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Race Mixing: Black-White Marriage in Postwar America

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0674010338
ISBN-10: 0674010337
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1940, Romano notes in her prologue, interracial marriages were illegal in 31 of the 48 states. In the six decades that followed, they have been described as everything from "deviant acts of social and economic radicals," to "the true fulfillment of a quest for racial brotherhood," "the ultimate solution to the race problem," and as "a betrayal of one's race and one's community." In this "political, cultural, and social history," Wesleyan University historian Romano tracks popular representations of black-white marriage in everything from children's books (The Rabbit's Wedding) to Billie Holliday's "Strange Fruit," the Hepburn-Tracey vehicle Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and a variety of magazines (Ebony and Jet do yeoman service for the black perspective). The Hettie Cohen-Leroi Jones (now Amiri Baraka) marriage looms larger than that of Richard and Mildred Loving, who were the history-making test case. Romano reminds us that, although the 51,000 black-white couples in 1960 had become 363,000 by 2000, such marriages constitute a mere fraction of U.S. marriages today and occur at a rate that "lags behind that of other types of interracial marriage." Still, war brides, custody battles, mental health diagnoses ("being involved interracially became de facto evidence of mental illness"), beatnik acceptance, black nationalist hostility and "the erosion of the taboo against black-white marriage" as rendered in this heavily anecdotal account make fascinating and provocative reading. Taking in representations of socializing, dating and having a relationship, as well as marriage, this book makes a good companion to Randall Kennedy's recent Interracial Intimacies: Sex, Marriage, Identity, and Adoption, which focuses more on legislative history.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Romano, a white professor of African American studies who is married to a black man, examines the deeply embedded taboo of interracial marriage in the U.S. Citing studies, surveys, court accounts, media coverage, and interviews with interracial couples, Romano explores how attitudes have evolved, eventually eroding that taboo, within the last 60 years. She notes that the nation's long-held policy of "prohibiting interracial marriages while condoning interracial sex between white men and black women reinforced gender and racial hierarchies." Romano outlines the forces that eventually led to the breakdown of the taboo, from the integration of armed services during World War II to the migration of southern blacks to the North for war-related jobs, exploring the political, cultural, and social history of black-white marriages since the 1940s. The interviews are particularly powerful in conveying the challenges of interracial marriages and the changes in social attitudes since the 1940s. But Romano cautions that the increase in black-white marriages does not signify the end of structural racial inequalities in American society. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 382 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (April 17, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674010337
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674010338
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #892,502 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Bookal on September 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I am appalled by the complete disregard that often occurs on the ACTUAL events of American history. As a biracial woman who is currently doing research for my own degree on this very subject matter, I find it unbelievable that once again the brutal history of lynch mobs committing horrific atrocities towards black men, women and children goes unquestioned by so many. I am happy that Romano was able to write an honest and critical review of a period in time which still resonates.

Black men were often lynched for reasons other than an interracial union, including the attempt at voter participation as well as owning successful businesses. After the Civil War and during Reconstruction, more than ten thousand black men were lynched by "white mobs". Very few were ever arrested or brought to trial for their actions. That's a fact, not a statement issued out of racist motivations or lack of historical study.

Black men were lynched, meaning severely beaten, hung and their genitalia cut off at even the HINT of an interracial union between a black man and a white woman. In 1955 one of the most infamous lynch incidents occurred and was in newspapers and magazines across the nation. Emmett Till, a fourteen-year-old boy who called a white woman "baby" was kidnapped that same day by the woman's husband and brother and was severely beaten and shot. The mother held an open casket because she wanted to show what they had done to her son who made the mistake of crossing the line.

Often, White men raped black women without provocation and these women had no recourse or protection of the law. The sexual exploitation of both black men and women began under slavery through forced breeding and the rape of black women.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is largely a review of scenes from the lives of perhaps 100 married couples who broke the racial taboos. The scenes range from the holocaust like 40s to the puzzling 90s. In 1940 30 of 48 states held 'Black'/'White' marriages to be a crime. In 1967, 17 states still criminalized marriage between 'Blacks' and 'Whites'. In 1958, 96 % 'Whites' disapproved of marriages between 'Blacks' and 'Whites'.
The 60s were a time of change, though. Between 1960 and 2000, the number of 'Black'/'White' marriages increased by 400%. Between 1860 and 1970, marriages between 'whites' and 'blacks' were a highly emotional political issue. Now, the political debate centers on how to rid ourselves of the taboo. In 1997, 61% of 'Whites' said they approved of mixed marriages. Given America's history of blood thirsty 'White' lynch mobs murdering random 'Black' males, one might conclude something very significant had happened.. The book wonders if the taboo will soon disappear.
The first descriptions of the monster are pulled from the 1930s and 40s. It is horrible. The text will bring many to tears. It is easy to imagine, but hard to believe. Quote by ugly quote, the US government, US judiciary and vast numbers of ordinary people are implicated in this American brand of torture. We start with the story of a war bride coming to America to join her husband. It's the perfect story of an American GI and English sweetheart, but the GI is 'Black' so every 'White' functionary (including taxi drivers) attempt to dissuade our fair Juliet from consummating her desires. The stories only get more and more tragic. One wonders how our heroic lovers persevered.
The next two chapters deal with the immediate post war era. One covers the 'white' attempt to make sure nothing changes.
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Format: Paperback
Race Mixing: Black-White Marriage In Postwar America by Renee C. Romano (Professor of History at Wesleyan University) is an extraordinary study documenting the historical progression of the integration of the black and white cultures in America through racial intermarriage. Presenting a thorough and informative understanding of the social revolutions since the 1950's and 1960's, Race Mixing follows the lives of illustrative mixed-race couples and their experiences while incorporating the political and social struggles which established modern acceptability of what was once a statutory crime in a number of American states. For its painstaking scholarship providing both academia and non-specialist general readers a concise understanding of the cultural revolution represented by interracial marriages, Race Mixing is very strongly recommended reading, especially for students of American culture and the civil rights ordinances.
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