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Pet Sins November 2002

White people prefer yellow and brown people over black people?

Despite blacks being the largest minority group, the number of black-white couples is lower than the number of Asian-white couples according to census counts. Whites are more likely to marry Latinos or Asians than blacks. White parents sometimes give their backhanded approval to their children's choice of Latino or Asian spouses with the remark, "at least s/he is not black".

Asians and Latinos are more acceptable as additions to white families than blacks are. Some white American couples wanting to build a family by adoption choose to go overseas to Latin America and Asia because "if you adopt domestically, you only have black babies to choose from."

Such reasons are hardly articulated publicly, of course. And certainly, there are other factors that drive white American couples overseas in the baby search. Oft quoted reasons include too much red tape for domestic adoptions, a birth family in a different country is less likely to try to reclaim an adopted child, and a wider pool of children to choose from.

A white couple planning to adopt a baby said they wanted an Asian because, unlike a black child, an Asian "would look more like us". I thought that was a strange comment, because most black Americans have European blood. Many black Americans, even very dark-skinned ones, have European traces in their facial features. A white woman seen with a black child is far more likely to be assumed to be the biological mother of the child than a white woman who is seen with a yellow child. If the couple's purpose of getting a light-skinned Asian child is to increase the chances of "passing" for birth parents, then they will be disappointed.

After centuries of having sexual relations with black women, many imposed by force, some not, white men still do not wish to marry black women. Yesterday's white men had illicit sexual relations with black women and did not acknowledge their own half-black children. Today's white men openly show off their Asian wives and girlfriends and proudly display their half-Asian children. According to census data, there are more white men who marry Asian women than white men who marry black women, even though there are more black women than Asian women in the United States. Makes so much sense to abuse and abandon those who not only served you but are also your kin. Black women are not begging white men to marry them either. Patricia Collins, a University of Cincinnati professor, wrote in Black Feminist Thought that "freedom for Black women has meant freedom from white men."

It is no secret that brown and yellow peoples have always been favored by whites over blacks. In the old South, Mexicans were welcome in white stores when black weren't. Native Americans were allowed to drink from white-only water fountains and enter white establishments.

This is not to claim that brown and yellow people do not suffer discrimination from whites. Filipinos have been lynched by white mobs for dating white women, and Native American man-white woman unions were not as encouraged as the converse. Similarly, when white Californian society began to find Mexican woman-Anglo man unions acceptable, they did not extend the same acceptance to Mexican men.

Although there may be unique problems in Asian, Latino and Native commmunities which blacks don't have to deal with, blacks still face many challenges from which yellow and brown people are spared. For example, no non-black men of color have been punished as cruelly and in such great numbers for allegedly paying attention to white women.

So what are Asians, Latinos, and Native Americans to do? Bow down and thank the white men for treating them better than the blacks are treated? Or question white society's rules for treating people according to where they are on the color scale?