African Americans and Interracial Dating Whos Dating Whom

A previous trend had established that African Americans were experiencing a 'gender gap' in the world of interracial dating. Popular television programs support the likelihood that a lessoning of this gap is occurring.

African Americans and Interracial Dating Whos Dating Whom

In the world of interracial dating, just who are African Americans in particular dating and marrying? A previous trend that established a substantial gender gap seems to be shifting, and this shift is reflected with increasing frequency in popular television programs that have aired over the last few years.

The release of data from the 2000 Census showed that the gender imbalance experienced by African American women in terms of interracial dating and marriage had remained substantial. It supported what had frequently been discussed on daytime talk shows and in popular magazines: African American women were frustrated in their quest to find men to date and marry, and gender imbalance within interracial couples as a group was a contributing factor.

In short, white women were more likely to date and marry African American men than white men were to date and marry African American women. In 73 percent of African American/white interracial couples, the husband was black and the wife was white. This translates to African American men having white wives more than 2 1/2 times more frequently than African American women had white husbands. The imbalance was even more striking among African American/white couples who were living together without being married; African American men lived with white women five times more often than white men lived with African American women.

Since the 2000 Census, the annual Current Population Survey reports issued by the Census Bureau have indicated that the total number of white husband/African American wife couples was increasing, but they have cautioned that these are estimates only and that they are based on sample sizes too small to be statistically reliable. Having said that, a recent small survey of college students seems to support the idea that a shift is occurring in the gender balances of African American/white interracial dating couples.

In the survey, 629 East Carolina University students completed an anonymous confidential questionnaire designed to assess the students' openness to becoming involved in an interracial relationship. Almost half of the students stated that they were willing to undertake an interracial relationship, while nearly one-fourth had already done so. Furthermore, ninety-two percent of those who had prior experience with interracial dating were open to repeating the experience. While there was greater acceptance among African Americans of interracial dating versus that of whites, there were no significant differences in gender between those who were open to interracial relationships and those who were not.

If one is to look to popular culture as a reflection of the experience of its participants, then television programs may provide further insight into a possible trend toward interracial dating and marriage involving couples where the female is African American and the male is white. A number of examples come to mind. . .

Interracial dating occurred in a number of episodes near the end of the popular Friends series. First Joey and then Ross (who are both white, and Ross is Jewish to boot) date a beautiful African American anthropologist; she eventually goes back to the white university professor she'd been involved with prior to dating Joey. The Joss Whedon series Firefly, originally on Fox and then canceled but aired on the SciFi channel prior to its box-office incarnation as the hit movie Serenity, featured the interracial couple of Zoe, African American kick-butt right-hand-'man' to the Captain, and her husband Wash, Firefly's white pilot. And the critically acclaimed program Lost brought a flash of 'barely-conscious-bias-awareness' to its viewers when it finally revealed that African American wife Rose's long-lost husband Bernard was not only found, but white! I suspect a great number of viewers found themselves bumping up against their expectations that Bernard would be an African American.

Fox's popular medical show, House, M.D., now in its second season, has featured interracial couples in several episodes. Season One's "Maternity" had a comic-relief scene involving an African American woman in active labor and her white husband being turned away from the hospital due to an epidemic in the hospital's nursery. Season Two has given us an episode in which a white reporter loses his ability to express himself verbally, much to the distress of his African American wife. And finally, the WB's new hit series Supernatural recently aired an episode in which one of the two young white male protagonists revisits an interracial relationship with a girl he used to date; she is the child of a white mother and an African American father and, while the episode deals with some racial issues, they are those of characters from the past. We see only an intense and loving bond between the two, and race in their relationship is a non-issue.

Actually, in all the previous examples race was a non-issue. The interracial dating and marital relationships portrayed by their African American female and white male characters were not there as tragic or melodramatic plot elements, nor as heroic ones either for that matter, but simply as relationships. And, they are a nice change from the frequently seen African American male/white female interracial dating and marital relationships portrayed so frequently in years past. Will it keep up? We hope so; just stay tuned. . .

In the world of interracial dating, just who are African Americans in particular dating and marrying? A previous trend that established a substantial gender gap seems to be shifting, and this shift is reflected with increasing frequency in popular television programs that have aired over the last few years.

The release of data from the 2000 Census showed that the gender imbalance experienced by African American women in terms of interracial dating and marriage had remained substantial. It supported what had frequently been discussed on daytime talk shows and in popular magazines: African American women were frustrated in their quest to find men to date and marry, and gender imbalance within interracial couples as a group was a contributing factor.

In short, white women were more likely to date and marry African American men than white men were to date and marry African American women. In 73 percent of African American/white interracial couples, the husband was black and the wife was white. This translates to African American men having white wives more than 2 1/2 times more frequently than African American women had white husbands. The imbalance was even more striking among African American/white couples who were living together without being married; African American men lived with white women five times more often than white men lived with African American women.

Since the 2000 Census, the annual Current Population Survey reports issued by the Census Bureau have indicated that the total number of white husband/African American wife couples was increasing, but they have cautioned that these are estimates only and that they are based on sample sizes too small to be statistically reliable. Having said that, a recent small survey of college students seems to support the idea that a shift is occurring in the gender balances of African American/white interracial dating couples.

In the survey, 629 East Carolina University students completed an anonymous confidential questionnaire designed to assess the students' openness to becoming involved in an interracial relationship. Almost half of the students stated that they were willing to undertake an interracial relationship, while nearly one-fourth had already done so. Furthermore, ninety-two percent of those who had prior experience with interracial dating were open to repeating the experience. While there was greater acceptance among African Americans of interracial dating versus that of whites, there were no significant differences in gender between those who were open to interracial relationships and those who were not.

If one is to look to popular culture as a reflection of the experience of its participants, then television programs may provide further insight into a possible trend toward interracial dating and marriage involving couples where the female is African American and the male is white. A number of examples come to mind. . .

Interracial dating occurred in a number of episodes near the end of the popular Friends series. First Joey and then Ross (who are both white, and Ross is Jewish to boot) date a beautiful African American anthropologist; she eventually goes back to the white university professor she'd been involved with prior to dating Joey. The Joss Whedon series Firefly, originally on Fox and then canceled but aired on the SciFi channel prior to its box-office incarnation as the hit movie Serenity, featured the interracial couple of Zoe, African American kick-butt right-hand-'man' to the Captain, and her husband Wash, Firefly's white pilot. And the critically acclaimed program Lost brought a flash of 'barely-conscious-bias-awareness' to its viewers when it finally revealed that African American wife Rose's long-lost husband Bernard was not only found, but white! I suspect a great number of viewers found themselves bumping up against their expectations that Bernard would be an African American.

Fox's popular medical show, House, M.D., now in its second season, has featured interracial couples in several episodes. Season One's "Maternity" had a comic-relief scene involving an African American woman in active labor and her white husband being turned away from the hospital due to an epidemic in the hospital's nursery. Season Two has given us an episode in which a white reporter loses his ability to express himself verbally, much to the distress of his African American wife. And finally, the WB's new hit series Supernatural recently aired an episode in which one of the two young white male protagonists revisits an interracial relationship with a girl he used to date; she is the child of a white mother and an African American father and, while the episode deals with some racial issues, they are those of characters from the past. We see only an intense and loving bond between the two, and race in their relationship is a non-issue.

Actually, in all the previous examples race was a non-issue. The interracial dating and marital relationships portrayed by their African American female and white male characters were not there as tragic or melodramatic plot elements, nor as heroic ones either for that matter, but simply as relationships. And, they are a nice change from the frequently seen African American male/white female interracial dating and marital relationships portrayed so frequently in years past. Will it keep up? We hope so; just stay tuned. . .

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