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Interracial Intimacies: Sex, Marriage, Identity, and Adoption Hardcover – January 7, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0375402555 ISBN-10: 0375402551 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1st edition (January 7, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375402551
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375402555
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.8 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,674,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Does a biracial child from Louisiana belong with the black family who wants to adopt her or in the indifferent foster care system that has classified her as white? Kennedy, who created a media storm with Nigger, begins his third book about race with an obscure 1952 legal case that addresses this question, then traces the customs, laws and myths surrounding interracial relationships that came before and after it. As in Nigger, Kennedy's controversial examination of the taboo word, much of this book centers on legal actions and court rulings. It is laced with enough anecdotes and pop culture references, however, to make it an accessible, compelling read for anyone. The Harvard law professor even wrote to people who placed what he calls "racially discriminatory" personal ads (SWM seeks SWF, for example), asking them to explain themselves (few did). For the most part, the book stays focused on black and white relationships, and Kennedy dutifully but unremarkably covers well-known examples such as the slavery era's Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings and the 20th century's O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson. He is at his best and most instructive tackling issues like racial passing (he devotes an entire chapter to a mid-20th-century interracial couple and their daughter's Imitation of Life-like attempts to pass for white) and interracial adoption (he deplores race matching as "a destructive practice in all its various guises"). While Kennedy points out that race relations have made huge strides since the 1952 Louisiana adoption case, he also openly conveys his disappointment at how America remains "a pigmentocracy" influenced by white supremacist notions. The book provides plenty of examples to back up this assertion, but stops short of offering tangible solutions.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* A Harvard law professor and the author of, most recently, Nigger [BKL F 15 02], Kennedy offers a brilliant analysis of one the most controversial areas of American race relations--interracial sex. Kennedy weaves together history, law, literature, politics, and social policy in a searing examination of how blacks and whites have intermixed since Africans were brought to the U.S. as slaves. Beginning with the rape and sexual exploitation of black women by white men, Kennedy examines the underlying myths and stereotypes that have shaped social policy on marriage, identity, and adoption and given rise to the convoluted legal and social structure meant to maintain the racial hierarchy. He explores the social context of famous black-white relationships, from Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, through boxing champion Jack Johnson's marriages to white women, to the Loving v. Virginia U.S. Supreme Court case that outlawed bans on interracial marriage. In addition, Kennedy examines the image of black men as sexual predators bent on raping white women, a charge used to incite lynching. Kennedy also details the nation's shameful history of racial classification and the phenomenon of racial passing as portrayed in movies and literature and as practiced in real life. A comprehensive, well-researched look at the intersection of race and sex in the U.S. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Gisela Gasper Fitzgerald on September 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The author pulls the mirror up to our faces and makes us confront our own prejudices today and mourn our prejudices of the past. Of all the things I come away with in this book, I wholeheartedly support the author in his view that race matching in adoption is a destructive practice in all its various guises. Yes, 'it ought to be replaced by a system under which children in need of homes may be assigned to the care of foster or adoptive parents as quickly as reasonably possible.' We have several couples in our neighborhood who have adopted children of other races, and two black children are among them. This is real progress.
Gisela Gasper Fitzgerald, author of ADOPTION: An Open, Semi-Open or Closed Practice?
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Format: Paperback
Randall's book is a very accurate account of the history of interracial relationships of the Black/nonblack variety, most particularly the troublesome and controversial Black-White relationships and marriage. Mr. Kennedy traces the history of interracial relationships from the Colonial/slavery times to the early decade of the 21st century. Mr. Kennedy really knows his history and law regarding this elephant in the room, i.e., interracial relationships between Blacks and Whites.

I recommend this book along with J.A. Rogers' Sex and Race. I hope people open their eyes to the largely unexplored and controversial issue of multiracial relationships.
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9 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Andre M. on July 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book as a whole is better than his last book whose title I will not name here. I met Randall Kennedy at the college where I teach last year and made it clear to him what I thought of that book. But I like this one. For one thing, it has a lot of rare and little known history such as the sad tale of Black Reactionary George Schuyler and his racially confused daughter, the young lady who was prevented from being adopted in Jim Crow Louisiana due to confusion over her race, and the angry racially-mixed young man who grew up to be a Black Panther. These and numerous other stories are excellently told and are quite informative, as well as facts and figures on interracial marriages and adioption that may surprise street-corner dogmatists on this issue.
This book made me view Dr. Kennedy in a new light. Although I still despise his last book, I will merely agree to disagree with him on that one. I think he is sincerely trying to clear up the confusion that abounds over race in this country on both sides (as he makes clear in the afterword) because he actually has hope that this can be done. The sad thing is that many such people WANT to stay confused to provide an outlet for their personal frustrations and are not likely to read this book. As I have said about John McWhorter, I don't agree with all he says, but since he is not of the Ken Hamblin/George Schuyler reactionary school, we have enough common ground as to where I would be happy to speak to him again.
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6 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Mixed race relationships are a big issue today. The recent imbroglio over Sen. Strom Thurmond's half Black daughter reveals the interest in the subject. Professor Randall Kennedy's book, however,is simply a string of stories that already have been told. Although well written, the book lacks a common thread and it reads like a lengthy monologue about interracial relationships. I find Rachel Moran's book Interracial Intimacy, with which I do not agree with on many points, much more thoughtful, enlightening, and challenging intellectually. Unlike Kennedy, Moran looks well beyond Black/white relationships. In this way, Kennedy appears to have been caught in a time warp.
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