babies and pregnancy · culture/multiculturalism · jews of color · Jews/Jewish/Judaism/Orthodox Judaism · race/racism

Loving in Black, White and Jewish

With “Love in Black and White,” Matthew Hunter has written a passionate love letter to interracial relationships in The Michigan Daily. He cites a Time Magazine statistic that says interracial marriages have spiked by almost 1000% since the ban of anti-miscegenation laws. I believe him. Though recent statistics show the rate of Asians and Latinos marrying out of the race is actually down. I am apparently bucking the trend.

Hunter has helpful, sound suggestions for interracial couples. The suggestions apply mostly to relationships between black and whites but they can be tweaked for relationships between people of all races. They include “no one should ignore race” and “white men should be careful not to treat a black partner as their ‘ethnic prize.'”

But how does the following statement apply to Jews? “Limitation to one race is not only sometimes impractical, but also often restrictive of one’s own ability to share and learn from deep relationships with others.” Well, Jews are not a race (despite what recent ugly comments on my “Funny You Don’t Look Jewish” piece at Chabad.org may suggest). Thanks to adoption, intermarriage, conversion and well, just living in the diaspora, the Jewish people are a multiracial people.

Still, I hear from many Jews of color who are fretful that their white counterparts won’t date, much less marry, them. I hear from Jews of color who have been treated like “ethnic prizes” and fear that their white counterparts think that relationships with Jews of color, like the saying goes about shiksas, are also for practice.

Racism within the Jewish people doesn’t just apply to outsiders but even to members of the tribe. Hopefully, as Hunter suggests mixing of the races within the Jewish people will also be “inevitable” because as he also mentions “there is much to be gained from dating outside one’s race.” And no, it’s not just because interracial people produce “hot” babies, something people keep telling me every time I mention having kids.

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8 thoughts on “Loving in Black, White and Jewish

  1. I recently got engaged (btw, I’m teetingmeg on twitter). I’m white and my fiance is Chinese. I mentioned to my mom that I was in an interracial relationship and my mom was surprised. She didn’t consider a WW/AM to be interracial. She only thought of black/white couples that way. It’s interesting to me.

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  2. Margaret, I have a similar experience. About 20 years ago I participated in a panel, sponsored by the Chicago chapter of the American Jewish Committee, on race relations. I mentioned that my neighbourhood, the Albany Park area of Chicago at the time, was “very diverse and integrated.” The response was one of surprise as that area had few African-Americans living there at the time. I then had to explain that the community had large Asian-American and Hispanic populations.

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  3. I just read your entry and then read the article you referenced is so timely for my relationship. I’m a Jew of Color (black) and my fiancee is Ashkenazi. To be honest, we have discussed race but not extensively enough. I don’t want to feel like I’m shoving it down his throat and he does not want to always seems like he’s asking “black questions.” This thinking is dangerous, I know. But lately I am starting to look at it from the perspective of our future children. What about them? I want him to know as much as possible on where I come from and vice versa so that we can impart such knowledge to our children. Furthermore, I impress upon him the importance of introducing them to diversity in their lives as I was (he wasn’t so fortunate). This will be imperative as they grow older to be around people from various backgrounds, not just Jews and blacks, so they may be able to form intelligent decisions about their life and the world around them.But you comment on how this article focuses on Black and White relationships. Historically there were the most taboo. And still to this day, blacks are seen as a more threatening minority than say, Hispanics or Asians. This is a fact based upon experience and history. Though I agree that interracial relationships can be the joining of any two races/ethnicities. Thank you for writing on this topic and sharing the article (as I would never have found it were it not for your blog). I emailed it to my fiance and hope to discuss with him 🙂

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  4. I’m always greatful to hear the stories of interracial couples and mixed families. As you might have guessed, my husband is Ashkenazi, too. He does have his moments where he has said okay enough about race, okay. We have both very serious conversations and silly conversations. And he’s really the best speaker when we collaborate to teach our class, Racism in the Jewish community. Sometimes it will feel like you’re shoving it down his throat and that’s okay as long as the lines of communication are always open for both parties to ask stupid SAFE questions.There are so many resources out there for our kids. So many books and support groups. It never hurts to plan ahead. Good! Why don’t you try talking about race issues that come up on a daily basis? Why not read a book on racism or interracial relationships together? Why not read some of these blogs together and discuss them!I don’t even have kids and I just bought the book “I am your peanut butter big brother”–about a biracial kid imagining his baby sister. I’m also trying to prepare for my mixed race/bi-ethnic babies. Black and White relationships historically were the most taboo. Very true. In fact now that Asians and Hispanics are marrying within their tribes, the focus will on black white relationships. Thank you for reading and for such a great post. Every time I write about race, someone jumps down my throat. I don’t get to hear the happy stories. Do write in and tell us how the conversation went.

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  5. Update:) So I sent the article over to my fiance and he was very receptive and read it. The main reason why I sent it over were for the tidbits on how interracial couples should approach this issue of race. We both agreed it was good advice. But the conversation went quite deep into black and white, what some of the perceptions were, etc. We do agree that what is most important are our future children, what we should teach them, etc. I brought up the fact that it was sad we waited this late in our relationship (we’re getting married at the end of August) to have this discussion. As I mentioned in the previous post, we both have tip toed around this conversation. But now that the ice has officially be broken – and not scraped – we are happy about this and look forward to more candid conversations in the future. The article overall had some questionable discussion points, though. However, I think that no one has really articulated very well the issue of interracial dating among blacks and whites. That’s another issue for a different blog and another time:) Thank you again for sharing this article.

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  6. I must apologize for the spelling and grammatical errors in both posts since they were both typed very quickly and not checked before posting.

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