This article focuses on the emergence of a new genre of advice literature in the mid-2000s. Primarily written by and aimed at black women, it urges them to date and marry outside the race as a way to address the plight of successful educated black women who cannot find black husbands. In arguments that illuminate contemporary perspectives on long-standing debates among blacks about when and how to put down the burdens of history; racial identity and authenticity; the loyalty an individual owes to the community; and gender roles and responsibilities, this new advocacy literature urges black women to embrace their power and desirability in American society. At the same time, the literature reveals a nostalgic desire for a world where men were providers, women could afford to be the weaker sex, and traditional marriage could be a path to both personal and group advancement. Advocates offer their readers a romantic and appealing narrative that emphasizes black women’s power and agency, but this prescription has the potential to delegitimize black women’s lived experience and to reinforce discourses that stigmatize the black community.
Something Old, Something New: Black Women, Interracial Dating, and the Black Marriage Crisis
Renee Romano is the Robert S. Danforth Professor of History and Professor of Comparative American Studies and Africana Studies at Oberlin College. She is the author or coeditor of five books, including Race Mixing: Black-White Marriage in Postwar America (Harvard University Press, 2003). Her most recent book is the coedited collection, Historians on Hamilton: How a Blockbuster Musical Is Restaging America’s Past (Rutgers University Press, 2018).
Renee Romano; Something Old, Something New: Black Women, Interracial Dating, and the Black Marriage Crisis. differences 1 September 2018; 29 (2): 126–153. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-6999802
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