I often hear the phrase, “I don’t see color, I only see people,” or “love is colorless,” or “you can’t help who you love,” or “in a few years we are all going to be mixed and it would be one world [i.e. mix marriages will eliminate conflicts],” or “there is only one race, the human race,” etc.

These claims, for the most part, are based on feelings and lack proper context.

In the past, interracial relationships were outlawed and considered unnatural by the supposed “superior race” (white people) that did not want to “contaminate” their gene pool. [1] The legal sanctions have gone away and interracial marriages are much more common nowadays. In the USA, research indicates a generational shift–younger people are more accepting of relationships across the color line. Some have pointed to the seeming increasing tolerance to argue that the world is becoming more “colorblind”  or “post-racial.”

There has been progress.

African Americans are no longer being lynched or water hosed or attacked by vicious dogs. Black people fought that battle and won. And, yes, societies around the world have become more accepting of these relationships. I do believe that people of different races can develop loving relationships. For example, I have read stories of lasting interracial marriages like that of Ghanaian Nana Joe Appiah and his British wife, Margaret; James (African American) and Grace Lee (Chinese-American) Boggs in the US. And I have friends that are in interracial relationships. But what many people are missing is that just because you are dating/married to someone of a different race, it does not mean that you and the people that look like you would be accepted by that race. Indeed, your mate might not accept people who look like you. Ghetto-intellectual, Harvard trained anthropologist and Africana studies professor, Kwame Zulu Shabazz states in the interview that “Acceptance on an individual level is not the same thing as accepting a group.”

To claim that sexual relationships or producing “mixed/biracial” babies signals the end of racism is naive at best and, at worst, it suggests the interracial couple’s unwillingness to tackle structural racism and oppression. These relationships are certainly not a proof that the walls of institutional racism have fallen.

Racism is alive and well. Racists can and do have sexual relationships and make babies with a member of the race that s/he hates. As Brazilian professor Joao Reis puts it,  although race is frequently a barrier to marriage “race is not often an obstacle to sex.” According to professor Henry Louis Gates Jr, “sex is colorblind.”

Justin Volpe, the cop that racially profiled, brutalized and sodomized Abner Louima a Haitian American had African-American girlfriend. Volpe’s girlfriend defended him claiming that he could not be racist because they were planning to get married. Thomas Jefferson, a slave-owning “Founding Father” and American president raped Sally Hemmings, an enslaved African woman (his wife’s half sister) and had children with her. Segregationists and US senator Strom Thurmond had children with African women in secret while publicly promoting policies that would further oppress African-Americans.

Actor Terrence Howard is on the bandwagon of interracial relationships, he calls it , “a way forward….morally right.”  Howard reported being called “nigger” and “monkey” by his ex-wife, Michelle Ghent. Ghent allegedly told Howard that she would not make nigger babies with him.

In the UK, Lauren Beckham, a mother of four, reportedly screams racist slurs at her mixed-race children.

A black woman of Jamaican descent complains that her husband calls her “Nigger Bitch,” during sex.

 

We have come a long way, but how far have we come?

One way of assessing racial progress is to “follow the money.” The wealth gap between whites and non-whites is still wide (and widening). Countries that have higher racial mixing are not exempt from this disparity. In fact, those with “mix blood” generally have more economic opportunity than Black people. For example, in the “New” South Africa, whites who are 9.5% of the population control 60% of the country’s wealth and the more indigenous “African” you look the less wealth you have. In Brazil even though the country has a large number of mixed race people, white Brazilians dominate the economy and the poorest Brazilians tend to be the darker people of African descent. The US is often referred to as a “melting pot,” but the reality on grounds is that the pot is just boiling. White Americans control most of the wealth. Globally, the more indigenous or Black you are, the less opportunity you have.

 

What is the way forward?

1.  Healthy self-esteem and self-love. Folks that say, “I would be more appreciated by other race…” are missing an important element of being fully human. If you hate yourself and others that look like you, it would be difficult for others to love you!

2.  In terms of economics, buy from other African American /black businesses. Africans/blacks need to regain their/our consciousness and start supporting businesses in our neighborhoods. If we don’t buy from our “peoples” it would be difficult to reduce poverty in our communities.

3. Set a good example to our children  and expose them to  healthy African/ American/ black relationships.That way our children would learn to treat their partners with love and respect. Research shows that most African- Americans marry each other, this debunked the idea that blacks are not marrying each other. Keep up the good work.

4. Empowering each other within our communities that way we would not look else where for validation. As Jill Scott puts it, we need to hold on unto our African culture in our relationships.

 

Notes:

[1] One important exception to strict ban on “miscegenation” was 1950s case, Loving vs. Virginia.

Additional Information 

1. Depiction of interracial relationship in US history.

A racist society’s ignorant attempt ban interracial relationships.

2. Nigerian husband ( Sambo Davis ) and Indian wife (Sheeba Rani ) shared their experience of tough life in India and the extreme racism that they face daily. Mr. Davis expresses, “It’s because I am from Africa, I am a Nigerian. I think Indians see us as inferior.”

3. Rachel Sullivan, a white woman shares that many of her  friends and family members are racists and treated her African-American boyfriend poorly. http://loveisntenough.com/2007/10/08/some-of-my-best-friends-and-family-are-racists/

4.“Statistics on Interracial Relationships”

5. Academic paper, ””Two Nations”? Race and Economic Inequality in South Africa Today “

6. The rape of enslaved African American women by enslavers white men, this is such a fascinating book by Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Wench listen to the interview of the author here ‘Wench’ Explores Intimate Relationships Between Slaves And Masters

7. Mariah Carey’s mother (white) talks about her experiences married to a black man (Mariah’s father ). For example, her family disowned her and they had a hard time raising their mixed race children in America.

8. The owner of Los Angeles NBA team Clippers, Donald Sterling a notorious anti black semitic expressed to his Afro-mexican girlfriend that he hates African Americans despite the fact that they make him rich and he is very much against her making friends with them in public.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Yoknyam Dabale is a pan-Africanist, environmentalist, gender and human-rights advocate, and lecturer at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill. Here’s one of her essays on the history and sociology of interracial relationships in the United States. Especially after the election of Barack Obama as president of the US, the idea that a post-racial world was possible has dominated certain discourses, even in academe.

    In connection to this debate, the idea of interracial relationships becoming the panacea for all problems racial has been entertained by many. But Ms. Dabale doesn’t bite its appeal via the images of the Obamas (Obama is biracial and his children are mixed). The point she makes is clear: the world is yet to become a post-racial world and interracial marriages, or mixed children, aren’t going to get the world any quicker to a post-racial world.

    Agree or disagree? Enjoy!

  2. Good piece. And the problem is that when one crosses the supposed Bridge to the other side, they pretend the problem does not exist anymore. Or they can not speak out fearing to offend their love. They become some sort of a sell-out. Structural racism, in my opinion, has been on the rise recently. We need concerted efforts to untangle its mosaic fabric upon which it is built. Institutions need to reform.

  3. The article is very true.. You see, racism has not been
    eradicated (not even in US), its even racism to deny that there is no racism.. Blacks have suffered much because of their skin and even the blacks also crave to marry a white not necessarily for the opportunities (green card) but for their fantasy.. the world is yet to become a
    post-racial world and interracial marriages , aren’t going to get the world any
    quicker to a post-racial world.

    The way forward is the recommendation given above…
    We blacks should develop and patronized our products.. Thanks

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