Tuesday, November 28, 2006


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Sex myths put to bed

Maria Cheng

November 01, 2006 11:00pm

In the first comprehensive global study of sexual behaviour, British researchers found that people aren't losing their virginity at ever younger ages, married people have the most sex, and there is no firm link between promiscuity and sexually transmitted diseases.
The study was published as part of a series on sexual and reproductive health by the British medical journal The Lancet.

Professor Kaye Wellings of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicines and her colleagues analysed data from 59 countries worldwide.

Experts say data gleaned from the study will be useful not only in dispelling popular myths about sexual behaviour, but in shaping policies that will help improve sexual health.

Professor Wellings said she was surprised by some of the survey's results.

"We did have some of our preconceptions dashed," she said, explaining that they had expected to find the most promiscuous behaviour in regions like Africa, with the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases.

That was not the case, as multiple partners were more commonly reported in industrialised countries where the incidence of such diseases were relatively low.

"There's a misperception that there's a great deal of promiscuity in Africa, which is one of the potential reasons for HIV/AIDS spreading so rapidly," said Dr Paul van Look, director of Reproductive Health and Research at the World Health Organisation, who was unconnected to the study. "But that view is not supported by the evidence."

Professor Wellings said that implied promiscuity may be less important than factors such as poverty and education – especially in the encouragement of condom use – in the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.

The study also found that, contrary to popular belief, sexual activity is not starting any earlier. Nearly everywhere, men and women have their first sexual experiences in their late teens , with younger ages for women than for men.

Researchers also found that married people have the most sex, and that there has been a gradual shift to delay marriage. While that has meant a predictable rise in the rates of premarital sex, experts believe this doesn't necessarily translate into more dangerous behaviour.

In some instances, married women may be at more risk than single women.

"A single woman is more able to negotiate safe sex in certain circumstances than a married woman," said Dr van Look, who pointed out that married women in Africa and Asia are often threatened by unfaithful husbands who frequent prostitutes.

There is much greater equality between women and men with regard to the number of sexual partners in rich countries than in poor countries, the study found.

For example, men and women in Australia, Britain, France and the US tend to have an almost equal number of sexual partners.

By contrast, in Cameroon, Haiti and Kenya, men tend to have multiple partners while women tend only to have one.

This imbalance has significant public health implications.

"In countries where women are beholden to their male partners, they are likely not to have the power to request condom use, and they probably won't know about their husbands' transgressions," said Professor Wellings.

Because of the diversity of sexual habits worldwide, Professor Wellings warned that no single approach to sexual health would work everywhere.

"There are very different economic, religious and social rules governing sexual conduct," she said.

Associated Press

White Women In Inter-racial Relationships

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Women’s Dilemmas in Black/White Relationships
Posted by Rachel S. | April 19th, 2006

This is out of the Rachel’s Tavern archive. It is one of the Snippets from my Dissertation. Keep in mind all of these posts are snippets of a much larger piece of work, so feel free to add to things, ask questions or give critiques. I’d love to hear feedback from people. In my dissertation, I focused on family approval of Black/White interracial relationships. The data is based on 39 interviews with people in interracial relationships (conducted individually) and 5 interviews with the relatives of some of these couples, so this is where most of the focus will be.

My research is most concerned with how contemporary racism…also called colorblind racism or laissez faire racism…affects family approval of interracial relationships. However, we cannot understand how contemporary racism works without acknowledging the extent to which racism is interconnected with other forms of oppression. Multiracial feminist theorist Patricia Hill Collins refers to these complex connections as the matrix of domination. After interviewing couples it is evident that opposition to interracial marriage is not just about racism. The issues of gender and controlling Black women’s, White women’s, and Black men’s sexuality is ever present in the discourses that families use to oppose interracial relationships. One of the most obvious ways gender and race work together to affect interracial relationships is in the likelihood of intermarrying. Currently about 70% of Black/White marriages are between Black men and White women, which contrasts with the early half of the 1900s when most Black White marriages were between Black women and White men. Below I have highlighted a few of the primary issues facing Black women and White women in interracial relationships.

5 Dilemmas Facing Black Women in IRs
1) Of particular relevance in my interviews are controlling images of Black women’s beauty and sexuality. Many Black women married to White men worried that the stereotypes of Black women as sexually promiscuous would affect how their White partners’ families viewed them, and in some cases it very clearly had a negative impact on a White family’s willingness to accept interracial relationships. Black women also worried that the greater value attached to White women’s fair skin and straight hair put them at a disadvantage in the marriage market with both Black men and White men. There was often an underlying worry that even though they were partnered their choices to date or marry Black men and White men were much more limited.

2&3) The other two controlling images that shaped the experiences of the Black women I interviewed were the belief that Black women are domineering “bitches” and “gold diggers.” Many Black women in interracial relationships felt pressure to carefully monitor their behavior, so they didn’t come off as “the typical Black bitch who doesn’t know her place.” The idea that Black women who marry White men do it for money was also mentioned as a common concern. This affected both how they dealt with their family members and those of their spouses.

4) Family approval of interracial relationships is most likely lower for Black women than it is for Black men. Black women’s families had more objections to interracial relationships than their Black male counterparts. Many relatives of Black women (especially male relatives) tried to “protect their daughters/sisters/cousins from White men” who they felt would sexually exploit Black women. Given the history of White male sexual violence against Black women this is not surprising. However, family opposition also has the affect of denying Black women’s agency because their judgment is held up to much more scrutiny than Black men in interracial relationships.

5) Black women who entered interracial relationships also worried about being alone, a phenomnon facing many Black women today. Since the gender ratio of African Americans is imabalanced, many Black women saw White men as a “whole new world of men” who they could date and marry. Considering White men was a way for some Black women to keep from being alone.

5 Dilemmas Facing White Women in IRs

1)When it comes to Black/White interracial relationships my research indicates, that White women face the most family opposition of all of the race/gender groups. The tactics used to show opposition in White women’s families are often more extreme. They appear to be the group most likely to be disowned or disinvited when they enter interracial relationships.

2) Many White women indicate that their relatives feel Black men were sexually aggressive, threatening, and irresponsible. When White families opposed White women’s interracial relationships, they often felt that they were protecting White women from Black men and from White women’s own naivety or passivity.

3) Unlike Black women who are stereotyped as “bitchy”� and “aggressive,”� White women are stereotyped as naïve, passive, and weak. This controlling image of White women affects how White women’s relatives and their Black male partners’ relatives view their relationships. Many White women’s relatives felt the need to intervene because they think White women are too naïve to know what they are getting themselves into and too weak to defend themselves. Their Black partners’ relatives worry that White women will be too weak to defend their partners or their biracial children against racism, and they worry that Black men have chosen these White women because they are looking for a women who will tolerate a subservient position, something many Black families think Black women will not do.

4) White women’s families not only question Black men’s sexuality, but they also question the sexuality of White women who enter interracial relationships. Even though White women overall may be held up as the epitome of beauty and sexual attractiveness, White women who had relationships with Black men were not viewed in this way. The most common notion is that White women who have relationships with Black men are sexually loose or tainted.

5) Some White women’s families worry that an interracial relationship would make them less attractive to White men after they were “left all alone”� by Black men. Implicit in this belief is that White women’s interracial relationships won’t last, and when they do end, White women won’t be able to find anyone to date or marry.

I have much more I can add. I guess it will be out in a book someday, but I think this can be a jumping off point…. What do you think are some of the dilemmas women in interracial relationships face?


(a)Nina Writes:

One problem white women occasionally face in interracial relationships is that they often feel closer to black culture and people through their relationships, but that closeness is not always reciprocated. That can be a painful surprise for a woman who thinks herself to be special (because she is “progressive” enough to date across color lines) and she might expect others to also see her as special.

A problem black women sometimes face is the assumption that they aren’t loved by their white partners, but instead are merely fetishized. Hearing this kind of thing can sometimes lead to insecurity and distrust in the relationship, thus inadvertently creating an atmosphere that could sabotage it.

(b)Mandolin Writes:

White women’s families not only question Black men’s sexuality, but they also question the sexuality of White women who enter interracial relationships. Even though White women overall may be held up as the epitome of beauty and sexual attractiveness, White women who had relationships with Black men were not viewed in this way. The most common notion is that White women who have relationships with Black men are sexually loose or tainted.

Isn’t there also a stereotype that white women who date black men are less attractive than other white women?

(c)Sundre Writes:

I’m a child of an interracial marriage , so my perspective is skewed accordingly. No matter who I choose to date or befriend, someone sees my relationships (and those of my sibs) as being interracial. My colouring and features contradict each other, and people tend to assume my background by classifying me as “us” or “them.”

Those who are multiracial occupy a strange space, I think. I’m not sure how relevant this is in the scope of your study - you seem focused on relationships between Black and White in the US. I thought I’d throw in a few Canadian pennies.

(d)Gratis Writes:

I’m a white woman who has been in long term relationships with black men. My daughter is biracial and I can tell you that I got a lot more flack from my family than her father’s family. Every member of my own father’s side of the family completely disowned me. None of them have ever met my daughter.

Yet her father’s family don’t treat her any differently because of my race.
I do know that her aunts don’t like black men dating white women “because there aren’t enough good black men and the good ones always want the trophy white girl”. They stigmatize any black women they know that have dated white men (I’m referring to one specific family, by the way) because they think they’re betraying their people. They don’t, though, treat the children any differently. And that’s to be admired.

The funniest part of that is the white people I know who are against interracial relationships use the same kinds of arguments. My husband is white and when we first got together he told me he thought that all the good white girls were dating black guys. He also thought I would leave him for a black guy (because of that “once you go black….” thing). Yet here we are happily married. He accepted me and my daughter and so has his family.

Another thing I’d like to mention (as this comment gets out of control), my daughter is 15 and because of the treatment she’s received from my family she completely disregards her white heritage. Meaning that she doesn’t consider herself biracial- “just black” she says.

(e)Robert Writes:

Interesting post.

“Since the gender ratio of African Americans is imbalanced…”

This seems a bit like the “disproportionately White” comment of a different thread.

Is there some holy stelae somewhere on which the proper proportions of whiteness and the correct balance of the sexes is inscribed?

(f)Rex Little Writes:

Robert, the “correct” gender balance within any race is assumed to be 50-50, for obvious reasons. As Frida noted, the disproportionate number of black men in prison skews the balance away from this. I’ve seen the numbers; I forget what they are, but the shortage of men is significant.

Regarding stereotypes: I’m not aware of one which says black women are any more promiscuous than whites. The black sexual stereotype I am aware of is that black men are better lovers than white men. What would follow from this, I would think, is that a black woman with a white man might be seen as a loser, “not good enough to get a black man”. Does this ever happen?

Regarding the “gold digger” perception: I think that comes into play whenever a woman marries a man significantly wealthier than she is, regardless of race. It’s just that due to the economic status of the races, this is more likely to be the case if she’s black and he’s white.

(g)Robert Writes:

Robert, the “correct” gender balance within any race is assumed to be 50-50, for obvious reasons.

Perhaps you could share those reasons with me. I don’t find them obvious.

(h)Charles Writes:

Robert, can you see that your point here is a bizarre distraction/derailment. Instead of talking about any of the major points of this piece (which you claim to have found interesting), you are commenting on a tiny use of language issue (again). If you don’t have anything to say about the actual content, why do you feel a need to jump in? Was that one use of language issue the thing you found most interesting about the piece?

balance: having equal weight on both sides
imbalance: being out of balance

If the ratio of women to men is not 1 to 1, then the ratio is out of balance. In particular, in this context, assuming that homosexuality is roughly equally common in men and women, if there are more women than men (the genders are imbalanced), then heterosexual women will be more likely to be unable to find a partner. Therefore, they will be more likely to fear ending up alone, therefore, they will view dating outside their particular pool as a way of accessing additional men, and balancing out the gender ratio.

I am really struggling to see a) why you thought it was worth bringing up b) what you were having a hard time understanding about the passage that you were referencing.

(i)Robert Writes:

Charles, I don’t think it’s a tiny language issue. I think it’s potentially revelatory of a certain mindset wherein white intellectuals implicitly claim to know what’s best for other populations, or society as a whole. As that’s a rather harsh charge to bring, I attempted to explore it quietly by asking what was meant by those phrases.

(j)Decnavda Writes:

My wife is Mexican, and I find it extremely irritating that “interracial relationships” are assumed to refer only to black/white pairings. Ignoring the other races perpetuates their invisibility in public discussion. It is esspecially irritating to ignor a race - in discussions about race in the U.S. - that has a greater population in the U.S. than blacks.

Or am I derailing this discussion by not confining such remarks to an immigration thread ghetto/bario where Latino issues belong?

(k)Rex Little Writes:

Decnavda, I don’t think that anything in this thread assumes that all interracial relationships are black/white. It just happens to be talking about that particular subset. Hispanic/white would be an interesting subject for another thread, as would Oriental/white, Arab/white, and others which I’m sure I’ve forgotten to mention.

(l)Decnavda Writes:

Yes, yes, interesting for another post. But when? My point is that “racial” issue discussions always happen, by some bizzare coincidence, to exclude the second - largest racial group in the U.S. Your comments about other types of pairings ignors the brute numbers of Latinos in the U.S. Sure, Asian/Arab pairings might be just a bit eosoteric for most U.S. discussions. But ignoring Latinos in the U.S.? Again?

(m)Robert Writes:

Decnavda, I’d wager that at least part of that disregard stems from a semi–surreptitious feeling on the part of many white people that Hispanics aren’t really a separate race; they’re basically white. Or at least, they’re a lot “closer” to white than black people are, from the old-fashioned unreconstructed racist POV. Maybe a dark shade of white, but…

I know that doesn’t seem to make any logical sense, but I have memories of bizarre conversations with members of my family a couple generations back who were shocked and outraged when a kid in the family would date someone who was black, but showed total complacency when the same kid turned around and married someone Hispanic; that was completely fine, for some reason. The closest thing to coherency I could get out of them when my consistency-minded younger self pressed the point was “it’s just not the same, is all.” Maybe it’s because the partial white ancestry possessed in some degree by nearly all Hispanics and American blacks “shows” in Hispanics?

(n)Rex Little Writes:

Well, what the heck. The original topic has kind of stalled out (over four hours since the last post which was really on-topic), so why don’t we add Hispanic/white to the discussion, as well as any other mixtures anyone cares to talk about. Decnavda, since you have personal experience (albeit from the male side), can you come up with lists for Hispanic and white women similar to those in Rachel’s post?

My own disconnected observations:

1. Not sure what it means, if anything, but the gender balance for Hispanic/white relationships seems to be a lot closer to even than black/white (usually the man is black) or Oriental/white (usually the man is white).

2. The stereotype which would seem most likely to cause trouble is that Hispanic women are highly sexual. (Not long ago some Mexican beer company used the slogan “Finally, a cold Latina” to refer to their product. People got very upset.)

3.In Mexican culture, it’s expected that a married man will have a mistress. (I’m not spouting a stereotype; my wife lived in Mexico for two years and observed this first-hand. It may be true of other Central and South American cultures as well; I don’t know.) An American woman who marries a man from Mexico (as opposed to a U.S.-born of Mexican descent) may find this hard to deal with.

(o)Rachel S. Writes:

First let me respond to the question about what constitutes an interracial relationship. The Census does not define Latinos as a race, and many researchers call Latino/White marriages interethnic marriages, mainly because the census argues that Latinos can be of any race and the common ancestry is in Latino America. That said, I personally use the term intermarriage when talking about White Latino marriages in part because I think a marriage between myself (White woman) and someone like the rapper Fabolous (black looking Latino) would be treated differently than some one like Emilio Estevez (White looking Latino). Nevertheless, personally I see each combination as an intermarriage and I think we need to have more discussion about the various types of intermarriages. What is funny is that the academic literature focuses more on Asian White intermarriage than the other types of intermarriages. The few studies on White Latino marriages are just starting to come out and are very important because 1/2 of all intermarriages in this country are between Whites and Latinos. That certainly doesn’t justify overlooking it. In fact, White/American Indian, White/Asian, and White/Latino marriages are all much more common than Black/White marriages, which you would not know by listening to everyday gossip. But to come back to the original question–it is not so easy to decide what constitutes an interracial marriage and many people do not agree with me.

So why do I focus on Black White marriage, and why are Latinos excluded from this particular analysis? There are two primary reasons. One is methodological. When you do interview studies, you don’t usually have a big enough sample to make comparisons across many different groups. If I had the money as a grad student to interview hundreds of people, I could have compared family approval for different racial/ethnic combos. The second point is more theoretical. The history of interracial marriage is very different for each group. For example, laws were never passed specifically against White/American Indian marriages. Laws against White/Latino marriages were extremely rare, and laws against White Asian marriage were a little more common but still confined to only a few states and municipalities. On the other hand, most US states (I think 42.) had bans on Black/White marriages. Significantly more time and attention was given to preventing these marriages. Moreover, common stereotypes of each racial/ethnic group are different–for example the Latin lover, the Oversexed Black man, and the asexual Asian man stereotypes; thus, the issues facing each group are different in some ways. (And as a side note, my area is African American studies, so a study on White/Asian marriages, just wouldn’t have allowed me to get the types of jobs I wanted. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think the other intermarriages are important to study. They are–I just didn’t do that study.

@Mandolin “Isn’t there also a stereotype that white women who date black men are less attractive than other white women?”

Yeah, I think so, but it didn’t come up much in my interviews. I think because I was looking at family approval. I think in general many Blacks believe this, but they don’t seem to say it about their relatives, just people they are not as close to.

@ Lee “So maybe those of us who were born in the 1960s forward are more accepting of interracial marriages?” I think we are more tolerant, but I think the current attitude amongst most people is “if other people want to do it they can but it’s just not for me.” Or in some cases I hear this one, “I’m just not attracted to people of other races.” What is interesting about this is that people don’t really think about why, they just assume it is natural. It’s almost like–it’s Ok for other people, but not for me and not for my family.

Charles, summed up the point I was making about sex ratios very well.

I also think that the idea that Black/White marriage is more threatening is true in many families. I have seen that with the people I know, too. However, I haven’t studied it.

(p)Les Writes:

Your subject seems to be entirely focussed on opposite sex couples, which is an ok area of study, but I would like it if you made that more explicitly clear.

I have a widowed friend who was in an inter-racial lesbian relationship for many many years. Apparently, black/white pairings used to be much more common in the lesbian community than the heterosexual community, like around the 70’s or 80’s. In fact, when she moved from NYC to Oakland, CA, she and her partner were startled by the incredibly high number of lesbians. Wherever they went, they saw black and white women talking to each other! Finally, they realized that Oakland was just integrated and when they saw women of different races interacting, it didn’t indicate queerness.

(q)Shannon Writes:

Well, my brother is in an interracial relationship(with a white woman), and my mother’s side of the family seems concerned about her family possibly being negative towards the relationship. I’ve tried to reassure, but they are just too worried. And on the derail, blacks and whites and Asians and Latinos don’t actually differ in which sexes they are assigned- we’re all assigned to two sexes in America. and usually, it’s a 1 to 1 ratio. Also, women tend to prefer guys with class statuses equal or more than theirs, so a college educated black woman is unlikely to go for the bro on the corner, even though they are of the same race, the same class is also preferred.
My girlfriend’s parents are a black/white interracial couple, which makes my gf mixed race. I’m a white woman. Of course, family acceptance issues have an extra factor when you throw in the same-sex dynamic. However, her family has accepted me without any noticeable hesitation. We stayed with them for about a week or so last summer and everything seemed ok.

My family is tiny and kind of weird in general because all my living relations are male engineers who all seem like they have Asbergers. Reading them is impossible. They seem like they’re ok with my gf, but my dad made some disturbing comments about how she could pass for white. Ick. He was trying to say something about how he wasn’t racist and got sidetracked and it came out all wrong, which is kind of normal for him. I haven’t experienced any negative weirdness from my family aside from that one flubbed comment, and I don’t really expect to.

(r)Rachel S. Writes:

Les, I definitely think the IRs are more accepted in the lesbian and gay communities. I have done the research, but I did read a study on same sex Black couples based on Census data. They included any couples that had one or two Black people in their study, and 21% of the households were interracial. If you were to look at opposite sex Black households using the same methods (including all households with at least one Black person), the number is like 5%.

(s)Rachel S. Writes:

Ron, I think Black women’s disapproval of interracial relationships is much less pronounced in families than it is in the general community, which is the opposite of Whites. So basically, White have more of a problem with IRs when they involve a family member and less of a problem when it is some out in the general community. Blacks have more problem with IRs in the general community, but less of a problem when it is someone close to them.

Shannone, that is a very common response among Black families. I have a post about it over on my site.

(t)RonF Writes:

Rachel; so then my question is, why? Is this because the black women think that the black man taking up with a white woman is showing black women a lack of respect? That he’s “social climbing”? Is it because the proportion of co-racial marriagable men (factors including education, employment, lack of drug habit or criminal record) are scarcer for black women than for white women and the white woman is thus taking one “off the market”? Or something else entirely?

I have no way to intelligently evaluate as to whether or not any of these are factors; I’m just throwing guesses out here.

(u)Rachel S. Writes:

Ron, I think the number of marriageable Black men is the biggest factor, but I also think that the stereotypes that Black women “have attitude” and are “less attractive than White women” is also a factor.

(v)Igor Writes:

Rachel, another reason why many people think interracial marriages are not good is because they are more likely to end up in divorce than intraracial ones. There is some stat data to support that.

“the stereotypes that Black women “have attitude” and are “less attractive than White women” is also a factor. ”

That’s not a stereotype, if it exists it means it is based on some observations. So at least it must be partially true.

For whites, black women are less attractive in general, at least because one’s own race always seem more atractive. Which is of course quite subjective in the first place. But it is the way it goes.

Now, American blacks are in fact mulattoes, so many have quite a lot of white blood, and may seem more attractive than real Africans.

Also, black women seem to be more often overweight that decreases their appeal.

They also have children early, so single mothers with childeren would understandably have lower marriage prospects.

Another thing, even if blacks do not have extra pounds, they are less likely than whites of the same age to be phisically fit. (Very rarely do I see 30-40 y. old. black females do recreational sports, as opposed to whites - like hiking, backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, scooba diving, biking etc.). I visited many US National Parks - few visitors there are black. Mostly whites and Asians.

Middle-aged black females does not seem attractive at all, as opposed to at least some white women that may still be in good shape and appealing.

Well, those are just average white guy perspectives - why white man - black woman pairs are so rare.

(w)Rachel S. Writes:

Igor, I can’t believe how many stereotypes of Black women you were able to rattle off in one post. You can’t really take yourself seriously? I’d imagine that if you met a Black woman that met all of your criteria; you would still have a problem with her–because she’s Black. Just be honest…don’t beat around the bush. You don’t like Black women because they are Black.

While I completely disagree with your racist views of Black women (they are simply gross exaggerations), unfortunately, I think you are right that your perspective does represent many of the “average White guys”–not all White men, but probably a majority of them.

This is also why I think those directing critcism at Black women, saying that they are responsible for the low numbers of BW/WM IRs, need a big reality check. Racists like you are probably more the norm than non-racists.

(w)Tuomas Writes:

I’m going to do the dreaded “but what about men” here :p.

Okay, first of all, I do believe that stereotypes on black women are an issue here, but the marriage/sexual selection is not just men picking women they find attractive. I’d go as far to say that women’s choices are more relevant.

So perhaps part of the problem is perceptions on the attractiveness of white and asian men to black women. I don’t buy that it is completely about white/asian men finding black women unattractive.

There are plenty of racial stereotypes about men, too.

(x)Elena Writes:

I am in an inter-ethnic marriage, to a white latino. For what it’s worth, hispanics I have met in my personal life and through work are much more openly racist and opposed to intermarriage- with African Americans , that is. I have also heard (unverified but it was a prosecutor who told me) that when there are honor killings of Arabic women in the Detroit area (yes, it happens here), it almost invariably involves a Black boyfriend.

(y)Igor Writes:

“racist” labels that are liberally thrown around by feminist/socialist wackos like you don’t bother me. Because they are meaningless. I gave you some quite substantial reasons why white men may not favor black females as partners, much less wifes and mothers of their children. Whatever women may think of them, those are some of at least some men’s thoughts on the subject. There are other interesting moments as well. To change those perceptions one would have to change the reality, which is next to impossible. You may not see the issue the same way as a man because you are not one. And I am not sure if you even have any experience of having a family and children of your own to give you some additional perspective.

I started, for example, with the fact that data shows that interracial marriages fail more often. Want to dispute that? Or explain?


I agree that generally we have to take into consideration preferences of both sexes. But the more desirable a particular segment of population, the more it influences the couple composition, and not the opposite gender. For example, famous and wealthy sport figures (like OJ Simpson) would get a wide selection of potential partners to choose from. And the result would depend more on what he would prefer, not what his potential female partners would.

In many practical “race-does-not exist” type ways, for black females white males would be preferable over black ones - they on average have better education and professional skills, less criminal record, less history of drug abuse, higher IQ, make more money, are better fathers, less promiscuous, less likely to cheat, have connections through family/friends to more succsessful segments of society, wider interests and hobbies etc. So why BW would not choose them given the chance? (Unless of course, as I said earlier, every race favor its own.) There are simply not that many chances. WMs prefer WFs. ANd, for the most part, visa versa.

(z)Decnavda Writes:

I know it is politically incorrect to call bigots like you “bigots” or “racists”, we are supposed to call you “politically incorrect.” But I call people what they obviously are, and you are obviously a bigot and a racist. Even a white male lover of the free market like me can see that.

(a1)Robert Writes:

Yeah. 2% sense, 98% the kind of thing that makes me end up grimly and repetitively clenching my hands every time I go down south. That’s a damn high noise:signal ratio. Go back to your rock, Igor.

(b2)Tuomas Writes:

So why BW would not choose them given the chance? (Unless of course, as I said earlier, every race favor its own.)

1) They do not have the chance
2) BW specifically are not attracted to White/Asian men, for some reason

Every race favors it’s own does not follow from the facts of interracial marriage, or even from anything you wrote (meaning the generalizations based on… whatever.)

(c3)Ampersand Writes:

Igor wrote:

…feminist/socialist wackos like you…

I’m fine with “feminist/socialist,” but not “wackos.”


(d4)Anna in Cairo Writes:

Is this thread still open? I am white married to Egyptian. I would never have considered this an interracial relationship except that a black american girl told me I was in a “mixed marriage,” at which point it occurred to me that according to American racial categories I was indeed in an interracial relationship.

The biggest problems I have encountered in this relationship are not really tied to the fact that we are different colors, but more to just the fact that our cultural norms that we were raised in are so different. In terms of how outside people perceive us as a couple, Egyptians tend to see it as a very positive thing, and sometimes in a way that makes me rather uncomfortable (there is in Egypt, like in India, this sort of fetishization of whiteness, and sometimes it seems that I am on a pedestal because of my color, though the Egyptians who do this, in fairness to them, are not completely conscious of it). Americans see it as negative not so much because they see it as race mixing as that they are suspicious of Islam. I have never encountered a white American who was angry at me for marrying a brown person but lots of white Americans who wonder what it is like to have married a Muslim / Arab in a way that shows they have a sort of fear of those categories.

(e5)Rita Writes:

I would like to reply to Igor.

I believe that your ignorance is purely superficial. This is the result of knowing few blacks on a personal level.

Don’t get me wrong! I am not coming here to throw stones. I know I have my faults as well. However, I would like to think that I am a realist. Guess what? I have to honestly say that I am ignorant, because I have my stereotypes about white men as well.

Oh, and about that attitude…
The aggressive, confident, opinionated, and outspoken nature of most black women is often mistaken for the ‘attitude’. Let me guess… you want a subservient woman, right? I am sure that your choice of a woman without ‘attitude’ isn’t color specific, unless you are truly a racist. If it is, then I think that we have opened up a can of worms, don’t ‘cha think? LOL From your post, Igor, I can tell that you have an over abundance of ‘attitude’. How can the pot call the kettle black? Quite often, we find the flaws of others interesting and we fail to look in the mirror at ourselves. Kinda makes us feel better about ourselves, right? But… it is definitely wrong!

The point of my post is to advise you to not confuse your ignorance with superiority. We can’t make this mistake because I firmly believe that love can not be limited to skin color. Who is to say that you cannot find love in a brown skinned woman, becuase she is brown skinned?

Just because I don’t have faith in loving a white man, doesn’t mean that it is not possible….

(f6)sabrinajonson Writes:

In response to all the stereotypes regarding black women and white men's lack of attractiveness to them I'd like to state, I am a 30 year old black women who was an escort for 10 years and ALL my clients were white men with white wives and kids.

The MAJORITY of these guys stated that they have always been attracted to black women but felt that black women were not attracted to them so ended up marrying white women instead. I had clients that were loyal to me for my whole career, these men bought me cars, clothes, jewelery etc and then would go home to their white wives and kids. Most even went as far as to say that they are not even sexually attracted to their white wives and never have been and that they prefer women of dark complexions.

So I think that in some cases a lot of white men are attracted to attractive black women but due to their insecurities regarding black male sexuality they believe that their chances will be limited with black women.

(g7)Sharon Writes:

Interesting. Igor came on my site a few weeks ago wanting to debate how black rape victims were treated by the justice system. He didn’t believe there were any inequities and I found a paper that showed that there were. Needless to say, Igor didn’t come back to debate.

Having read his comments here and over at Signifying Nothing where he gleefully referred to the Duke alleged victim as a “ghetto ho,” I now see his soullessness. Karma being what it is, he may find himself having to reach out for help from one of us fat, black, greasy, five-kid-toting, ball busting black ghetto ho’s. By the way, I don’t have any kids, so I guess I’ll have to rent some. Oh, and I don’t live in a ghetto, and oh, I’m not a ho. Guess that busts his fantasy.

(h8)Crystal Writes:

I’m writing Igor off as a troll, personally. Ugh. Why else would someone come in and spue hate all over a thread meant for discussion?

Sabrina, wrt your comment that, in your experience, many white men are attracted to black women but think that black women won’t give them a chance: I’ve heard the same thing from Asian men about both white and black women - these men don’t think they stand a chance because white and black women “aren’t attracted to Asian men.” That’s absolutely NOT true, of course, but this belief holds them back. And what a pity. Love is a precious gift no matter what color it comes wrapped in.

(i9)Richard Jeffrey Newman Writes:

Crystal wrote:

I’ve heard the same thing from Asian men about both white and black women - these men don’t think they stand a chance because white and black women “aren’t attracted to Asian men.”

When I lived in South Korea, one of my male Korean friends was dating an Englishwoman who was one of my colleagues. I happened to mention this fact in a casual conversation with a group of Korean men to whom I was giving private English lessons. Their entirely unironic response was, and I quote, “What a man!” They figured that my friend must possess some super masculine mystique that allowed him to “get” a white woman.

(j10)mythago Writes:

Sabrina, no offense intended, but I have to wonder how many of these men really meant what they said–that they would have honest-to-gosh married a black woman if only–instead of simply seeing you as the fantasy, right before they went home to their wives and families.

(k11)Bohwe11 Writes:

I’m a black woman who is attracted to all men. However, when I was younger, I thought that I was solely attracted to white men. For some reason, that changed. I do like Italian and Australian men. I guess, these men are stereotypically more masculine than other European men. I love masculine men. But as I got older, i’m more attracted to men of color, especially latino men. I just come to realize that with latino men, you know for the most part where they are coming from,but with a white dude, you don’t know if he’s just using you for some sort of black fantasy, or some weird fetish thing. But, I guess with the whole dating a person of color, there is a comfortability thing, that sadly isn’t there with a white man. Like, with a latino dude, because black and latinos share the same environments, you can relate to them more, on a certain level. And for the most part, a latino dude will have somewhat of the same makeup as a black man, so it’s not really dating a different culture. Plus Latino men got that machismo thing. But, if Italian men, they have that masculine thing, that makes them ethnic.

(k12)Megan Writes:

I am a 21 year old white female in a relationship with a 25 year old black man. We have been together for five months and we just moved in together last month. So far the hardest part of this relationship was my mother meeting my boyfriend. I never viewed my family as racist until the day she met him. Suprisingly, my mother had more of a problem with him than my father. My father didn’t meet him until just recently and made the comment, “yeah, he seems really laid back. I like him”. My mother’s comments on the other hand were, ” I just don’t believe in interracial relationships, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a racist, but my friend is in an interracial marriage with two children and they are now getting a divorce, and she made the comment to me that no one is going to want her now that she has interracial children”. Personally, I think thats a crock. Maybe it’s true that us in “Generation Y” are more open to diversity and challenge than that of others. Not only am I as white as they come (blonde hair, blue eyed, German-Irish-Sweedish) I am in love with an Islamic African-American with dreadlocks, and I couldn’t be happier.

Ajibola Writes:

(l13)Most white people are (still) under the pitiful illusion that they are superior to other people hence their constant opposition to interracial relationships. It is as simple as that. That illusion of superiority is the bane of a lot of the problems we have on earth today, whether concerned with marriage or whatever else.

It is interesting that statistically, they are the race least propagated on earth now. Soon enough,we would no longer have racism because they would have been ‘integrated’. This is unfortunate but it seems the only way out from the senseless wickedness most of them mete out to other races.

(m14)Thomas Writes:

My marriage to a black woman lasted three months after 4 years of courting, breaking up, fighting, and searching for common ground. I had only one problem…..I am a white man who married a beautiful, loving, intelligent, and caring black woman who’s mother drilled into her that men are not to be depended on for anything. That attitude became insurrmountable in very short order. Her mother’s three marriages failed and now her daughter’s is dissolving daily. WHY??

(n15)half-breed big time Writes:

Hello again, a few days ago I left a thread in hopes of helping a friend out. I wanted to know how some of you woman handled your family in a black and white relationship. Well thanks anyway, but I do not think anything will fix the damage in myfriends family unit. As mentioned a few days ago I told you about a white female friend of mine with a one year old biracial child. My friend’s black boyfriend dumped her and her family disowned her and on top of that they cut off her college fund. She was staying with me and I was trying to connect the family bond between her and her family . It seems the family feels she lied and disrespect them so they feel if she is big enough to do that she is big enough to make her own mind up and provide for herself and her baby. I really hate this as this was a really close family. I talked to her and she said her family is hard headed and if they removed her from the family it is for good. I did not think it could be that bad, but I guess I was wrong. I really did need some advice,but I do not think anything you could offer will make a difference. Today I changed my mind on the racial mixing. I feel that even though we are slowly removing the race issue we are in return creating a new evil form of hate. We are creating cold hearted hate within our own family units. There is nothing more important then blood and family values. If we destory this bond we destory ourselves. I have always been a black sheep and dated out of color lines even before it started becoming more common. However, this is twice I have seen a daughter disowned from their family at a young age. Really counting one guy this is the third time I seen this family hate. I really hate the loss I see in some families as it is enough to tear you apart on the inside. I guess it is true krama has a way of coming back to you. I see around town some lonely black women and on line there is a lot of black women whom are alone, so I guess it is karma when I see white women, like my friend, who lost their black boy friend and family left by themself and alone. Life just is not fair no matter how good of a person you are. Well I felt that I should explain myself regarding why t I no longer need your help. I really do not think any advice you offer will make a difference.

(o16)Celina Writes:

I have been in an interracial marriage for 25 years. I have had children and they are grown. It was never a problem to anyone in my family or his. The problem remains in society that makes everyone believe that it is wrong to marry out of your race. In this day and time people should be ashamed to still be whining over race. My husband and I have never cared about what other people thought or what our families thought. We love each other and have everyday for our entire adult lives. Our children never suffered cruelness from either race. Sterotyping people because of color is just wrong. Does it have to matter who you marry as long as it is for the right reasons? Do we still in this day and time have to make racial issues still prominent. It makes no sense that people just cant live, love, and be happy for one moment in their life without having to always make race a factor

(p17)Britgirl Writes:

I am always bemused and amused about the intense discussions interacial relationships seem to generate, particularly in the Black community. I often think that people must have a ton of time on their hands to spend so much time dissecting discussing us (lol). And I completely agree with Celina above.

The couple, interacial or otherwise made a choice to be with each other. That’s no-one’s business but theirs. (No one’s including people of colour). It is their relationship and other people should keep their noses out.

Unfortunately society sees fit to “research” “question” and “discuss” the “reasons why they might be together” and of course they absolutely must bring in the race factor. At least in the US. In Canada and the UK, we seem not be too bothered about why couples decide to be together. How about this one singular fact? That couples love each other and want to be together and want to commit to each other? Just like any other couple?

But no. So-called intellectuals need to discuss the “racial aspects” real or imaginary of the relationship. I mean, they must come in musn’t they? That is,, after all why interracial couples are “different” isn’t it? Must make life interesting for the intellectuals. Either that, or they really have nothing better to do and need to get a life. Meanwhile, we will continue to love each other and live our lives. Just like any other couple.

As Celina says, whinging about race and stereotypes or lack thereof, in other peoples relationships, with all the more important issues we have in this world is pretty sad. I think it’s pretty pathetic myself.

(q18)Kelli Washington Writes:

I too have been in several interraacial (white woman/black man) relationships over the past 25 years. I was married for 12 years and have a beautiful mixed daughter. I was shocked in reading all of the blogs that the subject of cheating among black men in interracial relationships never came up. Also drug use of the black men in relationships with white women was not mentioned. I have been exposed to many black men that smoke crack cocaine and or marijuana. How about how being in this type of relationship effects the passive white woman. Most white women who date black men are aggressive by white standards but passive by black standards.

I feel I have enouth experience in these types of relationships to give some insight on these issues. However I am wondering, are these problems greater among black/white pairs than among white/white pairings?

(r19)Key Writes:

DECNAVDA, I agree with your comment about the discussion restricted to black/white. I think the subject is deeper and inclusive all all people regardless of classification. At the same time we are taking baby steps, and so we have begun to disect the issues, starting with a small portion of the American Pie, whose cultures have a history of misunderstansings.

I believe that this starting point, is not meant to alienate anyone, and surely your point of view is vital to the progression of the intergration.

I am a beautiful, fair skinned, mixed DNA, American Goddess, and at this point, I am not going to limit myself to white/black, I want the whole rainbow! :)

(s20)dmac Writes:

When I saw the title of this entry I immediately got tense. However, upon reading it I discovered that I am in full agreement with your research. I am a black man that would NEVER date a white women for the prime reason that my black sisters need good black men (like myself).

Not to get to indepth, but the reason I say this is is because we as a people cannot see the world as one big happy family when we are getting the short end of the stick globally.. from AIDs to Poverty the darker your skin the more you suffer in this racially divisive world created by white men.. and supported by white women. So basically when there is a war for survival… troops of the same uniform must stick together. .. by all means necessary…

(t21)sumthin4UREmind Writes:

I respect every other persons right to be opinionated, for I am also a very opinionated person. But the long ( and short of it, AND this is MY opinion), is that the black woman/white man, black man/ white woman dating issue has moved far beyond it’s usefulness. I mean, face it, who really gives a thin dime who dates whom anymore?

I am a beautiful caramel skin toned BLACK WOMAN who dates men of any race and ethnicity (I do not date non- Christians, though). I do this because I LIKE the freedom of choice involved, and the many differing cultures and familial backgrounds that I am introduced to. I was once stuck in the quagmire of dating only men of my race, because I was too afraid of being an outcast among my kind, or I was too worried about what people would think. In the meantime, all the quality or interesting men just passed beyond me. Boy, I missed out on so much all those years…

I must admit, I digress; but, the point I am getting to is people should stop being so uptight about this interracial dating thing: quit worrying about the color of your skin, the texture of your hair, your racial background, quit hating on other’s cause you are still stuck in the twilight zone, quit worrying about what your family or friends will think (or society) if you step out with someone other then who they think you need to be with, quit worrying about what other people think about you period cause what you do is all it is, quit trying to be some person that you are not, quit judging everyone (or race/gender) by the actions of just one other person, stop tryna put the next person down because you think you’re better then he/she when you know you’re not. In general, just quit stressing about the small things period because life really aint that crucial.

(u22)Mr. Johnsin Writes:

I am a Black Man born and raised from poverty, hard times, and the ghetto. I am from the Mid West and have been with black and white women. I have two wonderful black boys from a woman who has a black mother and white father. She claims her black roots over her white. All mixed children are forced to choose sides sooner or later in their lives. We were married at a young age and 7 years later we divorced. I have been around the world twice and I am currently living in Greece and dating a local. It has been a year and we are in love with each other. We want to be together by all means, but we both feel it is too early to get married, for we have not spent enough time together because of her job as a Flight Hostess. I want to say screw it and marry her becouse of my love for her, but, I have never had a relationship other than sexual with a white woman, and since I am black and ghetto, I am worried about the reaction from my people. I once had a bad experience taking awhite female co worker to a black club. The black women looked at us, and mainly me with sheer hatred in thier eyes. the black men looked at her and then me, but visually asking me, why did you bring her here? We were only friends and they made us both feel very uneasy. No matter what anyone says it is hard to ignore that type of energy. I know this should not bother me but it does. If I bring this woman to the U.S. I don’t want to feel uneasy where I would normally feel secure ie… getting my ghetto pass revoked. It is a shame I am second guessing my future happiness because of societies critical, racist eye.

(v23)Azhar Writes:

Mr. Johnson, I’m a black woman married to a white man for 20 of our 26 years together. We had a better social life in New York City than in the mostly white town in Connecticut where we live with our two daughters. It seems we are rejected by white and black middle class societies. We don’t fit in anywhere, except with other interracial couples, who are excactly our match. White women married to black men don’t identify with us either. Those couples seem guilty and defensive. I was thinking of starting an exclusive support group of our mix to see if we can help each other.

(w24)Dena Leichnitz Writes:

I am a Black woman, not some weird freak that needs to be “studied.” My relationships whether they be with a White man, Black man or any one else don’t merit discussion because I am entitled to date, to love and to marry whomever I deem worthy enough to be with this Black queen. I am getting sick of people placing so much emphasis on the color of my skin instead of the content of my character. White liberals repulse me, they act like they are friends of Black people but instead just want to use them to ease their guilt. Give me a White conservative any day of the week, I spend my life surrounded by them and you know what I get? Treated like an equal. They see Dena, not poor Black Dena. Not a Black single mother (though being a mother is something I am extremely proud of!) but Dena. Liberals are always looking to make us victims, well you know what-I am not your victim! I never will be your victim! I am strong woman and I don’t need you to point out the downside of being Black is-I know what it is-I live with it. But it just makes me all the stronger! Stop worrying about stupid stuff like who Blacks are dating and start worrying about your own life and leave us alone!

(x24)think on it Writes:

This was actually quite interesting to me. It amazes me that we still deem this as an issue. Granted this is something we cant avoid because of all the history that comes along with it, it hurts me that people are still so against it. I am a White woman and i have dated men from all color of the rainbow and not seen their race as a factor EVER. In one of my experiences in which i dated a Black man i finally got a taste of these stero-types on White women. His mother dissaproved becasue i was White and White women are “sluts who will put you in jail.” This deeply offended me seing as how she’d never met me or even took the time to try to, her mind was made up at the sight of my color. This issue ended our relationship.

I feel both races White and Black women who decide to date outside their race have to fight to overcome these stero-types. I’ve come to undersdtand that the cultures are different and that is sometimes an argument to not date outside your own race, but its like that in any relaionship, the merging of two worlds, i do not feel that is a relative reason.

I don’t know if this world will ever be accepting of this type of realtionship but i believe one day we will all realize color is nothing but just that COLOR, it does not determine the content of our character or our morals, beliefs, etc. One day i believe it wont matter.

(y25)James the brother Writes:

Igor, with this idea of people generally preferring their own race. Why is it that the majority of white Fathers feel the need to instill fear and loathing in their daughters towards black men?

If same race marraige is natural, why is this needed. She simply would not be attracted to black men.

Why is it that whenever a group of young college white girls get drunk in a party. They all start working their way over to the black men. And feeling on him and rubbing him. Then ofcourse the white guys rush over and grab them away ‘you have had enough to drink’, ‘we are going home’ says the white guys.
These guys arent even the boyfriends

But most women and non-white men, know that race is artificial. and that I am a man first. I love women.

More importantly most American white males get off on themselves and the race structure in America. They are usually in adolesence, insecure, lonely and with no real talents(ingored in high school etc.) But when they find are informed of the race and power structure, they form their entire indentities around it.

So throughout Corporate America I constantly run into theses guys. About 75% of white guys are like this. Race props up their self esteem. Without it they are boring nobody invisible white guys. With it, come entitlement and a sense of power.

This is only with AMERICAN white males. NON American white males have a much more objeective view of the world and their surroundings. Most black women married to white guys are NON AMERICAN white guys. People never talk about this, but it is so clear and evident.

And Hispanics are worst because they feel that oppressing black people makes them more ‘white’ and gives them the artificial feeling of being higher on the pecking order. But when they come into Corporate America the truth hits them and shocks them.

(z26)Tuomas Writes:

Why is it that whenever a group of young college white girls get drunk in a party. They all start working their way over to the black men. And feeling on him and rubbing him. Then ofcourse the white guys rush over and grab them away ‘you have had enough to drink’, ‘we are going home’ says the white guys.
These guys arent even the boyfriends

But most women and non-white men, know that race is artificial.

If race is artificial why are young white college girls working their way toward black men specifically, and not, say, Asian men?

(+a1)Egoigwe Writes:

Wow! Most revealing!

Michael says in post #77:

I believe the rich are sent to the poor.

I as a black man need to stop thinking about myself only but should think about how my actions and my choices would benefit the black community one way or the other.

I have a deep conviction that whom you choose as a wife or husband ultimately affects the black community no matter how minute that effect. Collectively our choices of partners (and other decisions we make in our lives) would have a major impact on the mindset of the black community or on the power we have as a people to change the way we live.

So let no one be under the stupid illusion that interracial dating is what’s next for us as a people. I’m not saying IRs are wrong. Of course, we should think about our needs but they must not conflict with that of us as a people. That’s how Jews think and thats why they run things. I judge my actions by imagining everyone else within the black community doing the same thing.

Zahra says in Post #80:
In a way, I am saying to that brother with a white woman, don’t get hurt like you are hurting me right now. And yet still he says back, we are free now to choose and she may be on our side when the revolution comes. As for me I want to align myself with my community so that if the revolution is in fact, not televised I can still get reception. We all wait to see.

And a lot more was said but i found the dimensions and extent of those two posts outrageous, most of all and coming from Americans in this 21st Century, unbelievable!

To Michael: But of course, you are saying IRs are wrong and if you care to deny this then you disavow your advertised education. Think about the Black community, yes, but what about the larger world, from within which you must operate and exist in, to be able to pursue your noble objectives for the Black community? How on earth does my spousal choice affect the Black community or my ability to be a constructive component of it? To the contrary, it is my poor spousal choice (often dictated by views such as yours) that inhibit and retrogress my functionality and constructive contributions to community and family. It cannot be about what’s next for us as a people but conviction of mind and purpose, where one would rather be, the direction in which he is headed and inalienable considerations that become the individual and his life.

What is it that you admire most about the Jews or the Jewish State? Do you consider most Jews Black or White and are you of the Jewish faith? If you are so enamored to their way of life then you should be Jewish! Do you think, as a black and proud man, you would fit into any Jewish community and earn for yourself the right to marry a true Jewish wife even when you are Jewish? You would rather not have a ‘brother’ marry a white lady but you would wish for your people’s lifestyle to be copied after that of another? To judge your actions by imaging other people doing the same thing in the Black community, to my mind, is as stupid as any illusion can get! What it really is, is delusional, Michael.

Zahra: Pray, to what revolution, do you refer or speak about? Global, national or racial? I cannot find grounds for useful engagement without some clarifications on that. If you consider yourself free and emancipated, why would the choice of another offend you to the extent of hurting and causing you pain? This cannot be independence but symptoms of a deep sociological disorder. In your sophistication and awareness, did it never occur to you that it is simply none of your business what choices others make for themselves? If you wish for others to leave you alone, why not do to others as you’d want it done to you?

Rachel, it isn’t only about races you know; this IR thing. It’s also about religion, upbringing or background, perceptions and culture. I come from a country where, believe it or not, the white race is considered inferior and sickly. Where white folks are seen as genetically inferior to blacks and the marriage between them viewed as an adulteration of that genetically superior black stream. There are, no doubt, historical factors that ‘justify’ racism and revulsion but the momentum that powers these various ‘justifications’ are religion, education and culture. These are the ingredients that make IRs acceptable, tolerable or ‘abominable’.

In my country, it is almost taboo, especially for the Nigerian woman to marry a white man. It may be tolerated for the man but certainly not for the woman. Most white folks who have worked in my country will tell you there is hardly any future for them in a relationship with a Nigerian girl. This is not to deny the occasional exception, like Walter Carrington (former US Ambassador to my country) who got married to a beautiful Benin damsel and medical doctor. This however is the exception and not the norm and besides Walter is black. Quite a good number of these white folks have ended up marrying local prostitutes and shipping them abroad as wives because that’s how difficult it is to find an educated Nigerian lass to marry.

This belief in genetically superior strands is of paramount concern for Nigerian women because they worry about having children that may be afflicted with and prone to all sorts of diseases, conveniently tagged the ‘White boy’s ailments’. And this is such a powerful consideration that any persuasion to the contrary is usually still born. Most Nigerian men would marry a white lady for convenience reasons; green cards, useful employment et al. and while this is going on still keep and maintain their native wife back home in Nigeria. The bottom line: excuses of race incompatibility in relationships are all mere sophistry that shield other considerations which range from the financial, environmental and even distance of location to the obnoxious.

I think this addendum is necessary to further illuminate the facts relayed above, which are true and accurate as to their occurrences and contents. What may not be true and to which I have not alluded that they were, are the basis for those traditional Nigerian beliefs. My contention is not that they were based on any empirical proof whatsoever, that I know of, but are factors which conspire to dissuade Nigerian relationships with white folks. The origin of these traditional beliefs can be found in recent history, when it was observed by native Nigerians that white missionaries and slave traders died without hinder (until antibiotics and Quinine came along that is) from malaria, typhoid, diarrhea and pneumonia, afflictions the natives believed they did not suffer from and were immune to.

These traditional beliefs may have been borne out of ignorance and illiteracy or may have indeed been true but somehow they endured just as reasons for their existence became vague and unexplored. It was easy at the time to conclude, from the natives' point of view, that they were more physically endowed and genetically superior to the white man. What is of note here, is that these myths endured to become the basis for the near complete rejection of the white/Nigerian union. And so it persists till this day.

I have quite resisted the thought that the weight of opinions are being skewed in favor of 'white' arguments that insinuate white supremacy. Like in; why do people like marrying whites? That's simply not true.

In fact, it's not about being white or Western, indeed it is about not being white and Western perhaps even, a chiding for the white West and the exclamation from an oppression felt.

Majority of nationalities do find the union between black and white unacceptable but not just so, for all kinds of unions as well. The Hindus do as well as the Arabs, Israelis, Russians, Indians, Germans, Irish and even the original American Indians and on and on, the occasional exception not withstanding. It is not just a white thing per sec or about being white, everywhere locally, one finds that certain tribes do not intermarry with other tribes and are suspicious of various unions for all kinds of reasons. When birds of common feathers take to flight independently a sense of betrayal and revulsion will arise and find justification from any perspective. Reasons vary but almost always include religion, race type, culture, traditional history and beliefs, education (plus or minus it), exposure (mostly the lack of it), controlled dissemination, social mobility and clanish considerations.

Who's White?

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Who’s White: Debriefing
Posted by Rachel S. | November 22nd, 2006

Please answer whether or not each group is white: YES or NO

1. Chileans
2. Irish
3. English
4. Iranians
5. Cameroonians
6. Israelis
7. Italians
8. Nigerians
9. Chinese
10. Mexicans
11. Portuguese
12. Russians
13. Puerto Ricans
14. Saudis
15. Egyptians
16. Germans
17. Canadians
18. Americans

Feel free to cut and paste your answers into the comments section. If you would like to explain your answers, you can also do this in the comments section.

I have been using the “Who’s White Exercise?” for years in my classes (I also did a “Who’s Black?” version once in my African American sociology class.) There are several points to the assignment, but I would like to highlight a few of them. One of the primary points of the exercise is to point out that race is a social construction. The exercise demonstrates this because the answers vary and the reasons given are often unrelated to biology, and in many cases unrelated to phenotypical appearance. I always tell the students to look around and see what others say, so they can get a sense of the level of agreement. What also inevitably happens is that debates break out for some of the groups (as you can see in the comments section of the thread.) This lets us know that race is also contested. We don’t agree, and the definition is influx. Most of my students take race for granted. They think it is biological, and they think it is fairly straight forward. My other goal is to get them to understand that race is not so simple or straight forward.

I also wanted to use this exercise to create a “whiteness scale.” I don’t typically do this in class, but this exercise is a little harder to do on line. I compiled all of the answers on this site and Rachel’s Tavern (Total of 27 answers.) If people said that a group was not white I gave the group a zero. If people gave ambiguous answers or “sort of” answers I gave the group a 1, and if they said white, I gave the group a two. I tallied the results. If people said, they do not know I didn’t fill in any answers. After this I tabulated a “whiteness score.” On this scale score could range from 0 to 2, with zero indicating that no one thought the group was white and 2 indicating that everyone thought the group was white. Of course, the two sites I posted on will not generate a random sample, but I still think it is instructive to think about “whiteness” as a sort of continuum rather than a rigid box. Here is how the groups ranked based on your answers (from least white to most white):


Iranians, Chileans, and Israelis drew very diverse answers. Many people labeled them white, many labeled them not white, and others thought they were somewhere in between. Other groups like Cameroonians, Chinese and Nigerians we mostly considered not white, and on the other end of the spectrum English, Germans, and Irish were almost always considered white. What do you think about this chart? Why do you think each groups falls where it does? Does any group surprise you?

Many people thought that there was a “hidden trick” to the exercise. This happens in class too, and the students usually think they have figured it out when we get to “Americans” (which is why I put this last on the original list). They believe that I am trying to get them to say Americans are white. Changeseeker also brought up another point about the term Americans, which occasionally leads people to think they are being tricked, sometimes people will say “North Americans or South Americans?” What I have generally found is that my students only worry about this with the American category, not other countries most of whom also have a somewhat mixed population. This generally provides an opportunity to talk about the US’s image here and abroad. Are we viewed as a white country? Do we view ourselves that way? Do others view us that way? Nevertheless, this really isn’t the main point.

The main point is to get people to think about race, and not take it for granted. Race is generated out of collective knowledge. In other words it’s sociological, and the best way to understand it is to see it debated and discussed. Because contemporary racial ideology tends to squash open discussions of race; many people never get the chance to see or discuss race in public company and in mixed race company. Once this is done, the unstable nature of race emerges.

This entry was posted by Rachel S. and is filed under Race, racism and related issues.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Inter-ethnic Marriage

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Focus on Ethnicity, Identity and Inter-ethnic Marriage

Inter-ethnic marriages form a very small proportion of all marriages in England and Wales as a whole - 2 per cent.

There were 10.3 million married couples in England and Wales on census day in 2001. The vast majority of these marriages, 98 per cent, were between people from the same ethnic background, where ethnic background is defined as White, Mixed, Asian, Black, Chinese, or Other ethnic group.

Two per cent of marriages were between people from different ethnic backgrounds (219,000). Of these inter-ethnic marriages, most (198,000) included a White person. In the remaining 21,000 inter-ethnic marriages both partners were from different minority ethnic backgrounds.

The most common inter-ethnic marriages were between White and Mixed race people, 26 per cent of all inter-ethnic marriages. Marriages between a White person and someone who described their ethnic group as ‘Other’ were the next most common (15 per cent), followed by White and Black Caribbean marriages (12 per cent), and White and Indian marriages (11 per cent).

People from the Mixed ethnic group were the most likely to be married to someone outside their ethnic group (78 per cent). The Mixed ethnic group is relatively small and there are limited opportunities to marry someone from the same ethnic group. However, mixed race people are often married to someone from a related ethnic group. For example, among men who described their own ethnic group as ‘Mixed - White and Black Caribbean’, 76 per cent were married to White women, 8 per cent to Black Caribbean women and 11 per cent to ‘Mixed – White and Black Caribbean’ women.

Among people who described their ethnic group as ‘Other’, 56 per cent of women and 34 per cent of men had married outside their ethnic group and most had married a White person. This Other group includes people from the Philippine Islands, Malaysia, Japan, Vietnam and various middle-eastern countries.

People who described their ethnic group as ‘Other Black’, largely young Black people born in Britain, were the next most likely to be married to someone outside their ethnic group, followed by Black Caribbean people. Almost five in ten Other Black men (48 per cent) and three in ten Black Caribbean men (29 per cent) were married to women outside the Black ethnic group, in most cases White women.

People from South Asian backgrounds were the least likely of the minority ethnic groups to be married to someone from a different ethnic group. Only 6 per cent of Indians, 4 per cent of Pakistanis, and 3 per cent of Bangladeshis had married someone outside the Asian group. As well as cultural and racial differences, people from South Asian backgrounds generally have different religions to people from other ethnic groups which may explain their relatively low inter-marriage rate. People who described their ethnicity as ‘Other Asian’ were more likely to have married a non-Asian person (18 per cent).

Although most inter-ethnic marriages include a White person, White people are the least likely to be married to someone outside their ethnic group – only 1 per cent of White men or women had done so. White people form the majority population in England and Wales (91 per cent) and consequently there are limited opportunities to marry people from a minority ethnic group. This is particularly true for people living outside London, where the minority ethnic population is often very small.

Patterns of inter-ethnic marriage were similar for men and women. Exceptions were that Black women were less likely than Black men to have married outside their ethnic group, and Chinese women were more likely than Chinese men to have done so.

Census, April 2001, Office for National Statistics

Inter-ethnic marriages are defined as marriages between people from different aggregate ethnic groups, where the ethnic group categories are: White, Mixed, Asian, Black, Chinese, Other ethnic group. For example, a White British person married to someone from a non-White ethnic group or a Pakistani person married to someone from a non-Asian ethnic group.


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From the Magazine | Cover
Why We Worry About The Things We Shouldn't... ...And Ignore The Things We Should

Anxiety: Worrying Ourselves Sick
* America on Guard: How Real Are the Threats?
* A to Z: The Year in Medicine

Posted Sunday, Nov. 26, 2006
It would be a lot easier to enjoy your life if there weren't so many things trying to kill you every day. The problems start even before you're fully awake. There's the fall out of bed that kills 600 Americans each year. There's the early-morning heart attack, which is 40% more common than those that strike later in the day. There's the fatal plunge down the stairs, the bite of sausage that gets lodged in your throat, the tumble on the slippery sidewalk as you leave the house, the high-speed automotive pinball game that is your daily commute. Other dangers stalk you all day long. Will a cabbie's brakes fail when you're in the crosswalk? Will you have a violent reaction to bad food? And what about the risks you carry with you all your life?

The father and grandfather who died of coronaries in their 50s probably passed the same cardiac weakness on to you. The tendency to take chances on the highway that has twice landed you in traffic court could just as easily land you in the morgue.

Shadowed by peril as we are, you would think we'd get pretty good at distinguishing the risks likeliest to do us in from the ones that are statistical long shots. But you would be wrong. We agonize over avian flu, which to date has killed precisely no one in the U.S., but have to be cajoled into getting vaccinated for the common flu, which contributes to the deaths of 36,000 Americans each year. We wring our hands over the mad cow pathogen that might be (but almost certainly isn't) in our hamburger and worry far less about the cholesterol that contributes to the heart disease that kills 700,000 of us annually.

We pride ourselves on being the only species that understands the concept of risk, yet we have a confounding habit of worrying about mere possibilities while ignoring probabilities, building barricades against perceived dangers while leaving ourselves exposed to real ones. Six Muslims traveling from a religious conference were thrown off a plane last week in Minneapolis, Minn., even as unscreened cargo continues to stream into ports on both coasts. Shoppers still look askance at a bag of spinach for fear of E. coli bacteria while filling their carts with fat-sodden French fries and salt-crusted nachos. We put filters on faucets, install air ionizers in our homes and lather ourselves with antibacterial soap. "We used to measure contaminants down to the parts per million," says Dan McGinn, a former Capitol Hill staff member and now a private risk consultant. "Now it's parts per billion."

At the same time, 20% of all adults still smoke; nearly 20% of drivers and more than 30% of backseat passengers don't use seat belts; two-thirds of us are overweight or obese. We dash across the street against the light and build our homes in hurricane-prone areas--and when they're demolished by a storm, we rebuild in the same spot. Sensible calculation of real-world risks is a multidimensional math problem that sometimes seems entirely beyond us. And while it may be true that it's something we'll never do exceptionally well, it's almost certainly something we can learn to do better.

Part of the problem we have with evaluating risk, scientists say, is that we're moving through the modern world with what is, in many respects, a prehistoric brain. We may think we've grown accustomed to living in a predator-free environment in which most of the dangers of the wild have been driven away or fenced off, but our central nervous system--evolving at a glacial pace--hasn't got the message.

To probe the risk-assessment mechanisms of the human mind, Joseph LeDoux, a professor of neuroscience at New York University and the author of The Emotional Brain, studies fear pathways in laboratory animals. He explains that the jumpiest part of the brain--of mouse and man--is the amygdala, a primitive, almond-shaped clump of tissue that sits just above the brainstem. When you spot potential danger--a stick in the grass that may be a snake, a shadow around a corner that could be a mugger--it's the amygdala that reacts the most dramatically, triggering the fight-or-flight reaction that pumps adrenaline and other hormones into your bloodstream.

It's not until a fraction of a second later that the higher regions of the brain get the signal and begin to sort out whether the danger is real. But that fraction of a second causes us to experience the fear far more vividly than we do the rational response--an advantage that doesn't disappear with time. The brain is wired in such a way that nerve signals travel more readily from the amygdala to the upper regions than from the upper regions back down. Setting off your internal alarm is quite easy, but shutting it down takes some doing.

"There are two systems for analyzing risk: an automatic, intuitive system and a more thoughtful analysis," says Paul Slovic, professor of psychology at the University of Oregon. "Our perception of risk lives largely in our feelings, so most of the time we're operating on system No. 1."

There's clearly an evolutionary advantage to this natural timorousness. If we're mindful of real dangers and flee when they arise, we're more likely to live long enough to pass on our genes. But evolutionary rewards also come to those who stand and fight, those willing to take risks--and even suffer injury--in pursuit of prey or a mate. Our ancestors hunted mastodons and stampeded buffalo, risking getting trampled for the possible payoff of meat and pelt. Males advertised their reproductive fitness by fighting other males, willingly engaging in a contest that could mean death for one and offspring for the other.

These two impulses--to engage danger or run from it--are constantly at war and have left us with a well-tuned ability to evaluate the costs and payoffs of short-term risk, say Slovic and others. That, however, is not the kind we tend to face in contemporary society, where threats don't necessarily spring from behind a bush. They're much more likely to come to us in the form of rumors or news broadcasts or an escalation of the federal terrorism-threat level from orange to red. It's when the risk and the consequences of our response unfold more slowly, experts say, that our analytic system kicks in. This gives us plenty of opportunity to overthink--or underthink--the problem, and this is where we start to bollix things up.

Which risks get excessive attention and which get overlooked depends on a hierarchy of factors. Perhaps the most important is dread. For most creatures, all death is created pretty much equal. Whether you're eaten by a lion or drowned in a river, your time on the savanna is over. That's not the way humans see things. The more pain or suffering something causes, the more we tend to fear it; the cleaner or at least quicker the death, the less it troubles us. "We dread anything that poses a greater risk for cancer more than the things that injure us in a traditional way, like an auto crash," says Slovic. "That's the dread factor." In other words, the more we dread, the more anxious we get, and the more anxious we get, the less precisely we calculate the odds of the thing actually happening. "It's called probability neglect," says Cass Sunstein, a University of Chicago professor of law specializing in risk regulation.

The same is true for, say, AIDS, which takes you slowly, compared with a heart attack, which can kill you in seconds, despite the fact that heart disease claims nearly 50 times as many Americans than AIDS each year. We also dread catastrophic risks, those that cause the deaths of a lot of people in a single stroke, as opposed to those that kill in a chronic, distributed way. "Terrorism lends itself to excessive reactions because it's vivid and there's an available incident," says Sunstein. "Compare that to climate change, which is gradual and abstract."

Unfamiliar threats are similarly scarier than familiar ones. The next E. coli outbreak is unlikely to shake you up as much as the previous one, and any that follow will trouble you even less. In some respects, this is a good thing, particularly if the initial reaction was excessive. But it's also unavoidable given our tendency to habituate to any unpleasant stimulus, from pain and sorrow to a persistent car alarm.

The problem with habituation is that it can also lead us to go to the other extreme, worrying not too much but too little. Sept. 11 and Hurricane Katrina brought calls to build impregnable walls against such tragedies ever occurring again. But despite the vows, both New Orleans and the nation's security apparatus remain dangerously leaky. "People call these crises wake-up calls," says Dr. Irwin Redlener, associate dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness. "But they're more like snooze alarms. We get agitated for a while, and then we don't follow through."

We similarly misjudge risk if we feel we have some control over it, even if it's an illusory sense. The decision to drive instead of fly is the most commonly cited example, probably because it's such a good one. Behind the wheel, we're in charge; in the passenger seat of a crowded airline, we might as well be cargo. So white-knuckle flyers routinely choose the car, heedless of the fact that at most a few hundred people die in U.S. commercial airline crashes in a year, compared with 44,000 killed in motor-vehicle wrecks. The most white-knuckle time of all was post--Sept. 11, when even confident flyers took to the roads. Not surprisingly, from October through December 2001 there were 1,000 more highway fatalities than in the same period the year before, in part because there were simply more cars around. "It was called the '9/11 effect.' It produced a third again as many fatalities as the terrorist attacks," says David Ropeik, an independent risk consultant and a former professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Then too there's what Ropeik and others call "optimism bias," the thing that makes us glower when we see someone driving erratically while talking on a cell phone, even if we've done the very same thing, perhaps on the very same day. We tell ourselves we're different, because our call was shorter or our business was urgent or we were able to pay attention to the road even as we talked. What optimism bias comes down to, however, is the convenient belief that risks that apply to other people don't apply to us.

Finally, and for many of us irresistibly, there's the irrational way we react to risky behavior that also confers some benefit. It would be a lot easier to acknowledge the perils of smoking cigarettes or eating too much ice cream if they weren't such pleasures. Drinking too much confers certain benefits too, as do risky sex, recreational drugs and uncounted other indulgences. This is especially true since, in most cases, the gratification is immediate and the penalty, if it comes at all, comes later. With enough time and enough temptation, we can talk ourselves into ignoring almost any long-term costs. "These things are fun or hip, even if they can be lethal," says Ropeik. "And that pleasure is a benefit we weigh."

If these reactions are true for all of us--and they are--then you might think that all of us would react to risk in the same way. But that's clearly not the case. Some people enjoy roller coasters; others won't go near them. Some skydive; others can't imagine it. Not only are thrill seekers not put off by risk, but they're drawn to it, seduced by the mortal frisson that would leave many of us cold. "There's an internal thermostat that seems to control this," says risk expert John Adams of University College London. "That set point varies from person to person and circumstance to circumstance."

No one knows how such a set point gets calibrated, but evidence suggests that it is a mix of genetic and environmental variables. In a study at the University of Delaware in 2000, researchers used personality surveys to evaluate the risk-taking behavior of 260 college students and correlated it with existing research on the brain and blood chemistry of people with thrill-seeking personalities or certain emotional disorders. Their findings support the estimate that about 40% of the high-thrill temperament is learned and 60% inherited, with telltale differences in such relevant brain chemicals as serotonin, which helps inhibit impulsive behavior and may be in short supply in people with high-wire personalities.


Given these idiosyncratic reactions, is it possible to have a rational response to risk? If we can't agree on whether something is dangerous or not or, if it is, whether it's a risk worth taking, how can we come up with policies that keep all of us reasonably safe?

One way to start would to be to look at the numbers. Anyone can agree that a 1-in-1 million risk is better than 1 in 10, and 1 in 10 is better than 50-50. But things are almost always more complicated than that, a fact that corporations, politicians and other folks with agendas to push often deftly exploit.

Take the lure of the comforting percentage. In one study, Slovic found that people were more likely to approve of airline safety-equipment purchases if they were told that it could "potentially save 98% of 150 people" than if they were told it could "potentially save 150 people." On its face this reaction makes no sense, since 98% of 150 people is only 147. But there was something about the specificity of the number that the respondents found appealing. "Experts tend to use very analytic, mathematical tools to calculate risk," Slovic says. "The public tends to go more on their feelings."

There's also the art of the flawed comparison. Officials are fond of reassuring the public that they run a greater risk from, for example, drowning in the bathtub, which kills 320 Americans a year, than from a new peril like mad cow disease, which has so far killed no one in the U.S. That's pretty reassuring--and very misleading. The fact is that anyone over 6 and under 80--which is to say, the overwhelming majority of the U.S. population--faces almost no risk of perishing in the tub. For most of us, the apples of drowning and the oranges of mad cow disease don't line up in any useful way.

But such statistical straw men get trotted out all the time. People defending the safety of pesticides and other toxins often argue that you stand a greater risk of being hit by a falling airplane (about 1 in 250,000 over the course of your entire life) than you do of being harmed by this or that contaminant. If you live near an airport, however, the risk of getting beaned is about 1 in 10,000. Two very different probabilities are being conflated into one flawed forecast. "My favorite is the one that says you stand a greater risk from dying while skydiving than you do from some pesticide," says Susan Egan Keane of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Well, I don't skydive, so my risk is zero."

Risk figures can be twisted in more disastrous ways too. Last year's political best seller, The One Percent Doctrine, by journalist Ron Suskind, pleased or enraged you, depending on how you felt about war in Iraq, but it hit risk analysts where they live. The title of the book is drawn from a White House determination that if the risk of a terrorist attack in the U.S. was even 1%, it would be treated as if it were a 100% certainty. Critics of Administration policy argue that that 1% possibility was never properly balanced against the 100% certainty of the tens of thousands of casualties that would accompany a war. That's a position that may be easier to take in 2006, with Baghdad in flames and the war grinding on, but it's still true that a 1% danger that something will happen is the same as a 99% likelihood that it won't.


It's not impossible for us to become sharper risk handicappers. For one thing, we can take the time to learn more about the real odds. Baruch Fischhoff, professor of social and decision sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, recently asked a panel of 20 communications and finance experts what they thought the likelihood of human-to-human transmission of avian flu would be in the next three years. They put the figure at 60%. He then asked a panel of 20 medical experts the same question. Their answer: 10%. "There's reason to be critical of experts," Fischhoff says, "but not to replace their judgment with laypeople's opinions."

The government must also play a role in this, finding ways to frame warnings so that people understand them. John Graham, formerly the administrator of the federal Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, says risk analysts suffer no end of headaches trying to get Americans to understand that while nuclear power plants do pose dangers, the more imminent peril to both people and the planet comes from the toxins produced by coal-fired plants. Similarly, pollutants in fish can be dangerous, but for most people--with the possible exception of small children and women of childbearing age--the cardiac benefits of fish easily outweigh the risks. "If you can get people to compare," he says, "then you're in a situation where you can get them to make reasoned choices."

Just as important is to remember to pay proper mind to the dangers that, as the risk experts put it, are hiding in plain sight. Most people no longer doubt that global warming is happening, yet we live and work in air-conditioned buildings and drive gas-guzzling cars. Most people would be far likelier to participate in a protest at a nuclear power plant than at a tobacco company, but it's smoking, not nukes, that kills an average of 1,200 Americans every single day.

We can do better, however, and leaders in government and industry can help. The residual parts of our primitive brains may not give us any choice beyond fighting or fleeing. But the higher reasoning we've developed over millions of years gives us far greater--and far more nuanced--options. Officials who provide hard, honest numbers and a citizenry that takes the time to understand them would not only mean a smarter nation, but a safer one. [This article contains a complex diagram. Please see hardcopy or pdf.] TOTAL ANNUAL DEATHS 2.5 MILLION Homicide 17,732 Suicide 31,484

Terrified of bees, snakes and swimming pools? ACCIDENTS 109,277 Maybe you should worry more about your heart DISEASES 2.3 million Other diseases 681,150 Diabetes 74,219 Chronic lower-respiratory disease 126,382 Stroke 157,689 Cancer 556,902 Heart disease 685,089 All other deaths 8,364 Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Transportation Safety Board
With reporting by With reporting by David Bjerklie/New York, Dan Cray/Los Angeles