One Reason to Talk About Interracial Dating.

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So, this blog post/slideshow -- "8 Reasons to Date a White Man" -- is obviously silly and reductive; to say that black men "glamorize ignorance" or that white men "have a firmer grasp on what really defines manhood" is to announce -- for the crowd -- that you own a yearly pass to the Hall of Profound Stupidity.

That said, there is something of an interesting discussion to be had about the overall frequency of interracial marriage among African Americans, and the disparity in interracial marriage between black men, and black women. According to the Census Bureau, 8.4 percent of married African American men are wed to a partner of a difference race. By contrast, only 4 percent of married African American women can say the same. Of course, this also means that 91.6 percent of married black men are wed to a black woman, and 96 percent of married black women are wed to a black man.

To continue my recent trend of broad speculation, I think there are a few things happening here. For starters, there is simply less cultural and economic distance between blacks and whites than there once was. Generally speaking, you are most likely to date someone culturally similar and geographically close, and for a fair number of African Americans, that includes non-black people. My hunch is that interracial marriage rates among black people increase as you move up the income scale; the richer the black person, the more likely it is they live and work in majority-white areas, and the more likely it is they form romantic bonds with someone of a different race.

As for the disparity, I'm less sure about what's going on; if this were simply a reflection of current trends, you'd probably see the opposite result, since with higher rates of post-secondary education, black women are more likely to have higher incomes and live mixed-race environments. Of course, there are a whole host of other things to consider; cultural views of black female sexuality, the earnings gap between black men and black women -- black women are more likely to be employed, but black men tend to earn more money -- and patterns of geographic distribution (black women might not live in racially-mixed areas, which would explain a lot of the difference).

All of this is to say that while "8 Reasons to Date a White Man" is a painfully idiotic piece of internet junk, I actually think there's worth in having a discussion of interracial dating/marriage and the related demographic trends; there's no question that the United States will become "browner" over the next several decades, but that tells us nothing about the "why" or "how." Investigating interracial marriage -- particularly among African Americans -- both helps us with those questions, and allows us to think more about the nature of our future racial divides.

--Jamelle Bouie

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