Love And Color Essay Research Paper Is

Love And Color Essay, Research Paper Is love colorblind? Just three decades ago, Thurgood Marshall was only months away from appoint- ment to the Supreme Court when he suffered an indignity that today seems not

Love And Color Essay, Research Paper

Is love colorblind?

Just three decades ago, Thurgood Marshall was only months away from appoint-

ment to the Supreme Court when he suffered an indignity that today seems not

just outrageous but almost incomprehensible. He and his wife had found their

dream house in a Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C., but could not lawfully

live together in that state: he was black and she was Asian. Fortunately for

the Marshalls, in January 1967 the Supreme Court struck down the

anti-interracial-marriage laws in Virginia and 18 other states. And in 1967

these laws were not mere leftover scraps from an extinct era. Two years

before, at the crest of the civil-rights revolution, a Gallup poll found

that 72 per cent of Southern whites and 42 per cent of Northern whites still

wanted to ban interracial marriage.

Let’s fast-forward to the present and another black-Asian couple: retired

Green Beret Lieutenant Colonel Eldrick Woods Sr. and his Thai-born wife,

Kultida. They are not hounded by the police — just by journalists desperate

to write more adulatory articles about how well they raised their son Tiger.

The colossal popularity of young Tiger Woods and the homage paid his parents

are remarkable evidence of white Americans’ change in attitude toward what

they formerly denounced as “miscegenation.” In fact, Tiger’s famously mixed

ancestry (besides being black and Thai, he’s also Chinese, white, and

American Indian) is not merely tolerated by golf fans. More than a few seem

to envision Tiger as a shining symbol of what America could become in a

post-racial age.

Interracial marriage is growing steadily. From the 1960 to the 1990 Census,

white-Asian married couples increased almost tenfold, while black-white

couples quadrupled. The reasons are obvious: greater integration and the

decline of white racism. More subtly, interracial marriages are increasingly

recognized as epitomizing what our society values most in a marriage: the

tri- umph of true love over convenience and prudence.Nor is it surprising

that white-Asian marriages outnumber black-white marriages: the social

distance between whites and Asians is now far smaller than the distance

between blacks and whites. What’s fascinating, however, is that in recent

years a startling number of nonwhites — especially Asian men and black

women — have become bitterly opposed to intermarriage.

This is a painful topic to explore honestly, so nobody does. Still, it’s

important because interracial marriages are a leading indicator of what life

will be like in the even more diverse and integrated twenty-first century.

Intermarriages show that integration can churn up unexpected racial

conflicts by spotlighting enduring differences between the races.

For example, probably the most disastrous mistake Marcia Clark made in

prosecuting O. J. Simpson was to complacently allow Johnny Cochran to pack

the jury with black women. As a feminist, Mrs. Clark smugly assumed that all

female jurors would identify with Nicole Simpson. She ignored pretrial

research indicating that black women tended to see poor Nicole as The Enemy,

one of those beautiful blondes who steal successful black men from their

black first wives, and deserve whatever they get.

The heart of the problem for Asian men and black women is that intermarriage

does not treat every sex/race combination equally: on average, it has

offered black men and Asian women new opportunities for finding mates among

whites, while exposing Asian men and black women to new competition from

whites. In the 1990 Census, 72 per cent of black-white couples consisted of

a black hus- band and a white wife. In contrast, white-Asian pairs showed

the reverse: 72 per cent consisted of a white husband and an Asian wife.

Sexual relations outside of marriage are less fettered by issues of family

approval and long-term practicality, and they appear to be even more skewed.

The 1992 Sex in America study of 3,432 people, as authoritative a work as

any in a field where reliable data are scarce, found that ten times more

single white women than single white men reported that their most recent sex

partner was black.

Few whites comprehend the growing impact on minorities of these interracial

husband-wife disparities. One reason is that the effect on whites has been

balanced. Although white women hunting for husbands, for example, suffer

more competition from Asian women, they also enjoy increased access to black

men. Further, the weight of numbers dilutes the effect on whites. In 1990,

1.46 million Asian women were married, compared to only 1.26 million Asian

men. This net drain of 0.20 million white husbands into marriages to Asian

women is too small to be noticed by the 75 million white women, except in

Los Angeles and a few other cities with large Asian populations and high

rates of inter- marriage. Yet, this 0.20 million shortage of Asian wives

leaves a high propor- tion of frustrated Asian bachelors in its wake.

Black women’s resentment of intermarriage is now a staple of daytime talk

shows, hit movies like Waiting to Exhale, and magazine articles. Black

novelist Bebe Moore Campbell described her and her tablemates’ reactions

upon seeing a black actor enter a restaurant with a blonde: “In unison, we

moaned, we groaned, we rolled our eyes heavenward . . . Then we all shook

our heads as we lamented for the 10,000th time the perfidy of black men, and

cursed trespassing white women who dared to ‘take our men.’” Like most guys,

though, Asian men are reticent about admitting any frustrations in the

mating game. But anger over intermarriage is visible on Internet on-line

discussion groups for young Asians. The men, featuring an

even-greater-than-normal-for-the-Internet concentration of cranky bachelors,

accuse the women of racism for dating white guys. For example, “This

[dating] disparity is a manifestation of a silent conspiracy by the racist

white society and self-hating Asian [nasty word for "women"] to effect the

genocide of Asian Americans.” The women retort that the men are racist and

sexist for getting sore about it. All they can agree upon is that Media

Stereotypes and/or Low Self-Esteem must somehow be at fault.

LET’S review other facts about intermarriage and how they violate

conventional sociological theories.

1. You would normally expect more black women than black men to marry whites

because far more black women are in daily contact with whites. First, among

blacks aged 20-39, there are about 10 per cent more women than men alive.

Another tenth of the black men in these prime marrying years are literally

locked out of the marriage market by being locked up in jail, and maybe

twice that number are on probation or parole. So, there may be nearly 14

young black women for every 10 young black men who are alive and unentangled

with the law. Further, black women are far more prevalent than black men in

universities (by 80 per cent in grad schools), in corporate offices, and in

other places where members of the bourgeoisie, black or white, meet their

mates.

Despite these opportunities to meet white men, so many middle-class black

women have trouble landing satisfactory husbands that they have made Terry

(Waiting to Exhale) McMillan, author of novels specifically about and for

them, into a best-selling brand name. Probably the most popular romance

advice regularly offered to affluent black women of a certain age is to find

true love in the brawny arms of a younger black man. Both Miss McMillan’s

1996 best-seller How Stella Got Her Groove Back and the most celebrated of

all books by black women, Zora Neale Hurston’s 1937 classic Their Eyes Were

Watch- ing God, are romance novels about well-to-do older women and somewhat

dangerous younger men. Of course, as Miss Hurston herself later learned at

age 49, when she (briefly) married a 23-year-old gym coach, that seldom

works out in real life.

2. Much more practical-sounding advice would be: Since there are so many

unmarried Asian men and black women, they should find solace for their

loneli- ness by marrying each other. Yet, when was the last time you saw an

Asian man and a black woman together? Black-man/Asian-woman couples are

still quite unusual, but Asian-man/black-woman pairings are incomparably

more rare.

Similar patterns appear in other contexts:

3a. Within races: Black men tend to most ardently pursue lighter-skinned,

longer-haired black women (e.g., Spike Lee’s School Daze). Yet black women

today do not generally prefer fairer men.

3b. In other countries: In Britain, 40 per cent of black men are married to

or living with a white woman, versus only 21 per cent of black women married

to or living with a white man.

3c. In art: Madame Butterfly, a white-man/Asian-woman tragedy, has been

pack- ing them in for a century, recently under the name Miss Saigon. The

greatest black-man/white-woman story, Othello, has been an endless hit in

both Shakespeare’s and Verdi’s versions. (To update Karl Marx’s dictum:

Theater always repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as opera, and finally

as farce, as seen in that recent smash, O.J., The Moor of Brentwood.) Maybe

Shakespeare did know a thing or two about humanity: America’s leading

portrayer of Othello, James Earl Jones, has twice fallen in love with and

married the white actress playing opposite him as Desdemona.

4. The civil-rights revolution left husband-wife balances among interracial

couples more unequal. Back in 1960 white husbands were seen in 50 per cent

of black-white couples (versus only 28 per cent in 1990), and in only 62 per

cent of white-Asian couples (versus 72 per cent). Why? Discrimination,

against black men and Asian women. In the Jim Crow South black men wishing

to date white women faced pressures ranging from raised eyebrows to lynch

mobs. In contrast, the relatively high proportion of Asian-man/white-woman

couples in 1960 was a holdover caused by anti-Asian immigration laws that

had prevented women, most notably Chinese women, from joining the largely

male pioneer immigrants. As late as 1930 Chinese-Americans were 80 per cent

male. So, the limited number of Chinese men who found wives in the mid

twentieth century included a relatively high fraction marrying white women.

In other words, as legal and social discrimination have lessened, natural

inequalities have asserted themselves.

5. Keeping black men and white women apart was the main purpose of Jim Crow.

Gunnar Myrdal’s landmark 1944 study found that Southern whites generally

grasped that keeping blacks down also retarded their own economic progress,

but whites felt that was the price they had to pay to make black men less

attractive to white women. To the extent that white racism persists, it

should limit the proportion of black-man/white-woman couples.

SINCE these inequalities in interracial marriage are so contrary to conven-

tional expectations, what causes them? Academia’s and the mass media’s

preferred reaction has been to ignore husband-wife disproportions entirely.

When the subject has raised its ugly head, though, they’ve typically tossed

out arbitrary ideas to explain a single piece of the puzzle, rather than

address the entire yin and yang of black-white and white-Asian marriages.

For example, a Japanese-American poetry professor in Minnesota has written

extensively on his sexual troubles with white women. He blames the

internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Presumably, the

similarity of frustrations of Chinese-American men is just a coincidence

caused by, say, China losing the Opium War. And the problems of Vietnamese

men stem from win- ning the Vietnam War, etc. But piecemeal rationalizations

are unappealing com- pared to a theory which might explain all the evidence.

The general pattern to be explained is: blacks are more in demand as

husbands than as wives, and vice-versa for Asians. The question is, what

accounts for it?

The usual sociological explanations for who marries whom (e.g.,

availability, class, and social approval) never work simultaneously for

blacks and Asians. This isn’t surprising because these social-compatibility

factors influence the total number of black-white or white-Asian marriages

more than the hus- band-wife proportions within intermarriages.

By emphasizing how society encourages us to marry people like ourselves,

sociologists miss half the picture: by definition, heterosexual attraction

thrives on differences. Although Henry Higgins and Colonel Pickering are so

compatible that they break into song about it (”Why Can’t a Woman Be More

like a Man?”), Higgins falls in love with Eliza Doolittle. Opposites

attract. And certain race/sex pairings seem to be more opposite than others.

The force driving these skewed husband-wife proportions appears to be

differences in perceived sexual attractiveness. On average, black men tend

to appear slightly more and Asian men slightly less masculine than white

men, while Asian women are typically seen as slightly more and black women

as slightly less feminine than white women.

Obviously, these are gross generalizations about the races. Nobody believes

Michael Jackson could beat up kung-fu star Jackie Chan or that comedienne

Margaret Cho is lovelier than Sports Illustrated swimsuit covergirl Tyra

Banks. But life is a game of probabilities, not of abstract Platonic

essences.

So, what makes blacks more masculine-seeming and Asians more

feminine-seeming? Media stereotypes are sometimes invoked. TV constantly

shows black men slam-dunking, while it seems the only way an Asian man can

get some coverage is to discover a cure for AIDS. Yet try channel-surfing

for minority women. You’ll see black women dancing, singing, joking, and

romancing. If, however, you even see an Asian woman, she’ll probably be

newscasting — not the most alluring of roles.

Conventional wisdom sometimes cites social conditioning as well. But while

this is not implausible for American-born blacks, who come from a somewhat

homogeneous culture, it’s insensitive to the diversity of cultures in which

Asians are raised. Contrast Koreans and Filipinos and Cambodian refugees and

fifth-generation Japanese-Americans. It’s not clear they have much in common

culturally other than that in the West their women are more in demand as

spouses than their men.

One reasonable cultural explanation for the sexual attractiveness of black

men today is the hypermasculinization of black life over the last few

decades. To cite a benign aspect of this trend, if you’ve followed the

Olympics on TV since the 1960s you’ve seen sprinters’ victory celebrations

evolve from genteel exercises in restraint into orgies of fist-pumping,

trash-talking black machismo. This showy masculinization of black behavior

may be in part a delayed reaction to the long campaign by Southern white

males to portray them- selves as “The Man” and the black man as a “boy.” But

let’s not be content to stop our analysis here. Why did Jim Crow whites try

so hard to demean black manhood? As we’ve seen, the chief reason was to

prevent black men from impregnating white women.

So, did all racist whites a century ago make keeping minorities away from

their women their highest priority? No. As noted earlier, the anti-Asian

immigration laws kept Asian women out, forcing many Asian immigrant

bachelors to look for white women (with mixed success). While white men were

certainly not crazy about this side effect, it seemed an acceptable

tradeoff, since they feared Asian immigrants more as economic than as sexual

competitors. But why did whites historically dread the masculine charms of

blacks more than those of Asians? Merely asking this question points out

that social conditioning is ultimately a superficial explanation of the

differences among peoples. Yes, society socializes individuals, but what

socializes society?

There are only three fundamental causes for the myriad ways groups differ.

The first is unsatisfying but no doubt important: random flukes of history.

The second, the favorite of Thomas Sowell and Jared Diamond, is differences

in geography and climate. The third is human biodiversity. Let’s look at

three physical differences between the races. 1) Asian men tend to be

shorter than white and black men. Does this matter in the mating game? One

of America’s leading hands-on researchers into this question, 7′1″,

280-pound basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain, reports that in his ample

experience being tall and strong never hurt. Biological anthropologists

confirm this, finding that tal- ler tends to be better in the eyes of most

women in just about all cultures. Like most traits, height is determined by

the interaction of genetic and social factors (e.g., nutrition). For

example, the L.A. Dodgers’ flamethrowing pitcher Hideo Nomo is listed as

6′2″, an almost unheard-of height for any Japanese man fifty years ago,

owing to the near-starvation diets of the era. While the height gap between

Japanese and whites narrowed significantly after World War II, this trend

has slowed in recent years as well-fed Japanese began bumping up against

genetic limits. Furthermore, it can be rather cold comfort to a 5′7″ Asian

who is competing for dates with white and black guys averaging 5′11″ to

hear, “Your sons will grow up on average a couple of inches taller than you,

assuming, of course, that you ever meet a girl and have any kids.” In

contrast, consider a 5′1″ Asian coed. Although she’d be happy with a 5′7″

boyfriend if she were in an all-Asian school, at UCLA she finds lots of boys

temptingly much taller than that, but few are Asian.

2. This general principle — the more racial integration there is, the more

important become physical differences among the races — can also be seen

with regard to hair length. The ability to grow long hair is a useful

indicator of youth and good health. (Ask anybody on chemotherapy.) Since

women do not go bald and can generally grow longer hair than men, most

cultures associate longer hair with femininity. Although blacks’ hair

doesn’t grow as long as whites’ or Asians’ hair, that’s not a problem for

black women in all-black societies. After integration, though, hair often

becomes an intense concern for black women competing with longer-haired

women of other races. While intellectuals in black-studies departments’

ebony towers denounce “Eurocentric standards of beauty,” most black women

respond more pragmatically. They one-up white women by buying straight from

the source of the longest hair: the Wall Street Journal recently reported on

the booming business in furnishing African-American women with “weaves” and

“extensions” harvested from the fol- licularly gifted women of China.

3. Muscularity may most sharply differentiate the races in terms of sexual

attractiveness. Women like men who are stronger than they; men like women

who are rounder and softer. The ending of segregation in sports has made

racial differences in muscularity harder to ignore. Although the men’s

100-meter dash is among the world’s most widely contested events, in the

last four Olympics all 32 finalists have been blacks of West African

descent. Is muscularity quantifiable? PBS fitness expert Covert Bailey finds

that he needs to recom- mend different goals — in terms of percentage of

body fat — to his clients of different races. The standard goal for adult

black men is 12 per cent body fat, versus 18 per cent for Asian men. The

goals for women are 7 points higher than for men of the same race. For

interracial couples, their “gender gaps” in body-fat goals correlate

uncannily with their husband-wife proportions in the 1990 Census. The goal

for black men (12 per cent) is 10 points lower than the goal for white women

(22 per cent), while the goal for white men (15 per cent) is only 4 points

lower than the goal for black women (19 per cent). This 10:4 ratio is almost

identical to the 72:28 ratio seen in the Census. This corre- lates just as

well for white-Asian couples, too. Apparently, men want women who make them

feel more like men, and vice versa for women.

Understanding the impact of genetic racial differences on American life is a

necessity for anybody who wants to understand our increasingly complex

society. For example, the sense of betrayal felt by Asian men certainly

makes sense. After all, they tend to surpass the national average in those

long-term virtues — industry, self-restraint, law-abidingness — that

society used to train young women to look for in a husband. Yet, now that

discrimination has finally declined enough for Asian men to expect to reap

the rewards for ful- filling traditional American standards of manliness,

our culture has largely lost interest in indoctrinating young women to prize

those qualities.

The frustrations of Asian men are a warning sign. When, in the names of

free- dom and feminism, young women listen less to the hard-earned wisdom of

older women about how to pick Mr. Right, they listen even more to their

hormones. This allows cruder measures of a man’s worth — like the size of

his muscles — to return to prominence. The result is not a feminist utopia,

but a society in which genetically gifted guys can more easily get away with

acting like Mr. Wrong.

George Orwell noted, “To see what is in front of one’s nose requires a con-

stant struggle.” We can no longer afford to have our public policy governed

by fashionable philosophies which insists upon ignoring the obvious. The

realities of interracial marriage, like those of professional sports, show

that diversity and integration turn out in practice to be fatal to the

reign- ing assumption of racial uniformity. The courageous individuals in

interracial marriages have moved farthest past old hostilities. Yet, they’ve

discovered not the featureless landscape of utter equality that was

predicted by progres- sive pundits, but a landscape rich with fascinating

racial patterns. Intellec- tuals should stop dreading the ever-increasing

evidence of human biodiversity and start delighting in it.