The four readings for this week were (mostly) all about interracial L-O-V-E, from varying perspectives.
The first reading was "Discovering Racial Borders" by Heather M. Dalmage. In this essay, Dalmage talks about the way that color lines are "policed" in order to keep interracial relationships from happening and flourishing. And how interracial couples fight back against this policing by family and friends. Dalmage pointed out that the people watching the dissenters between the color line can be black or white but each person brings a "different historical and social perspective." Most white "border patrolling" (this metaphor is so apt!) want to keep white friends and family in line in order to protect the "purity" of the white race. I like that Dalmage doesn't gloss over the issues of gender that come into play when talking about interracial heterosexual marriage. She provides different scenarios (white-wife and black-husband, black-wife and white-husband) and perspectives from each gender. White women that marry black men, she mentions at one point, are seen as "bad or bizarre" or otherwise seduced by the stereotype of the sexually dominant black man.
Throughout all the readings, the issues of power and privilege played a tremendous role in the feelings of betrayal by family members and friends. Cultural closeness of people of the same race was also an important issue. Of the black men interviewed by Dalmage, they mentioned being seen as forsaking their race by the transgression of marrying a white woman.
Frank Wu tackles the issue of interracial marriage from a predominantly Asian perspective in "The Changing Face of America." In his essay, Wu explores the interracial marriage rates for Asian Americans and the tendency to overlook race when speaking of an interracial Asian-white couple due to the "passing" of Asian-Americans. Wu provides the historical struggle for legalized interracial marriage. During the Civil Rights era, Wu notes, interracial marriage struggle was relegated to white-black marriages. When speaking of interracial marriages between whites and Asians, Wu states, "Whites are much more likely to marry Asian Americans than African Americans. The Asian American intermarriage rate is triple the African American rate." Wu explains this discrepancy by theorizing that Asian Americans "marry up" and that a white spouse is seen as a form of moving up in the social and class structure of the United States. For an Asian American to marry an African American, by this logic, would be a step down. The gender mix of Asian American-white couples consists of a white husband and an Asian American wife.
Wu discusses the issue of "passing" and that there is only one race that other races wish to pass as: white. "People who are white rarely try to disguise themselves as people of color and would have few reasons to do so." He provides Keanu Reeves and Tiger Woods as examples of mixed race Asians that can either "pass" or not. Keanu can pass since he is half white, Tiger cannot since he is half black. Despite Woods' lineage, he is still seen as a black man. After Fuzzy Zoeller insulted him, Wu says, "When he looks at Woods he sees race; he sees blackness." The "blackness" overrides anything else and comes back to the antiquated "one drop" rule. Woods has to constantly talk about himself in terms of race, while Reeves doesn't because he "passes" as a white man. Wu calls Reeves a "closeted Asian American."
In closing, after an examination of the mixed race movement, it is said "Race may be fictional, but racism is real." And still difficult to talk about.
Maria Root offers the "Ten Truths of Interracial Marriage" and specifically talks about love in her final paragraphs of the essay. She explores the differences between families that embrace interracial marriages of other family members and those that don't. She, like, Dalmage explores the intersections of race and gender that come together in an interracial marriage. "The strongest objections still pertain to black-white marriage." This may be due to the ability for other races to "pass" whereas blacks can never be seen as white. Root maintains that authority and privilege play integral roles in the acceptance or dismissal of interracial marriage. She also argues that interracial marriages may help give an understanding of male or white privilege to each spouse and that this can lead to a flexibility in gender roles and redefinition of attractiveness (these all being good things). The "Ten Truths about Interracial Marriage" are then listed. These include, financial independence of women have led them to choose their mates without family approval, love and values compel an interracial couple to marry, interracial couples may replace estranged blood kin with a fictive family of friends, and conflicts within interracial marriages are more likely to arise from cultural, gender, class, social, and personal differences than from racial ones.
"Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" is a Pew Research Center report on mixed-race marriage. 22% of Americans have a relative in a mixed-race marriage according to their findings. The surprisings were pretty standard: younger people are more accepting of mixed-race relationships than older people, blacks and Hispanics are more supportive of mixed-race relationships than whites, and people in Western states are more supportive of mixed-race relationships since there are higher percentages of Asian-Americans, American Indians, and multi-race Americans living in western states.