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Pet Sins November 2002

White Americans' favorite excuses for Asians' favoring of white over black and brown

White Americans, especially self-styled liberals, do not like to be confronted with the claim that they receive special favor from Asians. Many white men who date Asians see their relationship as an exercise in 'racial open-mindedness', 'the way of the new America'. Any threat to their blissful imaginary picture of interracial 'equality' is met with vehement denial and irrational 'rationalizations'.

According to the 1990 census figures, there are 30 white-Asian couples to 1 black-Asian couple.1 The ratio of whites to blacks is about 6 to 1. If Asian women who date interracially chose their partners according to the rules of mathematical possibility, you would expect the ratio of white-Asian unions to black-Asian unions to be closer to 6:1 than to 30:1. we will examine some of the excuses that white men come up with when they are asked to explain this disparity.

From my dialogs with whites, I find that white women in general are much, much more willing and able to see the internalized racism which affects the way people of color interact with whites. I have not met one white man who could admit that he is privileged by Asian prejudice for whites and against blacks.

In the 2nd section, we will ask white men why there are more Asian woman-white man couples than white woman-Asian men couples.

Why are black-Asian couples under-represented compared to white-Asian couples?

In this section, we will look at European American males' actual responses to this question.

Excuse 1: You can't force people to be together

A white boy who is living on the West Coast and dating a yellow women said this. He claims to like 'international people' and says he has black male friends.

This line is familiar to those of us who have watched the play Raisin in the Sun. The plot is partly about a black American family's decision to move into a white neighborhood. The European American representative of the homeowner's association tried to persuade the African American family not to move in. He said, "Rest assured that this has nothing to do with racism... you just can't force people to live together".

To this white boy, I said, "Then I 'rest assured' that this phenomenon of yellow women disproporationately choosing white men over black men 'has nothing to do with racism'. Your response actually gave credence to the idea you apparently wanted to deny, or at least avoid talking about. If Asian women in general were not racist against black men, there would be no need to 'force' Asian women to get together with black men, because it will happen in accordance to the laws of mathematical probability."

Excuse 2: Racial preferences are not a factor, but education is. Asians tend to be more educated than blacks and are hence more likely to marry whites

This is an excuse a boy from Vermont came up with. There is a degree of the truth to the claim that Asian Americans are more likely to be educated than blacks. In 1990, about 42% of Asian Americans had finished college compared with 25% of the general population.1 But Vermont boy's assumption is that whites and Asians form the educational 'upper class', while blacks languish in an educational underclass and are barred from intermarriage with better-educated Asians. This assumption is not entirely accurate.

According to the Associated Press article, Blacks get parity in graduation, blacks graduate from high school at approximately the same rates as whites do (with a difference of about 1% in graduation rate) in 1997. But at the college level, differences widen. The March 1997 Current Population Survey indicated that half of Asian and Pacific Islanders ages 25 to 29 had received a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to one in three whites, one in seven blacks and one in 10 Hispanics.

But I believe educational qualifications alone do not account for the intermarriage disparity. There is quite a bit of anecdotal evidence to show that highly educated black men are still rejected by Asians in favor of white men. In one case, L, a well-paid black professional working on his master's degree, was rejected by his Asian girlfriend's mother, who saw his blackness and nothing else. As described in a Pet Sins webzine January 2002 article, a Chinese man rejected a black Stanford medical student as potential son-in-law.

Excuse 3: Maybe if an Asian woman met a black man who is handsome, educated and wealthy, she would be interested in him.

The boy from Vermont came up with this excuse too. What are the assumptions behind his statement? That a black man has to be all these perfect things before an Asian woman would look at him while all a white guy has to do to win her heart is be white? Or does our Vermont boy mean blacks are not as likely to be handsome, educated and well off as whites?

There is anecdotal evidence that even rich, highly educated black men are rejected by Asians in favor of whites. Asiaweek article The Minority Interracial Couples tells of a well-to-do black man with beach-front property and a master's degree who was rejected by his Asian girlfriend's family. Her sister's white husband, who was similarly qualified, was accepted without problems. This indicates that color matters more than education and wealth.

This young man claims he isn't racist. Perhaps he does not believe in the inherent biological inferiority of any racial group. But why is he unwilling to criticize or challenge a phenomenon of racial inequality? He doesn't even want things between black men and yellow women to change.

Excuse 4: I saw a couple of black-Asian couples

A white man from Utah, who is married to Chinese woman, said this. This is the typical "gatekeeper" excuse white people use to answer the claim that equal opportunity is not quite here yet. For example, whites claim that there is equal opportunity in the military by pointing at General Colin Powell. Whites point at the exception and insist it is the norm. They try not to look at the statistics. Statistics still indicate that Asian women marry black men in far lower numbers than would be expected from population ratios.

Excuse 5: Asians tend to be more integrated into white neighborhoods, hence increasing the chances of whites and Asians meeting and marrying.

This excuse is probably the one with the most truth in it. Asians have not been actively excluded from predominantly white neighborhoods to the same degree and intensity as blacks had. Many whites who prevented blacks from moving into their neighborhoods later put up with Mexican and Asian neighbors with the reason "at least they are not black."

Whenever a white man tries using this 'housing integration' excuse to explain the higher rates of Asians or Latinos with whites, he should also think of the reasons behind this phenomenon, and perhaps do his part to equalize the playing field for blacks too.

1 Frank Wu, Yellow: Race in America beyond black and white, 273
2 Frank Wu, 50-51