Black women around the country also are reconsidering deep-seated reservations toward interracial relationships, reservations rooted in America’s history of slavery and segregation.
They’re taking cues from their favorite stars—from actress Shar Jackson to tennis pro Venus Williams—as well as support blogs, how-to books and interracially themed novels telling them it’s OK to “date out.”
It comes as statistics suggest American black women are among the least likely to marry.
She reflects many black women frustrated as the field of marriageable black men narrows: They’re nearly seven times more likely to be incarcerated than white men and more than twice as likely to be unemployed.
Census data showed 117,000 black wife-white husband couples in 2006, up from 95,000 in 2000.
There were just 26,000 such couples in 1960, before a Supreme Court ruling banished laws against mixed marriages.
Black female-white male romance has become a hot topic in black-geared magazines and on Web sites, even hitting the big screen in movies like last year’s “Something New.”
That film centers on an affluent black woman who falls for her white landscaper, a situation not unlikely as black women scale the corporate ladder, said Evia Moore, whose interracial marriage blog draws 1,000 visitors a day.
It features articles like “Could Mr. Right Be White?” and pictures of couples like white chef Wolfgang Puck and his new Ethiopian wife.
She pointed to low rates of black men in college, a place where women of all races often meet their spouses.
Black women on campus largely are surrounded by non-black men: In 2004, 26.5 percent of black males ages 18 to 24 were enrolled in college versus 36.5 percent of black women that age, according to the American Council on Education’s most recent statistics.
“I think a lot of black women are realizing or feeling that the pickings are slim,” she said.
They’re made even slimmer, grumble many black women, by high rates of successful black men choosing blondes. For some, they argue, white wives are the ultimate status symbol.
Nearly three quarters of the 403,000 black-white couples in 2006 involved black husbands.
Meanwhile, psychological barriers have discouraged black women from crossing racial lines.
“Black women are socialized to stick by their men,” explained Kellina Craig-Henderson, a Howard University psychology professor who studied 15 black women dating interracially.
But black men are voicing their own frustrations with women they feel regard them with suspicion. “They treat us all the same,” said W. Randy Short, a Washington writer who dates across races. “The rapist on the TV is the same as me.”
It’s a frustration director Tim Alexander tackles in “Diary of a Tired Black Man,” a frank film covering everything from black women’s demeanors to their weight. Frustrated by black women, the main character dates a white one.
“To a certain degree, black people are sick of each other,” Alexander said. “It would be better for black men and black women to open their options.”