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The Hypocrisy of Race in America - Are Some Intermarriages More Acceptable Than Others?

It seems that most white Americans are upset by the distinct possibility that one of America's founding fathers could have had an intimate relationship with a slave that lasted for so many years. What no one has considered subversive are the intimate relations between whites and Native Americans that had been going on for centuries and with much less scrutiny. The marriage between white colonist John Rolfe and Pocahontas, daughter to a Native American chief, is a case in point. Their union was accepted and in fact lauded, perhaps because Pocahontas was royalty and she had willingly submitted to Christianity.

In any case, many whites seem proud to acknowledge their Native American ancestry, yet when there is a hint that African (tainted) blood may also flow through their family tree then it is treated with incredulity and vehement disdain. The reactions from some of the members in the Cooper family when one of the daughters bravely acknowledged her black family members aptly depicts the continued conflict of double consciousness that inflicts American society.

Thus, it appears that despite the proliferation of exuberantly varied hues amongst African Americans, Afro Caribbeans, and Brazilians in South America, which emphatically attests to past relations with other 'races', this society still demands that a person align themselves with a specific monoculture. This edict is enforced in large part due to physical characteristics and stereotypical assumptions made about different racial groups, especially African Americans that include low intelligence, poor impulse control, and propensity for violence and destruction just to name but a few insidious claims. Therefore, because of these gross assumptions, it will always be taboo to engage in an intimate liaison with a partner of African descent and worse yet, to legitimatize the union through marriage. It took until 1967; over 100 years after Emancipation, with the case of Loving v. Virginia to openly acknowledge consensual interracial unions.

Still, despite this landmark decision, African Americans still remain the least favored group in exogamic trends, whereas Whites, Hispanics and Asian pairings are increasing and appear more socially acceptable while they continue to incite praise for their willingness to meld into a singular American identity. Thus, those few African American interracial unions that do occur will, unfortunately, continue to be held suspect in society's eyes as either immoral and degrading or an exotic indulgence without the 'normal' feelings of love, commitment, and caring. Regrettably, their progeny just as the many thousands before them, will be forced, depending upon their physical makeup, to struggle under the burden of personal identity and society's pressures to conform to a narrow definition of what makes us all human as questions like "What are you?" impose either allegiance or denial.

N.M.