There have been many comments/posts about Obama’s presidency being an inspiration to blacks. But has anyone (i.e. besides me) thought about how Obama will also affect how mixed-race individuals will regard themselves? Or how the rest of us will regard mixed-race individuals?
Mixed-race offspring often feel they don’t fully belong to either the white or the black race. But I’m guessing that having a mixed-race president will positively change how they regard themselves, or whether they will suffer less external and internal rejection than is usual. And I wonder if it will change how we all respond to mixed-race families. Most people who object to mixed-race couples also make the perfunctory comment that no matter how much two people love each other it’s still not fair to put children through the type of hardship where they will be endlessly teased and rejected by other children. Does having Obama in the white house now change that view? And since the president is mixed will that somehow reduce the level of rejection and bullying of the mixed-race children? Will mixed-race kids become more acceptable to all the other children?
Also, I’m black, but I look mixed, although I don’t consider myself mixed because I have only black parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. Because of my outward appearance a lot of mixed-race families do look twice and thrice at me. I’m guessing it’s because I look like them, and I’m even lighter than many mixed-race offspring. I think mixed-race families look at me because they assume we have something in common that way, (although we really don’t). They often seem to look at me expectantly, as if they hope to make a connection with someone who can relate to them. (I’m not really sure how this is related to any my questions, but I just felt like adding this bit of info. I guess it’s just weird to be regarded as mixed when I’m really not.)
The other thing I wonder about re the potential romantic notions between potential mixed-race couples. Here in Saint Louis, Missouri it’s rare, but still more typical to see a black man with a white woman, but not the other way around. The assumption is usually that a white woman dating/married to a black man is either white trash, or is somehow confused, with low self-esteem. She is often looked down on by whites, and is resented and rejected by blacks as an intruder. And while black men will occasionally pursue their interest in a white woman, the white men here seem much less inclined to cross racial boundaries. Compared to other parts of the country this area seems backwards and relatively conservative regarding racial issues in that way.
So, I guess my other question is whether having a mixed-race president will result in more mixed-race couples? Will Obama’s reign inspire whites and blacks of different genders to look across at each other and be more inclined to make the racial leap?
I don’t know anyone who really worries about interracial relationships. A good number of my relatives and friends are married to people of other races. A young white friend of mine recently married a black person, and everyone was just happy that two such obviously lovely people were getting married. The white parents were concerned that their child would run into prejudice later on (with future children), and asked another interracial couple about dealing with it, but that was pretty much it. (I have not met the black parents and don’t know their feelings, however. They live in another state, and the wedding was in yet a third state and I didn’t travel to it.)
So I guess I have nothing to contribute, except my hope that your experiences are going to be fewer and fewer. Holy cow.
In my lifetime I have seen much changed in regards to mixed-race couples. In some parts of the country it’s of very little importance, although sad to say there are still places that are shamefully backward.
I think Obama being president (and I hope he will be one of our great presidents, because we could sure use one right now) will be of great help in continuing to erode prejudice. I don’t imagine it will disappear in our lifetimes, but I sure hope it continues to diminish. I like that fact that he seems to treat the fact his family has African, Caucasian, and Asian members (his half-sister is half-Asian) as no big deal because that’s the way it should be.
I also hope it gets some people over their notions of pedigree. Yes ancestry is interesting, but it’s not destiny. Go back far enough and you’ll find none of us is a purebred anything, except a purebred human being.
Yes, Barack himself is of mixed ancestry, but then, so are most “blacks” in this country. Yes, his “pure” ancestors are more recent than most, and were together consentually, but he himself is as African as many other folks who are considered unambiguously black. What might really make a difference would be having a mixed-race couple (that is, a white man and black woman, or the other way around) in the national spotlight, but unfortunately, Barack’s parents aren’t on the scene any more.
This came up in a thread about TV commercials last year, but there are a lot of mixed race relationships/marriages in commercials these days. I’ve some from Old Navy, McDonald’s, Kay Jewelers, Circuit City and a few others.
I also just watched Mirrors last night and Kiefer Sutherland’s character was married to a black woman with no fanfare. The same with Ali Larter and her dead husband on Heroes.
It was kind of surprising that mainstream pop culture was so ahead of this one.
I’m a child of the 60’s, grew up in the 70’s. I’ve never seen mixed race couplings as a problem. I have seen the “you don’t want to have sex with me because of race” game. I’ve also seen the “you only want to have sex with me because of race” game.
I see society trending in that direction anyway, however gradually. I would suspect the rise of Obama is a result of that trend. I think it would be nearly impossible to attribute an accelaration of the trend to the presence of Obama as President.
I’m in favor of being colorblind, but we need to remember that we, as a society, are still not sex-blind. Males of color have a lot more social mobility than females, and females of any color (but especially White) are still fair game as trophy partners in the media and public life.
Let’s just remember that we now have a Black First Lady who is a real stem-winder, a force to be reckoned with, and (this almost never happens, depsite our much vaunted colorblindness) is actually darker than her husband.
Do people still really raise an eyebrow at interracial couples in this country? In Houston, where I live, it is very common and in both directions. I see many White men with Black women. I am White, my husband is Black. He does recall, fondly (which I find interesting) a White friend who told him that White women who date Black men are “defective”. I don’t feel defective… Not in that sense anyway!
I don’t think the people who scorn interracial relationships voted for Pres. Obama so, no, I don’t think he’ll change those views. They just denounce his White half and take away his credit for being Black and the first Black president at the same time!
Bingo. Arguments against interracial relationships are pretty much thinly-veiled racism, classics like ‘I don’ care if he’s black, white or purple– I’m thinking of your reputation!’ and ‘I’m not racist, but lots of other people are, so it’s not fair to the kids!’
While we’re at it, in Firefly, Zoe is black and married to Wash, who is white, and the first interracial kiss on television was between Kirk and Uhura on Star Trek. Of course, these are both science fiction, and set in societies supposedly far in the future from our own.
Data point: this past MLK day, my bride (who is black) and I were out shopping and got what we regarded as an unusually high number of big smiles, and a couple of emphatic, even pointed, “have a great day”-s at the checkout.
Also, casual acquaintances are always encouraging us to have kids, “because they’d be so cute.”