Attempting optimistic misanthropy

Posts Tagged ‘Interracial Relationships’

Good Reads: Interracial Relationships

Posted by Hussyville on March 29, 2010

Jill Scott has penned an article for Essence where she describes her “wince” at seeing black men coupled with women of another race. There was a long (seriously, unplug the phone and get a bottle of wine) discussion about the piece and interracial relationships in general on Jezebel, with brief diversions into privilege and the beauty standard, which led to a link being provided to Alienation’s essay, What If Black Women Were White Women?

Now, I have chosen my past mates based on who is available and compatible when I’m horny. I don’t relate to Jill Scott’s uneasiness with interracial relationships at all, but then I’m not
African-American and therefore have neither the historical baggage nor the same cultural references. Still, it does seem that Essence have decided that interracial relationships are the go-to issue when they want to stir up their readers. A couple of months ago, it was the controversy over having Reggie Bush on the cover of the “Love” issue when he was going out with Kim Kardashian. The next issue had a mea culpa-ish Letter from the Editor. Now, it’s Jill Scott saying “Ewww! Miscegenation!” Cue another avalance of reader comments. It’s almost as though Loving vs. Virginia never happened.

I get where Jill Scott is coming from, after a fashion. Successful African-American men have shown a marked willingness to marry women from another race, black women less so. Among East Asian Americans, women are more likely to “marry out” than men. Generalisations and stereotypes abound, offering all sorts of explanations and theories as to why this happens, running the gamut from thoughtful to batshit insane. But when it comes down to an individual level, I don’t believe that anyone is “owned” by their ethnic community, and has no obligation to carry on the greater family line. No matter how distressing she or anyone else may find it, Jill Scott has no right be be telling people that they are betraying their race by being in a relationship that isn’t monoracial.

Then again, in terms of desirability as mates, African-American women are seen as being at the bottom of the totem pole, at least if OKCupid is to be believed. This is where gender and race intersect, which made reading Alienation’s essay so interesting. Imagine that the positions were reversed, and it were not white female features that were held up as the beauty standard, but those of black women instead? Would white women chafe as strongly as Jill Scott when a black women “stole” one of “their” men? Would white men think that they had “arrived” if they had a black trophy wife? And how would the media portray white feminity?

I can’t possibly begin to try explaining what goes on in other women’s heads, especially when I myself don’t have a problem with interracial relationships. And the discomfort described by Jill Scott (and the readers comments below her article) may be particular to African-American culture or American society in general. I just don’t know. What is apparent to me is that there are an awful lot of people who thinks that the colour of your skin means they are entitled to an opinion on your personal life, whether they know you or not.

Sidenote: Ms Scott allegedly has a bit of a bee in her bonnet about interracial relationships, to the point where she’ll lecture her audience about it at gigs. This, for me, moves her comments from thoughtful worrying to outright bigotry.

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