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by Jennifer Brown Banks

Interracial Dating
Can a Soulmate be of a Different Race?

When Spike Lee came out with the blockbuster hit “Jungle Fever” he took the world by storm! Here it was before us on big screen---- the complexities, trials and tribulations, and intrigue of black on white love.

This controversial and candid film provoked dialogue, and caused audiences everywhere to examine the state of race relations in this country. We saw the good, the bad, and the ugly of what happens when people of different worlds come together to share one.


Though mixed matings have existed for centuries, many saw it as a raw, accurate depiction of the dating scene as it exists today. Due to more integrated work environments and diverse communities, people of different racial, religious, and professional backgrounds are interacting and ultimately falling in love. And doing so in record numbers.

According to U.S. Census reports, interracial marriages more than doubled between 1980 and 1995. Black/White marriages increased an estimated 96% overall, with marriages between Black women and White men increasing 171%. Blacks with other races increased 124% during this timeframe.

The incidence of interracial dating has increased among youth dramatically as well. According to recent studies as many as 57% have dated someone outside their own race.

Still, with changing attitudes and greater acceptance, not everyone is a fan of these types of unions.

Some Blacks view the situation from a historical standpoint. Remembering the centuries of bondage, pain, and degradation imposed by slavery, they view “crossing over” as “selling out.” They vow that they would rather be dead or do without than to do the “salt and pepper thing.” Some of my friends included.

Others don’t see love as a matter of black and white, but more of a grey area with many variables—like lifestyle compatibility, mutual belief systems, background, level of attraction, and motives. Some of my friends included.

Relationship experts are divided.

According to Dr. Joyce Brothers “It is possible for an interracial marriage to flourish and be warmly rewarding, but there are severe strains in these marriages not present in others.” There can be family disapproval. Even more than disapproval, heartbreak.”

Dr. Fred A. Clark says black women have been marrying white men “for quite some time,” especially in California, but it is just more open now. People don’t feel like they have to hide their true feelings anymore,” says Dr. Clark, a social-psychologist who facilitates interracial and intercultural counseling groups.

Dr. Harriette P. McAdoo, a psychologist and professor at Michigan State asserts “There are really too few Black men around for Black women, and even fewer for Black women of achievement. “For Black women, there are between 35 to 45 men available for every 100 women."

A poll conducted by Interrace Magazine, in its May, 2000 issue revealed that geographical location makes a difference in terms of how mixed couples are embraced. In their 3rd Best and Worst Cities poll, readers were asked to rate their cities according to general and interracial life, and whether they would recommend their home towns to other interracial couples.

What are the best and worst cities for interracial couples? Here’s how the different cities rated. (Sampling)

(Birmingham and Mobile) - F - not recommended

(Anchorage) - B - recommended)

(Phoenix and Tucson) - A - recommended

(Fremont and Oakland) - A - recommended
(Los Angeles) - C

(Miami) - C
(Jacksonville) - A - recommended

(Atlanta) - C

(Chicago) - B - recommended

(Argos) - F - not recommended
(South Bend) - A - recommended

(Baton Rouge) - F - not recommended

(Massachusetts) - F - not recommended

Is love color blind? Is interracial dating still taboo? Opinion varies.

A friend of mine states “When I was younger, I might have considered what other people had to say before I’d date a man of another race. Now that I’m older, single, searching and more tolerant, I say he could be green and from MARS. As long as he’s kind, straight, and sincere, I don’t see a problem. If he can handle what are bound to be some “race issues” send him my way!

Famous Interracial Couples (past and present)
Roger Ebert and Chaz Hammel Smith
Iman and David Bowie
Lynn Whitfield and Brian Gibson
Whoopi Goldberg and Ted Danson


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Jennifer's Gems is a weekly column written by award-winning poet and writer, Jennifer Brown Banks. It is published every Wednesday. Click here to read her welcome letter.

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