Apropos of Allison Samuels and Interracial Dating.

One of the most frustrating things about intra-race conversations around interracial dating, and particularly dating between black men and white women, is that there is this pervasive belief that it is impossible to both be a “proud” black person and date “outside the race.”  Or put another way, black people with non-black partners are often accused of betraying the “black family unit” or are portrayed as somehow running away from their “blackness.”  Which, you know, is total bullshit.  The straightforward explanation for why there is more interracial dating is that more black people belong to the middle and upper middle class, and more black people have grown up in areas where blacks are not the majority.  On the whole, there is simply less cultural and economic distance between blacks and whites.  And since you’re most likely to date people who are cultural similar and geographically close, it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that interracial dating is on the rise.

Now, admittedly, Samuels focuses most of her piece on interracial dating between black men and white women, and I don’t have much of an explanation for why more black men date and marry white women than the reverse.  But as Ta-Nehisi Coates noted, it’s worth pointing out that even with the marked rise in interracial dating and interracial marriages, the vast majority of black men are married to black women.  If roughly 8 percent of black men are married to non-black women, then 92 percent of black men are married to black women.  As far as I can tell, black men still very much want to date and marry black women.

As a final note, you can count me as one of the many people tired of the “black women are having trouble getting married” stories that seem to pop up every month or so.  It’s not just that they all seem to rest on two, horribly flawed assumptions — all black women are heterosexual and want to get married — but that they ignore the painful fact that dating is hard.  Meeting people ishard.  And turning a casual relationship into something lasting and meaningful is incredibly difficult, regardless of who you are or where you’re from.  Black women are in the same boat as everyone else, and it’s deeply unfair (as well as a little problematic) to single them out for problems that all of us face.

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Jamelle Bouie is a writer for Slate. He has also written for The Daily Beast, The American Prospect and The Nation. His work centers on politics, race, and the intersection of the two. You can find him on Twitter, Flickr, and Instagram as jbouie.

7 comments to Apropos of Allison Samuels and Interracial Dating.

  • “It’s not just that they all seem to rest on two, horribly flawed assumptions — all black women are heterosexual and want to get married — but that they ignore the painful fact that dating is hard. Meeting people is hard. And turning a casual relationship into something lasting and meaningful is incredibly difficult, regardless of who you are or where you’re from.”
    This is like a breath of fresh air. Thank you for this. I’ve always been of the mind that finding someone who you have a genuine connection with and is willing to put up with all your BS is just hard to do, no matter who you are or where you’re from. And if the person you find happens to be outside of your race, then so what? It’s not an act of betrayal to do what’s best for you.

    And thank you for pointing out how hetero-normative all of these stories tend to be. A tip for news organizations: Next time you do yet another BLACK WOMEN ARE DOOMED story, at least include some lesbians in the mix. Or talk about how single Black women who are perfectly content to stay that way ARE DOOMED.

    I’m weary of this constant need to turn anything involving black people into some kind of pathology. And it’s really irksome when other black people seem to buy into a lot of it.

  • Val

    “I’m weary of this constant need to turn anything involving black people into some kind of pathology.” – Danielle

    Me too. And Allison Samuels is a hack.

  • keke

    I haven’t read the Allison Samuels article yet cause I am still a lil salty about those pieces she wrote about Zahara’s hair.

    Having said that, I am frustrated with these “Black women are single and lonely” articles that pop up every month. Dateline recently did a segment on this and of course, they consulted “relationship guru” Steve Harvey.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJGMAhWpDF8

    I just don’t understand why happiness and fulfillment is defined by whether you are married and have children. It doesn’t help that I’m getting some ridiculous pressure to “settle down and be happy” from a few folks in my fam. It’s as though they cannot wrap their heads around the fact that a woman can be 27yrs old, single without kids and still be happy.

    I agree with the comments above, these articles make it seem as though there is some sort of pathology going on among black women. Why are these stories so popular? Can we find a way to blame Tyler Perry for this?

  • Lauren

    I honestly think this is all a part of a larger campaign to assassinate the image of black women. Too many of us have begun to achieve on a wide scale. As a result, the old “welfare queen”/”jezebel-video vixen” motifs are no longer as effective in containing us. An alternative was needed. So now we are successful but doomed to a life of loneliness. Sadly, some black women have been hoodwinked into doing the work of mainstream society – pathologizing black women – for it.

    While I think it is important to point out the hetero-normative bias of these articles, I think it is also important to recognize that the majority of black women are heterosexual. Moreover, many of these heterosexual women do want to get married. These articles and interveiws are meant to do damage to the most people possible with a single blow – heterosexual, marriaged-minded black women. To recognize the complexities of black women’s lives would mean a whole lot of extra work for people out to destroy and/or contain black women.

    Furthermore, I am a bit bothered when people cite that most black men do marry black women. I think this is true, but perhaps the more important questions are how many black men get married or WANT to get married overall and at what age. If many black men do not want to marry or want to marry at a much later age in life – say 40 to 45 – then the fact that the few who do marry mostly marry black women will not matter to the droves of heterosexual, marriage oriented black women who want to marry black men who will remain unpartnered.

    Honestly … These days when I see these types of articles I ignore them. They seep into the minds of too many black women and do much damage.

  • Val

    @LaJane Galt

    Yes, I read that. It was pure self-hatred on display. I wonder if Newsweek has any Black women editors? It must not otherwise I just don’t see how Allison could get away with writing this junk. Then again, having a Black editor doesn’t really guarantee anything.

  • MikeCee

    “Meeting people is hard. And turning a casual relationship into something lasting and meaningful is incredibly difficult, regardless of who you are or where you’re from. Black women are in the same boat as everyone else, and it’s deeply unfair (as well as a little problematic) to single them out for problems that all of us face. “

    I think this is exactly right and the reason I resent these boilerplate stories. They are just another lazy and simplistic attempt to further the Black, as token minority, is different meme with Black women always seeming to be the drive by victim of choice. I tend to think we are products of our environment and in that regard, love is blind regarding race. Italian, growing up in Washington Heights, there was no way I going to marry a woman out of York Ave or the Hamptons or even Bensonhurst. It’s not that anything is wrong with women from those places but we have little in common socially and culturally and it’s those commonalities that make the fireworks go pop and the make the hard work of relationships worthwhile and fun. I guess I was always looking for my version of L’s around the way girl. So are most people I think. Skin color has very little, if anything to do with being happy and in love.

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