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Black Men in Interracial Relationships: What's Love Got to Do with It?
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Why is it that successful black men--black men who are "at the top of their game" in the arts, entertainment, politics and athletics--are four times as apt to be married to or dating a woman who is not an African American than they were only thirty years ago? And why are twice as many black men involved in interracial relationships as black women? In addition to their celebrity status, which includes widespread popularity and wealth, black men from Charles Barkley to James Earl Jones to Russell Simmons to Bryant Gumbel share something else in common; something that also characterizes the experiences of more than 250,000 less well-known black men in the United States. They happen to be involved in interracial intimate relationships. Less than fifty years ago such relationships were next to impossible, leading to severe social sanctions. The fact that this is no longer the case is concrete evidence of changes in the quality and character of contemporary race relations. Drawing on her own observations, and her examination of the responses of a small, diverse group of black men who date (in some cases exclusively), have sexual relations with, and marry women who are not of African descent, the book provides insight into the continuing ways that race and ethnic status affect the choices people make in their lives. Until this book, though, these types of relationships have received scant serious attention. Craig-Henderson forthrightly addresses the taboo, interspersing analysis with verbatim accounts from black men involved in such relationships. Grounded in serious research, interviews, and analysis of census data, Black Men in Interracial Relationships examines why such relationships appear to be so popular among black male elites. In the process, the author unravels the mystery behind the apparent absence of black women in black men's lives. It will be of interest to specialists in race, gender, family, and sexual issues, and appropriate for courses in these areas. It is also highly readable and thought-provoking for the general public, who will find its observations and findings fascinating. Kellina M. Craig-Henderson is a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at Howard University in Washington, DC. Her research program includes studies of groups, cross-cultural, gender and race stereotyping, and aggression.
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