Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dating across the color line

I know I said last week that I would be discussing Asian Americans and inter-racial dating. And then my week got away from me. And I know that in July I began to broach the subject of inter-racial dating and why some inter-racial couples may seem to be more acceptable than others. For example, Asian American women paired with white men seem to be a prevalent pairing that we see out and about and reflected in popular culture, television.

[Of course, the reality is that Asian Americans are barely visible on tv or in films, but on the rare occassion when they are, the Asian American woman-white man as a romantic pairing is not uncommon--Lucy Liu in the Charlie Angels movies is paired with the former Friends guy, for example.]

And in this previous post I also acknowledged that inter-racial pairings between black women and men of other racial groups and Asian American men and women of other racial groups seems to be the least common pairings that we see.

And interestingly enough, since I am not the first person to make this observation, there are people who have started websites and dating blogs that are dedicated to "BlAsian" couples: black women romantically linked with Asian/Asian American men.

[For example, see this recent Asian Week piece]

And I do wonder about this. I mean, not the specific pairing of African American women with Asian American men, but the idea that these two demographics may be in the category of those who do not date across the color line.

[And I suppose I should add the caveat that I am concentrating largely on straight relationships, because that's the population that has largely been studied in Sociological circles and that I'm familiar with in terms of anecdotal evidence, although I think that interracial dating taboos and issues are similar within queer relationships.]

And one of the other things I have been thinking about regarding inter-racial relationships, is whether there isn't also a correlation between community acceptance and/or the prevalence of certain pairings. I'm not a sociologist and don't have stats readily at hand, but from what I recall from reading various articles on this subject, Asian Americans of either gender are more likely to date and marry white Americans than other groups. And part of me wonders about the acceptability of dating and marrying inter-racially outside of a white demographic. Because anecdotally I have heard of some Asian American families being very opposed to their sons/daughters dating let alone marrying African Americans.

I'm not trying to say that all Asian families are conservative and racist. Nor am I saying that all Asian Americans support inter-racial dating/marriage with white Americans. But I do think that Asian American families have their own prejudices to grapple with--and I wonder how we can start to address these issues in Asian American communities (I don't mean within academia or activist circles, I mean literally in the suburban areas where people live).

But maybe I'm wrong. My own family has varying attitudes towards inter-racial dating, whether white or black (or any other identity--although interestingly enough, my paternal grandparents were livid when they discovered one of my cousins went to the prom with her Japanese American childhood friend because they had lived through the bombing of China by the Japanese army during WWII and hated the Japanese with a loathing that can only be bred by living through war).

Any thoughts?

18 comments:

CVT said...

I think a lot of it depends on the number of generations an Asian family has been in the States. For instance, my Chinese grandparents (who came to the States when they were in their 50s) were initially very upset with my aunt for dating a white guy - pretty much to the point of dis-owning her. However, by the time my younger mom ended up MARRYING a white guy and having kids with him . . . they had (mostly) gotten over it.

That's with white people. Pretty much all of my Chinese cousins (of both genders) have now ended up marrying white folks.

So the question is: what would happen if somebody got involved with a black man/woman? Latin@? It's hard to say. To my knowledge, I am the only one in my extended family to ever have been involved romantically with either race. Now, I have never heard anything directly SAID about that, but I would guess, since my Chinese side lives a pretty solidly middle-class life, that they would be surprised. Not exactly AGAINST it, but surprised.

Another generation or two from now? I think it would be less of an issue.

Jennifer said...

CVT,
I do tend to agree with you about the generations in the U.S. angle. In other words, more recent immigrants (Asian or otherwise) tend to be much more conservative than the subsequent generations U.S. born.

I also think that within various immigrant Asian-ethnic communities, there is a hierarchy of "acceptable" people one can date outside of one's own ethnic community. And perhaps, as a mirror to the racial hierarchy that exists in the U.S., there are some communities who feel African American is at the lower end of the scale since African Americans have been historically treated this way in U.S. society

I tried to get my students to articulate this during a discussion of an inter-racial couple (Japanese-American and Kenyan) in one of the books we were reading (because the Japanese immigrant mother was very prejudiced in the book) but they were reluctant to articulate the racial hierarchy. Which might have to do with the sense of being "pc" that permeates a lot of college campuses, but it probably also has a lot to do with not having the language and not being challenged to think about race in this way. Or feeling like they need to be polite--these students are very well mannered at Southern U! I think it's the Southern culture thing.

But I'd be curious if in a different demographic-- by region, by age, by education--would render different discussions. In other words, are you able to have a more frank discussion about race with your students CVT?

[aside: I also think I haven't adquately "primed" them to think carefuly about a mixed-race America since the focus of this course has been Asian American lit.]

CVT said...

Jennifer - good question. I have had some REALLY frank discussions about race with my students, but there are a lot of variables that make it different from your situation.

First - they're middle school kids, so they're going to share their thoughts without worrying a whole lot about how they affect others.

Second - their socioeconomic backgrounds put them in a position of living in a less "PC" cultural environment, in general, so that's less of a concern for most of them.

Finally - I have pretty much NO Asian kids in my classes. If I had to rank it, my African-American kids are most vocal about race, then the white kids, then the Latino kids (I have theories on that, but that's for a post of my own, I guess). Then the one Asian kid.

CafeLatteFuture said...

I've seen black women/asian men w/ children while walking in malls and in department stores over the past 5 years. Granted, the combination isn't something we see a whole lot of and in reality it could almost be made into a where's waldo like game to try to find these combination of cross the color line mixes. Not to say it won't pick up but I don't think it would be prudent to make it a point of picking at either. Give it time to happen, people are herd-like at times and it takes seeing other members of the herd to follow suit. Be patient and all comes around in time. After all, look at how far we've come since the 60's! Wow! Who would have thought that?

dianaguay said...

I've been thinking long and hard about what I wanted to comment here. I still don't really know.

This issue is very familiar to my family and it's something I've been trying to figure out for a long time - namely Asians dating African Americans, as it is happening in my family. My mom has a problem with my sister's choice in her current boyfriend.

I feel like my subconscious opinion has been partly shaped by my mother's own prejudice, even though I don't overtly have a problem with it.

I've also personally never been attracted to African Americans for the simple reason that I've never wanted to feel like a novelty. And, not to make a stereotype, but, they DO like Asians, and it's always made me uncomfortable for reasons I can't quite explain.

This is a topic I've been struggling to understand, and maybe I never will, but I want to know why there is such a huge prejudice against African Americans to Asians? I really want to know. Intellectually, I'm sure it won't matter in the end, but, it might get me thinking in the right direction, and it might get me to stop worrying about it so much.

CVT said...

Diana -
I've got to say that your comment that "they do like Asians" gets me a bit. Obviously, the "they" is black men, and I think that's the prejudice coming through - because the fact of the matter is that American men, in general, fetishize (is that a word?) Asian women, period. The media does it, and the men follow suit.

So to say that "they" (black men) do it, as if it's a problem of their RACE is missing the point, entirely. Trust me - white men absolutely do have Asian fetishes (to a sickening degree). In fact, I've much more often heard of white men being all about Asian women, as opposed to black men.

So - be careful. It may be a fetish thing, either way, but it's an AMERICAN MALE fetish thing - and isn't about their race. And, sadly, being an Asian woman dating any other non-Asian man is going to make you a "novelty" to the same group that would think that if you were with a black guy, anyway. Avoiding a race to date won't change that.

And the prejudice from Asian to African-American (and back) is there for the same reason as all the rest: power. When you lack power, you try to find somebody else with LESS power, so you can feel better about that. So African-American folks like to do up how "foreign" Asian folks are, make fun of accents, etc. And Asian folks buy into the same stereotypes of black folks being "less than" that white folks do.

Ain't it grand?

CVT said...

Caffelattefuture -
The problem with the "be patient, see how far we've come" argument is that it tends to breed apathy. It gives people an excuse to just sit back and do nothing about it.

Because it's not like folks didn't have to actively FIGHT to make the changes that have come the last 40 years - but the "see how far we've come" argument suggests that it's been a natural progression, which ignores all the work that had to go into it (and still does).

Plus - it's hard to just "let it be" and wait out 40 years for change when I want to experience the benefits, or at least have my kids experience the benefits before they're grown.

CafeLatteFuture said...

CVT,

It's not apathy but rather seeing how far we've come but making sure we don't pick a wound open. People don't like being talked down to you have to mold them to the idea. It'd be great if you could just shout a slogan out "monoracial unions are so early 20th century" and get people to join in, but that wouldn't happen, I am one of those people who believes in that little slogan I said, but you have to work an idea into the general population. What should be focused on is pointing this out:

You know it's a really positive sign that we are seeing more Black women married to Asian men with children or Black women married to White men with children. It's good to know now we're moving forward in the 21st century and this proves it.

Unfortunately at times things come across as a negative which makes things sound like there are a bunch of Neanderthals running around clubbing people for being in these kinds of relationships. What that does is make people think we should develop eyes on the back of our heads. if we are in such a relationship.

If we where to think of America as a classroom with a trouble maker in the corner, the classroom is getting much larger and the gap with that trouble maker in the corner (aka racism) is getting further and further away. However, what we fail to do is generate the river of positive aspects of being in an interracial union by not reinforcing the idea of it being a progressive wave of the future whose time has come. Maybe I was a bit short and not to the point in my response before, but we have come a long way since the 60s. But it has been slow because we haven't focused in on promoting it as a positive idea that needs more consideration by teaching by action or by discussion the positive aspects rather than the difficulties of these relationships. You have to focus on the positive aspects to garner a broad support of these type of relationships, if you focus on a negative the negative sometimes carries a lopsided amount of weight that would outweigh what we believe is a positive.

Implant this idea in peoples head by focusing on the positive aspects. Outmoded ideas, which are the negative aspects is something we could do without and should phase out by giving attention to only the positive. If the negative comes up, just point that we're in the 21st century and need to recognize this as the direction the future is moving in. Doing such would increase the momentum rather than putting the brakes on it, we should be doing everything in our power to hit the accelerator on this.

I hope I didn't come across as too preachy on this. As my first response seemed too little, I just hope this wasn't too much.

Greg said...

Fascinating post and comments. Maybe I think this way cuz I'm white, or maybe it's cuz I'm gay, but, I'd bet that the most salient feature about the relationship between me and my partner is not that we are an interracial couple -- it's that we're both men. It seems that in the gay community in SF, interracial relationships are VERY common. Heck, in SF, in general, interracial dating is common. Come to think of it, a lot (maybe even most) of my friends that are in couples are in mixed race relationships -- though with the straight ones, it's usually the asian woman + white man configuration.

That said, in the gay community, it does seem that there are a fair number of racial "fetishists" (just like the with the straights, I realize). Like "rice queens" (guys who are attracted to asian guys) and "potato queens" (guys who are attracted to white guys). Then there's "sticky rice" (asian guys that are attracted to asian guys). And granted, there is the stereotype of the older, white, rice queen, daddy type who is always on the prowl for a slim, young, smooth, asian guy.

I have a good (gay) friend (mixed white & asian) who seems to have a few hang ups regarding race and men -- I think he thinks he's too white for the rice queens and too asian for the potato queens. However, he himself admittedly only likes white guys, and is pretty bitter towards all of the stereotypical young, skinny, smooth, fobby, asian guys that (in his mind) seem to snag all the (white) men.

It's strange for me to think about people who are only attracted to people of one race or ethnicity. I mean, it's so commonplace that I logically comprehend it, but I don't really "get" it. About a week ago, my partner and I were out at a party with a (straight, white, female) friend of his who's always "on the lookout" and so I pointed out a very attractive (probably Indian) guy to her and she was like, "Oh, I only date white guys." Her comment caught me a little off guard, but I swear I think the first thing I thought was "Damn, this girl is missing out!" because this guy was quite attractive. But who knows if she even found him attractive -- Is it that she only dates white guys or that she is only attracted to white guys? How much does one impinge on the other? Etc.

Anyway, the point is that you can't really control what/who other people are attracted to; heck, you can't even really control what/who you yourself are attracted to. So, in a way, if you're looking to see more and more interracial couples/families, there is nothing you *can* do but wait -- which is why I'm curious about CVT's comment to cafelattefuture. I understand the sentiment of not "being patient and waiting around" for social justice and equality, and while that may be reflected (to an extent) in how many mixed couples are out there (and their specific gender and ethnic compositions), it is certainly not the measure of it. After all, just because you're attracted primarily to a specific group does not make you prejudiced -- being gay doesn't mean that I'm a misogynist, for example. And I'd hate to label my partner's friend who only dates white guys a racist (though I understand how this is different, and that internalized and institutionalized racism are at work, there). But, attraction is much more complex than just that.

CafeLatteFuture said...

Greg,

I agree with you on the fact you can't change a persons sense of attraction once it becomes ingrained in them. That white female you encountered was a good example of such; however, if you have programs that promote diversity early on you can make a person more predispositioned to choosing a person of another race later on. Harpers Magazine ran an article on this some time ago:

http://harpers.org/archive/1993/12/0001485

article was "Ozone anxiety:
It's a white thing" By David A. Bush.

The article unfortunately rereading it now, the article sounds more like something that was inspired by Stephen Spielbergs movie AI which took a big bite out of a lot of social/enviromental issues and wrapped it up in one movie, well the article is kind of odd being they use environmental issues to call for increasing interracial unions by using work camps and summer camps that would put nominally white females in with non-white males in one camp and another camp vice versa to encourage interracial relationships. Well, if you stripped the environmental issue out for this the reasoning would be well thought out of but using the ozone hole (which seems to shrink and grow) as a reason I can't help but wonder if the author as well intentioned as he was wore a tin foil hat while writing it. If it was clear to the point to mold the idea of increasing interracial relationships and by extension births of children with plural racial backgrounds then the article would have come across a bit bolder and to the point than it was. In a sense you would be increasing the likelihood that the woman you encountered would have been more predisposed to actually give that interracial relationship a chance. Unfortunately such isn't the case right now but it would be good if a program was started to bring to children the idea of something more is out there than just people who look the same as the reflection that stares back at you in the mirror. In a sense we do this to ourselves when we allow cliquishness to take over and people do tend to flock to like more so than like minded.

I hope I don't sound brash on that but if such a program could be launched, I'd say the prediction of people being all blended together within 200 years would be reduced to perhaps as short as 35 years to maybe 50 tops. I'm not at all ashamed to advocate for that either. But playing this game of cards requires a few bold moves as well as a steady patient hand. Most of the moves needed as a precursor have been played with the exception being the diversity style recreation programs such as the Harper magazine article called for having.

We have the taboo of interracial dating and marriage taken care of, we have integrated schools (though as I pointed out like minds don't always flock together it's more so often than not peer pressures from obsolete taboos that play a part in this) and work places but what really is needed is a program in place to surround children and adolescence with encouragement for picking members of another race as playmates early on and later on in adolescence a member of another race for the first kiss and further down the road a serious relationship and/or marriage.

Of course, I'm being preachy again here but it's a passion now to preach this.

*note I use the term nominal white because a lot of people who are "white" looking are mixed. We cannot be for sure how mixed it is since a fire had destroyed the registry of people who had been noted as being of mixed black decedent. (I forget where this registry was right now I am a bit tired and don't have the get up and hunt it down) but it is safe to say a lot of white people have a black person on the family tree from sometime ago. Just the outmoded concept of race purity seems to filter in. I'll more than likely blog this one myself tomorrow sometime along with a youtube video I found.

Anyhow, it's good to hear of people with like minded beliefs, this is how a movement gets going and to think about it, this movement is worth advancing as fast as possible.

CafeLatteFuture said...

Here is an blog on Integration being the theory, interracial relationships being the practice.

http://cafelattefuture.blogspot.com/2008/11/racial-integration-is-theory.html

There is a wealth of video footage from news stories in that entry to prove the point as well, definitely worth watching the videos if nothing else to pound home a point.

Jennifer said...

Wow, this has been such a great post for comments! I'm still traveling and thus don't have time to respond to every commenter, but I really want to thank everyone for their thoughts--and for engaging in respectful discussion/dialogue. I know this is a heated topic but I feel everyone desires the same thing: hearing one another respectfully, even if s/he disagrees with your pov.

Many of you have said things where I nodded my head yes and some of you have written things where I have tilted my head in a puzzled way.

My own take about specific black-Asian dating patterns is that I think that for better or worse, there is a racial hierarchy in this country in which whiteness is afforded the top rung on the race ladder and blackness is afforded the bottom run. The pernicioousness of race means that specific ethnic groups have been able to move up and down that ladder, but generally speaking, because European colonizers enslaved Africans and brought them to "the New World" and then drove off Indigenous Populations from their lands, the power and hence the prestige affored to Europeans (ie: whites) has been fairly consistent over four centuries, as has the perception of African American and Indian Americans as more pitiable/pitied/reviled groups (hence their status on the bottom rung).

I am in NO WAY endorsing this pov. Most anti-racist education aims to make this construction clear and then to show how it is problematic but also how it is changeable.

And most importantly, how the problem isn't race as much as racism.

So do Asian Americans have more of a problem with their sons/daughters dating African Americans? On average it's probably yes because of their own internalized racism of this ladder. That doesn't mean that there aren't profound exceptions. But it does contribute to the idea that newer immigrant groups and more conservative Asian Americans will be less open to inter-racial dating of any pairing, but esp. with African Americans.

Do African Americans fetishize Asian Americans more than other races? Nope--I think there's some pretty equal opportunity fetishizing going on. IN fact to echo CVT, most of my uncomfortable moments with the Asian fetish guys were white guys--I'd say about 90% and that 10% was mixed with African American, Latino and even Asian American.

Finally, I really don't believe that the world engaging in inter-racial mating/sex is going to end racism. I think it would be great if it happened--and maybe it would change some attitudes. But we've seen situations like Brazil and Cuba. And colorism exists in the African American and South Asian communities. If the goal is to end racism, then race mixing doesn't seem like the most efficient way to have that happen. It wouldn't hurt I suppose, but it's not going to be a panacea and the truth is, if we figured out a way to end racism, then who slept with whom and partnered with whom (by measures of race, gender, or sexuality) would really become moot.

CafeLatteFuture said...

jennifer, according to the population bulletin, Vol 60. no. 2 June 2005 published by the population reference bureau, they say:

New Marriages, New Families: U.S. Racial and Hispanic Intermarriage
Racial and Hispanic intermarriage has emerged as a significant feature of U.S. society
since 1970. Changes in laws and social attitudes, narrowing education and
income gaps between whites and others, and growing Asian and Hispanic populations
have all contributed to increased intermarriage. The number of multiracial
Americans is growing through increased racial intermarriage. Multiracial children
and their parents are helping to erode historical barriers between racial groups and
are changing how Americans think about race.


To say that interracial mating isn't changing the way people deal with race means someone is listening to too much negative propaganda. This is the reason interracial marriages aren't running at a faster pace than they are. The talk down effect spreads negative sentiment fast, if the main stream media or colleges do that but when you go out on the street and talk to people espcially those in interracial relationships negatives don't drive those peoples apart it brings them closer it might scare off other people who would otherwise go interracial to hear negatives. Here is an interesting video on it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bLzfHoyZXM

Notice that the studies that are used to talk down interracial relationships using race as a bat to knock it down in mainstream sources, but check out what the actual on the street report says. Stunning isn't it?

CVT said...

Let's see if I can clarify:
In my opinion, the number of interracial unions (and the specific make-up of such) is a direct indication of the level of racism (whether institutionalized, or otherwise) in this country. Therefore, if people actively fight to get more rights, equality, and POSITIVE media representation for non-white races, then we would naturally see more interracial couples (and mixed kids) as a result.

Because it's a simple matter of acceptance. If it's generally acceptable for white folks to date black folks, then it will happen more. However, as long as there's a general sense of black people being somehow LESS THAN white folks, we'll see limited coupling. That's why black women and Asian men are the least likely to be involved in (straight) interracial relationships - because they're the least "acceptable" partners in the American racial structure. However, if we started seeing the both of them playing roles in the media that had them being desirable partners (not just "angry, strong" black women or "weak, foreign" Asian men), the rest of the nation would follow suit.

Sure - we've come a long way. But again, I think that's as a reflection of the fight for general equality and exposure - which is an ACTIVE process - as opposed to "inevitable" racial mixing. So you can't go parade around and fight for interracial relationships - but you CAN fight for exposure and the beat-down of stereotypes that prevent that from happening.

Because the only other way to speed it up is what caffelattefuture was talking about - basically, interracial exposure camps. Because it's just experience and exposure. If you're around another race a lot, you'll learn to get over the gut stereotypes and start being open to dating them. If you've never been around them, then you only have gut prejudices to run off of, and then it's just not going to happen.

However - I'm with jennifer in saying that having more mixed folks isn't going to necessarily change racism. Reducing racism would more likely result in more mixed folks, but we shouldn't get the connections confused and rest on our laurels - THAT'S what I'm saying.

We're headed in a positive direction, but that doesn't mean we can't do better.

* For a more thorough explanation of why more racial mixing isn't going to "end racism," see my post:
http://choptensils.blogspot.com/2008/07/on-being-bridge.html

CafeLatteFuture said...

CVT,

If you look around youtube you can find videos of asian men/black women on there as well as asian men/white women too. Here is something to ponder.

I am 35 years old.

When I was in high school it was common for white females to date black males but white males dating black females, FORGET IT! Back then there was a lot of pressure from whites to stick around whites (no matter how much of a batch of asswipes whites can be to eachother if you think racism is bad you should experience the sense of elitism certain cliques of whites have, or maybe had by now, towards other whites)

Black females had a kind of toss up, though I never saw any black female / white males going out, I did hear of black females making passes at white males (I never had any) but again black females even had the gossip factor against each other that was pretty, nasty to say the least back then. Not to mention how other whites would act if you dared to "go black" as far as guys went. Not to say they didn't say nasty things about white females but the difference is, a white female would never get her ass kicked by another female for doing that a white male, you'd get a good roughing up. Possibly getting a roughing up by some black males as well as other white males.

One of the problems I had back then though was the "bamboo jungle fever" label, I did make passes at asian females back then but the shoot downs I got was nothing compared to what white females would do to me. I learned not to tough the flame from white females (again, i point back the cliquish elitism whites have towards one another).

This sounds like some dirty laundry being aired but if I compared to now it's seems things are a lot tamer. I do see more and more black female/white male couples, I've seen some black female/asian male combos (both with and without children) white females/asian males and various combos there of. So the situation is correcting itself. Just the speed isn't fast it is coming along but one of the problems with this is putting people into defensive mode. Some of the social problems perceived by interracial couples can cause them to circle the wagon and become closer. Maybe it can break them up but from what I saw on a youtube video that I posted a post ago. Also, the population reference bureau article shows that this is coming around. It is an all around positive sign, I have faith in the changing attitude of people.

quote to ponder:

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. --Arthur Schopenhauer

CVT said...

Caffelattefuture -
The problem is this: you are now 35 years old. But you are comparing your experiences in HIGH SCHOOL to what you see now - but it doesn't work like that.

High school students still do EXACTLY what you're talking about (whether it's about race or not). There's still tremendous pressure on all sides regarding interracial relationships. Things have changed - but moderately - and random videos that you have sought out on YouTube doesn't represent the media that is forced down our throats on a non-voluntary basis.

Now you're 35. So you have had more experiences and exposure to different people and situations. So of COURSE you've seen more interracial combinations than what you saw in high school. Partly because you're probably more aware and looking for it, partly because you're not in high school, anymore. (I would also argue that a big part of it is a comparison of the demographics you were regularly exposed to OUTSIDE of your high school peers, as opposed to now, as you've become an adult in the world; but I don't know how that breaks down, because you didn't specify).

Because, if I was going to use similar experiences as evidence - I grew up in the SF Bay Area, a very diverse place. I am the product of an interracial union. I had a ridiculously diverse group of friends, involved in all sorts of combinations of interracial relationships. When I walked around Oakland, or Berkeley - I saw all sorts of mixed folks like me, as well as mixed couples.

But then I left the Bay, and I haven't seen any of that anywhere else I've lived since. But do I take that as an indication of a national trend, or just that the Bay actually has some diversity, whereas the majority of this country does not?

And I have a couple other issues with what you wrote:
"I learned not to tough the flame of white females."

So you ended up going for Asian women. Which is EXACTLY the race-tinged dynamic that bothers so many of us. The idea that you WANTED white women, but had to turn to another race (a stereotypically more "submissive" race) to find women to date. On the flip, the assumption is that the Asian women were more willing to date you because of the "superior" attractiveness of white males over their own race (or others). THAT'S the fetish-speak we talk about. One reason 70% of interracial relationships between white and Asian consist of a white man and Asian woman. That isn't breaking down any barriers - in some ways, it actually ENFORCES stereotypes when people have no other reference points.

Now - I'm not saying that's why you ended up with who you did or anything like that. But your wording didn't sit right, and I wanted to set that straight.

Last thing - please don't try to compare racism with "white cliquism" (specifically, white high school cliquism). It's insulting and dismissive of an institutionalized system with a LONG history of oppression. Every race can be bad to each other (everyBODY can be bad to one another), but that holds no comparison to the systemic racism of this country. The everyday bullsh-- folks of color deal with in a nation not built with us in mind. The unequal schooling, the constant subtle slights, the treatment as foreigners in our own country . . .

This last piece assumes you to be white, so please set me straight if I'm wrong on this.

I admire your positive outlook, but please take some time to sit back and get a feel for issues of race in this country before you stick to your quick-fix ideas to "end racism." The fact that you're reading this is hopeful. I hope you read Racialicious, as well. Ask questions - and truly listen. Talk to people of color about their experiences with race - the assumptions that people throw at them, the weight on their shoulders, the things we have to think about in a given social situation that a white person never will have to think about. Please. Being in an interracial relationship doesn't make you an expert. My father had similar beliefs, and that's why we can't talk about a lot of things that affect me in my life - because he wasn't willing to really listen. Maybe that's why I'm reacting so strongly to this particular dialogue . . . I don't know. But do your kid(s) (unborn or otherwise) a favor and really do the work.

Again - it seems like you are, and I appreciate this dialogue; just don't stop now.

rdaza said...

The idea that interracial unions are somehow an "answer" to racism is ridiculous and a good example of lifestyle poli-tricks at its very worst. To be frank, it's a political cop out.

As someone above said, certain forms of interracial relationships (like the pervasive White Male/Asian female duo) in fact could REINFORCE both racism/sexism and the USA's racial caste system.

As most people here probably know all too well, the White male is at the top of the food chain romantically/sexually while the Asian woman is often positioned as a hypersexualized (if not outright Orientalized) "partner" for him. Hence, the pervasive pairing of these two groups that we see in the media and culture.

This is hardly racial equality in action. Indeed, it will only reiterate the tired White Male Supremacist order that we live in.

The answer to ending racism (and White Supremacy) is to start attacking and dismantling the existing institutions and cultures that perpetrate racial hierarchy, and to create alternative institutions and cultures that are based upon more egalitarian principles.

In short, the solution for racism (or any other form of oppression) is political struggle and ultimately social revolution.

Jennifer said...

I really appreciate how rich and respectful this discussion thread has been. I imagine that people have felt a bit "poked" at times, but in general I think the level of discussion/discourse has been pointed but polite.

My own additional comment on this thread is to clarify a comment in response to CafeLatte, who misinterpreted/misread a comment I wrote.

I said that the problem, as I understand it, is with racism rather than race. (Please see my post on my blog about "Getting rid of Race"--you can find it under the subheading on the right side of my blog "posts about anti-racism."

I really do believe that it's important to understand race as a product of racism. Which means that trying to deal with race is almost always going to be a losing battle if you are trying to strike at the heart of inequity and prejudice and discrimination. Because the REAL issue is the structural and historic and cultural/social forces that create a racial hierarchy and thus inequity and thus racism.

I do believe that inter-racial relationships, both romantic and platonic, do change race relations and do impact people's feelings and values about race. And I don't mean that this is always positive. As CVT and rdaza have noted, the prevalence of Asian-female/white-male partnerings has only furthered exoticization and stereotypes to a certain degree (see the docmentary SLAYING THE DRAGON--it's an excellent take on this subject).

But on the whole, I am in favor of interracial mixing of all sorts--I DO believe in a "mixed race America."

I just don't believe it will END racism. I'm not exactly sure what will end racism--hopefully time, although I'm not entirely confident about that weak answer. Hopefully blood, sweat, and tears, although we certainly have had our share of that and we still have racism.

I do know that we have to be able to identify and talk about these things with one another as much as possible, so to that degree, this entire thread is a step in the right direction.