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Pet Sins January 2006

The media idealization of interracial couples vs their real life behaviors

I was intrigued to read the article Asian women who marry white men claim special status? which amply illustrates how people involved in interracial relationships can themselves be racist, specifically, how an Asian woman married to a white man sees no irony in making disparaging remarks about a white woman-black man couple. The popular media tends to make plaster saints out of interracial couples - movies such as Save The Last Dance, Come See The Paradise, and Snow Falling on Cedars praise the courage and tenacity of interracial couples who overcome social opposition to pursue 'true love'.

Such positive media representation are perhaps our way for compensating for the anti-miscegenation era, but America has moved along since then. Not that we're necessarily much less racist than we used to be, but we sure have come up with new expressions for our racism. I am quite tired of the idealizing of individuals involved in interracial relationships because they can be every bit just as racist, and sometimes even more so, than individuals who are not involved in interracial dating. A New Yorker shares his real-life observations of this hypocrisy in a 2004 yahoogroups message:

In NYC, I have seen white male-Asian woman couples make fun of Black male-Asian woman couples. I have heard the white/Asian couple say stuff like, "Where did that Asian woman get that black guy? The city jail?" and "What's that Asian girl doing with that ni****r? I guess she doesn't know any better."

I'm on the other side of the country in Seattle, where 1 out of 7 babies born is of mixed race, but yet acquaintances who have come from other states such as CA or even ID tell me that Seattle, is in some ways, more racist than their home states. The reason they come to this conclusion is that many people who date interracially in Seattle has racist dating preferences. In fact, the individual who has no racial preferences in a romantic partner is the exception, not the norm. A friend met a white guy in a bar who said, "I can date a woman of any race, except a black woman." Some Asian associates have also claimed that the majority of Asian American women in Seattle would only date whites (and maybe people of their own ethnic group), but won't consider dating darker-skinned people of color. So while some Seattle folks are proud of our 'multicultural' baby boom, claiming it is a sign that we are more enlightened than other parts of the country, I really doubt that the high number of mixed race people necessarily indicates a more open-minded society. We are simply a racist society which encourages and celebrates some mixed-race combos but don't give the same respect to (and actually devalue and disrespect) other mixed-couple combinations.