races are of course harshly affected by this, but without rejection of interracial marriage itself as a larger concept as the true core issue.


That's nothing to do with aversive racism or colorblind racism and I agree that what you propose would be outside the scope of the question. I am saying that it is simplistic to assert that the younger generation doesn't have a problem with interracial dating (which is what St. Alia said), either for themselves or for others. Aversive racism just makes the negative attitudes more under the surface, but it's not actually that hard to draw them out. Just go to Yahoo Personals and see how many people say they won't date blacks (new research does this, but I only have a link behind a paywall). It still results in racial discrimination.

Why won't white men marry black women when they say they have no problem with interracial romantic relationships? The socioeconomic problem isn't there. Why will they marry Asian women and Latina women at significantly higher rates than they will marry black women? This is really relevant to the "solution" proposed in the FPP. Also, do some black women avoid dating white men because they are afraid of the attitudes of those men? And is there a basis for that?

Further on the aversive racism idea: the survey did not find significant differences across races for their answers. If white people are dishonestly answering the survey because they do not want to appear racist to themselves, then why would their views rank so similarly with members of all other races?

All young people know how to answer the question, "is it all right for blacks and whites to marry each other" which is what Pew asked. Again I assert, that question tests for an outdated concept of racial attitudes. What I want to know is the answer to the question Pew didn't ask about dating, but did ask about friendships: do you date/have you dated outside of your race?

However, what is being argued, and shown, is that interracial marriage itself as a concept is not generally viewed with opprobrium by millenials, even by ones who no doubt hold many other racist attitudes, conscious and unconscious.

I am arguing that millennials do indeed hold racist attitudes towards interracial marriage itself, just not the kind of racist attitude that would allow them to say so to a stranger unless you know how to ask.

Further, the people whom I personally know, who consciously choose to not date outside of their ethnicity, are all members of various minorities - from my own personal set of anecdata, from at least three discrete groups from off the top of my head. They accept interracial marriage, but they have internal and external pressure to maintain their own ethnic identities, separate from the concept of interracial marriage itself as a larger concept.

White people, even young white people, also have strong internal and external pressures to maintain

a. their ethnic and racial identities

and

b. negative attitudes towards blacks

Another Pew survey found that online daters have more socially liberal attitudes than other internet users or Americans in general. Yet no one (admitted exaggeration) wants to date black women or Asian men (especially Asian women, 40% of whom exclude Asian men in online dating profiles), according to the new research I linked above. And these are the more liberal daters.
posted by Danila at 1:37 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


This also means that we don't really know if millennials approve of interracial marriage unless we acknowledge the confounding effect of aversive racism on the answers.

We can factor it in as a Rumsfeldian "known unknown," but there's only so far this can take us. We don't know by what percentage people claim to be more accepting of interracial marriage when they actually aren't, especially when "being okay with interracial marriage" isn't necessarily a binary choice to begin with, and especially when being okay with interracial marriage is just one part of a greater landscape of racial attitudes.

Unreliability in self-reporting, such as aversive racism, isn't new to statistics. I remember from How to Lie with Statistics the famous example of how people cannot always be trusted to reliably report how often they've brushed their teeth, just as I remember a post on MeFi about how "how often have you had heterosexual sex" questions posed to both genders result in lopsided answers that are impossible to work out - men are generally more inclined to count acts as sex, whereas women are generally more inclined to do the reverse. The result of this unreliability is not to completely junk all self-reported results, but instead to view the suspect results alongside other results and see what matches up and what doesn't.

Here, we see that millenials of all races claim they would overwhelmingly accept a member of another race as a married-in family member, but we also see that a majority of people still do not marry outside of their own race. I do not see this disconnect as a contradictory result primarily caused by people not actually being okay with interracial marriage, but rather as a showing that racial factors other than being okay with interracial marriage itself as a concept are at play here.

We would see a contradictory result caused by aversive racism if the vast majority of people claimed to accept married-in family members, but actually did not. However, even this is murky. As we all know, there are many ways to be racist while giving oneself plausible deniability for one's racism. Colorblind racism has many opportunities here to infect the process - it's fine if you bring home a black man to a white house, but he'd better "not act like…oh, you know." I do not view this sad fact as a meaning that people are not actually okay with interracial marriage as a concept. I view this as other forms of racism coming into play - they're okay with people of other races being married into the family, but they don't want a culture clash between the outside person's race and their own, which often translates into "I don't care if you're from another race, as long as you act exactly like me."

Just go to Yahoo Personals and see how many people say they won't date blacks (new research does this, but I only have a link behind a paywall). It still results in racial discrimination.

I remember seeing similar notices on OKC. Pretty astonishing that people were so willing to put "sorry, no blacks" on a public site like that. That said, the people who say such things certainly aren't showing aversive racism - they're upfront about it, before you ever even have a chance to talk to them!

Why won't white men marry black women when they say they have no problem with interracial romantic relationships? The socioeconomic problem isn't there.

The socioeconomic divide is still in play here. White men and black women are frequently in segregated and self-segregated social units. That's not the only factor at play here, but it's at least one important factor. Also, when there is separation, more barriers are erected besides: more mystery and uncertainty exists about the Other. With isolation, white guys will develop strange ideas about how different the lives of black women are from their own, or how incompatible they would actually be. (The waggish response to them might be, "since you don't understand women in general, this should business as usual for you," but I digress.)

I also wonder what the numbers would look like if we only include diverse areas. States that are already overwhelmingly white are going to have far fewer opportunities for interracial marriage in the first place than areas with more diversity. How do people act when the dating pools are more equivalent? In terms of numbers, what's the interracial dating situation like between diverse US cities and diverse cities from other Anglophone countries?

Googling around about interracial marriages by state, I see this interesting article. Most interesting cite for me:
Hawaii had the highest share of mixed marriages, about 32 percent. It was followed by Alaska, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Nevada, which ranged from 15 percent to 19 percent. The bottom five states were Pennsylvania, Maine, Kentucky, Mississippi and West Virginia, each ranging from 3 percent to 4 percent.
Why will they marry Asian women and Latina women at significantly higher rates than they will marry black women?

A variety of racial factors, with some more general socioeconomic issues riding in the sidecar.

We could also ask ourselves why Asian and Hispanic intermarriage rates have held steady, whereas black and white intermarriage rates have gone up.

Also, do some black women avoid dating white men because they are afraid of the attitudes of those men? And is there a basis for that?

I couldn't possibly tell you, but that does bring up the larger issue of there being a conflict between what people would individually be okay with and how they actually conduct themselves, due to their perception of what they think other people would want.

I am arguing that millennials do indeed hold racist attitudes towards interracial marriage itself, just not the kind of racist attitude that would allow them to say so to a stranger unless you know how to ask.

Fair enough. What line of questioning would you ask in order to cut through the fog?

White people, even young white people, also have strong internal and external pressures to maintain

a. their ethnic and racial identities

and

b. negative attitudes towards blacks


I don't disagree at all, but aversive racism - typically associated with white people - was brought up to explain why millenials had seemed so deceptively tolerant. I was pointing out how non-white individuals would themselves not only not intermarry, but still be able to answer the question without deception, to show the most opposite example to what you were putting forth.

I would see a contradiction in the survey results, pointing to aversive racism as the primary culprit, if white millenials bore negative feelings towards socioeconomically similarly-situated black partners of fellow white millenials. This would be a fine-grained study, but I don't think it would be impossible to carry out.

Another Pew survey found that online daters have more socially liberal attitudes than other internet users or Americans in general. Yet no one (admitted exaggeration) wants to date black women or Asian men (especially Asian women, 40% of whom exclude Asian men in online dating profiles), according to the new research I linked above. And these are the more liberal daters.

The linked research is about online daters in general - it does not discriminate by age. I am willing to accept that online daters tend to be younger, however.

The fact that black women and Asian men are hurt so hard by a gender divide leads me to believe that culture, gender, and mass media issues are in play here - not just purely racial considerations.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:45 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I also wonder how much an agent-based determiner can be used to demonstrate the likely self-segregation of social groups, from which most romantic partners are drawn. I remember a version of Conway's Life that was set up with five or six colors, and the constraint that each dot would move to have at least one neighbor of the same color, without any negative constraints on other colors. Within just a few generations, the board had segregated almost completely, though there were still some "interracial" borders. It was used in a discussion in one of my poli-sci classes on American government in reference to voting blocs and gerrymandering, and I saw it later used in Time magazine to help explain neighborhood racial segregation.

If those patterns hold, and people can generally be said to want at least one friend of the same race (I'd guess that's generally coded as "same cultural background"), I'd wager that similar problems would happen with self-segregated social groups. It certainly happened in high school lunch tables. And if that follows, the dating pool would need outside intentional intervention to overcome the structural default of self-segregation.
posted by klangklangston at 7:53 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


klangklangston: you're thinking of the "Schelling segregation model".
posted by madcaptenor at 8:32 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Madcap: Thanks! I was spacing on the name! Though in looking it up, the ones that I saw were a little more complex (mostly number of colors and a bigger board). But basically, yeah. I wonder how much of that can be used to model interracial relationships.
posted by klangklangston at 8:55 AM on August 9, 2011


Another Pew survey found that online daters have more socially liberal attitudes than other internet users or Americans in general.

Wow, only 60 percent of Americans, 62 percent of internet users, and 64 percent of online daters support women's rights? WTF?
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 10:06 AM on August 9, 2011


Wow, only 60 percent of Americans, 62 percent of internet users, and 64 percent of online daters support women's rights? WTF?

Beuh. Good catch.

Some people have pretty out-there ideas of what "supporting women's rights" means. I've seen educated, liberal women use the phase "I'm not a feminist" to mean that they are not [insert hateful stereotype of academic feminist here].

I'd be interested in a more detailed analysis asking people if they think women ought to be paid the same as men for the same amount of the same work, etc. etc. etc. My hypothesis is that if you broke "women's rights" into its component parts, you'd see much, much more support for it.

"Supporting women's rights" is one of those phrases (let alone ideas!) that you or I would find to be self-explanatory, but the danger of including it in a survey is that not everyone is working from the same definition.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:17 AM on August 9, 2011


People who make the inevitable references to the Bulworth solution always come across as glib and naive to me. TheophileEscargot's post references the fact that the majority of African Americans are already multiracial: that will NEVER render us all the same color, nor do I believe that it will reduce or eliminate racism. Please help to move conversations like this beyond the range of a Genetics 101 lecture!

We'll never know until we try.

Everyone, pants off NOW.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:28 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Interesting article from The Economist's Lexington column: The unintended consequences of mass incarceration.
posted by alby at 10:28 AM on August 9, 2011


A problem in search of a fix or a fix in search of a problem:

As for the reasons the author cites for black women perhaps being reluctant to date outside of our race…like what our babies may look like or having to explain our hair…I’m still trying to figure out how the hell he walked right past the giant History of Sexualization & Exploitation of Black Women in America elephant in the damn room.

Contrary to a scenario mentioned in the article, my hair hasn’t been a hurdle to romance or sex or commitment.

Being told more than once that a prospective date has “always wanted to try a black chick” is.

posted by yeloson at 11:22 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


new research does this, but I only have a link behind a paywall

I sent the article to you. Others, memail for a copy.



lessn' you's a black woman or a chinaman.
posted by cashman at 12:30 PM on August 9, 2011


Wait wait wait.

Lots of us are in interracial marriages! With Brandon.
posted by desjardins at 1:09 PM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Everyone, pants off NOW."

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay ahead of you.
posted by Eideteker at 3:51 PM on August 9, 2011


Seriously, I don't think there are enough aaaaa's in there for you to know how ahead of you I am.
posted by Eideteker at 3:52 PM on August 9, 2011


Lots of us are in interracial marriages! With Brandon.

WTF?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:48 PM on August 9, 2011


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