Interracial Marriage: The Colors of Love

Through the din of restaurant conversations while at dinner with friends the other night, a question emerged. It was offered in a hushed tone of shock and disbelief, one woman asking another: “Did you know that Donna is going to marry a Negro?”

Happy family portraitThough muted, it rang in my head like a fire bell, first as a memory from my boyhood, and second, because only those still trapped in America’s terrible days of slavery and segregation would still use such a term to describe blacks or African Americans. The word “Negro” identifies the user more than the subject of the question in the worst possible way.

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My wife glanced at me when the question was asked, fearful that I might leap on the woman’s back and beat her about the head with a T-bone steak. But I did nothing and said nothing, letting it pass — but not letting it go.

Donna is a fictitious name, not the name of the white bride-to-be about to wed a black man. The voice of the woman who was part of a group seated nearby contained wonder but not disgust or hatred. She simply needed re-education in the new way of things.

The incident at the restaurant spurred thoughts from my boyhood. When I heard the notion of interracial marriage as a kid, it meant very little. It was during the 1940s, and there was a kind of awe — “news value” you might say — in the very mention of mixed marriages. A woman next door announced that she was going to wed a black man, and there were rage and tears all up and down 64th Avenue.

Today it’s no big deal. The Census Bureau reports that in 2010, 10 percent of U.S. households included interracial or interethnic opposite-sex married couples — a 28 percent increase from a decade earlier.

I might mention that among them is our granddaughter Nicole and her husband, Adam Weatherall, who’s already the result of a mixed marriage. His father is white, and his mother African American. We are, I hope, becoming a culture of freethinkers, where love, not racial determinants, produce lifelong partnerships.

The term Negro is due for the scrap heap of history. So is the very idea that there is anything wrong with mixed marriages, either between earthlings or beyond.

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The lady with the question might be hesitant about Donna’s choice, but it’s none of her business anyway.

I can only say to her, “Step aside, ma’am, you’re standing in the way of tomorrow.”

Photo: MarcelaC/iStock

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60 comments
ct1493371
ct1493371 5pts

Actually, I really can't believe there's even an article on blacks getting married at all...doesn't happen much, does it?

kb2231
kb2231 5pts

That's nothing.  My grandmother (of a much earlier generation) became quite senile in her old age and regularly used the OTHER "n" word when referring to a broad range of "people of color".  She was raised in the hills of Tennessee in the early 20th Century, and that's just what they were called.  She didn't use it in a derogatory or mean way, just as you might say " where did that red haired woman go?".... Still... it was awkward and embarrassing in Kansas...

ar1914
ar1914 5pts

The repeating scenario is always the same: A White woman and a Black man. What White women do in these mixed union is creating better-looking "Black" children white destroying their racial lineage going back millions of years. No good.

davecu
davecu 5pts

My wife and I were both raised and educated in Northern New Jersey where we had very little interaction with kids unlike ourselves. I went 3 1/2 years in the Army and worked later, in the merchant marines.

Three years ago we moved to Delaware and were educated. We'd got to the diner or a restaurant and see mixed families. We weren't used to seeing that, then. After a short while we realized that we were the only people staring. 

Some of the most beautiful children are from families like that. We've consciously remove race from a description of acquaintances and have adjusted our lives with wonderful results. We had really shortchanged our lives thru ignorance. At last I can see.

je9310
je9310 5pts

I really don't see anything wrong with using that word.

If it was wrong, why do I see advertisements for The United Negro College Fund still and they haven't changed their name.

cf72994468
cf72994468 5pts

I'm more offended that the author is scolding readers about what is the "right way to think." If someone wants to marry a different race, fine. But you can't convince me that it is right; their life is just none of my business.

The fact the author's wife was "fearful" he would beat the other woman for simply saying a word that he deems to be politically incorrect during dinner is quite telling of the author himself.

jb78946475
jb78946475 5pts

There are people who don't mind interracial marriages, and there are people who do.  That's a reality; it's not racist.  Everyone is entitled to think what they want.  

rl47701574
rl47701574 5pts

negro is correct term for blacks like it or not. mixed marriges are for ones that want one,i wouldn't want my daughter or son to marry a black just doesn't fit in my mind ,that's America we are  able to have our opinions an beliefs like it or not. if others want to their business  ,look at Obama he doesn't know what he is uses both races when needed for gain.

kh6498
kh6498 5pts

The irony is that just 50 years ago, people believed that it was a sin against God's laws, 

that it was a breakdown of societal morals, and that it was an abomination against nature, 

to allow interracial marriage. Guess I haven't changed with the times and Never will...

I still believe people should marry their own kind...

dt30871487
dt30871487 5pts

Al Martinez, some would consider a writer's ability to create a story out of a non-issue to be a valuable trade skill.  I do not.  You've eavesdropped into an older party's conversation and overheard a word that was used quite frequently (with no intended disrespect) just a few years ago.  My grandfather, an amazingly generous Christian man with not a racist bone in his body used that term when speaking of blacks - it was a norm for his generation.  Have you forgotten who you're writing for???  I'll remind you.  A-A-R-P!!!!!!  Dolt!


Negro was derived from Niger, the latin word for black.  It is also the Spanish word for black. The mainstream media can refer to some communities as "black communities," but when somebody uses a word that means "black," it becomes offensive, right?  Let me ask you, do the words "white" or "blanca" offend you too?  Didn't think so.

Your article (if that's what you call it) shows little taste.  It's chock full of liberal propaganda and you're nothing more than a two-bit race baiter who can't excel beyond the confines AARP.  I'm offended!

jc39839748
jc39839748 5pts

Somebody had better tell the United Negro College Fund to change its offensive name.  The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is just as bad. 

bh62891905
bh62891905 5pts

This was a well written article.  No, TC 1159935, no one was eves dropping - this conversation was heard, period.  As for Tommytoo I hope and pray your kids aren't so narrow minded. As if somehow being Christian gives you the right to use words you know are hurtful and offensive!  That is your point, isn't it  -that you don't care? The term "Negro" is a label that was largely chosen by society (white), not the black community.  And it is seldom used in the black community.


Another type of marriage that often is questioned is that of able-bodied who marry disabled. Having lived that for 8 years I could share some pretty amazing stories!  And here again, society had its terminology - "Handicapped".  But the community by and large prefers and uses "Disabled".  


This is not a matter of being politically correct; these are words these societies chose for themselves to reflect their culture.  Black, disabled, and other terminology are the words that are being used now, and that should be respected.  Referring to people as Negro or handicapped denotes a mentality that often reflects a level of insensitivity - not an evil intent or a desire to offend.  And that I believe is what this article called for - for us to think about our terminology and perhaps, just perhaps consider using the words these minorities are now using. 

tc11159935
tc11159935 5pts

Is not 'Negro' the correct technical term for a race and members of that race? Is it obsolete? Has it changed? Is not the rest of the criticism simply value judgements? And finally, if this is not a fictional story similar to those seen in advocacy publications, whose manners are worse, the one who made the statement or the eavesdropper?  

tommytoo
tommytoo 5pts

To think that as a mindful human that anyone could have a unproductive thought about the guttural sound brought forth by another human or animal is as best unnerving. To think that someone may use any word to the disablement of someone else is unbelievable.

To think that anyone could be so full of themselves to have an opinion of what Paula Dean said years ago is an great example of "center of the earth "  thinking brought forth by the YOLO crowd.


I do not care if I offend someone. For to do so suggest that there is a moral high ground that is beyond reproach. It does not exist. The fact that I can offend anyone for a sound in a single language and that the sound somehow is not acceptable makes the whole thought of being offensive...offensive. That I can offend anyone...offends me. Your attitude and position is that you are on a higher plane...you are not...just a different plane. If I think a man should not have intercourse with another man it is my position.

If I choose to say single unwed overweight Black administrator, it will offend the person. Being fat, single, black or unwed is not any issue but only declarative truths.

Grow up, remove your head from your rear and understand not everyone is going to like you...fare or not.....not everyone is gong to use your PC wording.

I am not going to accept that my values and norms are incorrect, that morals are incorrect, that being Christian is wrong. Take this whole dialogue and go away.  I'M OFFENDED YOUR OFFENDED


Al, blogging is not journalism...get a real job.



mg11144318
mg11144318 5pts

some comments here are very stupid and ignorant. themandid't  say he was  going to acually  beat  the women. the comment about assimilation, let me  see you change your complexion  to dark  skin just for  a week, i garuantee you wont'  make  the  assimilation  comment again

jf1645
jf1645 5pts

It would have been extremely stupid to leap on the woman and beat her with your t-bone steak because she used the word negro. This is simply because you are the one who is being offended when there is no offense done. You're a victim of the politically correct movement and therefore you should start thinking and doing research before you go around hammering people with steaks. In other words, don't go running your mouth until you know what you're talking about.
As for her needing to be re-educated. The communists loved to do that to those who disagreed with their happy horses**t and didn't submit to the grand design.

ow5939
ow5939 5pts

I am a Black woman in my early 40s. I use the word Negro interchangeably with Black, African-American, and whatever other word we are using (or being told to use) to describe ourselves these days. I actually am mildly amused by the article, particularly when I consider that it is a Latino man taking offense that a white woman used the word. Does it make him more "enlightened" that he does not? The issues and the history of blacks and whites are complex and it is disingenuous to act as if we are all on the same level and fine with each other now. Being able to legally marry someone of a different race or being able to attend a mixed race school just shows that we all are law abiding citizens. It does not prove that we have progressed to the point where no one sees color. After all, Dr. King's speech really was not THAT long ago!

sc546
sc546 5pts

If the word Negro is offensive, why is it still being used by the United Negro College Fund and the word Colored still being used by the NAACP?

dg2666
dg2666 5pts

I am married to a Asian.    No problems.   Seems only black white have problems.

jl54254217
jl54254217 5pts

Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech uses the word "Negro" at least five (5) times.

It is not a bad word. And to call for its elimination is just plain absurd!

0p3raGh05t
0p3raGh05t 5pts

And the term African American is as moronic as they come. Anybody with a decent third grade education knows that not all who live or come from Africa are black.

After a very short period of time Irish Americans and Italian Americans assimilated and just became known as Americans. If African Americans cannot assimilate, maybe let them go back to Africa. I hear they have made a great success of Liberia.

aarppaula92
aarppaula92 5pts

@Schimmel72  In your own racist way, you are correct. She and her children will be shunned in many ways by society-white and black. If the children cannot pass for white, the mother will be constantly livid and outraged at the slights, sterotypes and assumptions made toward them-things she never, ever encountered as a child. Also, if the child can pass for white, but wants to identify as black, he will encounter confusion and resentment among many whites(why didn't you tell me you were black!!--goodness, did I say any thing racist before I knew?).


Finally, upper and middle class white women are not marrying black men. The white women are generally lower on the economic and society status pole. Why? Because white women in the upper/middle class are not willing to abandon their white roots--family , friends, relatives. It is not easy to show up at family gatherings or hang out with old friends, etc., with a black man tagging along. Eventually, if a white woman does marry a black man, she tends to gravitate toward his world--not the other way around.


Oh, for those who want to say society has changed on interacial marriage/dating--why is 99.9 % of any interracial couple you see on TV/movies/commercials involve a white man and a black woman. Rarely is it a black man and a white woman. When it is a white woman and a black man, she is generally ordinary looking--never the Kerry Washington type. Why? The networks and media know that America is not really ready for a white woman(that looks like the white woman white America considers desireable  (i.e, one of them) and a black man coupling.

dg1725
dg1725 5pts

FYI the spanish word for black is negro.

Schimmel72
Schimmel72 5pts

Mudshark.  Coalburner.  Race Traitor.  She'd better get used to these terms if this is the path she chooses. 


And once you go black, you NEVER get to come back.

sd4072
sd4072 5pts

@kh6498 Agreed, gay marriage should be the law of the land.

Dannycoxjr
Dannycoxjr 5pts

@kh6498  You need to read what God said about interracial marriage.  Read Numbers 12, and you will see what God thinks about people who judge people that have interracial marriages.  Moses was married to an Ethiopian woman.  When Aarons wife spoke against such a marriage God stuck her with Leprosy. I am a Southern Baptist pastor and I have had many discussions with people on this topic. 

cf72994468
cf72994468 5pts

Beastiality is still a crime in my Book.

ml13726779
ml13726779 5pts

@kh6498 And sadly, women in an interracial relationship are 30 times more likely to be the victims of domestic abuse. May they choose wisely...

ct1493371
ct1493371 5pts

@dt30871487  Oh no, another person offended by another's words, not directly made to him/her...here's the world's smallest violin, yada yada yada...

kl3314844
kl3314844 5pts

@tommytoo Tommy, you might want to learn to spell. Or pay a "fare" to learn to spell "fair"

jf33523747
jf33523747 5pts

@sc546  Because everyone has freedom of speech EXCEPT white people.

lavirgo67
lavirgo67 5pts

@dg2666 Older White people tend to favor the term 'Oriental' to describe Asians. 

no1837
no1837 5pts

@dg2666  You are married to an Asian and you cant see the societal problems with black white marriages. You need to rethink your idiocy. White Anglo Saxons see complexion(light skinned, Ok, dark skinned, not so much). Tell you what, take your Asian spouse to Asia and see the reaction you get. Take him/her to the deep south and watch their facial reactions. Oh, they will serve and cater to you because they want your money. Get out of your comfort zone and try to go to a place not designed to entertain mixed races. Your jaw will literally drop.

pe7490
pe7490 5pts

@0p3raGh05t The fact that the earliest remains of humankind were found in Ethiopia,  EVERYONE, including you, your mother/father/ancestors are an African.  And there are many Irish Americans and Italian Americans that still refer to themselves as such.  So African American is not so moronic.  But you are entitled to your opinion.

kb2231
kb2231 5pts

@dg1725  Yes, and in German black is "Schwarz" and the derogatory term for Africans is "Schwarzen" (the black ones).  Was this woman speaking Spanish? 

no1837
no1837 5pts

@dg1725  So, what is your point. Use any word you want. There is nobody alive who is white and or black, nor is there anybody brown, yellow tan etc. The fault belongs to the population at large that insists on being led down the path of bigotry. It was about 30 or so years ago that we suddenly heard red states & blue states. That was created by people wanting to divide us politically, ethnically and racially. Why? They want to promote their selfish agenda of profits before people. Unfortunately, too many people mired in bigotry bought the sales job.

cf72994468
cf72994468 5pts

Once you go black... You're a single mom.

CandJJ
CandJJ 5pts

@Schimmel72 My husband is black......................and I could go back, but for 30 years I haven't even wanted to.  smile

bh62891905
bh62891905 5pts

@Schimmel72 I have known 4 mixed-race marriages.  My friends and I NEVER had any of these thoughts or used the terms you suggest. In my 50 plus years I have still never heard anyone I know (relative or fiend or co-worker) use those words.  In church, at work, and in my neighborhood I know black and white couples.  So I suppose she had better get used to the terms IF she crosses path with YOU.  You obviously know so much about the derogatory vocabulary I suspect you probably use it...  

no1837
no1837 5pts

@Schimmel72  Stupid comment, but I get it, you see skin deep beauty before intelligence. I know the myth perpetuated continually since slavery about the well endowed black buck. Newsflash, women are attracted to men of different races for reasons other than what you think. Of course, you wont get that because you are stuck in 1919

re87
re87 5pts

@Schimmel72 Perhaps you are unaware of this since you still reside in 1965, but NOBODY uses those terms anymore save ignorant bigots such as yourself.  Really.  You should be ashamed of yourself for being so ridiculously racist.  I hope you haven't passed your "values" onto your children, grandchildren, & great-grandchildren because if you did you've done them a grave disservice.  Disgusting.  I'd pity you if I didn't know the sentiment would be futile.

dg2666
dg2666 5pts

@Schimmel72 Because no white will want them.  Seen beautiful girls in college break up with their black novelty and wind up dateless.

aarppaula92
aarppaula92 5pts

@Schimmel72 

@Schimmel72  In your own racist way, you are correct. She and her children will be shunned in many ways by society-white and black. If the children cannot pass for white, the mother will be constantly livid and outraged at the slights, sterotypes and assumptions made toward them-things she never, ever encountered as a child. Also, if the child can pass for white, but wants to identify as black, he will encounter confusion and resentment among many whites(why didn't you tell me you were black!!--goodness, did I say any thing racist before I knew?). He will also not be totally accepted by blacks.


Finally, upper and middle class white women are not marrying black men. The white women are generally lower on the economic and society status pole. Why? Because white women in the upper/middle class are not willing to abandon their white roots--family , friends, relatives. It is not easy to show up at family gatherings or hang out with old friends, etc., with a black man tagging along. Eventually, if a white woman does marry a black man, she tends to gravitate toward his world--not the other way around.


Oh, for those who want to say society has changed on interacial marriage/dating--why is 99.9 % of any interracial couple you see on TV/movies/commercials involve a white man and a black woman. Rarely is it a black man and a white woman. When it is a white woman and a black man, she is generally ordinary looking--never the Kerry Washington type. Why? The networks and media know that America is not really ready for a white woman(that looks like the white woman white America considers desireable  (i.e, one of them) and a black man coupling.

kb2231
kb2231 5pts

@Dannycoxjr @kh6498  Not to pick nits, but Christians are NOT bound by the various Old Testament laws, except of course the big 10.  That's why we don't ritually circumcise our sons, we regularly eat pork and shellfish, mix materials in our clothing, etc.  Whatever it says about marrying in Numbers can be ignored.

dt30871487
dt30871487 5pts

@kl3314844 And you may want to learn proper sentence structure and punctuation, especially as they pertain to conjunctions, commas, and periods.   

nw647
nw647 5pts

@lavirgo67 Really? I'm older and Caucasian. I've never heard anyone, young or old, use the term "Oriental" to describe a person. 

Not that my personal experience is universal, but neither is yours.

rr1529784
rr1529784 5pts

Bless your heart! Your comment shows your ignorance and hipocracy! I was born and raised in south, and if we are all racist here, that is a problem. It is a problem because where I live in the south, is a community filled with "Comere's" because they came here from somewhere else. If the south is so rampant with racism why do the statistics show that blacks are moving away from the north and returning to the south? I read an article in "The Root" (I believe) about this very issue. I don't dislike you because of your skin color, you see I have not met you. I cannot judge you on anything else besides your comments. I dislike your comments because they label me as racist! I suppose I am southern so my family tree only has one brach also? Maybe my wife is also my mother? Maybe I play a banjo and only have one tooth? I have a lot in common with others that were raised in the southern United States, not just the white ones

You see I don't need your money so I won't subject myself to you condescending treatment because of your money; I cater and serve you because that is what polite society does, not because I want or need your money. It has to do with the "golden rule" and my mother and father raised me to treat others with respect and dignity because it is the right thing to do.

ks57574342
ks57574342 5pts

@dg2666 I know alot of white women who have dated or even been married to black men, and had biracial children, who are now dating or married to a white man. Get your head out of your butt and look at reality.

no1837
no1837 5pts

@dg2666 @Schimmel72  See my reply to your other stupid post. You make what you think are witty comments, actually your comments show your lack of intelligence.

re87
re87 5pts

@dg2666 @Schimmel72 I refuse to believe you went to college unless it was one that lacked an English department.  "Saw", not "seen".


Again, it's not 1965.  The majority of Americans do not subscribe to this kind of ignorance anymore.  Times & people have changed, thank God.  But you keep on keeping on in your bigoted little bubble.  The rest of us are dating just fine without your hateful, backwards attitude.

ks57574342
ks57574342 5pts

@aarppaula92 @Schimmel72 "Constantly?" I beg to differ. I have been married to a black man for over 20 years and have 5 children, the oldest is 21. In all his life I have found myself in that position perhaps 3 or 4 times. My youngest is 7 and I don't think I've ever found myself in that position with him. Nothing comes to mind anyway. One of my children looks almost white, but the rest do not. A few of them are often mistaken for Hispanic, and that is where they get the most of the racism towards them. The worst thing that they tell me is that people their age ask when they realize they are part-black is to ask them why they "talk white," as if speech has a color. They have acquaintances who assume they love rap music and all things black, which isn't so much racist as it is just plain stupid. I don't know where you live that you see these things, but where I live it is very far from reality. And about the TV thing... I just glanced through an article about 22 current (or fairly recent) TV shows that feature interracial relationships. You are correct that the majority have a white man and a black woman, but it is far from 99.9%. 7 out of the 22 had black man and white woman...that is much closer to 60%. Not to mention those in the media...think Kardasians. My husband has cousins who are 2nd and 3rd generation mixed (not to mention the old census records listed the family as "mulatto" so the mixing goes back to slavery and after) who truly look white, but I have never seen them claim to be anything but who they are. Actually I don't know that they go around proclaiming to the world "what they are." As a genealogist, I find the term "white" laughable anyway. In my part of the country the majority of white people have at least a little bit of Native American blood. And I have heard story after story of persons who delved into their family tree only to discover it was not as white as they have always been led to believe. A few of them have even discovered that they were descended from a black slave. And let's not even mention the shocks that people are getting with the new ancestral DNA projects. The terms "white" and "black" are illogical and I really wish our society would just stop using them. Ask my 7 year old...he will tell you that its dumb because neither he nor his dad or even remotely close to the color black. He insists that he is "tan" (and his dad is brown and I am light tan) because he has yet to grasp the stupidity of color labeling.