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Interracial/Anti-social Implications of Dating

A student of mine who knows I teach a class called “Romance, Sex, Love, and Marriage, recently called me to ask me some of my thoughts about interracial relationships. I started first by making sure that he recognized how one dimensional the conceptualization of interracial relationships actually is. What comes to mind when you think about interracial relationships? Be honest, did your thoughts actually gravitate towards a relationship between a Black and White person? If so, why would that have been your thoughts?

In America our fixation with interracial relationships may hinge somewhat upon our painful history of slavery and its resulting legacy. When we see a Black man and White woman romantically involved are we looking at them curiously because of the courage they are exhibiting at transcending the judgments of their parents and peers? Perhaps we look at these couples and wonder about their motivations. Is that Black man dating that White woman because he subconsciously devalues Black women and has perhaps subconsciously bought into the myth that the symbol of beauty in America is the White woman. Perhaps that Black man is dating that White woman because at one time in America she was basically likened to the forbidden fruit that tempted Adam in the Garden of Eden, perhaps worthy of a taste but unsure if worth the ensuing consequences. The film Birth of a Nation (critically acclaimed as the Star Wars of its day) exacerbated the problematic dimensions of the Black man-White woman relationship by portraying that potential relationship as being an obsession for Black men. The result of this fixation by Black men to possess a White woman resulted in the suicide by the White woman in that film and ushered in a continuation of the lynching of Black men in society at that time (as well as the decimations of townships like Rosewood, and Tulsa’s Black Wall Street).

What of the White man and Black woman interracial relationship? Does it carry a sordid history as well? There are those out there who look at the White man-Black woman relationship and wonder why he married beneath his class standing (since she may have originated from a history of slavery). Others wonder how that Black woman could date/marry someone who, under the auspices of slavery, once had somewhat sanctioned, unimpeded, uninhibited access to her body. James Loewen articulates in his best selling book “Lies My Teacher Told Me, that most Americans are painfully ignorant of certain aspects of American history, our racial narrative being just one of the gross omissions. Is this true, or did you already know why you might hold a dysfunctional preoccupation with interracial dating? Even if an ignorance of America’s racial history isn’t true for you, is it perhaps true for the world that you live in?

Where does love come into the equation? Just as a woman who is 5’10 and a man who is 5’7 must really love one another to transcend the scrutiny they will endure because of the unwritten assumption that men should be taller than the women they are involved with, an Asian woman and Latino man who love one another will be put under racial-cultural critique. We already know that we are a judgmental society, correct? Isn’t it hard for us to observe that 60 year old woman dating that 40 year old man without prejudging them. That seemingly healthy woman with the paraplegic man must have something sinister up her sleeve because she just couldn’t truly love him, right? It was in Plattsburgh, NY that I witnessed a half dozen men rise and exit the theater as the love scene from Brokeback Mountain unfolded. It is possible that the 50 year old man dating that 30 year old woman just might actually be two individuals who simply fell in love. So why are you whispering, nudging, snickering, pointing, or gossiping about relationships that might be much more healthy, or grounded in reality than any you’ve ever participated in.

Why can’t people just love one another, regardless of our race or differences? Films like Snow Falling on Cedars, A Patch of Blue, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Joy Luck Club, Save the Last Dance, Mississippi Masala, Coming Home, Children of a Lesser God, and Jungle Fever all portray various dimensions and problems that result from this type of daring dating. Films like To Kill a Mockingbird and Rosewood reveal the hegemonic culture’s and/or society’s historical reaction to even alleged interracial interludes. If you’ve seen any of these movies, what was the problematic moment for you within the film that framed our inability to accept differences? Are there any other films that come to mind for you where people just couldn’t get past their preconceived notions or succumbed to their socialization?

Does the history of interracial relationships change now that the President of the United States, Barack Obama, has publicly proclaimed that he is the offspring of an interracial relationship? Does President Barack’s bi-racial status or any Black person’s for that matter, even matter when they look Black? And if President Obama is Bi-racial and should technically not be considered Black, then wouldn’t his marriage to First Lady Michelle itself be considered Bi-racial as well?


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Is it possible that individuals have become trained to "see and hear" with their eyes and ears as opposed to their heart and soul?

People are pre-programmed by society of years ago that interracial relationships are not of the "norm" of society and should not be permitted and accepted. People don't see two persons who have found love but instead see boundaries that have been crossed and differences that will change society and future generations.

The funny thing is, those differences can make our society a much better place than it is at that moment. Once we become accepting of interracial relationships, and allow our children to learn that people can live together without these boundaries, we then open a whole new generation of a more peaceful living environment for our children. What a better way to fight hate crimes, racism, predjudism, and all the things wrong in this world than to allow and embrace one another- including with interracial relationships and marriage.

Times change and people change too. Technology has brought us to a generation where we can reach out across the globe through a tiny computer. This allows us to communicate with individuals in other parts of the world where we would never have connections otherwise. It's time that our views change to fit the growing nation around us. We are a world striving to work together in peace and to become unified as one nation. Isn't it time that interrelationships and marriages become part of that unification, without criticism, judgment, fear, and hatred?

First, I wanted to mention the capitalization of “Black” and “White” in your post. You do it in most (if not all) your post’s and for some reason it spiked my interest, more so in this post. The highlighting of race (by capitalization) is interesting, but why not also gender? Or I guess it could work with most words. Just a point I saw in reviewing your post, nothing wrong with it, just something that is not common to me.

Your post hits on a lot of major topics; I count a point on gender, class, race and age. They made a response that much harder, took to the weekend to reflect. Looking into the situation of a 50 year old man dating a 30 year old woman, or any age, my thought is and has been love is love. This situation reminds me of an episode of Maury or other daytime talk shows I would watch with my parent’s years ago; I can see it now “He is 50 years older than me, but I love him” or “I am 90 and I love my 20 year old husband”. I remember my parents saying how wrong it is, and I understood where they were coming from, but still I remember thinking if they love each other who am I to judge?

This does provoke a response on family values, which seems to consume our national/local politics. Should we govern on personal lives, govern on what is right or wrong, who one can love and not love? I think not. Love is love, no more explanation. Whether there is a perceived dramatic difference in age, race, gender, or anything else. Some people never find someone to share their lives with, how dare anyone judge others who have found that person? I do understand the issue of “the money grabbers”, the people out looking for older individual’s fortunes. I feel that is rare, and doesn’t hold a light to the real loving relationships.

Interesting note (well timed I guess), as I write this response a commercial just came on a radio station. To paraphrase: ‘New Hampshire State legislatures are debating on allowing same-sex couple to marry in the state. The ad then has three-four children saying how they want a mommy and a daddy, not two of one, and so on and so forth.’ In the end it says call/write your state rep. and tell them this is not right, children can only have ONE man and ONE woman for parents. Just struck me as interesting when 60% of children grow up with just one biological parent and 20% of children live in poverty in the United States. Yet we would like to stop two loving individuals from caring for a child, interesting.

Sorry for that tangent, but I felt it fit. In conclusion who are we to decide love? Other than having open conversation, I don’t feel we should or have the authority to say love or a relationship is one way.

PS: The move that came to mind that…for the lack of better word shocked me…was ‘The Crying Game’ and the relationship between Jody and Jude, then Fergus and Jude. Not so much disturbed me, but challenged my perspective on relationships and what is love.

JW...isn't this close to the territory where all the privilege accusations started flying my direction? :)

Ah...I'm just kidding. And to be first thought of an interracial relationship was of Black-White...but a very specific Black-White...Bigger Thomas.

Why would that come to mind in the context of our discussions?

Could I have already been framing my argument as I read your post?

As you might guess, I didn't like Bigger all that much. There are a number of reasons for that...but the main reason is that he was rash, reactive, dangerous, and violent. Granted...he was presented to us that way for a reason. And as outrageous as his actions were, they were framed well in the context of his Blackness. And in that light the events surrounding Bigger's life almost seemed rational.

But they weren't. And though those stigmas associated with interracial interactions are not completely gone...they are quite different than 60 years ago.

Bigger's problems were in many (if not most) ways created by his own actions. Racial issues only served to COMPOUND those problems. It made a bad situation worse.

Now as an aside...taking one step back...I will grant that Bigger's ability to make good decisions and choose to act responsibly was impaired as a result of his upbringing...the enivironment in which he grew up.

That's what we still need to work on.

As for relationships today? Couples should define their relationship by the bond they share together. Two individuals as one. Do I really care that Joe Hick from Podunkville thinks I shouldn't date a Black woman or that you shouldn't see a movie with an Asian woman?

Real freedom from oppression starts from within. Until individuals are comfortable in their own skin...with their own place in the world...they won't escape the clutches of racism or classism or sexism. Laws protect people now (I know this is a technical argument...they don't always protect everyone all that well) the only real teeth in racism or classism or sexism is attitude, that awful inbred attitude of unfairness in so many. It's my belief that you can't change the minds of those who won't listen...but you can change how you interact with the world. You being you and me being me is the best way to challenge old thinking.

I've spit out a lot...and my response is somewhat disjointed. At least it gets me in the I think this topic is one that could have some legs... :)

I can remember being raised in a household where “black” was “black” and “white” was “white,” and you didn’t mix them. Being the liberal individual I am, I had a hard time with this philosophy, as well as, the many other beliefs that my parents tried to raise me by. One of my very first boyfriends was black, and I actually had to keep the relationship a secret from my parents for fear of being disowned. My parents were very strict and set in their ways and there was no reasoning with them. It was their way or “the highway.” My siblings and I were never allowed to date an individual of a different race, or who already had children, or had been previously married. If you were to introduce someone of that status to my parents, they were not welcome in our home and my parents made that very obvious. It was very frustrating for me because I was a very open-minded person.

As I grew older, I formed my own ideas and opinions and came to realize that I didn’t have to agree with my parents beliefs. I learned to accept what they believed, and that I was never going to change their viewpoints. We still have discussions regarding topics of same sex marriage, interracial relationships, and abortion. Although we never seem to agree on these issues, they have become more tolerant of the different ways of life surrounding them.

It was after completing college and while on my first job years ago that I encountered a family outside of the “norm.” This family consisted of a mother, a father and three children. When the children were in middle school, the mother announced that she was a lesbian. One would think that this declaration would certainly dissolve the family and create a lot of confusion in the children. However, when the father disclosed that he was transgender and started dressing as a woman, the children now had two mothers and the family remained intact. Although, the children did go through a period of adjustment, they remained a family and managed to deal with the negative behavior from the community. I recall the looks and stares this family received every time they were seen in public. When I first encountered this family, I admit I was somewhat apprehensive, but I quickly realized that they were just like you or I. They were a family, they were happy, and that was all that mattered.

With the number of interracial marriages on the rise, what once seemed so radical to Americans is now commonplace. I believe that if a couple is happy, then it should be nobody’s business if they are of a mixed race or of the same sex. If a white person wishes to marry a black person or if two individuals of the same sex wish to live together and raise a family, then their neighbors need to tolerate their choices without being judgmental. Through the years, my parents have slowly realized this and are able to adapt their beliefs to at least accept society and the choices and opinions they form without being so rejecting.

Honestly when I thought about interracial relationships, I thought of black and white. I think I thought of black and white first, because my step father is white and my mother is black. My step mother is also white and my father is black. I have more than three black and white relationships in my immediate family. My mother has two sisters that are both married to white men. With that said, I know that all of the family members that I mentioned have all at one point in time had altercations with people who are not open to the idea of interracial relationships. My mother and step father in the past had many problems with my step father’s parents, because they could not be accepting of the fact that my mother was black. They automatically had false views about her and her intentions, and really didn’t even take the time to get to know her. With time they turned around, but it is still very clear that they still have an issue with her but they are putting it aside for their son’s sake.

I remember I would ask myself why my step father’s parents did not like my mother or why they never came to visit. With time and conversations with my mother, I realized that they didn’t like her because she was black. I couldn’t believe that was the reason why, because I was raised to be open minded and I didn’t think that people still thought like that. This also happened when I was much younger and I was not really aware that there were still so many racist people around. It was hard to see that because my step father and step mother were white and I didn’t think it was a big deal or that others thought otherwise.

After all of the readings and films I have read and seen on this topic, especially Birth of a Nation, I can see why so many people still have that view about blacks. I do not think that it is right, but during that time (1917) there were so many negative portrayals of black men and blacks in general. In the film, the men are portrayed to be sex crazed maniacs. The shocking part of Birth of a Nation was when the white girl climbed all the way up the mountain and then jumped and committed suicide to get away from the black man. I thought that was crazy, because she was so afraid of him that they would rather die than for him to catch her. After watching that movie and being a white woman, I would definitely not have a good view of black men. It is so unfortunate that a lot of false information influenced such hate between whites and blacks.

With that said, I think that as time goes by things are getting better. Slowly people are getting more open minded and open to the idea of dating outside of their race. However, there is still a long road ahead. As I get older I see it more and more that white men are slowly getting open but when families are not supportive they would rather move on than fight for what they really want. I know that I will never let anyone in my family get in the way of someone I love. It should be about the love between two people and not about their race. Love for someone else should also be based on them and not their race. If I have a connection with a white man then that is someone I would want to pursue. I wouldn’t let the fact that he is white change my mind. People are to start and continue to stand up to the people that have a problem with interracial couples. This goes for all different cultures and races getting together, not just black and white.

J.W, three or four days ago I was thinking of how I was going to approach this blog, and I had three or four pages already written on my thoughts. As of today, I have gone through some personal issues with my group of friends that has left me changed forever. I didn’t realize that one day it will hit you, and that socialization affects everyone, even within my own group of friends. After taking the Examining Diversity through Film class, I began to challenge my feelings about women, and how I have felt about love my entire life. Today I had to end one of my closest relationships with one of my friends that has emotionally drained me, left me with questions, ripped my soul out, and has made me put the past in the past. I didn’t realize my life would change with one day of this very weekend, but my so called love life has taken on a new turn. Since tenth grade I loved this white girl, and for everyone else reading this I am of East Indian descent. I was so socialized in tenth grade and was only worried about my own image. I was trying to portray myself as the strong tough American male, with fear of no one, and trying to hook up any girl I could. I was so self conscious about my image that now I can honestly look back and admit I was obsessed with how other men rated me as focused on in the article Men and Masculinity.

I started working with this girl in tenth grade and we were steadily working 30 hours a week together and we formed a close relationship as friends. I look back at these times and think of how ignorant and self centered I was about our relationship, which often makes me think I deserved this pain I feel. We were always kickin it as friends, and were very similar in habits. For the first time in my life I was in a true male-female friendship in high school, and I looked at it in the most negative way, but happy as well I formed such a close bond with a white girl, who I thought also had feelings for me. I choose to keep our friendship secret when we went to parties, and didn’t ever tell kids I hung out with her because of her looks. I stripped this girl of every ounce of dignity she had while I was with my male friends, and joined in the jokes when she was brought up. After school was another story, I hung out with her and was so nice, and I had my swag on. I was so focused on what every guy thought of my image, that I two faced her and tore her apart when I was with my friends. I let socialization about being with the skinny cute prize female dominate my thought process, and being obsessed with white male approval. I wanted to show the world that I the “brown man” could have a white dimepiece girlfriend as well. I plagued my mind like this all the way until senior year.

Then things changed. She got pretty on society’s standards, and lost some weight and men started to notice her more. Throughout this whole time period, I was constantly two facing her in front of my male peers because I feared rejection and ridicule as my worst fear. Yet when I was with her I fell in love with her personality and everything about her. After high school I kept doing this until I finally realized I couldn’t play this two faced game anymore. I couldn’t hold my feelings in, and she was all I would think about every day until I broke. I didn’t care about anyone else’s feelings and how they viewed me, high school just got over, and things have changed. I broke down one night, a week before I had to come back for my first semester winter break my freshman year of college after I had been away from her for the first time for months. I told her all my feelings, and told her how I would lay down everything for her, and that I could be her man who provided her the world at her feet. I wanted nothing but the best for her because I knew men have left her all her life, including the most important figure, her father. I thought she felt the same way always flirting with me, grabbing my hand ever since tenth grade. I had the notion she always liked me, was waiting for me, and I was too ignorant to want her. I needed to wait till she improved herself and were up to my standards. I am ashamed at my behavior, and it has haunted me since. The day of Feburary 22nd 2008 day would forever consume my mind until this very night. I looked her in the eyes and told her my feelings leaving everything on the line and she denied me straight up as never having feelings for me. I was crushed, yet right now I feel I have to tell the true story. Many emotions and levels on pain crossed me, and I still am having trouble internalizing the situation. I waited too long, let my stubbornness and sexist side consume me, and it all turned around on me. I understand karma playing a role in this process, because many I’m sure will interpret this situation as typical. I too faced the fat girl until she got pretty then tried to be the first guy to take her while playing the role of” best friend”.

This is sadly somewhat the case, but I will say honestly I regret everything that I did to bash her, and would give anything to have shown her my true affection in tenth grade without seeking male approval. I let society take hold of my brain, and I was too afraid of male ridicule to be myself. Although my feelings were real I missed out because she was the first woman I fell in true love with. I would have given anything for her, and to satisfy her every need and to make my career to make sure I was the only thing she needed to be happy. We are so different and yet similar in ways, it shows really how society has influenced our own very thoughts. She fell for false love, while ignoring my feelings and let guys use her for their own pleasures never receiving real love ever since. I tried to remain friends with her and put things in the past but today I realized I couldn’t. After I told her my feelings that night, she played my feelings for a year and a half, exploited them with other guys in front of me, and knew I would eat right out of her hand, she loved my attention. I was crushed each time, and watched her get blown off only to see her still keep going after those scumbags who were just in it for the sex. I couldn’t do anything, and she didn’t want me to. She lives at home, commutes to school locally, and works full time still at the local grocery store. I tried to remain friends with her and we hung out the whole summer, but tonight I realized we are in different worlds. I couldn’t see her be hurt and shut down anymore, and I couldn’t take her mind games and flirtatious ways towards me only to lead me on to a false sense of friendship. I will always be there for her, but I can’t be around her anymore without having my heart crushed each time we meet. I let her go tonight, and don’t know If I can talk to her again. Now, I’m sorry for throwing my personal story out there, but it has changed my mind so much about interracial relationships. My whole life I have been yearning for that woman who could equally share the joys I cherish, the pains I experience, and who I could treat as my queen. Since elementary school I haven’t found her. I have never had true relations with white women, other than our drunken nights here at school. Being with white woman as an Indian always has been an issue for me. They always either shot me down, or said we were just friends. I wondered how I became to fantasize over Jessica Simpson and not any Indian actresses. My first fantasies as a child were white beautiful actresses and singers, and don’t recall seeking out an Indian counterpart. I tried to form relationships with white women only to get rejected, and I honestly believe that the stigma of interracial relationship continues very much so in my generation’s women minds. I often am categorized as black, and although I wasn’t exposed to many Indian people during my childhood I admit I carry more black then Indian features. Yet because of my skin color, white girls I feel have always been afraid of getting involved with me.

Society is doing a good job of creating the normality of inter racial relations through the media well especially for Indians. Recently watching Harold and Kumar the new movie, the plot is an Indian kid with a white woman who he was in a relationship with and ends up storybook being together at the end. This was a historical day for me personally, and I’m sure many Indian Americans struggling with the same issues with white women saw amazement and happiness as well. It’s always been the Ryan Reynolds or the Tom Cruise ending up being in relationships with beautiful white women. This movie was a breakthrough in movie plots for us. We are portrayed a certain way, not desirable in any means, and the future convenient store manager is all we are seen as to many white women. This made me happy because I felt that society was portraying the right image on a national scale with this new comedy flick. With society already having a stigma of negativity related to this issue I saw great hope. On the other hand this saddened me because of my situation. I feel like many girls whom were all white when I was young didn’t want to deal with the questions and the awkwardness that may come with our relationship. I didn’t know where to look, and I feel like many white women let socialization grip their minds as well, and instantly count me out as boyfriend material. Every white girl I tried to form a relationship with I feel had their own xenophobia towards a relationship with me, and felt that they can’t date a man of a darker color.

After a couple experiences I learned to count myself out of ever getting with the most desirable white girl in school because of this stigma between us. Although too I was attracted to her, I was never viewed as by my male peers to realistically ever get with her. It just didn’t happen, and after a while I stopped even thinking about it. Those girls were saved for the white blond haired kids according to society’s norms that white women followed, and white men saw as their birth right. Since I grew up in a dominated white culture they had such an effect on my own character as well. I was attracted towards them and thought I was just as dateable as anyone else because I have dealt with their comments and their jokes my whole life, and maybe every white girl wasn’t the same. I was a good kid everyone respected in the community but the girls didn’t want to be involved in this type of relationship. Instead, they were seeking the strong 6’0 jocks that were Irish and had that bad boy style. I was the 5’7 brown kid who was assumed black by many whites, and denied acknowledgment of my Indian culture simply because I was so dark. I would constantly hear “oh yeah your black right”? “ well you look like your black, brown same thing” and people would actually argue that Indians and blacks were part of the same culture. They grouped me into one, deciding what’s appropriate for me and girls didn’t want to take the chance of exploring me as a boyfriend, only their friend. White people would actually argue that Indians and Blacks were the same race, and that I was wrong when I tried defending myself! That fear of being with a darker man was too unethical for them, and even today with times changing their ideas remains fearful. Do I think that my girl I loved for years had this xenophobia as well? Ya sadly I do, but I can see how society has transformed her into what it wants as well. She was scared of what our friends thought, didn’t want to answer those uneasy questions to others, and never wanted to give me the chance. Did I deserve this after my treatment of her in the past? Yes, I did. Ever since I was a child I always felt nervous around white women after the way they didn’t want to be more then friends, but I need to expand my own mind as well. I’m sure growing up in a more diverse setting would have helped, but I didn’t and this is the hand I was dealt. Because of slavery in this country and how unaccepted inter race relations have played a vital role in negativity has roots even today; I am testament with my black brothers. Many black and Asian friends and I at school have the same feelings. We all notice white woman are scared to pursue us because of their own fear I’m sure within their own friends as well. They don’t want to have to face ridicule from their female friends, and the media has created such a stigma that white hollister models are the only desirable type of man in our society. Although it’s getting better through some media, you don’t see the Asian AE model, or the Indian being seen as the tough sexy shirtless mall poster stud. White women are still being conceptualized into dating white six packed men with geld hair. This hurts the rest of us out there, and kills our confidence when interested in white women even further into the future. I know I was wrong in the past, and still would die for my friend, but its ultimately only up to her to know I am a man too, and wanted what a faithful man of any color should want for their female counterpart, that is stability, love, protection and genuine compassion for every part of her body and soul.

I can offer these things to women, we both as a human race need to look inside ourselves and know we are all the same once and for all. As Deb put it to end our diversity class last Tuesday, “we need to be our own Martin Luther King’s, the times have changed”.

Again I repeat...

Without the hatred where is the light?
Without the darkness where is the love?
I see it now... When I saw the devil and the lord both dancing arm in arm...

Perhaps SHE dates HIM because HE is the once forbidden fruit...

If her surroundings are filled with hatred, her individual values are the light. If she were not exposed to the hatred there would be no darkness. Without hatred there would be no light and therefore no love.  

So then where/why DOES love come into the equation?   

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