Friday, February 25, 2011 Guest Post - Halle Berry, Interracial Marriage, And The "One Drop Rule".

[Editor's Note: Cyber homeboy and AverageNation™ regular Shady Grady goes in on a controversial NY Times article about the dreaded "one drop rule". And in case you were wondering, yes, is on the way (I hope!). Till then, as usual, show our guest some love you-know-where.]

When I was growing up in SE Michigan during the Antediluvian Era, there weren't a whole lot of self-identified "biracial" or "multiracial" people. You were Black or White. There was a very small population of East/South Asians and a few people of Hispanic or Middle Eastern heritage (primarily Lebanese or Chaldeans who infrequently identified as "White")

Black/White mixed kids identified as the race they most looked like or lived next to-which given housing patterns usually meant they declared themselves "Black" about 95% of the time. Those were the rules then. Pick a team!!!

However now that those unenlightened times have passed, the rules have changed. America is no longer 84%+ Caucasian. Immigration has dramatically altered the demographic landscape. And many people (with the possible exception of Halle Berry) no longer automatically feel the need or desire to identify just as one race. A fascinating recent NYT article (login required) discussed the growing number of young Americans who don’t identify as just one race but as biracial or multiracial.
One in seven new marriages is between spouses of different races or ethnicities, according to data from 2008 and 2009 that was analyzed by the Pew Research Center. Multiracial and multiethnic Americans (usually grouped together as “mixed race”) are one of the country’s fastest-growing demographic groups. And experts expect the racial results of the 2010 census, which will start to be released next month, to show the trend continuing or accelerating.

Many young adults of mixed backgrounds are rejecting the color lines that have defined Americans for generations in favor of a much more fluid sense of identity. Ask Michelle López-Mullins, a 20-year-old junior and the president of the Multiracial and Biracial Student Association, how she marks her race on forms like the census, and she says, “It depends on the day, and it depends on the options.”

They are also using the strength in their growing numbers to affirm roots that were once portrayed as tragic or pitiable.
“I think it’s really important to acknowledge who you are and everything that makes you that,” said Ms. Wood, the 19-year-old vice president of the group. “If someone tries to call me black I say, ‘yes — and white.’ People have the right not to acknowledge everything, but don’t do it because society tells you that you can’t.”
This is all quite fascinating to an Oldie McOldster such as myself. However the data also shows something else which gives pause to the congratulatory “Aren’t we so past race?” tone of the article. This new mixing bowl is primarily between Whites and Asians or Whites and Hispanics. Blacks are still the fly in the buttermilk-though the buttermilk might have a slightly different tinge.

Black and White Americans simply do not marry each other at very high rates. In fact the rates are low-extremely low.*

According to this study:
• Out of every 1000 married black men, 76 are married to a white woman. That’s 7.6%.
• Out of every 1000 married black women, 35 are married to a white man. That’s 3.5%.
• Out of every 1000 married white men, 3 are married to a black woman. That’s 0.3%.
• Out of every 1000 married white women, 7 are married to a black man. That’s 0.7%.
• Overall Whites (especially White women) had the lowest rate of intermarriage while American Indians had the highest.
Check out this graphic.

Of course you would never know this if you stuck to reading some of the more negative black blogs. A number of black men and black women evidently hate each other. Many bloggers routinely insult the opposite gender as being damaged beyond repair, ugly, incompetent or unfeminine, lazy or b***hy and downright undesirable. Some bloggers seem to think that black men or black women are the alpha and omega of all evil in the world. What is their solution? Get a white spouse.

I can’t gainsay whatever preferences any individual may have. Life is short.
But do you need to badmouth your own? Probably not. And is marrying someone white a realistic option for most black people? The numbers say definitely not.

Generally speaking, D’eAndre is not marrying Becky. Kaitlyn is not stepping down the aisle with Malik. Chad is not marrying Jasmine. It’s time for people to be realistic. Whatever issues you may have in your romantic life, chances are quite good they start with you. Changing the color of the person you sleep with without changing yourself won’t solve your issues. And if you can’t get who you want, it’s not the fault of the other racial group or your same race/opposite gender counterpart. This unseemly paranoia and rage that some people have about “Those dirty (insert group here) are stealing all of our (insert group here)” must end. It serves no useful purpose other than scapegoating and guilt tripping –no matter who does it.

Question: Why are so many people obsessed with Black/White intermarriage despite its rarity? Why do some Black people think a white spouse will be a better deal? What do you think about people with a black parent identifying as multiracial? Will “whiteness” ever include people with black parents? Is Halle just in denial about her daughter’s race? Has the One Drop Rule outlived whatever usefulness it might have had?

*The study counted Hispanics separately as either white Hispanics or black Hispanics which I thought was sort of problematic as I know some people of Hispanic origin who reject American style racial classifications. The numbers for whites and blacks are for people of non-Hispanic origin.

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