How to Talk with Teens About Interracial Dating

Apparently read by more than 1,000 people our article on WikiHow is still humming along.

And we invite you to check it out here, if you’re so inclined. Let us know what you think after readi

Black and White.

Black and White. (Photo credit: Good_1)

ng it.

Nearly 50% of Black Men arrested by age of 23 for traffic-related crimes…

Nearly 50% of Black Men arrested by age of 23 for traffic-related crimes…

Nearly Fifty per-cent of Black Men are arrested by the age of 23 for traffic-related crimes…


The good news about this sad statistic is that some state governors are beginning to take such studies as an indication that laws and practices regarding arrest and detention need to be revisited.


arrested (Photo credit: My Photo Journeys)

In my own state of New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo‘s recent “State of the State” address included encouraging references to the “madness of an incarceration society,” and a call for better services for re-entering men and women.

But there are still plenty of states in our union where this is the landscape, and little will change anytime soon.


But, since this is a blog about interracial families, I’d like to take a moment to consider the implications of this statistic from a woman’s perspective:

This statistic means that, if your son is black; if your husband is black, you are more likely to:

  • See him arrested or threatened with arrest;
  • Need money to bail him out of jail; pay a fine; or require retainer for his attorney;
  • Need more money for his college tuition if his arrest record makes him ineligible for college tuition assistance;
  • Need even more money to assist him financially, perhaps well into adulthood, if his arrest record makes it harder for him to find sustainable employment;
  • Worry, whenever he is late–even a little bit late–for an appointment; or in calling you; or, maybe just in returning from a trip down the street to pick up a quart of milk…that his freedom..or maybe his life…might be in danger….

We should leave aside, for the moment, the question of why the man we love might be arrested; the most interesting element in this statistic, to my mind, is the disparity between the arrests of black and white men for traffic violations… if there are, heaven help us, young and foolish drivers on every road of this great nation, are we really to believe that the characteristic of reckless youth is not evenly distributed across our male population?


But I also wonder, as the mom in an interracial family, how much of this asymmetric pattern of arrest in our society might leave a yawning gap between women who do not know what it is like to live with this sword of Damocles dangling over the men they love–and women who do.


E.S. Tai

One Right at a Time?

One Right at a Time?

Patricia Williams, James L. Dohr Professor at Columbia University Law School, offered this cogent analysis of the killing of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of George Zimmerman in The Guardian.

Trayvon Martin Protest - Sanford

Trayvon Martin Protest – Sanford (Photo credit: werthmedia)

Zimmerman’s exoneration may be compared to the sad condition of Marissa Alexander, the Florida mother who “stood her ground” by firing a warning shot into the ceiling to deter her husband from physically abusing her—and was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.

As the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream Speech” approaches, it is sobering to contemplate the possibility that the freedom interracial families enjoy merely to exist may not be matched by the freedom of African-Americans to flourish and build lives without fear.

Is the safety of our children really to be limited by the notion that we may only enjoy–as an old friend of mine ironically put it recently–“one right at a time?”

E.S. Tai



Kids Weigh In on Controversial Cheerios Ad

Remember that Cheerios Ad with the Interracial Family? The one that got so many hostile comments that YouTube needed to disable the “comments” section of the website?

Family Photo - Christmas 2005

Family Photo – Christmas 2005 (Photo credit: Mwesigwa). Just a beautiful, interracial family, kids. No Cheerios here.

The same one that inspired Michael David Murphy and partner Alyson West to create an archive of interracial family portraits, available at

Or this conversation, on “The View?”

Well, now there’s a new set of comments, collected from an (articulate!) group of children, aged 13 and under:

Perhaps these young people are the generation that will finally transform “the fifteen percent” into the “new normal.”

E.S. Tai

Looking Backward: DOMA and Loving v. Virginia

Looking Backward: DOMA and Loving v. Virginia

A few weeks ago, New York City was flooded with color, costume, and delight as the annual Gay Pride Parade wound its way through Greenwich Village and mid-town Manhattan. This June’s event, always a festive occasion, drew special energy—and unusually high numbers of participants– from the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent rejection of California’s Defense of Marriage Act, signaling the highest court’s support for same-sex marriage, already legal in states like New York and Massachusetts, but contested in many other states of our union (Note the July 2 New York Times article on this issue).

The giddy celebration of this development brought to mind another important Supreme Court decision that supported couples too long denied the benefits of contract: Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 ruling that declared all miscegenation statutes in the United States unconstitutional. The case was famously brought before the Supreme Court by Richard and Mildred Loving, a couple forced into exile from their home state of Virginia by local laws that had incarcerated them for their marriage just weeks after their wedding in 1958.

Loving v. Virginia is one of several cases, hinging upon the fourteenth amendment of the United States Constitution, that constitutes precedent for the court’s recent determination regarding the California Defense of Marriage Act. As articles in The Atlantic Wire, and Slate have noted, opponents of same-sex marriage have invoked the same arguments concerning the supposedly bleak future of children raised by such couples, that were once raised in connection with parents and of mixed race.

To many in America’s so-called “millennial” generation–who, according to a recent survey by the Pew Charitable Trust, do not experience or perceive racial difference—or even same-sex relationships–in the negative light that preceding generations once did—it may be difficult to appreciate what a huge difference Loving v. Virginia made for those of us who belonged to that narrow– less than 3%–of American couples who took the chance of making lifetime commitments to loved ones across racial lines in the 1950s and 1960s (when it was not yet legal in many parts of the U.S.); or even in the 1970s and 1980s (when it was legal, but often carried a considerable socio-economic stigma). Some of us can tell pretty harrowing tales—of confrontations with family members, and police officers; of friendships that ended; of job opportunities sacrificed; of neighborhoods we couldn’t move into, perfect strangers who threatened us, and our families…and so on…and so on…

Mildred and Richard Loving

Mildred and Richard Loving (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To those who did not live through such times, these stories can seem apocryphal, almost like fairy tales about fighting with dragons in some evil, enchanted forest. And yet, even in our new, enlightened, twenty-first century, it seems to some of us that there’s still plenty of work to be done to make our society a truly equal one—not only for gay couples, who continue to face various forms of discrimination in many parts of the United States (note the recent study of housing discrimination, for example, by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) –but for families of all ethnicities.

What are we to think of the persistent inequities that undermine our public education system, recently discussed, for example, by Leonie Haimson and Diane Ravitch in The Nation? What are we to think of the continued racial biases in our criminal justice system, as noted by Patricia Williams in the same publication? Of the Paula Deen scandal, noted in this blog? And–lest we might imagine that these racial biases no longer inform our thinking about the intersection between race and family–how about the recent furor over that ad for Cheerios cereal that featured the bi-racial family—and got so much hate commentary that General Mills had to disable their youtube comment section for the video??

As we reflect on the legacy of Loving v. Virginia, forty-six years old this last June, Interrace Today wishes to remind readers that we welcome comments and submissions from all perspectives—from readers who may never have known a time when America did not think of itself as richly diverse in every possible way; as well as readers who remember the struggles of the last century. Whether you consider the personal to be political—or believe those two things should never overlap– Interrace Today is a publication dedicated to celebrating the spectrum of opinion across our multi-cultural society.

Our Criminal Justice System: Time for Peer Review?

Our Criminal Justice System: Time for Peer Review?

One of the main reasons I got married was for peer review.


Granted, peer review wasn’t the only reason I got married…but the thing is, for an academic nerd, who lives principally in her own head, one of the best things about living with someone else is the opportunity to bounce those wild ideas you may have at four in the morning against the touchtone of your significant other’s critical intellect.


After all, just about everything sounds good the first time you say it to yourself.


I count on my husband to offer a fresh perspective—that’s one of the best things about living with someone who grew up in a different part of the world.

So I had a peer review moment a few days ago, as I grumbled to my husband about the work Tony Goldwyn (President “Ghost” as the fans like to call him in Shonda Rhimes’s delightful series Scandal), has been doing with The Innocence Project, an organization dedicated to exonerating the falsely accused and unjustly imprisoned.  Goldwyn’s 2010 film, Conviction,  raised awareness concerning this problem while highlighting the actor’s additional talents as a director.


US correctional population timeline-zh-hans

US correctional population timeline-zh-hans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My issue was not with the Innocence Project’s mission to exonerate the falsely accused—particularly given the recurring evidence that Americans—particularly men—of color live under presumptions of guilt that can ruin lives.  (Note, for example, a recent Washington Post editorial, detailed on the Innocence Project Blog).


But in a country where over 1.5 million adults were incarcerated in 2011, according to recent Bureau of Justice Statistics—where 1 in every 34 Americans is under the supervision of the Criminal Justice system–and this number, which represents a decline from higher levels of incarceration in 2000, is still the highest number of incarcerated in the industrialized world –and where black and Hispanic males make up a disproportionate percentage of those incarcerated,  why does our discussion always have to be about “innocence” and guilt?  If the laws against a variety of crimes–particularly drug use–are selectively applied, shouldn’t we really be focused on inequitable enforcement?  On mitigating the handicaps of those who are incarcerated–increasing their access to civil rights, education, and job training?


English: Timeline of yearly U.S criminal justi...

English: Timeline of yearly U.S criminal justice spending. 1982-2006. By function (police, corrections, judicial). Not inflation adjusted. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As someone who has been teaching at a community college for over a decade, and working, on the side, on prison education issues for the last two, I’m constantly struck by the way inequality of opportunity paves the school to prison pipeline that ends in tragedy for so many young people of color in the United States.  Rather than asking whether-they-did-or-didn’t, shouldn’t we be supporting access for incarcerated men and women to financial aid for education that can transform lives and has been shown, statistically, to lower recidivism rates by approximately one-third?


If rehabilitation, rather than punition, really is our goal, educating the incarcerated would represent a solid way to put our money in front of our mouths–and help everyone in prison, not just the ones we discover are “innocent.”

My husband  listened patiently (he usually does) but then pointed out that in the age of what Michelle Alexander  has termed  The New Jim Crow  no one organization can take on every issue.   Triage is needed; priorities have to be set.  And first, surely, must come assistance for those who have been victimized by racism even while playing by the rules.
I was still mulling over my husband’s take when we turned on the television and found ourselves watching the PBS/New York Times interview that followed the screening of the Ken Burn’s new film (made with daughter Sarah Burns and David McMahon) The Central Park Five.  The testimonials of these eloquent, traumatized young men, each of whom served seven years for a crime they never committed, highlights the importance of establishing innocence, and the human cost of failing to do so.

“You’re right,” I told my husband, rather shamefacedly.  “Establishing innocence–or guilt beyond a reasonable doubt–has to come first.”

My husband and I are still debating this, however, because another film that was recently screened in my home town of New York City—Released, directed by David Rothenberg —profiled the work the Fortune Society has been doing at a Bronx residence for the formerly incarcerated known as “the Castle” —helping re-entering men and women repair breaches with loved ones, find meaningful employment, and empower themselves through education.  Two of individuals profiled in the film are enrolled as students on campuses of the City University of New York.


The testimonials of the men and women profiled in Released  has reaffirmed my conviction that peer review isn’t just for married folks—a full and critical conversation, where all voices are heard, and all points are considered, is the bedrock value of our civil society.  And in that debate, education remains the most forceful instrument for rectifying the gap between those who are heard and those whose voices are throttled.  We can prioritize the simple justice of incarcerating only those whose guilt has been proven; but we need to widen access to education to all those accused—regardless of race, class, or gender—so all of us can contribute to a process of peer review that can improve our criminal justice system and build a better society for our children.


Emily Sohmer Tai







Gay marriage at the Supreme Court: Did interracial marriage opponents claim to be helping the children? – Slate Magazine

Gay marriage at the Supreme Court: Did interracial marriage opponents claim to be helping the children? – Slate Magazine.

As the battle over whether or not gay people should be allowed to marry in the United States (which quite honestly makes me fee ashamed and embarrassed to even admit that in this day and age there’s a debate raging as to whether or not gay people should be allowed to marry), many lawyers are comparing the issue of gay marriage to that of interracial marriage.


English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While the two are certainly not the same, there are similarities, the primary one of which being that we’re discussing (and debating) essentially whether or not said gay individuals are human and hence deserving of full human rights under the law. This is what makes it ridiculous.

Malcolm X and Dr. King knew that for for racial equality to stand a chance in the U.S. they had to make it an international human rights matter and involved other nations into shaming us.

Civil Rights March on Washington, leaders marc...

Civil Rights March on Washington, leaders marching from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They took it beyond the localized political debate realm. It was no longer a matter of local opinion, but a global human rights violation. This is why there were so many iconic photographic images of the civil rights movement. Dr. King wanted photos. Lots of photos. So did Brother Malcolm. The more photos of unarmed peaceful civil rights protestors being beaten and attacked, the better.

So it is (to me) in many ways with marriage equality. I don’t know if gay people protest for equal rights on the same level as African Americans did during the civil rights movement, but if gay marriage equality is denied or simply ignored by the Supreme Court I’d say peaceful protests should be a no-brainer. And there should be photos. Lots and lots of photos. Especially when police freak out over the appearance of crowds of protestors and commence beating anyone in sight (as they did with the Occupy movement and every other peaceful protest movement in the past). Failure to enlarge the scope of the issue is to keep it in the “ghetto” where it can never be resolved.

Whether or not gay people are entitled to marry is a resounding – of course they should be allowed. They’re human and this is a human rights issue – not a local political issue. When we see this is a human rights violation and not a political issue more progress will be made in my humble estimation.

Pride, Prejudice and Interracial Marriages | The Jakarta Globe

Pride, Prejudice and Interracial Marriages

via Pride, Prejudice and Interracial Marriages | The Jakarta Globe.

Interracial Dating, Interracial relationships, multicultural

Wonder how interracial relationships are perceived in Jakarta? Apparently they have all the hangups of rednecks in ‘Bama, based on the content of this piece.

What do you think?

Virginia Finally Legalizes Sodomy—Is Interracial Dating Next? / Queerty

Virginia Finally Legalizes Sodomy—Is Interracial Dating Next?interracial relationships, miscegenation, interracial dating, interracial marriage

via Virginia Finally Legalizes Sodomy—Is Interracial Dating Next? / Queerty.


Will Virginia one day legalize interracial marriage now that it’s a forgone conclusion? Maybe.

Should they? Of course.

The Takeover: A short film online tackles interracial dating | North Dallas Gazette

The Takeover: A short film online tackles interracial dating

via The Takeover: A short film online tackles interracial dating | North Dallas Gazette.Interracial Relationships, Interracial dating, interracial

I’m not sure the nature of the relationship, but by the look of the picture in the article, it appears that the couple is a lesbian couple; which adds an even greater level of potential complexity to the piece, if indeed that’s addressed.

Hollywood certainly needs more diversity and more stories about real people trying to live real authentic lives, so we think this movie should be applauded and more like it need to be made.

Interracial Sex Is Still Taboo In Porn – Business Insider

There’s Still One Thing That Many Porn Stars Refuse To Do…

Tiffany N Light

Yes, ma’am.

via Interracial Sex Is Still Taboo In Porn – Business Insider.

In this very interesting article, it’s discussed how the porn industry, (one would think one of the least conservative in the world), is still more uptight than Urkel‘s shorts in a bind.

They apparently still frown on interracial relationships, even in porn movies. Majors: Interracial Groundbreaker

Interracial Groundbreaker

via Majors: Interracial Groundbreaker.

Interracial Dating, Interracial relationships, multicultural

IMG_8011_1600x1067 (Photo credit: Les_Stockton)


Who knew? There’s a very good sports movie there, just looking at the photo, one can easily see any number of black actors in the role. But imagine what it must have felt like to have been this guy.


Gender talk discuses interracial dating //

Gender talk discuses interracial dating

via Gender talk discuses interracial dating //

Interracial Relationships

Interracial Dating. Being “down” can start early in life.

Here’s a fun twist on the topic of interracial dating, going to Cougar Town!

Everybody loves Cougars, so adding age dynamics can only serve to make the topic of interracial dating all the more complex, but also all the more difficult to maintain in light of a hostile society.


Dying to be Lighter: The Cultural and Physical Dangers of Skin Lightening

Dying to be Lighter: The Cultural and Physical Dangers of Skin Lightening

Dying to be Lighter: The Physical and Cultural Dangers of Skin Lightening

(Mario Vitanelli is a freelance writer and blogger specializing in the analysis of influential people and organizations, global business trends and international affairs. When away from his keyboard, he enjoys photography and appreciates the rest of the Vitanelli family’s endless patience with his football preoccupation.)

It’s probably a comment on the innate discontent accompanying the human condition that a huge number of people the world over seem to be unhappy with the way they look- their skin tone in particular. Fairer skinned women and men in Western nations keep the tanning industry a lucrative trade in an effort to get darker. Very lucrative- although the global price tag for tanning and tanning products is far higher, each year Americans spend more than $5 billion on indoor tanning alone. That tremendous sum, however, is half what our planet’s darker-skinned residents spend annually on skin lightening treatments.Black & White dream ...

Not that a market for skin lightening treatments don’t exist in Western states like the US and the UK. A high-profile example is Michael Jackson, whose famous denial of any skin lightening regiment was proved untrue by the lightening creams found among his possessions after he died. However, the great majority of lightening products are sold throughout over Asia, Africa, India and the Middle East. In India 60% of women use skin lightening salves every day; in Togo 59%; in Nigeria 92% of the men and women attending a skin health conference admitted to attempting skin lightening. Comparable percentages can be found in an alarming number of nation states peopled by darker-hued citizens. In many African and Asian nations skin-bleaching solutions outsell any other class of beauty product. In India, they’re the most popular by a 2/3 margin.

While trends like this are always informed by complex socio-cultural factors, the popularity of dermal-bleaching is generally considered to be the result of two influences.

The first is the legacy of Western colonial occupation creating a dynamic in which the wealthier citizens were virtually always lighter skinned (or at least it engendered that perception). The second is the increasingly ubiquitous presence of Western advertising, many examples of which feature blonde, fair actresses and models. This creeping encroachment of occidental beauty ideals has been a tremendous source of frustration for feminists and activists working to convince their fellow countrywomen that darker skin is not an undesirable trait.


Controversy recently polarized much of Senegal after adverts for a skin lightener (called Khess Petch, the translation of which is “All White”) displaying a before-and-after image of a black woman lightened several tones. A similar backlash in India was precipitated by TV adverts for a product meant to lighten a woman’s bikini region.

English: Michael Jackson at the Cannes film fe...

English: Michael Jackson at the Cannes film festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the ad, a fair-skinned Indian woman looks forlorn because her husband is distant and uninterested. After she applies the cream in the shower, however, the couple joyously embraces- his interest reignited. Unfortunately, in places like India, the assumption on the part of women (and many men) that being fairer skinned will result in greater success is often culturally reinforced. Many beautiful dark-skinned models and actresses leave India to seek work in the West as lighter-toned women get the great majority of work at home.

Beyond the troubling implications of the skin-lightening trend in ethnic/cultural terms are the myriad health implications. Because many of these creams are sold in countries without a public health apparatus capable of comprehensive beauty product inspection, many creams include mercury despite the UK’s banning its topical use in 1978. Mercury is an incredibly toxic chemical that builds up in body tissue leading to a host of problems, the worst of which include severe renal and brain damage, and death. Creams without mercury often contain hydroquinone- another dangerous chemical that accumulates in the system (and was similarly outlawed by the British).

Hydroquinone is caustic enough to break up melanin in the skin (it’s used in photo development) and is a proven carcinogen, can permanently cause black and blue splotching and is very possibly a neurotoxin.

Doctors in areas where use of bleaching creams is common routinely treat patients with bad dizziness, fatigue, almost total lack of cortisol in their systems (which can cause psychological problems), swollen hands and abdomens, and diabetes. Even if users are lucky enough to use a cream that lightens the skin without (more) toxic chemicals, lightening skin leads to a greatly increased risk of skin cancer and leathery skin when older.

Superficial but (physically) benign changes can include blotchy patterns and concentrations of melanin (which gives skin pigmentation) in the joints of fingers and toes, ears and buttocks. As such, use of skin bleaching treatments is culturally unhealthy and can lead to unsightly physical changes at best and debilitating illness, both physical and mental, and death at worst. Since these creams are widely available on the internet, the best hope for doing away with skin lightening procedures and products is education and an affirmation of someone’s beauty no matter what their skin tone.

Singer Jill Scott Says Her “Soul Burns” When Black Men Date White Women

I’ve never met Jill Scott.

Can’t say as I really expect to ever meet her and can’t say as I really want to. I may have one of her CDs in the car somewhere under a magazine or stuck between car seats somewhere.

I’ve read in many websites, blogs, and seen in other media that Ms. Scott fundament apparently burns like fire when she sees black men dating white women and she apparently feels that it’s wrong for a black woman to date any type of man other than a black man.

English: Jill Scott Performing at the 2007 Bla...

English: Jill Scott Performing at the 2007 Black Lily Film & Music Festival (World Cafe Live) (Photo credit: Wikipedia). Is her music for only certain types of people? Would she want interracial couples grooving to her CDs? Read on, true believer, and you tell me.

Now Ms. Scott is an adult and is entitled to her opinion. But is she entitled to voice her views as she does when she is obviously rich and clearly has the media’s ears and eyes trained on her. Is this description of her views entirely accurate? If it is, isn’t that what you’d consider racist by any other accounts? And it sure as slap-happy-pappy ain’t no pappy of mine ain’t exactly fair or equitable if it is descriptive of her views toward gender and race. If it’s true, then her behind burns when black men date white women, but it equally burns when anyone who doesn’t look like immediate family members date. And the media loves her, nor does it debate her views or explicate them.

Here’s a link to a recent editorial on Ms. Scott – here.

Deluxe edition

Deluxe edition (Photo credit: Wikipedia). I guess she ain’t down with vanilla creme. Or maybe she (secretly) is?

Now, according to the quote from this blog, Ms. Scott’s comments sound kind of ……..racist.

If black men want to date white women (and believe me, they are doing it whether she likes it or not), black women should free themselves to date whomever they wish, and anyone else should be able to date whomever they wish. True?

Celebrities wield incredible power to influence in our media-driven culture. If a popular celebrity wears something we all see it the next day. Daymond John, the brilliant founder of FUBU will tell you that celebrity culture in large part propelled the success of his clothing lines and brands. He put his clothes on LL Cool J (back when LL was still rapping and touring), and his brand shot up. So if Ms. Scott discusses racist feelings, doesn’t she do more harm than others of similar views who aren’t rich and of celebrity status?



English: This is a photo of Daymond John, FUBU...

English: This is a photo of Daymond John, FUBU CEO, speaking at an event. (Photo credit: Wikipedia). We’re just putting this photo of Daymond John here because a) we dig him and b) we can.  Love, Peace, and Hair-Grease, brothas and sistas.


Concern Over Blond Beggar Girl Sparks Racism Debate in Mexico

Concern Over Blond Beggar Girl Sparks Racism Debate in Mexico

There have been several articles now about Mexico’s incredible concern over the welfare of a poor blond beggar girl, this when everyone knows Mexico is filled to over-capacity with brown-skinned beggar girls who are easily ignored.

Here’s a link to this article most recently:

Is the concern over the fact that this “sacred” blonde being should have to beg for food like everyone else? Is that she is blond and therefore superior and shouldn’t have to beg or that she’s just sticking out because of that hair color? Is Mexico racist and what does all this say about racism world-wide?


If you want attention, go blonde. If you’re bald, put on a blonde wig.