Bunch-O-Links (All Interracial Relationships Edition)

In the midst of all of the blowjob debates that were going on people seemed to miss the number of posts and the discussion on interracial relationships. Usually, it’s just me and Mixed Media Watch discussing IR’s, but last week several people got in on the debate. I’m not sure who it started with, but Shannon was the first person to comment (that I noticed), so I’ll start with her

1. It seems that Shannon at Egotistical Whining set of the debate–here and here.

2. MaxJulian had several responses–1st is his response to Shannon. He continued the debate here. Then he entered a debate with Racial Realist here.

3. Nubian at Blac(k)ademic also weighed in on Shannon’s post here.

4. Skyscraper responded to Nubian’s post here.

5. I also found this response to Nubian’s post here from a blogger named Stephanie S.

6. Here is Racial Realist’s post on why she thinks black people should marry and date each other.

7. Apparently some multiracial activists organized an event called “Loving Day” to celebrate the Supreme Court’s Loving v. Virginia decision which ruled that bans on interracial marriage where unconstitutional. Reappropriate has a good post on why she will not be celebrating Loving Day here. (Her position is similar to my own.)

8. I also found this post by Mojoey. Apparently, James Dobson has a position on interracial marriage, which is interesting.

One of the nice things about the dialogue going on in posts 1-6 is that the debate is entirely between people of color. (Although I don’t see many White people besides myself blogging about IRs, most of the time anyways.) I agree with some of the posts, and I disagree with some others. I think Shannon makes a valid point about stereotypes of Black women and how they affect IRs, but I think she overgeneralizes about how this affects interracial relationships. My sense is that most relationships that are based on racial stereotypes don’t make it beyond the dating stage.

One thing that really gets me frustrated when I read about interracial relationships the whole normativity of same race relationships. When people marry or date people of the same race, their racial views are not interrogated; the racial nature of their relationship is not questioned or noticed largely because it is considered normal. It reminds me of the normativity of Whiteness and how the discussion of race for many people means it’s time to talk about people of color, while whiteness remains unquestioned and invisible. The same can be said for same race relationships, and I think many of the comments in some of these threads reflect a sort of unquestioning acceptance of same race relationships, as if they do not need to be interrogated, as if they are somehow flawless, as if race doesn’t matter in them. I’m not saying interracial relationships do not need to be studied or questioned, but I don’t think it is fair for people to be constantly obsessed with questioning the motives of IR couples when they refuse to do the same for couples where both people are of the same race.

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28 Responses to Bunch-O-Links (All Interracial Relationships Edition)

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  2. 2
    Robert says:

    Taking a bigger picture view, isn’t there a problem of identity if interracial relationships become the norm? Minority populations that don’t mostly restrict their reproduction are absorbed into the majority group. If one black person in ten marries a non-black, it’s not a problem from that POV; if nine out of ten do, then there won’t be African Americans here for very long.

    I don’t know if a Brazilian-style outcome three or four generations hence, with a relative paucity of people with black skin and a plethora of folks with light brown skins, would be problematic for black Americans or not. White racism prevented the possibility of that utcome for a long time but clearly that isn’t the case to the same degree today.

  3. 3
    tekanji says:

    Robert: The only people I’ve ever heard use that kind of rhetoric are white supremists. Having mixed heritage does not automatically negate your ancestral culture — which, given that race is a social construct, I’d argue is more important than the superficial physical deliniations — and therefore the whole scare tactic of losing cultural cohesion doesn’t ring true to me.

    On the original issue on IR dating, I wish people could understand that thinking critically about the politics of relationships (whether they be same race, different race, same sex, different race, monogamous, polyamorous, etc) can take place while being in any combination of those configurations. Hating on people because they love who they love is not the way to start a dialogue about how privilege affects the way we interact with others.

  4. 4
    Stentor says:

    I don’t think it is fair for people to be constantly obsessed with questioning the motives of IR couples when they refuse to do the same for couples where both people are of the same race.

    Well said.

    I think we also need to go deeper than motives. I’ve dated three women, all of whom were white, and I’m pretty sure it’s not because I have any overt prejudice or agenda with respect to the race of my partner. But that doesn’t make those relationships innocent — there are other factors, such as privileged attitudes and structural segregation, that lead me to have been more likely to encounter and connect with white women.

  5. 5
    Josh Jasper says:

    I’d like to point out that there’s a lot of criticism going on here about people who’re in interracial relationships, and actual prescriptions against them. It’s disturbing. I think it fits the definition of prejudice without power, unlike racism (prejudice with power). There’s also a remarkable amount of heterocentric, north-America-centric thinking here.

  6. 6
    Richard Bellamy says:

    One thing that really gets me frustrated when I read about interracial relationships the whole normativity of same race relationships. When people marry or date people of the same race, their racial views are not interrogated; the racial nature of their relationship is not questioned or noticed largely because it is considered normal.

    A story about non-normative same-race relationships from a non-white perspective.

    One of my best friends is an Asian-American man who always had trouble finding Asian women who wanted to date him. All through college, he’d always complain about it. “I live in the same neighborhood, have the same accent, and am taller and more athletic than these white guys, but the Asian women just aren’t interested!”

    Suddenly, after graduating college, at age age 25, he started finding himself the most popular guy on the block. Asian women were lining up to date him. We were post-college roommates at the time, with similar histories of bad luck with dating, and he was sort of embarrassed about his rags-to-riches change of fortune. He’d go out on a couple of dates, and eventually be invited into the woman’s apartment. There, he could find photo albums of women with their past boyfriends — as my friend described them “Every one of them a little blonde Irish boy!”

    He started to realize that the same Asian girls who didn’t want to date him in college because he was “too Asian”, were suddenly looking for guys they could bring home to their parents and marry, and were flocking to him because he was the “most Irish Asian guy” they could find. He realized that he was too proud of his Asian heritage to get involved with a woman who chose him because seemed to have so little of it.

    He made a rule that he would not date any Asian women for whom he was their first Asian boyfriend. In his late 30s, my friend is still single.

  7. 7
    Richard Bellamy says:

    Also, Racial Realist and James Dobson seem to have practically the same view on interracial marriage. One wonders whether that would inspire one or the other to change their minds.

  8. 8
    piny says:

    I don’t know if a Brazilian-style outcome three or four generations hence, with a relative paucity of people with black skin and a plethora of folks with light brown skins, would be problematic for black Americans or not. White racism prevented the possibility of that utcome for a long time but clearly that isn’t the case to the same degree today.

    Aren’t we sort of already there? We understand this division between “black” and “white” because it’s the one we’ve had in place for several generations, not because its two categories are objectively pure. It has been problematic thus far for black Americans: it’s an arbitrary border that draws lines through families and individuals, all for the sake of a murderous hierarchy. AFAIK, Brazilians don’t have any difficulty being racist or drawing racial divisions when they so desire.

  9. 9
    Sailorman says:

    Thinking back on it now I realized that I have dated a few nonwhite women (and girls, when I was in junior high and high school). It didn’t really occur to me to think about their race much. Until I read this they were filed mentally under generic “ex” not under “POC ex”. I can remember what their eyes looked like but couldn’t tell you their exct skin shade if I tried.

    Because hell, if you like someone and they make you happy and you enjoy kissing etc., and have fun together, what’s their skin color have to do with it? If I were to think about it analytically (which I am doing now for the first time) I had a lot more in common with almost all of the POC women I have dated–educated, my social class, similar interests–than with some of the white women I have dated.

    I can understand the feelings of those who think those relationships are bad/good. I have no really worthy opinion on the matter. I just think it’s a pity in general: There’s a lot of lonely people in the world, why make it any harder for everyone to meet someone they like? My generic reaction to a happy couple is “luck them” and my generic feeling is “lucky me” whoever we are with. So my generic reaction to someone who feels burdened by this is “oy vey that has to suck, to feel that way”

  10. 10
    Richard Bellamy says:

    But the less “objectively pure” the categories become, the less useful they become, and the more the fuzzy edges start taking over the middle.

    When minority groups are debating how much funding they should receive, they argue for a “one drop” rule to increase the number of that minority in the area. If they are debating whether an organization has a sufficient number of minorities, or a voting district is diluting minority votes, they will want a more stringent definition. (And, of course, vice versa for the majority groups, who want to say that John Smith, who looks white and is 1/64th Cherokee, should count as a ‘minority’ in the district.)

    In the near future, as other ethnic groups increase in number, and there are more people who fall into the “gray” of inter-racial identity, the exceptions will start becoming more of the rule.

  11. 11
    pdf23ds says:

    “Robert: The only people I’ve ever heard use that kind of rhetoric are white supremists.”

    I object to your automatically identifying such an argument with white supremacist views. The effects of race mixing on cultural identity are not obviously non-problematic, and to brand pointing out potential problems as white supremacist seems to be much too hasty. Now, if Robert were to say that such considerations make interracial relationships a bad idea, I would be sympathetic. But saying something is difficult and problematic isn’t the same as saying it shouldn’t be done, or even that it should be discouraged.

    On the other hand, I don’t really understand, Robert, what you’re suggesting these problems would be. Social unrest? “Othering” of mixed-race children by both of their parents groups? (If they become more common, that would stop being as much of a problem as it is today.) Loss of distinctive culture associated with one group? You’re being uncomfortably vague about that.

  12. 12
    pdf23ds says:

    “if Robert were to say that such considerations make interracial relationships a bad idea, I would be sympathetic.”

    To suspecting him of white supremacist sympathizings, not to his (hypothetical) views.

  13. 13
    Robert says:

    PDF, I don’t know what the problem would be, exactly, or if it would be a problem. If black-white interracial relationships became so prevalent that (after a time) it became difficult or impossible to identify someone as “black”, I suppose I wouldn’t care – not my department.

    But (some/many/most) black people might feel differently; certainly a concern that in the future there won’t be an identifiable African-American population has been present in the words of some black people I’ve talked about this with. I don’t really know how widespread or deep this concern is.

  14. 14
    Jenn says:

    Thanks for the link!

    Robert, I think the African American identity is strong enough to overcome hypothetical issues of “racial purity”, particularly since forced “intermixing” resulting in “brown babies” has been a part of the African American diaspora for some time. “Colourstruck” is hardly a new concept in the community.

    I’m fairly sure that something like Loving Day will not spell the end of the Black experience.

  15. 15
    Mojoey says:

    Rachel S.

    I thought I would post a quick comment on the normalcy of a long term IR marriage. I’ve been married 26 years. My marriage is accepted now because those who objected have no choice – they either love us as we are or loose us. My wife and I have played hardball with family and friends for a long time. We’ve had to, bigotry and racial hatred was much more the norm back in the day. Marriage itself was not easy; we had some added problems because of the diverse nature of our cultural backgrounds. It comes down to this (for us anyway). I am an American and free to marry whomever I choose. For those who try to limit my rights in any way, all I can say is god help you (cause it’s fighting time).

    I’ve been asked for advice over the years. I tell people to marry the person they love and then fight for their marriage with all their hearts. It is all about love anyway.

  16. 16
    Delany says:

    When people marry or date people of the same race, their racial views are not interrogated; the racial nature of their relationship is not questioned or noticed largely because it is considered normal.

    Yep, and no one asks them completely inappropriate questions about thier childhood (were you traumatized by a person of your race and that’s why you don’t want a partner who might remind you of them?), dating history, and sex life.

    I’ve been in an IR for almost a decade (I’m white, my husband is asian) and I’ve been questioned about his penis size, body hair, how his sweat smells, his sex drive, his career ambitions, how many other asian (or otherwise nonwhite) guys I’ve dated, etc.

    I can understand people being curious what it’s like to be in an IR relationship if they’ve never done it (for whatever reason), but I always get the impression that a lot of the questions I’ve gotten are people fishing for stereotypes so they can confirm whatever ideas they already have and the choices they’ve already made.

  17. 17
    curiousgyrl says:

    Seems to me that Richard Bellamy has it exactly wrong; African-Americans are already ‘mixed’ in the sense he’s talking about. White supremacists fear “miscegination” precisely because its not African-Americans but whites that would dissappear.

  18. 18
    kactus says:

    Thinking back on it now I realized that I have dated a few nonwhite women (and girls, when I was in junior high and high school). It didn’t really occur to me to think about their race much. Until I read this they were filed mentally under generic “ex” not under “POC ex”. I can remember what their eyes looked like but couldn’t tell you their exct skin shade if I tried.

    Sorry Sailorman, but I’m going to have to wait till I quit laughing to tell you I think you’re full of it.

    Ok, done now. You’re full of it. Do you really expect us to believe that you paid so little attention to your girlfriends that you didn’t even notice their skin color? I’ve dated women & men across a bunch of racial spectrums, and not only do I remember their skin color, their eye color, and the sound of their voices, but their preferences in music, food, and sexual positions. (for the most part. I’m getting old and my memory isn’t what it used to be.)

    I understand you’re probably trying to say, “I don’t see color” but I just don’t buy it. Sorry if I sound rude, but either you’re fooling yourself or you’re trying to fool us.

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  20. 19
    pdf23ds says:

    kactus,

    I initially had the same reaction to his post, but then I thought, well maybe his high school dates were Latinos. Since they tend to have widely varying amounts of European ancestry, and aren’t subject to nearly as much racial categorization (especially those born in the US and who are largely European in color,) it’s plausible. But if he was talking about black people, it’s not very plausible.

  21. 20
    KC says:

    As a white woman married to a mestizo South American… I find these categories frustrating. Before we got married, it wasn’t a big deal to his family that I was white – it was a big deal that I was foreign. I suppose technically I’m in an IR, but more than anything people ask me about marrying across cultures and continents. People don’t think of him as Latino, he doesn’t think of himself as Latino, I don’t think of us as being in an IR. I do think of us as having survived a very long distance relationship and as a very happy couple.

    So much (though not all, I stress) of what has been written about IR has been written from the black/white perspective. As another commenter noted, Latinos (and I have other issues with that label) are more difficult to classify. We represent these communities as gigantic monoliths when, in fact, there is a lot of diversity within the groups. I remember a college friend (chinese american) who was dating a japanese american and that didn’t go over too well in the respective families. Yet to an outsider’s perspective, it would just be an Asian relationship. Being Mexican is not at all the same as being Chilean, being Argentine, being Venezuelan… while it makes it more difficult for people to make generalizations about the proprieties of IR relationships (though I would rather think of them as IC relationships…), we might be better served to do so not in a binary framework but rather taking into account the many eccentricities of different groups. Which in turn might convince us that we cannot indeed make generalizations about these intercultural relationships.

    In the end, I tend towards the perspective that race/culture don’t really matter as long as you are in love.

  22. 21
    Rachel S. says:

    KC said, “In the end, I tend towards the perspective that race/culture don’t really matter as long as you are in love.”

    That’s good in theory, but in reality they do matter. Race amd racism affect the lives of people in IRs (and everybody else for that matter). I think maybe a better statement would be, “Race and culture do preclude people from being able to love.”

  23. 22
    belledame222 says:

    Reading through all that, I had a strange sense of deja vu. sort of reminded me of the “are blowjobs/BDSM/hetsex/lezziesex/whatever too patriarchal blahblah” that’s been going on ’round these parts.

    I dunno, I just think: it sure would be nice if people just owned their own shit before going around getting up in everyone else’s face about who and how and why they fuck. I mean, slap on any sociopolitical stuff you want on it (and not saying it’s not there, but): what it comes down to, no matter how you slice it, is:

    “I am making your personal life my business.”

    Sooner or later, one runs out of patience for defending and explaining and reasoning. and simply comes back with

    “Piss off.”

  24. 23
    belledame222 says:

    actually, let me revise:

    > if people just owned their own shit before going around getting up in everyone else’s face about who and how and why they fuck.

    When i said “before,” I really meant “instead of.”

  25. 24
    belledame222 says:

    (I didn’t realize James Dobson had issues with IR relationships, too, although it doesn’t surprise me. ugh, Dobson)

  26. 25
    skyscraper says:

    rachel, the right link to my post is http://russasian.blogspot.com/2006/06/my-take-on-interracial-relationships.html

    the one you have here just takes you to my blog in general, which is quite frustrating. thanks for linking by the way. interesting analysis.

  27. 26
    Rachel S. says:

    Oops sorry. I have tendency to do that. I’ll correct it.

  28. 27
    Evia says:

    I’m a black woman married to a white man. Naturally I see color when I look at his pale skin, but after a while the color doesn’t have significance and things that aren’t significant are often overlooked. When you’re with people a lot, you can’t just stay fixated on the amount of melanin in their skin or the lack of it because there are so many other things about that person aside from their covering. You tend to focus on their essence. It’s like looking at a window and not seeing the filmy sheers that might be covering it because you’re more focused on the sunshine that’s coming through.

    Anyway, the question we get asked a lot that irks me is, “How did you two meet?” I’ve noticed that white people always have a big smile on their face when they ask this question whereas blacks don’t. I haven’t quite interpreted this. I talk about this and other aspects of our relationship in my blog at http://www.bfinterracialmarriage.blogspot.com