Posted on November 23, 2011

Is Lansing the Interracial Love Capital of America?

Jay Scott Smith, The Grio, November 21, 2011

In America in 2011, the idea of being “biracial’ has taken on a new meaning. The city that may be the best example of this new racial identity is Lansing, which has the highest percentage of blacks who identify with different races.

“It is very common to see interracial couples here in Lansing,” said Beth Brokaw, a 28-year-old Lansing native. “Race was never an issue when it came to me, my friends, and dating. I knew a lot of people who were attracted to nothing but people from different races.”

Lansing, Michigan’s capital city, is more of a cultural melting pot than most cities in the state. Just 55 percent of the city’s 115,000 residents are white, the black population has risen 10 percent since 2000, and the Hispanic population–confined largely to the city’s south side–has tripled in the last decade.

According to the 2010 Census, 4.1 percent of Lansing’s black residents, or one out of every 25, identify themselves as being of mixed race. The next closest cities are Tacoma, Wash. and Killeen, Texas at 3.8 percent.

“You always see interracial couples here,” said Brokaw, who is white and has two biracial children. {snip}

Most blacks still see themselves as simply black, in spite of their varying cultural makeup and heritage. {snip}


“Part of this is liberal baby boomers marrying outside their race or having kids with people of other races and liberal baby boomers being very vested in raising happy children,” Kristen Renn, an education professor at Michigan State University told the Lansing State Journal. “There is a youth movement around mixed race.”


Lansing sits 90 miles to the northwest of Detroit and 60 miles east of Flint, two of the most racially segregated cities in the country. Interracial dating in Metro Detroit is still seen as taboo.

“I was mostly in the suburbs–Novi, Farmington Hills, etc.–but you could tell that black folks stuck together in Detroit,” said Council, who used to work in the Detroit area. “I’ve always said that I didn’t feel comfortable in Detroit because of my upbringing here. Plus, I’m all for interracial dating and friendships.”