The recent origins of black female hostility to miscegenation

My friend Michael sent me a copy of “The aftermath of Loving v. Virginia: Sex asymmetry in African-American intermarriage,” by R. Richard Banks (PDF). The piece is an attack on stereotypes of black marriage nand miscegenation: educated black females are more likely to marry than uneducated black females, the difference socio-economic status between black husbands and white wives is comparable to the different among white husbands and white wives, and, most strikingly, that the skew in African-American interrmarriage (where black men are much more likely to outmarry than black woman) is recent.

While nowadays black-white marriage is stereotypically between a black man and white woman, going back just a few decades presented a more gender-balanced picture. The case that declared anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional, Virginia v. Loving, was fought on behalf of a white husband and black wife. Likewise, the famous movie Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, features two interracial romances: one between a black man and white woman, the other between a white man and black woman.

Banks’ piece is very well written. My only complaint is that it is not long enough! It reads like a literature review to a great analytical piece, and hopefully that second section is coming at a later time.

Read it (PDF).

13 thoughts on “The recent origins of black female hostility to miscegenation”

  1. A great batch of statistics and myth busting to go along with a short lifetime of skimming the anguished letter and advice sections in Jet and Essence magazine while waiting for a hair cut.
    Thank you for sharing.

  2. a short lifetime of skimming the anguished letter and advice sections in Jet and Essence magazine while waiting for a hair cut

    Eddie…that is the funniest comment I have read anywhere today. Thanks…I need a smile. 🙂

  3. I delved into the world of female hairstyle magazines per Eddie’s suggestion. The debate over at Essense is certainly heartfelt. From “Love” on October 22, 2008: [1]

    Who cares what race a person is. If it’s true love it’s true love. We are too hung up on race. Who you love shouldn’t be determined by their race. Live life! Love hard! Be happy!

    Writing a few weeks previously, “roz” clearly disagrees: [2]

    I am another sister that is tired of black men betraying black women. We are good enough to be your mothers, sisters, and aunts, but not good enough to be your women. It is absolutely a shame that 70 percent of interracial relationships include a black man. Black women are beautiful. I can not understand why black men are turning away from black women. If love is colorblind, why is it that love can’t seem to see the brown skin of our beautiful black sisters.

    Within race sexual selection of skin color is covered in one book in my antilibrary, Fair Women, Dark Men [3,4]


  4. Purpleslog,

    I am happy to offer a chuckle now and then.


    Absolutely! I have witnessed this with black females who dared to date outside of their race, as I experienced prior in my dating life years ago and witnessed all too often in school and the Navy. A real shame. I will forward my close friend that book you mentioned.

  5. #4 is interesting. It has the same weakness Banks noted in most hypotheses, though: it isn’t of recent origin, so it doesn’t explain the decline in interracial marriage amongst African-American women.

    If his theory is correct, though, there should be more black women living in unhappy marriage–that being the alternative to staying single or out-marriage for a woman who can’t find a good husband within her own community. Does evidence exist for this?

  6. Michael,

    I went to the General Social Survey online application [1,2], and entered the following variables

    Row: RACE (Race of Respondent)
    Column: HAPMAR (Happiness of Marriage)
    Control: INCOME (Total Family Income)
    Filter: SEX(2) (Respondents Sex(=Female))

    Across income levels, black females are substantially less happy in their marriage than white females

    For example

    Income less than $1000
    White: 70.9% very happy
    Black: 26.4% very happy

    Income more than $25,000
    White: 92.4% very happy
    Black: 4.5% very happy


    How much flack do such colorblind black females face? Is disapproval to miscegenation culturally normative, in your view?


  7. Out of 100 black women, 43 face the choice of either having a child by a black man who is unlikely to settle down with them or going childless according to James Flynn
    In 1900, faced with a dearth of Irish American men who were sober, non-violent and employed, half of all Irish women simply married out of their community. Black women, however, are effectively trapped because so few white men marry them and stay with them: only 2 per cent of black women are raising a child with a white man today. The fact that many promising black men marry white women only worsens their plight

  8. Dan,
    IMHO, they can often face pressure from other blacks, especially other black men. Its viewed as a “betrayal” and a sign of weakness or self-indulgence. How much of that is a deeply rooted anger over the sexual appetites of slavemasters for female slaves and the divisions and hurt that caused in that era’s marriages?
    (I don’t mean to prattle on but I remember from high school some of the literature on that from the early 1900’s is simply fascinating regarding complex family relationships.)

    There is also the whole cultural mindset of “us” against “them” that is repeated incessantly in poor black communities from the church rhetoric (ala Rev. Wright and co.) to the school system reality (where students often attend poorly funded schools and see white and middle-class students attending better schools).

    As well, there seems to be an attitude of “you’re asking for trouble” from older blacks, even middle-class and above. This is the attitude that shocks the most. People who should absolutely know better repeating that nonsense to impressionable young black women.


    That is an exceptional article. One thing the author does not mention is the rate of homosexuality among black men. While some of it is overstated in the media (ala the Down Low), that probably drops another at least 7-8 eligible black men off that ratio.

  9. lere,

    Thank you for the timely piece by James Flynn.

    I’m rarely impressed by Dr. Flynn, and the September 3, 2008, article is no exception.

    Black women, however, are effectively trapped because so few white men marry them and stay with them: only 2 per cent of black women are raising a child with a white man today. The

    If Flynn’s hypothesis is right, the willingness on the part of white men to marry black women has been declining.

    I’m not sure how he can validate this — is he arguing that white attitudes toward miscegenation with black femaels is worse now than 40 years ago?

    Flynn also makes a number of rhetoric nature-v-nurture points. Instead of addressing them all, because it is tiring to reply to such baseless allegations again and again, I will take just one that he obviously spent time on:

    Let’s consider just one other bit of evidence. The environment for black people in the US may look bleak but there is one group of black Americans whose children were raised elsewhere. After the second world war, white and black soldiers of the American occupation force in Germany fathered children. By the ages of between 6 and 13, tests showed that the children’s IQs were broadly similar, though this does not settle the debate: the numbers are too small, and there was a mental test to qualify for the army so the soldiers were not a random sample.

    Flynn actually smahes his own argument! The military requires passing an IQ test to enter. Further, the military tries to drive those with higher careers away from the infantry. So American GIs who were having kids — regardless of race — had IQs within a certain range. That their kids also have an IQ in this range only demonstrates that IQ is partially heritable.


    Family relationships among the very small fraction of southern whites and blacks who lived inside planation houses would be interesting. I recall a discussion that argued that black female house slaves had more liberty than white female wives of slave-holders, as the second experienced far more social sanctions than the first.

    Regardless, the historical parity among sexes for blacks marrying outside their race (with a slight bias toward black female doing so) implies it is not historic. It may well be political — perhaps the black racists of two generations ago were far more effective in turning black females than black males — but it is not a continuing tradition from the past.

    Thank you for the informative — if dispiriting — comment.

  10. IQ: interaction between race and age

    “Throwing in more environmental differences would make an innate difference less significant and harder to detect. But why would it disappear? It should do so only if the family environment were, on average, more conducive to learning in the biracial group. Both groups, however, had the same kind of family environment, i.e., a single German mother brought up the children”

  11. Lere,

    From the blog post you linked to,

    Among humans in general, intellectual capacity seems to decline with age. Indeed, there are statements in the literature that IQ declines from one’s twenties onwards (presumably among European Americans). Is this decline due to natural aging processes? Or is it prewired into the human organism?

    Perhaps the ability to acquire new information becomes less useful with age and perhaps this was even truer in ancestral humans. What we call ‘intelligence’ may have originally been an infant trait that humans lost as they grew up. With the expansion of our cultural environment, natural selection would have progressively extended this infant trait into older age groups, and more so in some populations than in others.

    This makes a ton of sense. I kick myself for never thinking about it.

    I have written one text which presents evolutionary psychology from such a developmental perspective [1,2,3], but I don’t recall it presenting that theory, either.

    The only hiccup I can think of, is why the same increase in heritability of intelligence with age would also occur for personality and political orientation?


  12. Lisa Lampanelli bemoaned
    “…my problem is, I can’t get a good-looking white guy anymore, I just don’t have the looks to get that. I can get hot blacks, but also blacks are now starting to get uppity and go for the skinny white ones and the Asians, which is very offensive to me that they don’t stick with their roots — the chubby white girl!”

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