White Men Don’t Like Black Women Says Who? Another Look

white-man-black-woman-embraceIn the first look at the concept of “white men don’t like black women”, the why of the phenomenon was discussed — what causes some to say and believe this idea, and what are their motives? Anecdotal evidence of many disagrees with the notion, but what about the actual numbers? Do they suggest, in fact, that white men in America do not like black women?

Recently, a reader named ALfie added a response to the original post, stating that yes, interracial marriage numbers would suggest that the claim that white men don’t black women has some truth to it:

Well it is true according  to statistics.
White men choice:
White women: 50000000, Asian women 529000, Other 488000, Black women 168000
Stats show black women are least chosen

Laying aside that these particular stats don’t account for the percentage of each group in the American population, these and similar stats are usually presented as undeniable evidence by proponents of the “white men don’t like black women” theory. Yet as obvious as some may believe it seems, numbers don’t talk — they don’t give any background information; they don’t tell us why.

Marriage Isn’t Simply Attraction

If marriage were just an issue of “man sees woman, man likes woman, man marries woman,” then those who believe white men don’t like black women based on interracial marriage numbers in the United States would, in general, be correct. Marriage, however, results from a variety of factors and influences. Absent strong opposing evidence, one can only conclude that these factors have as much to do, if not more, with the number of interracial marriages as does simple attraction.

Familiarity, Normality, and Approval

Outside of location, three external factors seem to strongly influence whether two people will date and eventually marry: familiarity, normality, and approval. As a whole, these elements aren’t encouraging of the marriage between black women and white men, and may even work against it.

  • Familiarity: How familiar are two people with each other; how well do they feel they know each other? Familiarity creates comfort and those who are familiar with each other are more likely to date and marry. White men and black women, in general, occupy vastly different locations and social environments, resulting in a lack of familiarity.
  • Normality: Is a certain pairing considered “good”, “normal”, or “usual” in the given surroundings? Would such a pairing be in contrast to others? White men and black women as a couple is seen less in both media and reality, leading to a lack of normality in a feedback loop.
  • Approval: What sort of reactions would dating provoke from family, close friends, and from others in the person’s surroundings? Would dating someone cause negative consequences, socially or financially? Studies and commentary exploring interracial relationships have shown that white men and black women alike express worries that interracial dating could bring about undesirable effects.

So, what is the verdict — do white men like black women or not? It’s doubtful that anyone could give an answer that would hold up to all scrutiny. Though one thing is certain: numbers don’t give any answers.

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Why the Increase in Interracial Marriage Doesn’t Mean a Decrease in Racism


Since the Pew Research Center published their 2012 report on recent interracial marriages in the United States, the country has been abuzz with more news of the ever-increasing rise in interracial marriage. Most people and articles on the topic take a clearly positive view of this increase, claiming that rise in interracial marriage indicates that the United States is moving forward, towards becoming a society where race and ethnicity are less of an issue.

Between the fact that nearly 1 in 6 marriages in 2010 were between members of different ascribed races and our black/mixed president of interracial parentage, surely no one can deny that the United States is becoming a post-racial society, if it hasn’t already become one?

Except some people, such as myself, don’t think it’s that simple. Behind the overall increase in interracial marriage lurks some noteworthy data, data which seems to contradict the idea of the United States as a place where racial stereotypes are decreasing in importance. And besides all the positive aspects of a rise in interracial marriage, is a less prejudiced society really one of them? Can interracial marriage alone eradicate racism in a society founded upon racial thought? Judge for yourself:

1. Interracial marriage is not equal between genders

As most people recognize, interracial marriage rates tend to be quite skewed by gender — men and women of the various races interracially marriage in different proportions. Newlywed marriages echo these stark differences: not much has changed.

Following previous patterns, Asian women and non-Asian men married at more than twice the rate that Asian men and non-Asian women married in 2010. The difference between the interracial marriages of black men and non-black women and black women and non-black women is the same — black men married out at more than twice the rate of black women.

So while there was an overall rise in interracial marriage, long-held differences in gender remain. But these numbers also show another, just as important difference…

2. The increase in interracial marriage is mainly among those with already high interracial rates

kissing-outdoorsWhat all the positive discussion about the rise of interracial marriage seems to leave out is that the growth in interracial marriage is mostly reflective of an increase among those with already relatively large interracial marriage rates. Others remained the same or even decreased.

Interracial marriage among Hispanic men and women rose slightly in 2010 to over a quarter, closing matching earlier years. Interracial marriage among black men, however, rose nearly 2 percent from 2008 — the largest increase of any ethnic/gender combination. A small percentage at first glance, this addition equals nearly 1 in 4 newlywed black men. This is over three times as much as the growth in interracial marriage for their female counterparts, at an increase of 0.5 percent.

Asian interracial marriage surprisingly saw noticeable declines in 2010, with both showing about a 3 percent decrease. In fact, the only population with an increase which was fairly equal among the genders was white men and women.

Now, what does this all mean? For starters, it suggest that the increase in interracial marriage doesn’t mean an increase for everyone. But also that the rise in interracial marriage may mean not the dying away of racially motivated thinking and racial barriers, but a strengthening of them: Differences in interracial marriage in 2010 closely follow those that can be seen in years, and even decades before, only in larger numbers.

So, is the overall increase in interracial marriage a “good” thing? In most areas, yes. But does it show a great change in America’s racial climate? Not as much as we are led to believe.

What do you think of the increase in interracial marriage over the past couple of years?

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On Black Women Empowerment Blogs


Black Women Empowerment (BWE) blogs are a niche of blogs which center on discussion and  improvement of the lives of black women in the United States, and the world.

Black Women Empowerment blogs are a diverse group — some focus mainly on practical advice designed to enhance the lives of black women, others on current issues which affect black women, and many more on dating and marriage with a spotlight on interracial relations. Some combine all of these subjects. BWE blogs address and cater to the particular needs of a group which isn’t often acknowledged in more mainstream arenas.

Since their inception Black Female Empowerment blogs have created waves in the blogosphere. BWE blogs, their owners, and their writings draw strong reactions and criticism. Some hail the writings of BWE blogs as groundbreaking and essential, but BWE blogs have also been denounced as everything from hateful and bitter to pathetic and misguided. Blogs have been created to oppose and ridicule their messages.

BWE bloggers and participants have responded to these accusations on occasion, but here I’ll explore in-depth some of the most common criticisms of Black Women Empowerment blogs, the reasoning behind them, and the accuracy of these assessments.

1. “Black Women Empowerment blogs are full of bitter and angry women”

One of the main purposes of BWE blogs is to alert black women to pressing issues in their communities and raise awareness. As such, articles and comments tend to be written in a straightforward, direct style. Words are not moderated for sensitivity — BWE blogs are clear about confronting issues and those who have been identified as sources of these issues.

The blunt manner of many Black Female Empowerment Blogs is read by some as anger and animosity. But this is a perception caused by the reader and their background and not necessarily reflective of the writer or even the writing — another reader may view the same writing as positive and calm. A writer may view their message as urgent and style their words to demonstrate this urgency, even though they may be relaxed while writing. A willingness to tackle difficult ongoing situations with confidence can be seen as optimism that change is possible, instead of begrudging.

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Colorblindness and Other Myths About Interracial Dating


Pew Research Survey of Americans' Views on Interracial Unions (2010)

“Love knows no color.”

“The heart wants what the heart wants.”

“It doesn’t matter whether a person is black, white, pink, or purple.”

When it comes to interracial dating and marriage, most people claim they are color blind — that they don’t consider the perceived race or ethnicity of potential dates. Many in mixed societies such as the United States will also add that race has become a non-issue in dating or is quickly becoming so. Yet nearly every study and anecdotal evidence of how and who people actually date and marry shows otherwise.

Love is not [color] blind

Colorblindness as a social concept is largely a myth — people notice immediately and make judgments on superficial characteristics such as gender, dress, and yes, race. In activities as personal as dating, people use perceived race or ethnicity to make instant assessments about a person’s interests, attractiveness, and even personality.

As physical appearance is the most readily noticeable trait about a person on first meeting, it can be a determining factor in whether one chooses to romantically approach another or accept an approach. In mixed nations where divisions (and hierarchies) are made based on race, race influences perceptions of physical beauty, whether one is aware of it or not.

In any case, few people are blind to differences in physical aspects such as weight, height, and style of dress — these are important factors to many people in assessments of potential dates. So how and why would they disregard an equally noticeable trait such as race or ethnicity?

Social Trends in Interracial Dating and Marriage

Trends in interracial dating and marriage show clear patterns. The most noticeable pattern being that interracial relations trail far behind intraracial relations, especially in the United States. Socioeconomic divisions are one cause of this disparity, but it can’t be the only cause — three quarters of Americans live in urban areas with a racially diverse group of residents. If most people live in areas with a sizable amount of people of various races, why aren’t there more interracial unions?

The same is true for the interracial unions that do take place — certain trends persist. Some pairings greatly outnumber others, and are disproportionate to their members’ percentage in populations. Other pairings are almost non-existent, and not for lack of available participants.

Studies on interracial dating show that while most people date intraracially, members of certain groups are more open to, or even prefer interracial dating, while others strongly prefer not to interracially date. How could this be if love knows no color?

Colorblindness was never particularly convincing as a social idea, but in interracial dating and marriage it seems it simply does not apply.

*Other myths include “Common Pairing = Natural Attraction” and “Racial Preference is Personal”

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Jill Scott is a Bigot or How to Misunderstand Racism

jill-scottBigotry and racism, they’re easy to understand, right?

A bigot is a person who is partial to their own group or way of thinking and intolerant of others. A racist is someone who believes that a person’s race is the primary deciding factor in their character, capabilities, and worth.

Sounds simple, yet it’s not.

Musicians and recent White House guests Jill Scott and Common have come under harsh criticism for comments they made in past interviews and songs. Both artists were personally invited by First Lady Michelle Obama to perform at the White House’s Poetry Night in early May 2011. And both artists have been called racists and bigots for their comments about interracial dating and marriage, particularly those involving black men and white women in the United States.

The criticisms of their comments, while well-meant, offer a perfect opportunity to show how racism and bigotry can be easily and boldly misunderstood when a person lacks proper background knowledge and experience.

First, the comments. Jill Scott comments in the April 2010 issue of Essence Magazine:

My new friend is handsome, African-American, intelligent and seemingly wealthy…I admit when I saw his wedding ring, I privately hoped. But something in me just knew he didn’t marry a sister. Although my guess hit the mark, when my friend told me his wife was indeed Caucasian, I felt my spirit…wince. I didn’t immediately understand it.’

And Common’s comments in an interview with Touch Magazine in 2005:

I don’t think there’s anything the matter with somebody loving somebody from another race but it’s almost like a stereotype that if you’ve got dreadlocks you go out with a white girl. I just feel like, as black men, we do have to be aware that every time we step out with some woman it’s setting an example for our daughters and it’s also representing something for our mothers. If you can’t really love your own, how can you really love others?

“My whole thing is that black women have been so put down – whether it’s due to the oppression of a white government or we [black men] putting our own women down. When dudes say they only gonna focus on white girls, to me, it’s like a slap in a black girl’s face. I still feel like because I’m an artist and I say certain things, I have a responsibility to let people know what I mean.”

Then, the criticism. Conservative blogger and journalist Patrick Courrielche’s response is typical:

“If [Jill Scott’s] words were put in the mouth of a Caucasian, the viewpoint would reek of bigotry.

Should Jill Scott and Common be uninvited to the White House Poetry event? At this point, probably not… But the First Lady should ask that Common and Jill Scott renounce their statements, and use the opportunity to help the black community see that many of their icons are big contributors to the racial divide that they so obviously abhor.”

What is wrong with the response of Patrick Courrielche and others? They assume that black Americans and white Americans are in equal positions in American society. That similar statements made by black and white people somehow have the same basic meaning and origin.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

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Overused Terms (2): Sellout

black-woman-white-man-swedenNote: This is part 2 of a series on overused terms

Racial sellout is a term applied to a person who is disloyal to their racial background and history in order to gain economically or socially. The racial sellout can be a person whose political or personal beliefs, or way of acting and thinking differ from the majority of their race, or one who denies their racial heritage. The racial sellout can also be a person who dates or marries outside of their ascribed racial group.

In the case of the interracially involved person, the term is often applied to a non-white woman dating or married to a white man. Presumptions are made about the person’s motive for dating a person of another background. These assumptions include the person dating or marrying for social or economic advancement, the person discounting their racial background, and the person desiring a partner who is not of their race. When examined closely, these notions don’t hold up to scrutiny:

1. Interracial marriage equals economic and social gain


It is assumed that interracial marriage, particularly that of a white person to a non-white person, brings financial gain to the non-white partner. This is not so, according to studies on the subject. Interracial marriages, especially interracial marriages involving a non-white woman, most commonly take place between people of similar income levels. Research has shown that as a person’s socioeconomic level increases, their likelihood of dating or marrying interracially also increases. This suggests that greater income should be seen as a result, at best, of interracial marriage, and not a cause of it.


Interracial marriage and dating does not change a person’s racial or ethnic status, or any social factors that may come along with it. If a marriage includes a non-white person and a white partner, any children they have will not have the racial status of the white parent, but more likely be perceived as closer to the non-white parent.

indian-woman-white-manAs a result of their perceived racial status remaining unchanged, the interracially married person will also likely incur social stigma for marrying outside of their race. Stigma such as being presumed a racial sellout.

2. The interracially involved person discounts their racial background

The term sellout implies that a person is trading in their racial heritage for gain. But being interracially married does not mean that a person has to disregard their own background. In fact, an interracially married person may be closely involved with their cultural background and people of their ascribed race and have a strong sense of ethnic pride. They may bring this awareness to their marriage and any children they may have. Historically, several leaders against racial discrimination have been interracially married. Their marriages did not diminish their attention to pressing racial matters.

3. The interracially involved person desired a partner who was not of their race

As always, before assumptions are made, the reality that a person may sincerely love a person of another race; without ulterior motives or racial self-loathing must be acknowledged. Despite the racial inequalities throughout many societies in the past and present, some people don’t view race as a factor or see beyond it when choosing potential partners.

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Overused Terms (1): Self-Hating


Note: This is part 1 of a series on overused terms

Self-hating, or self-hatred, is a disliking of oneself and/or one’s ethnic or racial group.  The term is often used in a belittling manner to describe non-white people in interracial relationships, including those who date exclusively or mainly outside of their race. The basis for this charge is the idea that the person in an interracial relationship wishes to escape their race or ethnicity by uniting with their partner.

In accusing a person in an interracial relationship or marriage of self-hatred, several assumptions are made. These assumptions are made without knowing if they are fitting of the situation:

1. The accused person has a strong sense of racial or ethnic identity

In accusing an interracial dater of self-hatred, the accuser assumes that the person has a sense of themselves as a member of a particular racial or ethnic group. This is a faulty assumption.

Although many non-white groups living in majority white countries are aware of their racial status, this is not always the case. Some non-white people do not consider themselves to be essentially different, or do not consider this difference to be important to their sense of self and identity. How can someone loathe themselves due to their race if they don’t identify with their race?

asian-woman-self-hatred2. The accused person identifies with the opposite gender of their race

Accusers consider the two genders of a racial or ethnic group to be inherently the same or similar. But the person in an interracial relationship may not view the situation the same way, even if they have a strong sense of racial identity. For example, a black man may see himself as essentially different from a black woman. He may like or love everything about himself yet dislike everything about the opposite gender of his race. He wouldn’t be a self-hater because it’s not himself he loathes, but the opposite sex of his group.

3. Interracial dating allows a person to escape their race

Interracial relationships may not provide a way to leave your race behind. Instead, interracially dating can cause a person to become more aware of their race. It can be hard to ignore the stares, disapproval, shock, curiosity, and of course, the accusations of self-hatred. As far as race goes, it would be easier to be in an intraracial relationship — ideas about race would be less of an issue.

4. The accused person sought out a partner of a different race

Above all, many of those in interracial relationships or marriages did not set out to be in one. While there are certainly those who looked for a partner of a particular race (or not of a particular race), many more did not. They simply found someone they loved and were compatible with and did not allow race to become a barrier to establishing a lasting relationship.

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White Men Don’t Like Black Women? Says Who?


Note: Some may take offense to this post. My goal with this post is to be honest.

That white men don’t desire black women as romantic partners is a concept accepted –in fact, promoted– by many black Americans, without questioning. Ask a random black person in the United States what they think of relationships involving black women and white men and you’re likely to get responses which lead back to this theory; the theory that white men simply aren’t attracted to black women.

As a black woman who has been in relationships with men from a variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds, and whose current partner is white, I was at first puzzled by these statements. Besides that I was completely unaware that as a woman of African descent I was supposed to be considered undesirable to men I was regularly involved with, two aspects of this phenomenon impressed upon me. (1) It wasn’t only racist whites who were encouraging the notion that white men aren’t attracted to black women, but blacks; even black women and (2) not only did blacks believe this idea, but they forcefully try to convince anyone who disagrees that their belief is the set in stone truth.

But why? Why are blacks spending so much time advocating this idea? I’ve analyzed this phenomenon and have concluded that its basis lies in three major areas:

  • Internalization of Eurocentric Beauty Standards
  • Black Women as Competition
  • Control of Black Women and Black Women as the Backbone of the “Black Community”

Internalization of Eurocentric Beauty Standards

Among racially aware blacks there is much talk that standards of beauty are heavily centered on a European appearance; that this is one of the main reasons why white men aren’t attracted to women of African descent. But what is less mentioned is the extent to which blacks themselves have internalized these standards.

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Lakeview Terrace

lakeview-terraceAlee’s Analysis: The trials and triumphs of an interracial couple are displayed in a way that turns stereotypes on their head.

Lakeview Terrace is a 2008 movie about a couple who is harassed by their neighbor for being interracially married. Samuel L. Jackson stars as Abel Turner, a widowed Los Angeles Police Department officer who lives in suburban LA and torments his new next door neighbors, Chris and Lisa Mattson (Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington). The neighbors become entangled in a long and bitter dispute over both physical and psychological boundaries.

Lakeview Terrace is based on a true story.

The Good

Abel Turner and Chris Mattson are believable in their interactions; Samuel L. fit the character of Abel Turner perfectly. Chris Mattson is amazingly attractive and Lisa Mattson is beautiful. It is nice to see an onscreen couple involving a white man and a black woman who does not feed into stereotypes or devolve into negativity. Chris is a somewhat uptight yet likeable character.

Favorite scene: In a late night bar scene, Abel tells Chris how he became a widower and why he is so against Chris and Lisa’s marriage. No spoilers — watch the movie to find out the details.

The Bad

Outside of the main characters, the acting in Lakeview Terrace is subpar, at best. Lisa Mattson is a one-dimensional character and doesn’t add much to the movie outside of her role as wife to Chris. Chris’ attempts to put off having children make him seem selfish.

The movie is centered around Chris Mattson and the problems he faces as one half of a black woman/white man couple. Focusing only on Chris’ issues presents an inaccurate portrayal of the difficulties faced by these couples: the woman in these pairings also faces opposition, often more than the man does.

Lakeview Terrace is a good film, but not great: many scenes stop short where they could have gone more in-depth. What makes the movie worthwhile is the excellent acting of the main characters and the chance to glimpse into a rarely explored social issue.

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Interracial Marriage and Divorce: The Study

When the topic of interracial dating and marriage is examined, often cited are statistics on the relative frequency of certain marriages, especially compared to others. But what about the durability of these unions? Are interracial marriages more likely to end in divorce than are same-race marriages?

Earlier studies have concluded that, overall, interracial marriages have less duration than same-race marriages. Some of the studies concluded, however, that factors such as educational level (as educational level goes up, the likelihood divorce goes down) and the age at marriage (marriages occurring earlier in life are more likely to end in divorce) had more bearing on the stability of these marriages than the racial differences of the individuals; members of interracial pairings are more likely to have traits correlated with a higher probability of divorce. However, these studies failed to account for gender in connection with the race of each individual in interracial marriages. A recent study published by the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) explored this aspect in interracial couples in the United States.

Using data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, the study analyzed almost 6,000 men and women between the ages of 15-44 who had ever been married, over a period of ten years. Their study found that:

  • Marriages involving a black husband and white wife were twice as likely to divorce as marriages involving a white husband and white wife. When adjusted for background aspects such as age at marriage and educational level, differences between black male/white female marriages and white male/white female marriages virtually disappeared in some cases. This suggests that, contrary to prior findings, the higher rate of interracial divorce between black male/white female marriages is not due to background factors.
  • Asian male/white female marriages were 59 percent more likely to end in divorce than white male/white female marriages.
  • Marriages involving a white husband and black wife were substantially less likely to end in divorce than marriages involving a white husband and white wife; the former pairing’s divorce rate was 44 percent less than the latter.
  • Couples composed of a white husband and Asian wife were 4 percent more likely to end in divorce than marriages involving a white husband and white wife.
  • Hispanic white/non-Hispanic white and Asian/white marriages were more liable to divorce than those of in-married Hispanic whites and Asians.
  • Marriages including a black husband and white wife were more prone to divorce than those composed of black husbands and black wives. Black male/white female couples also had the highest likelihood of divorce of all white/non-white marriages.
  • While interracial marriage correlates to a higher rate of divorce, this parallel applies mainly to marriages involving a non-white male and white female.

This study seems to both contradict and confirm popular beliefs about  gender, race and marriage. What do you think of the results? Do you agree or disagree with the findings? What factors could be influencing the striking gender differences in divorce rates of interracial couples?

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