A Bias More Than Skin Deep

Despite evidence that racial differences are gradually blurring, racial preferences are very much still with us.

Comments: 193

  1. There is no substitute for righting wrongs, Charles. There is no substitute for educating a populace that is ignorant about itself. There is no substitute for educating a populace that is less than half educated about its history, the implications of that history to this day, and the fact that their support of the perpetuation of historical wrongs makes them, us all, complicit in daily acts of horror. There is no substitute for the understanding that since the original sin of slavery and the sanction of that oppression, our society has sanctioned many other kinds of oppression not only on the Black bodies it continues to oppress, but on a not insignificant portion of the group it loosely regards as its own. One kind of discrimination opens the door to another, which opens the door to more...

    The society we live in today has a sickness called racism that is fueled by ignorance under the tight control of those who control our education. What other country flies the flags of deposed rulers? What other country allows provinces to name their main highway after a traitor? In what other country is the view of the vanquished called a "culture?" The North hasn’t really won and unless the face of Congress changes radically, it is about to lose.

    “To accept one's past - one's history - is not the same thing as drowning in it. An invented past can never be used; it cracks and crumbles under the pressures of life like clay in a season of drought.”
    ― James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

  2. Jim Webb, a Democrat running for president had this to say about Donald Trump on a Fox Sunday show:

    ”This kind of divisive, inflammatory rhetoric by people who want to be commander-in-chief is not helpful, and we have seen from the liberal side as well this kind of rhetoric as it goes to Southern white cultures,”

    Racism and ignorance indeed exist on both sides

    When James Baldwin debated William F. Buckley at Cambridge University, he recounted America's history in 20 minutes. I transcribed his speech and include the video here:

    My experience with colorism


  3. From 1864 (Will Sampson III) to 1976 (John Clay) South Carolina has only had 3 Republican governors since Reconstruction, 2 being Mark Sanford and Nikki Haley
    From 1959-1961 Fritz Hollings, a Democrat, flew the Confederate flag over the state capital

    From 1874 (George Houston) to 1987 (George Wallace) Alabama has had Democratic governors. They also had one from 1993-1995 (James Folsom who served 3 different times) and Don Siegelman (1999-2003)

    From 1876 (John Stone) to 1992 (Ray Mabus) Mississippi had Democratic governors as well as 2000-2004 (David Musgrave)

    From 1872 (James Milton Smith) to 2003 (Roy Barnes) Georgia had Democratic governors

    From 1877 (Francis Nicholls) to 1992 (Buddy Roemer) Louisiana has had Democratic governors as well as 2004-2008 (Kathleen Blanco)

    From 1879 (Thomas Jarvis) to 1973 North Carolina had Democratic governors as well as 1977-1985, 1993-2001 James Hunt as well as 2001-2009 (Michael Easley) and 2009-2013 (Bev Perdue)

    My point is this. I believe that think much of the racism that exists comes from the GOP. But I believe that's a hard argument that the Democarats dominated for over a century in all but 1 state. I also believe that Southern Democrats do not embrace that mindset and do a great deal to promote equality. Things change, people change and it's unfortunate that too many people hide behind stereotypes or allowed other people to pollute their minds.
    Have a nice day Rima. I can play fair

  4. Toni Morrison described this in her first novel, The Bluest Eye, and again in her latest novel, God Help the Children. She says the truly black, dark child is defined as ugly, while the "high yellow dream child" is the desired one. The irony is that so many of the lighter children descended from slave masters. Morrison blames the black community as well as the white for this value. Yes, the confederate flag has been lowered in SC. But, in other ways, I am not sure that we have come that far.....

  5. What Blow's column doesn't fully acknowledge is the most significant element of bi-racial relationships and families - economics.

    I would assert that a preponderance of those in bi-racial relationships are those who have careers, and often the income, that allows them to socialize and live among people who are accepting of such diversity. This is not so much a racial issue, but the continued rise of the meritorious elite that go to the best schools, have the best jobs, live in the best neighborhoods and are the ones now running our country and the world. These elite, not necessarily the same as the 1%, are the new upper caste who are inclusive of their own, regardless of race, but exclusive of those who don't adhere to their world view.

    The ones being left behind by this elite are those who were formerly referred to as the great unwashed - blacks (and others) from the ghetto, rural whites, impoverished farmers in India, most of the Chinese (rural and urban) and so on across the globe.

    So, Charles, throw off your racial blinders and see that you are part of this very elite that does little to nothing to lift up the mass of humanity while wallowing in indolence as never seen before in any civilization.

  6. That's not my experience. I live in a very integrated area of suburban Atlanta. This is a working class to middle class area - there are no gated communities here. There is a lot of interracial dating and marriage in this area. The two couples that I know best - one or the other being friends of my children - are both white men who work at manual labor jobs married to black women. Both have kids and have been married at least 15 years. One of those men is from rural Georgia and would happily describe himself as a redneck. I asked him once how his parents reacted when he got married and he laughed and said, "heck, if they wanted me to marry a white girl, they should never have moved here."

    There are also lots of couples that are black men and white women; I couldn't give you an estimate of which way is more common - there's no clearly observable statistical difference.

    Bottom line is that it happens where it happens and it's mostly going to happen in large thoroughly integrated areas like this, because people just get used to it and there's relatively less discomfort for those involved. And I believe most of those areas, as many as exist, probably tend to be among the middle to working classes. Yes, they may happen among the more affluent and educated - perhaps in a work or college environment - but I seriously doubt that those account for the bulk of such marriages.

    More on this in another post.

  7. Somehow tanning salons figure into your discussion, as well as the struggles in Ireland and the Shia/Sunni civil war. I agree with your conclusion, which I read to say....Love yourself, a much better place to begin than hating others.

  8. "It’s a global sickness informed by history and culture and influenced by colonialism and the export of popular culture." explains Mr. Blow for the global preference for light skin over dark. Let's be fair and call that incendiary statement pure conjecture with a smidgen of anecdodal proof. Or it can be identified as something not printable in this paper.

    The implication by Mr. Blow is that, once again, the white man is to blame for all the globe's racial issues and preferences. This even accounts, according to Mr. Blow, for black men showing an online preference for white women. And it accounts for Chinese women donning ski masks at the beach - but you ask - what about the rest of the body not encassed in a bikini. Don't ask.

    Mr. Blow is unintentionally hilarious. His conjecture in the hands of a skilled comedian - say Chris Rock - would have us rolling in the ailse. If Mr. Rock has a need for new material he would do well to simply pick from this article.

  9. Mr. Paine- Did you read the article? hilarious? Huh?

  10. @Tom Paine... you seem to protest much too much. Hilarious, over the top

  11. You're at the beach enjoying the sounds of crashing surf when, a bikini clad woman strolls by. Nice - you think (I'm male) - but- OMG! - she's wearing a ski mask too! is she ISIS about to yank an AK-47 from her swimsuit and ruin your day, or simply a Chinese lady protecting her face. Now, thanks to Mr. Blow one can never be sure.

  12. "And the BBC reported in 2013 that 'a recent study by the University of Cape Town suggests that one woman in three in South Africa bleaches her skin'."

    Indeed, racism is innate in human beings, and human beings of all colors are afraid of the dark. Which means that racism needs to be limited by continual vigilance. But it also means it is an ongoing reality, not something that can be completely stamped out. We should not accept "zero-tolerance" policies toward racist people because that boils down, in reality, for zero tolerance for people in general, or at least, for those who aren't running the machinery of government. There will always be some racism. It can be limited, but the price of trying to completely eliminate it will be just as awful as the price of trying to eliminate class differences, as Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot discovered. People like Charles Blow will have to accept that most of what government does can't revolve around eliminating the last bit of unfairness to dark-skinned black people like himself. And US immigration policy should comprehend the greater difficulty of assimilating African people, given the racism that exists against them globally and the intense anger felt by many African-Americans like Charles Blow against that racism, and their mistaken belief that that racism is something specific to America.

  13. "People like Charles Blow will have to accept that most of what government does can't revolve around eliminating the last bit of unfairness to dark-skinned black people like himself."

    People like you need to learn, and accept, that you are operating on incomplete knowledge mixed with half-truths and lies, disguised as "education."

    Racism is socialized into us and not innate or inherent. Racism as it is practiced in the United States has been refined and perpetuated in order to maintain a social order that has nothing to do with a nonexistent distrust or fear of Blackness.

    Paul Berman:
    "In any case, the people who ought to have regarded themselves as the sons and daughters of the Union somehow allowed their attention to wander. Quietly and unconsciously they renounced the customs of the Grand Army of the Republic and its commemorations; renounced the original meaning of Memorial Day and its drums and bugles and the attention to the Union monuments; renounced the idea of trying to impose on the heirs of the Confederacy a better set of ideals and symbols; renounced the cult of Union memory that used to thrill to the names of Lincoln and his generals; renounced the patriotic displays that were anti-Confederate displays—and these several, silent, soft renunciations have turned out to be, for the United States, a grave and consequential error."


  14. Grateful for laws that criminalize discrimination of any type. Grateful for the wide-variety of literature in my children's education, which sensitize them to lives of others with different experiences. But you will never, ever be able to crawl inside people's heads and tell them what to think. And I'm grateful for that.

  15. Social positions change slowly, as do social preferences. It has taken centuries to dispel the influence of official American racial myths, such as Ulysses Lee records in "The Employment of Negro Troops," almost 80 years ago. Ironically, African American segregation and marital preferences broke down the emergence of "brown bag" parties that set the color bar for invitations, first in the military. A series of unified all colors of African American civil rights challenges to segregation laws followed during the "Black is Beautiful" and "Black Power" movements. Past trends in dating and mate selection, at least since Boxing Champion Jack Johnson and his white wife riled white supremcists a centtury ago, reflect many social and economic factors. Wealth, as we see from the ubiquitous dating and marital foreign mates of black or dark skinned Arab sheiks, Asian and African millionaires, is one of them.

  16. We have seen the ramping up of this type of discrimination since the 70's, with conservatives using their southern strategy in their attempt to win elections by making some whites hate African Americans. This "white is right' ideology goes back centuries and anytime some improvement happens such as the civil rights movement in the 60's there is push back or backlash against it. Will this change, unlike John Roberts who is oblivious to what is happening in America today, and is perpetuating discrimination, I don't think so.

  17. With all due respect no one can make whites hate African Americans. You cannot prove that and if you can I would like to see the documentation
    And you might also look to see that during the Civil Rights struggle
    1) Alabama
    2) North Carolina
    3) Georgia
    4) Louisiana
    5) Mississippi
    6) South Carolina
    had Democratic governors for well over 100 years. How do you explain that?
    Next, I think it's interesting that you would bring up "white is right" Can you factually prove your point, that is existed for centuries?
    Finally, I lived my first 23 years 30 miles from Chicago. I know the city well. Why is it that the Democratic mayor has done nothing to stem the gang warfare on the South Side? Democrats have owned Chicago politics so why are they constantly reactive and not proactive. Why haven't they tried community policing? Isn't it a fact that the reason they do not have the resources is that the city is $430 million in debt and has unsustainable pension liabilities to it's employees, especially the teachers? Before you engage in hyperbole over and over you might want to look in your back yard and explain to me why a city that has some of the highest paid teachers in the country have one of the highest drop out rates. That's not white is right, that is lives are being damaged by greedy liberal politicians who are more concerned with taking care of their own. If there wasn't a $430 million deficit there might be money for after school kids? Intramural sports? Well?

  18. Democrats in the South, with the exception of Governor Terry Sanford, were racists. When Civil Rights legislation passed during Democrat Lyndon Johnson's presidency, the Democrats became Republicans in very short order. If you didn't grow up in the South during that period as I did, you probably don't really understand the dynamic of the Democrats who became Dixiecrats and then became Republicans, such as Strom Thurmond, Jessee Helms and others who used outright racism to win votes. It worked. In the present-day South, those who remained in the Democratic party are the ones who are fighting racism. The now Solid Republican South are the same old racists they used to be when they were Democrsts. My parents were Democrats even after the Civil Rights Act and they remained so even as thise around them slowly changed over to Republicans.

  19. The “socio-evolutionary sidestepping” of anti-black racism is an outcome of our gradual “browning”; not an “overcoming” of it. This is because we see anti-SOMETHING bias universally in human societies through time, and the one we chose to adopt as the big one in America was anti-black racism because of our extended experience with slavery. Just look at the challenges facing Europeans today as once-racially and -ethnically homogeneous populations are browning, as well; or at other times the hideous impositions visited on Jews – or Bosnia, Myanmar, Central African Republic, the pro-Han policies of China; it just goes on and on.

    The real question is that once we become sufficiently brown to expunge anti-black racism, what will be choose to hate instead? Humans seem to have an abiding need to hate SOMEONE.

    But why is it surprising that women of any hue would prefer white-something in online dating? Until we DO brown more or less universally, it remains a class thing, not so much a complexion thing directly, and women famously use these forums as access to hoped-for more permanent relationships. Men, of course, use them mostly for another purpose entirely, and WOULD be less concerned about class than about physical appearance REGARDLESS of complexion.

    I’ve always thought that the tactical solution to race-bias is intermarriage and “browning”. The strategic solution, though, goes beyond skin-color to addressing this apparently deep-seated need to hate SOMETHING.

  20. "The strategic solution, though, goes beyond skin-color to addressing this apparently deep-seated need to hate SOMETHING."

    I have a feeling you are on to something here on a psychological level. There seems to be an innate human compunction to be better somehow than someone. Perhaps it goes back to the same evolutionary reproductive imperatives that cause wild animals to butt heads prior to mating. Perhaps it also gave rise to other things such as the competitive nature of many aspects of our society or even organized sports. Kristofferson said it in one of his songs from the 70's: "Everybody's gotta have somebody to look down on..."
    Not winning is the same as losing, right?

  21. I think Mr. Blow's concern is that despite the "browning of America," there is a persistent antipathy for very dark people.

  22. Well, Richard, there's always women, and always will be, as long as the planet is alive.

  23. And what happens when researchers manage to manipulate the genetics for skin color in humans in the not too distant future?

  24. Historically, the lighter skinned races in Europe were technologically more advanced than the darker skinned races in southern continents, with vastly different climates and conditions.

    Thus they could, in the age of imperialism, once their sailing ships were invented, use their guns to dominate the dark skinned races. They exploited them economically, since might made right and individual human rights much less any form of democracy hadn’t been invented yet.

    In fact European whites once enslaved other whites after winning wars, as did the blacks in Africa. That was once a norm.

    The more powerful race or group or ethnicity viewed their dominance as their god given right over inferiors. US politics in 2015 has advanced far beyond this, but is still acting out this history, even with our constitution and civil rights laws in place.

    The Gop since Reagan has been using this history to win elections with working class whites, who don't realize the Gop is exploiting them.

  25. Lest we forget, it was these same Northern Barbarians who sacked Rome.

  26. One can wonder if climate and cool weather has something to do with technology advancement. Its worth pondering about. Its not that warm weather folks are not technologically advanced, human beings have always been creative, adventurous, curious, from time immemorial, but as human beings migrated and settled in cooler areas, they refined their technologies. It took the Arabs to spread mathematics/algebra achieved in Indian subcontinent onto the western world, Europe. Without those basic numbers zero to nine, we would still be writing Roman numbers IX, X, XI and so on....
    It is well known that 2600 years ago, Indian sages, seers were able to discover marvels of astronomy, even accurately calculating distance to sun, planets, galaxy etc... without the sophisticated technological instruments. It is also well known that these Indian sages had discovered ways to go deep in the minds, in the conscious and discover a universe that was glorious and sublime. To this day technology cannot penetrate the depths human mind and consciousness has been able to. Western science is way behind and is still playing catch up to what was well known to our ancestors, colored people, thousands of years ago.

  27. " in the age of imperialism, once their sailing ships were invented, use their guns to dominate the dark skinned races."

    The title of a book that I once read was "Guns + Sails + Empire".

  28. I grew up in the 50's in a northern city that had a large segregated Black population. The Blacks then were very black. Old Blacks, 80, 90 years old, even today, are still very dark, but younger Blacks now are much lighter. I believe that America is moving from black to brown. It's sometimes hard to distinguish them from some Hispanics like those from the Dominican Republic or Cuba. But then many inhabitants from these Caribbean islands are offspring from the slave trade, are they not?

  29. “Last year, Indians reportedly consumed 233 tons of skin-whitening products, spending more money on them than on Coca-Cola.”

    I'd be interested to know how much was spent in the USA on skin-tanning products...both skin-whitening and skin-darkening are probably less harmful than Coca-Cola...

  30. "Until the colour of a man's skin Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes ..." Bob Marley

    Yes, we need to discuss race to understand past and present. But I really hope I see the day when humans can abandon racial identity altogether. That would be a great day.

    White, black, or something else, we're all the same species. We're all children of the same higher power and equal in her eyes.

  31. Perfect! As my evolutionary biology professor used to say, " Humans are DNA's way of making more DNA".

  32. Lighter is not always preferred. Albinos are not preferred over the tanned. In fact there are tanning salons and cremes whose goal to darken one's skin. Many women seem to prefer men who are "tall, dark, and handsome".

    Moreover, beautify styles, which might have their origins in racist aesthetics, over time, can just become styles. For example, a lot of black women straighten their hair, and some even die it blonde. They don't do this to look white, they do this because it is fashionable.

    Along with racial preferences in beauty, I find it sad that many people are labeled as ugly, e.g., the bald, the fat, those with skin conditions, men who are hairy, older people, and so on.

    When you see a person as an individual, as a miracle of creation, they are beautiful.

  33. Racism is taught, not innate. As a child, I don't even remember noticing "white" and "black" until when I was six, one of my parents casually mentioned that they hoped I never grew up to marry a black woman.

    According to Howard Zinn's "The People's History of the United States", in the 1600s and 1700s, African slaves and white indentured servants were rebelling together against their owners. To break up this solidarity, the owners began giving white indentured servants a better deal like a free allotment of property after they completed their indenturement. Other contrivances were used to convince the white indentured servants they were superior to their African slave peers. Consequently, the whites identified less with their black peers and the labor solidarity eroded.

    As for women yearning for fair skin--this is a product of fair skinned cultures in which working poor women of course turned tan in the sun, whereas women of privilege could control their own exposure to the sun. This is the same beast as soft, uncalloused hands being a sign that one is not a manual laborer.

    I believe this desire for fair skin among naturally fair skinned people was conflated with anti-African prejudice with the spread of European colonialism across the planet and the colonialists' ownership of black slaves. Roman times, for example, documents no record of prejudice against darker skinned people.

  34. She is actually a black woman not a black girl.

  35. Serena Williams is 33 years old. She is a woman, not a girl!

  36. Thanks Jon and smd, my bad, being much older (AARP), with our kids closer to Serena's age, sorry for referring to her her a girl, instead of a woman.

  37. MELANIN Its presence or absence determine the color of everyone's skin. Since the earliest human remains have been found in Africa, genetically we are all Africans, with varying amounts of melanin in our skin. Pale skin is a genetic adaptation to northern climates where the winters are long and dark and the body needs Vitamin D along with calcium to build bones. While the risk of osteoporosis relative to skin tone is unclear, the likelihood of dying of melanoma, a type of skin cancer, is lower among persons with darker skin. As to the cosmetics industry making money over skin bleaching agents, vanity is their raison d'etre. Though, in their favor, they have been in the forefront of marketing sun screens that are somewhat effective, if not inexpensive. All of these considerations shunt aside judging persons on the content of their characters, not on the color of their skins. People are entitled to their preferences in their selection of partners, a right that has recently been expanded by the recent ruling finding same-sex marriage to be legal nationwide. Ethnic and racial intermarriage has been legal for many years. In fact, its legal precedent has had something to do with the current favorable ruling for same-sex marriage. Di gustibus non disputandum est. There is no arguing about tastes. Racial or otherwise.

  38. An old friend remarked that marriage is hard enough without starting with an extra handicap. He was referring to intermarriage--of Irish-Americans with Polish-Americans. Add a religious dimension, as has often been the case in Northern Ireland, and newlyweds might as well emigrate.

    Color is just another such factor added to cultural and religious differences. Selection for lighter skin and against darker skin (not "flesh" CB) may be a form of racism, but it may also be pragmatic. If it is not personal racism in spouse-seekers, it certainly reflects the rampant racism in society. When a couple falls in love, all bets are off, but before falling in love, why risk entanglement with a black/Protestant/Irishman/Italian/or someone of the same sex? Marriage is hard.

  39. I don't think the bias or preference is just about skin color but also about facial features -- biracial children with African features and biracial children with Caucasian features may share the same skin color but are responded to differently, in my experience of observing. And let's not forget "Blonds have more fun" among Caucasians -- I've known families with kids with different hair colors who treated the blond ones preferentially. So in trying to root out what drives bias or prejudice against dark skin color, which I agree is a significant problem, I would put it into its larger context to do so.

  40. Part of what I'm trying to say is that if we don't pay attention to why we establish social pecking orders in the first place, we will probably merely replace one social pecking order with another if we just go after particular judgments that are part of the prevailing one.

  41. I'm going to disagree with Charles just a bit. I remember having a conversation with the mother of my then girlfriend in Chicago in the late 60's about 'high yellow' and other color descriptive terms and about 'passing' (she could). But...

    I really don't think it matters much. The fact is that almost every American, from the most racist to the most tolerant, is going to look at a person and reach an immediate conclusion - black or not black (okay, lots of other ethnic and racial identities too but that's not the issue here). And I really don't see that anyone's prejudices, be they extreme or sub-conscious, are going to vary according to 'how black' that person is. We put people in groups and once they've been assigned to that group, the whole package goes with it.

    As I mentioned below I live in an area with a lot of interracial dating and marriage. With few exceptions the children of those marriages are going to be identified as black, either because of their skin color or features. I do think that interracial marriage is a good thing, but not with any goal of washing out color in our population. One of my nieces married a black man. Her mother, who was once a Fox News brand of conservative has completely changed. As she put it - when your grandchildren are black, your attitudes change. That to me is what helps; when we have closer connections with each other, the old prejudices have to be re-adjusted. In the end that's what may fix us, not blending, but being connected.

  42. My father summed up the problem of race in one phrase "We are all pure bred mongrels". Britain is the result of the merger of Celts, Angles, Saxons, Vikings, Picts, Scots and Normans as well as the Roman invaders who included the recruits from their Middle East and North African conquests. It should be noted that the America that the USA is so proud of was started some of these mongrel Brits.

  43. Are we coming to a time in this country when all the writing about racial issues that is currently taking place in columns like this one concerning flags, shootings, murders, skin color, etc. is going to make our situation even worse than it already is. I, for one, could stand a break.

  44. How nice for you. Black people can't take a break. Being thought inferior because of skin color and other physical characteristics is one of many issues black people face all their lives. Sorry it bores you.

  45. Flesh is impermanent, but the bundle of contradictions that make up humanity will always be with us.

  46. Racism is. and until we all turn various tinctures of brown - say raw or burnt umber, cafe-au- lait, high yellow - will be a fact of life in our society. Women, no matter their colour - from alabaster to ebony - are lowest on the totem pole of equality of any kind. Hatred of "other" has always marked racial inequality in the United States of America. Indian women bleaching their nether "lady parts" is a grotesque manifestation of bias against colour. Michael Jackson, bless his sweet ghost, changed his face from a black boy's to a white woman's whether due to vitiligo all over his body, or some other chemically-applied transformation. Dark feminity is exquisite - one has only to look at Michelle Robinson Obama, our First Lady to see that truth.

  47. Yes, the Indians and Chinese are preoccupied with looking lighter, but because of class rather than racial prejudice. Darker shin is an indicator of working in the fields to make a living, which is generally not a high status activity. Owning the fields is one thing, actually farming them, another -- particularly when the crop is rice.

    Thorstein Veblen pointed out during the first decades of the 20th Century that once a healthy tan was more likely to indicate the wearer had recently returned from a beach vacation rather than from behind the plow, the pursuit of lightness fell off in the U.S. in favor of getting a tan.

    The Chinese and Indians may or may not be racially prejudiced, but their use of skin whiteners isn't an illustration of it.

  48. Indians also equate being overweight with higher class status, at least the previous generations did. Japanese and Chinese women sometimes have plastic surgery to have more defined eyelids and less slant to their eyes. Many people of all races opt for plastic surgery because they are not satisfied with their own physical features. A lot of this type of thing is related to our ideas of the ideal body type, facial features, and skin color. At 74, I see that there are many types of beauty, from blond and fair skinned, to Asian, to very dark beauties. I believe that tests like this give only the bare bones of preferences. The total package that includes force of personality and other personal traits are what makes a person attractive. Our definitions of beauty have changed over the years and will continue to change. That doesn't mean racism is no longer with us but it does give us hope for the future. I am a white woman and the one thing that really galls me is that people often regard anyone with any drop of African American blood as black. That's ridiculous and a vestige of the past.

  49. I am afraid that the truth is that power is "beautiful." The ideal appearance that seems to be dominant worldwide is that of an upper class Brit or Anglo-Saxon American, those who for most of the 19th and 20th centuries were at the pinnacle of power. The popularity of hair bleaches and skin lighters (but not too much skin lightening because upper class women have the leisure and means to bask at the beach rather than have pale skin associated with a life spent indoors at work) as well as surgery to "fix" Asian eyes and Jewish noses all are efforts to resemble those perceived to be at the top of the power pyramid.

  50. How much longer will we cling to anachronistic models of the color formula before taking some responsibility for fast forwarding some 300 years and rewriting the script to suit the post-slavery, modern day societal meaning of color? Are all the historic explanations supposed to supercede the fact that black women in the US haven't worked in and ploughed fields for centuries so Serena's rich shade of brown has more to do with her dedication to her profession as an outdoor court tennis player than with her slaving away all day toiling under the burning sun? Where's this old-hat, supposed rationale coming from? Serena Williams is one of the most successful and wealthy female athletes of our time, and her skin tone has nothing to do with it, anymore than Martina Navratilova's or Chris Evert's did.

  51. And don't even get me started with hair texture!

  52. As you well know Charles the Chinese, Indian and Japanese women's desire to be lighter skinned is a regional ethnic Beauty trait that pre-dates colonialism by thousands of years. It displays a women who did not have to work in the fields and was schooled in the arts of home, children and husband. The Japanese Geishas is the extreme example of this. Not exactly a proud cultural legacy but certainly not racial bias against brown people.

  53. Absolutely right, but doesn't fit in with the "everything everywhere is racism" story line. You're lucky your post wasn't censored!

  54. Thanks for passing that on, I'd speculated on that possibility in my own post but hadn't known for sure.

    That was also the norm in our own culture until about 100 years ago -- pallor indicated that a woman didn't have to work in the fields and so was considered a mark of beauty. That changed when agricultural work became uncommon -- the tan from sunbathing became a new indicator of social status, since it indicated that one could afford to vacation at the beach.

    It's a pretty sad development, actually, since tanning cause cancer and premature aging of the face!

  55. Agreed. As biologist I view our human gender differences of height and build as traits that were clearly adaptive 10,000 years ago and therefore were reinforced by sexual selection as the first ancestors of Europeans moved out of Africa. Darker skin kept you from skin damage if you were the sex that was outdoors hunting. Lighter skin helped you be able to make enough vitamin D if you were female and in sheltered spots a lot, out of the weather and tending kids and a fire. As humans moved north, away from the equator and into regions with shorter and shorter days in increasingly longer winters, the survival value of light skin tone became important for both sexes if for no other reason than vitamin D production alone.

  56. I'm caucasian. My son is engaged to a Korean girl he met in medical school. My Daughter married a Persian.

    I would think that high-minded,highly educated people seek likewise, regardless of race, creed, color. But the great mass of humans in the middle are easily manipulated.

    Divide an conquer rules the day. The world's ugliest leaders throughout history have done such to gain and keep power. They exploit differences of any kind. Race is an easy one. But so is religion, tribe etc. etc.

  57. In the global arena much of this pro-white and anti-back bias is instilled via children's cartoons in which darker colored characters are usually the "bad" ones whereas the lighter colored characters are the "good" ones.

  58. Well, Charles, I'm usually with you, but not today. i'm 62, and when I was growing up white people would very occasionally and in a self-consciously liberal way say that Lena Horne or Harry Belafonte were "attractive". It was mostly because they "weren't that black". The idea of actually being sexually attracted to an African-American was absurd. But slowly, as blacks appeared in movies and on TV, it became possible for me to see black as beautiful, and completely natural for younger generations to do so. At the risk of sounding like a dirty old man, I will say that now there are very black young women where I work who dazzle me. If black identity diminishes or disappears, it will be because we are becoming more familiar and attractive to each other. That's not a bad thing.

  59. My dad used to say with a grin, "Familiarity breeds!"

  60. " At the risk of sounding like a dirty old man ... "
    At 82, I'm twenty years your senior. Trust me, the pleasure to the male visual cortex on seeing an attractive young woman never really goes away with age. Just remember, you can enjoy, but you cannot act out.

  61. Wasn't absurd to Thomas Jefferson.

  62. America will address racism when America is ready to address racism.

    When The Obama stops making national speeches just for White on Black racism.
    When the DOJ stop having "special" investigations just when it is White on Black racism.
    When Wrangle begins to address...
    When Jesse begins to address...
    When Sharpton begins to address...
    When Liberal MainStream Media begins to address... (and this one is huge!)

    When Black on White racism is also addressed openly and publicly as White on Black racism... then and only then will America be ready to address racism...

    Then and only then will things change...

  63. How interesting. The implication here is that racism still exists because of African Americans who are vociferous in their complaints of racism in this country. I am a white New Yorker who remembers the Civil Rights movement of the 60s. While I am no fan of Sharpton or Jackson, the history of institutional racism in this country cannot be denied. By the way I believe the reference to Wrangle is Rep Rangel. Of course black racism exists. Why would it not? I am sure many African Americans resent what they see as a concerted effort to keep them from achieving equality and the American Dream. That will not disappear, until things change. We cannot legislate morality, but we can make laws that will not allow racism to be practiced. I thought that my generation of Baby Boomers would change things. I was wrong. Perhaps the millennials will be the instruments of change It is only then will bridges be built on both sides.

  64. racism
    [rey-siz-uh m]
    1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.
    2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.

    1. an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.
    2. any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable.
    3. unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding an ethnic, racial, social, or religious group.

    When have Blacks dominated Whites? When have Blacks had the power to set a policy of discrimination in America? Yes, I believe that some Black people are prejudice against White people, and we need to publicly have that conversation. However, there is a difference between racism and prejudice; and I want to have the racism discussion, because that is the problem American has yet to face.

  65. In logical terms, there is no such thing as Black on White racism because White people were the initiates of this now global phenomenon. Any mistrust and perceived exclusion of White people by Black people after that fact is just a reaction to the heinous actions of White people. Your anger more signifies to me that you know that you should change your attitude but hesitate because it will be emotionally challenging, hard even. And you are correct. It will be hard, but you can do it. Just keep reading more into the current evidence of racism in the United States. “Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?” by Beverly Daniel Tatum is a good one to start with, explaining the mechanics of the psychology of race. Good luck to you.

  66. Interesting. Interracial marriages are very common here. And most common involve a partner from Bougainville Island, where people are jet black.

  67. Women prefer taller men over shorter men, regardless of their skin color. Height is also an genetically inherited trait. Is this also a "sickness"?

    As noted the male preference for fairer-skinned females is worldwide. This is because females are literally the fairer sex. An aspect of human sexual dimorphism is that women from any given population of human beings have lighter skin on average than the men do. Human beings are naturally attracted to certain physical traits in the opposite sex that accentuate the individual's gender identification. This is also part of the reason why we have the expression, "tall, dark, and handsome," referring to what women are seeking in a man.

  68. Taller men generally earn more and are more likely to get promoted than shorter men. Taller men are seen as stronger, more attractive and intelligent than shorter men. In the same vein, criminal defendants who are attractive are thought of more favorably than defendants who are less so. We walk around with many unconscious biases, some biological and some cultural. The key is to be aware of them so they don't control us.

  69. Right, as anthropologist Peter Frost has demonstrated, the female sex averages about 10% fairer in skin color than the male sex:


    Not surprisingly, women around the world tend to try to exaggerate their fairness to look more feminine.

  70. I don't know about this. As I read it I thought of a visit my daughter and I took to Georgetown U when she was searching for colleges. While walking through the campus we came upon a black family - two parents and a daughter - who asked us for directions to a building (we were all lost). All three were exceptionally dark-skinned, very well dressed, and spoke with an accent sounding French. We knew instantly that this was an educated, well-to-do family from the Islands or Africa. Or this is what we formed in our American-trained minds. Whatever - we felt intimidated, and I was reminded, yet again, of my white, culturally blue-collar roots and my relative lack of class and sophistication, compared to that black family. So, is it skin color, or are there lots of other factors at play?

  71. MWR, you felt intimidated because this black family did not fit your stereotypes
    of what a black family should be. Educated, cultured, and middle, on top of
    being exceptionally dark-skinned as you put it. As, lighter-skinned black women, I have been told by whites often that I was not that "Black", and therefor less threating to them. Just what is it that makes white people afraid of "Black" skin. Being Black is not about the hue of our skin, it is about a shared history of mistreatment, segregation, and oppression by white
    people. That is the common thread that binds black people together no matter the hue of our skin. White people need to admit that they fear black skin for reason only they have created, and stop condemning black people
    because they somehow feel that they jut might be the ones that are inferior
    because they do not have beautiful black skin.

  72. You might be among the rare and more enlightened. Most people tap into their instinctive racial stereotype at first contact with someone of a dark skin tone and assumptions based on lack of exposure.

  73. Jews in Europe were also savagely oppressed. Yet in the courts there might actually
    be a Jew - and he was the Court Jew. I was amazed to learn on PBS that there were
    actually some Jews accepted by Hitler and were part of the Third Reich. One such
    was very high ranking, very praised by Hitler, won medals and helped him in every
    conceivable way possible.

    Whites in this country at the time of slavery were not universal in beliefs either.
    That's why the "Underground Railway" existed. Some whites ran very serious
    risks to not only save the lives of slaves, but to liberate them. I have a strong
    feeling that their stories have not yet been told.

    People are amazing.

  74. We are all Africans according to the anthropologists. Our descendants all wandered out of Africa millennia ago. We are all brothers from the same clan. Some of are so called white skinned Africans, some "yellow", etc.

    Actually, we are all African-Americans! Amazing!

  75. In my parents' day, an inter-ethnic marriage was frowned upon. An Italian marrying someone not Italian was horrifying. Interracial marriage wasn't even a consideration. When they were in their 70's I married a black woman. Not Hally Berry black but Serena Williams black. They went out of their minds, but I'm sure if my new wife had been lighter skinned, like a Latina or an Asian, they wouldn't have been as distraught. Fortunately they got over it, but anyone who says darkness of skin doesn't matter is delusional.

  76. It never mattered in my family. I dated whoever I wanted and my parents were always welcoming. Don't eXtrapolate your families hatred to other families.

  77. Well statistically it does not. Academic achievement and employment among African immigrants is greater than among whites. But African Americans - different story.

    It is not your color, but your internal values and culture that makes the difference. If your family members are racist, that's them. That's is not the results of black skinned people as a whole.

  78. "baldinoc," you make a very good point. When I was young, I was called blue. For me, Black didn't become beautify until the 70s. I am now in my late 60s.

  79. We tend to take our ideal of beauty from the dominant group, because instinctive mating preferences are about selecting the most successful parent for one's child. That is the essence of most of these behaviors.

    In the matter of skin color, there is likely more than one phenomenon at work. One is prejudice against people who are not members of the dominant group, e.g., of African (but also Asian and Hispanic) descent, and the other is prejudice against those who work outdoors in the sun -- laborers -- again, not members of the dominant group.

    Until about 100 years ago, the European and American ideal of beauty, particularly feminine beauty, was pallor, because wealthy people didn't get much sun while working people were often out in it. That changed as agricultural labor decreased from a majority to a minority of the population and the suntan became popular as an indication that one had the financial wherewithal to vacation at the beach.

    I suspect similar dynamics are still at work in countries like India and China, e.g,, darker skin suggests the status of laborer. And of course light skin has been popularized as an ideal in these countries by the success and dominance of European culture and, in India, years of colonial rule.

    Well, we're going to continue practicing mating eugenics, because it's in our genes as it is in that of every animal species. But we'll see more and more racial mixing. In the end, the issue will disappear.

  80. The issue will not disappear any time soon, sadly. One doesn't see much mixing, if any, among the one percent not involved in the entertainment world. Where one sees the most mixing is in the lower socioeconomic levels. The higher up one goes, the less mixing one sees. Add that to the lack of diversity in the workplace and social circles at the higher levels, and we can see how divorced from the rest of the world those in power are and will continue to be.

  81. "...influenced by colonialism and the export of popular culture".

    Charles dear boy, the desire for light skin in many areas of the African Continent predates colonialism by millennia and obviously popular culture in the sense you are using the word. A little basic reading in anthropology will quickly disabuse you of the notion that all things racist began when the naught white man colonized large chunks of the world.

  82. To expand on this letter - people who worked in the field would get darker than people who were indoors most of the time (rulers, their flunkies, and such-like), so a lighter skin was associated with higher status. Same with weight - someone with a belly was obviously wealthy enough to afford plenty of food regularly, while the skinny people were probably starving peasants.

    This very old paradigm has been turned on its head in parts of the West in the last century when the Industrial Revolution really got rolling and myriads of lower class laborers began to work indoors in factories and offices. Now, it was the lower status people who were pale and only the wealthy had the time to sun-bathe and become tanned. When the lower classes could afford enough food to be chubby, it became declasse and the well-off decided to pursue the skinny look.

  83. Whew! The condescension! Do reconsider your tone, "dear boy"!

  84. "Dear boy"? You are underscoring Mr Blow's point, and revealing yourself in the process.

  85. How sick is all this bias on "bas noir"?

    Instead, why not try loving those of all flesh. It's a far better anitidote to madness like this.

  86. Its not relevant entirely to compare our hemisphere with India and Japan. Easy - yes, however culturally these are very different places. India has castes. Japan is a very closed society. I think your readers Mr. Blow are ready for a more in depth look at race in our society, without such broad brushes.

  87. I think there are differences, but race and skin color are real issues all over the world. I've spent time in India and I have Indian relatives and grew up in Africa, and I can tell you that skin color and race are huge huge questions there, too!! It's no coincidence that most of the major Bollywood stars, or politicians and wealthier people in India are lighter skinned Indians! Even in my mixed family in Africa, my mom who's darker skinned, was looked down upon by some of her lighter skinned Indian half sisters! She shielded us as kids against this and rarely told us, but as we grew older we understood why she wasn't as close to them! So, I can assure you, these are real issues around the world, too!!

  88. So, what do you make of the value that many whites place on tanning?

  89. A tanned skin in earlier days meant one was poor and worked for a living (gasp). One acquired that tanned skin by working outdoors. These days it's the reverse. One has tanned skin due to having the leisure time and money to purposely get a tan, whether by the sun's rays, a tanning booth, or spray-on booth.

  90. Whites don't get tanned to get tanned - not to get black. If you're white you should already know this...

  91. I assume in part lightening in many cultures is related to appearing upper class ( dont do manual labor or work in the fields) and that tanning in white culture is related to appearing affluent enough for leisure.

  92. I had a complete turnaround when reading this, Charles. At first, I thought, I think this topic isn't as important as those you usually choose on the subject of race. But by the end, in seeing the stats on skin lightening even by those not of African American descent but with darker skin tone, gave me immense pause.

    It made me think of the strange creature Michael Jackson became with is obsession with skin lightening, and cosmetic surgeries. As if deep down he despised his blackness and could only change his internal feelings by adopting external modalities to eradicate blackness.

    Long ago, I read that even among African Americans, the preference of men is for lighter skinned women. And I thought, how sad. To relegate those of extreme darkness to the greatest ostracism of all, as if blackness equated to evil, not only does them great psychic damage--it speaks to the tremendous superficiality with which we instantaneously form impressions and perceptions of human value.

  93. Yes. The norms of society can be very unjust and cruel. Like Darwin's original idea of 'natural selection'. But the rules of natural selection can also evolve, and apparently they are. Just remember Evolution is not Progress, merely change over time. To make real progress we must look to Lincoln's 'better angels of our nature', whatever they are.

  94. I am reminded of the story of a light-skinned black woman walking on a sunny beach with her white friend, casually pointing to all of the people on beach towels sunning themselves and laughing about how they all were trying to get enough sun to look like here.

    Needless to say, hypocrisy isn't just skin deep either.

  95. I once saw a photo of Michael Jackson's oldest son, who lives in England. Once you see it, bizarre as it is, you understand what he was doing to himself. He was copying his son's facial features.

  96. This reminds me of an older, married African-American lady who shared a table with me in a Geography class in college. During that semester, we became good friends while engaged in class activities. Once, during a break , she confided that her husband's family was not happy that he married her. When I asked her "why?" she said "because I am too dark." I had never considered that skin color mattered to my black friends but several clued me in later that "light skin girls" are much more attractive to them. As a "white guy" who aggressively courted skin cancer with non-stop summer tanning, this attitude among my black friends was a revelation. In my young, simple mind, I thought people were attracted to each other by the shapes of their faces and bodies, the appeal of compatible personalities, and common interests and goals.

  97. For years I've noticed how in movies and on TV, the woman in a black couple is invariably lighter than the man. (I changed "almost invariably" to "invariably" because I couldn't think of an exception.)

    It drives me crazy; Lord knows how black women feel about it!

  98. Many commenters discuss various historical and anthropological reasons why a particular skin color may be preferred and these may have some relevance but in the US they are generally overwhelmed by the legacy of slavery. Slaves were considered to belong to an inherently inferior race, even a separate species. Thus they were not worthy of full participation in white society. Generally any blurring of the line between masters and slaves would weaken slavery or the later doctrine of "segregation" or legalized white supremacy. Obviously "segregation" requires an arbitrary distinction between races.

  99. Overwhelmed by the legacy of slavery? Is it not acceptable in your world for white people to prefer someone who is like them? If so, that mean other races are racist too, because studies show most of us, in most situations, prefer people who are like us. Face it, there is much more self segregation among ALL races than societal segregation. Just a fact, even if it doesn't fit into your rhetoric.

  100. Explain, if you please, the black people who owned black slaves.

  101. I was chuckling as I read the contention of some commentators that in countries like India and Japan the preference for lighter skin has only to do with the association of darker skin with low status outdoor laborers.

    I've heard people from both countries denigrate our African American population because, apparently, of their darker skin. Whatever the historic source of the attitude that lighter is better, the attitude is by definition racist. What some are calling "colorist" is a nifty dodge, but it is all of a piece.

    The Apollo Theater had a long standing policy of limiting its women performers to light skinned ladies. Darker skinned women never even got to audition. This preference is quite noticeable in female African American performers even today. These historic and current realities do not blunt or provide cover for racists.

  102. I think many people in many cultures may have thought their lives would have been more difficult had it been a different color. It may bother some people more than others but as time goes on I think the entire world will continue to be more of a color melting pot.

  103. I understand the point that Blow is trying to make... however, as a product of a black/white interacial marriage, I feel that Blow is asking me to justify my own existence. Needless to say. I'm not overly sympathetic to his argument that mixed race people somewhat represent a sidestepping of anti-black racism, even though I'm in agreement with the circumstances he predicates his argument on.
    For me Blow's conclusion is better formed as a question: How do we get to the point where "we find some peace with dark skin itself, to not impute value and character onto color?"

    The road map to getting to that point, at least on a societal scale... is more incremental than epiphanous, it likely start with something pretty close to the browing of America Blow seem at least marginaly mistrustful of. The washington post article to which he alludes to... to me doesn't bespeak the premium of whiteness, to the contrary it suggest a new premium several shades darker. If the ideal is to get to the point where skin shade simply can no longer be imagined to reflect value or character, than merging and disentangling and disrupting racial identies is a necessary precondition.

  104. I see as we all do, the physical first, then what is revealed is decided by the person who meets my gaze. Attraction most often comes from a confluence of traits and behavior. One can lean towards a physical attribute of a person without developing a fetish just as one can be not attracted by it without being a racist. There are a multitude of experiences and preferences between the two. Humans don't operate on two speeds, gay, straight, black or white. I will say, my experience, white, blonde and green eyes, I've never been the focus of more attention than by people of color. More than a few times in life not just women but black guys have felt secure enough passing a compliment to me about my physical looks, and I return the compliment with sincerity. It's not being hit on or even sexual. It's purely admiration. I find it flattering and not proof of a racist conditioning to appreciate fair traits as much as the sweetness of how we are drawn to difference. I've found myself seeing blackness with equal fascination at times and the appreciation of the beautiful differences. All of which depends upon the person in front of me, and it always starts with a kind gesture and a smile. Individuals, not an entire race is what can be attractive and that is proof of the nature of humans to love, not solely to procreate. Anything lacking appreciation of an entire race of people is a result of societal meddling, an conditioning that kills a gift we are naturely born with.

  105. I hate the sun. I don't sunbathe. I can't sunbathe. My skin is thin white Irish skin that burns when the sun even peaks out. I can tan if I go out in the shade slowly over almost the entire summer but I can always burn easily through that tan. My son did not inherit my whiteness. My son is half African American, fairly light skinned but he can tan and doesn't burn easily. As the ozone layer slowly burns away I have guaranteed that my Irish-American family will be able to survive a bit longer than all the other thin white skinned Irish families.

    Okay I am kidding, sort of, but really ethnic intermarriage has always gone on. My mom was of German descent my dad of Irish descent. Irish people in Ireland have, French, Norse and Spanish and now Polish names because of intermarriage with those other ethnic groups. How that word has evolved. Now it means that people who speak Spanish and are really mixed race White people from Spain and Native Americans (and some not so mixed) have been promoted to sort of white, just another ethnic group. How nice of us white people to promote Hispanics to "sort of white". Asians are still a different race though generally lighter than many Hispanics. No promotion for them. Blacks are still just out of luck too.

    Someday perhaps you will all be elevated to to master race but don't hold your breath how would we keep the masses distracted without all this obfuscation.

  106. You hear from the right that "we talk too much about race," a notion framed in the imaginary right-wing virtue of color-blindness ("we don't even SEE color"). Reactionaries toss out smug fragments of the "content of his character" speech, the only one of Dr. King's notions they've bothered to remember.

    If only black were white, they imply, we wouldn't have a problem. So whiten up.

    The chief reason rightists want to shut down the dialogue is purely practical: their power is etched in black and white, they draw their strength from the spiritual apartheid at the core of the American soul. They don't want to talk about it because then they would risk losing their façon d´être

    Yet there's such a lot to talk about, and not just this nation's horrid past. There's the structural racism that still plagues us; violent policing strategies framed around a kind of toxic color-wheel with black in the bullseye; persistent, lazy, corrosive caricatures of blackness in the press; the resurgence of groups like the Council of Conservative Citizens--Dylann Roof's spiritual mentors--animated by psychotic racial obsessions, by a bizarre fixation on black skin as the root of all evil.

    Above all there's the revival of mainstream white racism, the genteel white-skin craze that is the inevitable byproduct of the GOP's 40-year Southern strategy.

    It's all so tragically bad for us--so "un-American." The affirmation of blackness could prove to be a kind of antidote. At the least it's worth a try.

  107. Mr. Blow, you're right in looking at the fate of the "obsidian, ethereal darkness" through a global and not simply an American lens. Growing up in India, I heard, noticed and witnessed a collective anathema for the dark skin. The anathema precedes colonialism and one could say that the prejudice was imported by the so-called Aryan invaders who entered India from the Steppes of Central Asia. Somehow darkness was a physical marker of separation of the fair-skinned invaders from the darker natives. It seemed fated that the fairer-skinned would overcome militarily and in other political ways, the darker counterparts.

    The anti-dark skin sentiment is deep in Indian culture, so much so that the famous lines from a song by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore stands out in my mind even today. The song is sung by a male; it is a paean to the unseen beauty of a dark-skinned woman: "No matter how dark she is, I have fallen in love with the dark mystery of her doe eyes."

    I live in a putative melting pot that is New York City, and I hear Indians and Bangladeshis, not to mention the Chinese immigrants of this city, secretly say vile things about blacks and avoid them if they can.

  108. It is obvious, as a society, we have a long way to go. Look at the recent Fifth Circuit case of Esna Etienne who alleges that she was denied a managerial position because she was "too black." In fact, she actually trained the person that was ultimately hired to manage her. This resonates with a sentiment that has been with us for too many years. For example, the song written by Big Bill Broonzy more than 75 years earlier, "White, Brown, and Black." He also trained the person who would eventually supervise him. We have come a long way, but we have a long way still to go.

  109. The interracial children of Americans are the most beautiful children in the world, combining the strength , intelligence, features & complexion. However, beneath the skin lurks many cultural & religious problems,There is also a problem of belonging.This is still a very racial society, our children may not harbor this prejudice as love conquers all, but sooner or later they are forced to confront this, which is very painful & leaves the children adrift as to where they fit in.It seems that children seem to identify more with the minority race, which may or not be welcoming.In Democratic secular countries this is a evolutionary process that will grow slowly but surely, hopefully for the best of all races.

  110. Since white Americans vastly outnumber black Americans, racial intermarriage across generation will turn black America whiter, since mixed-race people in a predominantly white society would tend to have more white ancestors than black ancestors. Lager population groups absorb smaller population. However, most intermarriage is between ethnic groups. According to the Census Bureau, whites made up 77.7 percent of the population in 2010, up two percentage points from 2000. The U.S. Census Bureau actually projects that whites will make up 74.3 percent of the U.S. population in 2060, due to increased immigration from Asia. (Lots of Asians have skin that is porcelain white. Whites will still be the racial majority. Non-Hispanics whites will still be the largest ethnic group, but will no longer comprise more than 50 percent of the population. Hispanics can be of any race, but the majority of U.S. Hispanics self-identify as white. Marriage between Anglos and Latinos is exceedingly common, as much the rule as the exception in our most populous states, California and Texas. The distinction between Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic whites will disappear around mid-century.

    See Table 2. (Population by Race and Hispanic Origin: 2014 and 2060) on page nine of the Census Bureau report at http://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2015/demo/....

  111. Mixed marriages(couples) is booming in Europe and well as the United States. It common to see an African man on European television with a Caucasian girlfriend or wife.

    The United States largely tries to ignore the mixing of the different cultures. There are still no USA commercials with mixed couples. This is a problem.

    The USA loves denial, in the 60's when the country was on fire over civil rights, the public was given TV shows where people of African,Hispanic or Asian were never seen.

    YET, All the controversy over the Confederate flag is silly, no one in the USA knew anything about the flag until the church tragedy. The flag is apart of Civil War History.

  112. The flag is also part of the history of the Dixiecrats and resistance to integration and civil rights, which I expect accounts for a lot more of its popularity in the South.

  113. It is comical that a White House press lackey was telling some Rightist, ''Dude, Benghazi was two YEARS Ago!'' and here we go either fifty years back to Dem governors bringing this Democratic Party flag back, or 150 years ago to the end of that war, or all the way back to slavery of the 17th century jut to play political points.

  114. "Mixed marriages(couples) is booming in Europe and well as the United States. It common to see an African man on European television with a Caucasian girlfriend or wife."

    But it is not so common to see a white man and a black woman. It's common to encounter a white man and an Asian woman, but it is not at all common to see an Asian man and a white woman.

    The predominant pairings have everything to do with power and perceived beauty in this and other white-dominated cultures.

  115. I'm not sure the valuing of light skin in India, China, and Japan, especially for women, is really the same issue as we have here in the US. Historically, Asian women have worn white makeup, regarded as beautiful, along with certain face shapes, eyebrow shapes, lip shapes, and I sincerely doubt that stems from a comparison to white women in centuries past. So there are cultural pressures and norms for some women that underlie our present situation, making it more complex.

    We have a number of factors going on, including a greater acceptance of people of color in our country (from when I was little...it has changed); the appearance of black people more in not just celebrity roles but in all fields and in advertising so that role models now exist; a couple of generations coming up that (largely) reject racism and don't particularly care about skin color; and the internet that familiarizes all of us globally with images of people of all colors.

    Slowly, things are changing. Or perhaps, quickly things are changing, depending on the view. Should black people love their skin? What a painful question, as of course people should embrace what they have, love themselves. Our society is breaking down racial barriers bit by bit. The current in-your-face racism seems to me to be a backlash. There will always be people of all colors, and a leveling is also in the works. Self-acceptance is hard in the face of isms. Ask any woman. But it's what will bring about a more loving society.

  116. Racial ignorance is a global phenomenon, and you're right, it was helped by colonialism. In India you see it on their television or Hollywood or their politics. It's no coincidence that most of their stars and politicians are lighter skinned, and lower castes are also often darker.
    Even in the Caribbean, in places like Barbados. I remember being struck how a lot of the better-to-do people on the island and politicians were lighter skinned "blacks!"
    In Barbados they even have a famous historic painting universally known and probably taught in schools, perhaps even else where in the Caribbean, the "Mulato Girl" if I recall it correctly. I remember a librarian there explaining the girl's privilege to me.
    But I think racism today is also sold by the media, especially TV. It's the images we all see daily. They probably imbibe us ever more with that psychological bias, if we are not careful about being critical viewers.
    You look at the TV, magazines etc etc, all one sees are images of Caucasian folks. I think they send a subconscious message, even to black people. You see black or colored people less often in "normal" situations on TV. They are either in movies, in prison, or on political shows "complaining" about "their" state. By being "blind" about who stars on TV, we use TV to promote racial biases, because all it seems to do is seemingly "promote" one race.

  117. I live in the South (SC) currently and I have noticed more interracial couples where white men date black women. I would say the starting factor in approving and increasing interracial dating is media exposure (specifically TV shows). They have the power to loosen stereotypes quite fast. Beautiful black female vocal artists (specifically Rihanna), and convenient methods of finding dates (tinder) have assisted. From there, the more educated and well-spoken the less noticeable race becomes. This factor oftentimes helps to bypass skin color.

    Yes, you can make the argument that eloquent speakers are more "white" or "western", but I would be careful. As stated, every race from Indians, Asians, and Africans value eloquence and refinement.

  118. In some cultures light colored skin is equated with not having to work outside in the sun. We forget but tans were not a status symbol back in the day. All women were supposed to avoid the sun, carry parasols, not have freckles. Our infatuation with tans in the summer has yielded an increase in skin cancer for those with the fairest skin. As someone with very fair skin I would love to have more melanin.

    The real issue is that we look at skin color and assign several things to it based upon what our culture has told us. If we don't stop to think about what we're doing we've come up with an entire person based upon the false criteria of skin color being equal to worth, intelligence, value as an employee, suitability as a friend or neighbor, and probable criminal tendencies. That's where our reliance upon skin color as part of character is misleading. From personal experience I can say that the white community I grew up in is much less accepting of differences than a "mixed race" community. Unfortunately we don't have much mixing on a personal level.

  119. You know, if I had written this in grad school, my professors would have rightly stricken the breathless, unnecessary 5 dollar words found in every other sentence. Somehow the Times sets the bar lower.

  120. In Mr. Blow's rush to find anti-black racism in everything, he seems to have forgotten how popular---until we learned how it led to skin cancer and premature skin aging---how very popular it was among whites to darken their skin by tanning. Not everything is about race.

  121. Many of the readers have pointed out the flaws in this article, particularly when Mr. Blow tries to extrapolate American racial attitudes to the rest of the world and falls flat with Asia. India, China and other countries developed attitudes towards skin color that pre-date the arrival of Europeans by millennia (and in India's case very much tied to the real caste system that developed in the Subcontinent). Many societies all over the world have, in different eras, identified a group that is entirely other and to be denigrated, whether low-caste Dalits, Jews and Gypsies in Eastern Europe and Africans and Amerindians in the Americas. The more interesting question is to try and understand what human impulse generates these scenarios rather than come up with easy generalizations.

  122. Please consider several hypothetical statements. "I would like to have lighter skin." "I would rather date a lighter person than a darker person." "Darker people should be (as a duty) lighter." "People in the pool whom I would like to date from should be (as a duty) lighter." "Darker people should not be allowed to vote, own property, rent property in certain areas, marry lighter-colored people, choose their own religion, or express their ideas without prior approval from a government controlled by lighter people." To some people, those are all the same statement. The fact is they are not, & not one of them logically entails any other of them. The quest of moral people is for equal powers & rights IN LAW regardless of unchosen personal attributes. That simply doesn't include objectively quantifying a numerical degree of "liking" or "respecting" or "feeling about" someone & ensuring that this number never changes because of skin-color. People draw all sorts of INCORRECT conclusions from the fact that I am white, male, heterosexual, European-descended, USA-born, & had 4 Christian grandparents. Those conclusions are all factually incorrect. BUT, I would have unforgiveable arrogance if I thought I were ENTITLED to a remedy for what someone else THINKS, regardless who is doing the thinking, who is being thought about, and what the thought might be. Shame on anyone who feels entitled to more than vigorous enforcement of their MATERIAL rights & powers. There's NO right to be LIKED.

  123. Curiously, the discussion has morphed from one of prejudice and bigotry to one of racism. So now the only righteous conversation is the one in which there is bias against people of color. Racism requires that one believes that one race is actually superior to another. So let us be careful. With prejudice and bigotry one only need to be wary, afraid, suspicious, hateful of a group that is not the one you belong to. Prejudice is not necessarily taught as some have suggested. It is human nature. So one struggle and task is to become mindful of its presence within. Indeed, the sanctimonious ones writing here need to read Blindspot by Banaji and Greenwald to discover that we all harbor some degree of prejudice. And as Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders discovered back in the day after reading the seminal work The Nature of Prejudice by Gordon Allport, beyond human nature which he beautifully explores, much is economic. By the way this older white Jewish guy finds many very dark skinned African black women (and not those with decidedly Caucasian features) quite gorgeous.

  124. Bias is a natural human trait. We will never eliminate bias and especially not racial bias. People will always take pride in their race. Somehow it seems so natural.

  125. As their impressive performance in sports suggests, Sub-Saharan Africans tend to be perceived as more masculine than other whites, while East Asians are perceived as more feminine. Not surprisingly, this is reflected in the gender gap in interracial marriage statistics, as I pointed out in 1997:


    Black husband-Asian female married couples are much more common than Asian male-black female married couples.

  126. Charles Blow writes:

    ... we..... must find some peace with dark skin itself, to not impute value and character onto color if harmony is truly to be had.

    This is completely true, of course. It appears that value and character are imputed onto many human traits, as other commenters have pointed out. This appears to be a 'normal' human trait.

    It is the essential task of civilization to help us learn to transcend many of our basic traits in order to create a more perfect society for all.

  127. I think distilled to its essense, Mr. Blow'so concern is despite the browning of America, there is a persistent antipathy towards people with the darkest skin. This anti-black bias seems indemic to all people irrespective of race, class or socioeconomic strata. It's most decernable in the expressed preferences of physical attractiveness for lighter skin tones.

  128. Very telling that Mr Blow lists "Hispanic" alongside white, black, and Asian in his list of "races." What biologist would recognize "language spoken" as a "racial" characteristic?But then what biologist would recognize the concept of "race" as anything but a constantly-shifting sociological term meaning "people just like me." By that measure, I can recall a time when "Methodist" was a virtual "race" in the shadow of the Purple Mtn Majesties!

    Race is a concept that no one can define, but everyone "knows it when they see it." Lots of WASPs once upon a time saw "Italian," "Catholic" (and "Jewish" even more so!), and even "Democrat" as different "races" to be avoided socially. And because of that sort of attitude, prevalent in the first 4-5 decades of the last century, some members of those "lower" groups bought into the concept--until they achieved economic parity, at which point their country club initiation fees were accepted and the definition of "race" was adjusted accordingly so that all "white" members could tee off together at 0900 hrs.

    Time past to drop the word "race" from our vocabulary outside the context of track & field and refocus on the underlying, enduring concept of class warfare, in which "race" is a tactic used to set people with the same economic interests apart from one another. Counter-intuitive at this stage, yes, but closer to a useful concept rooted in facts.

  129. I guess its comforting that Marxist-Leninist theory hasn't gone away completely. Just like some still think the world is flat and the South will rise again some still cling to the world according to Karl.

  130. I am deeply heartened by all the commentators that don't agree with you today, Charles. Progress, perhaps!

  131. I disagree some what on the attractiveness of races towards each other. In a book titled "Color Struck!" by Ray Charles, he compiles early America's legal cases and documents that indicated interracial relationships between white and blacks as far back as the 1700's. This book also chronicles America's racial profile in legal documents. Color is sometimes the least denominator in selecting a partner, sexual or otherwise....appearances other than color are way more important. Body shape; health; social awareness; attractiveness; ALL WRAPPED IN COLOR OR THE LACK THERE-OF is the key.

  132. You're right Charles--Black and Asian women bleach their skin. But I wonder how much money white women spend in tanning salons? It seems that we women are never good enough just as we are.

  133. Well Charles the horse is out of the barn.If you look at the science you will see that 80% of AA already have White DNA ! I look Black but I have plenty of White cousins,23 and me.I knew already my grandmother who raised me was Bi-Racial.My father married a Irish nurse and I have 3 Bi-Racial half siblings.Its just evolution or Gods plan.Look at the world Europe has a different look than it had 100 years ago.

  134. I look, and probably am, mostly Caucasian, but I, too, have Black-looking relatives on genetic testing websites.

    Diversity is one of the best things ever to happen to the human race, because it definitely makes us stronger genetically.

    So-called purity will never be achieved, at any rate, because archeologists and geneticists have recently found that our species, homo sapiens, interbred widely with other ancient homonids prior to becoming what we are today. That is why the DNA of Neanderthals and Denisovians, among other early humans, still exists in the bodies of billions of people alive today.

  135. What an interesting column! It took courage to write this because it addresses black behavior.
    I actually saw several good looking black men with white girls, this weekend. This has become a popular trend. Whites are eager to show that they are not racists and this is the result. It is unfair to the black women however. As they need the love and support of their men, more then anyone else. Good for Blow for challenging this trend.

  136. "As they need the love and support of their men...." Interesting. Would you mean "their" men by the lights of the black women you refer to, not just yours? But what makes them theirs? They may prefer them, but does that give them any special claim over them? Do black men have some special obligation to love and support black women, in preference to other women, because they have, in common, being black?

  137. Perhaps it's not about blacks being attractive, but it's more about culture. My wife is Indian, Chinese, and Jamaican. She grew up in Crown Heights, then Atlanta. While her siblings identified with black culture, she preferred white culture. I suppose that makes me a racist for being white and marrying a non-white woman who prefers white culture.

  138. What about all of those white people who persist in getting dark suntans despite the dire warnings about skin cancer? My suspicion is that a good many of the points that this author has tried to make about bias based on skin color have more to do with personal perceptions of attractiveness rather than blatant discrimination.

  139. For some on the left, as long as there a few racial bigots out of hundreds of millions we will always be a racial society. Even President Obama declared that racism is part of our DNA- doesn't he realize that this is a racist statement? Today, the vast majority of citizens could care less about the melanin content of your skin. it's about the color of your character. iIt's high time to end the endless race-baiting.

    time to end the endless race-baiting.

  140. Since I'm not a person who is attracted to women, I can't really compare or comment on the perceived attractiveness of women, except to say that, as a woman, I have noticed that that the apparently popular requirements seem to have little to do with any color boundaries. Women are expected to be slender, artificially body-hair-less, with long necks, long legs, high curved (not flat) foreheads, small and/or narrow feet, mostly unnaturally colored lips, straighter hair, taller, etc. A person of color can certainly transcend these categories, particularly if she has the magical facial proportions and symmetry that studies have shown seem universally preferred on this planet, regardless of race or ethnicity. We humans have evolved to evaluate faces very quickly.

    How much of the patterns that are discussed here might have something to do with the stereotype of the strong assertive Black woman, I wonder? Some men are intimidated by strong women.

    I do think that increased emphasis on racial sensitivity in schools is having a positive effect. My grandsons, who were discussing Star Wars characters one day, could not think of the name of the Lando character, and I found their reference to him not as "the Black guy", but as "the guy with the curly hair" interesting. Ditto the response of one to my clarification that in speaking of an Indian friend, I meant Asian Indian: "I knew what you meant, Grandma, because calling other people Indians, not Native Americans, would be offensive."

  141. When my son was a little boy, he loved NASCAR and basketball. The race car drivers were white, most of the basketball players black. Corn rows were popular back then and my son, whose hair is dark but straight, really wanted them. I remember him sighing and saying, "I wish I was black. Black people can do anything with their hair." I think there is racism, and that we make all kinds of snap judgments about who is attractive, worth cultivating as a friend, etc., and that we need to guard against it and point it out when we see it. In this instance, however, it seems that darker than average skin is one more issue for people to have to worry about, and sometimes I really do think if we taught all of our children to stop worrying about what people think--if the baker who charges hundreds of dollars for a wedding cake doesn't want to make one for your gay wedding, I guarantee you with a little trouble, you can find someone who wants your money, and if not, go to Kroger or Wal-Mart. Women are obsessed with everything: fair skin, clear skin, thin bodies, big boobs. As someone pointed out: show your daughters Serena Williams. Teach them the elaborate shrug. People will try to have power over you. Do not let them. Love your dark flesh. Love your ample flesh. Love your strength, your talent. And study science. Or music. Or dance. Or medicine. Many people are racists. Many people are jerks. Many are not. Surround yourself with those.

  142. Wonderful wisdom.

  143. Purity of race, or any other quest for purity is the last resort for weak minds.

  144. Mr Blow, doesn't writing the same article every week get boring?

  145. Reading it is beginning to.

  146. This preference for light skin, especially among women, is not an American or European colonial phenomenon but one that goes back thousands of years. Daniel M. Goldenberg, author of "The Curse of Ham", has documented this preference among Jews, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Chinese, Japanese, Indians, Arabs, Muslims, and others. Pictures and frescoes show women with lighter or fair skin, much whiter than the men are portrayed. The Jews of the Bible were described as having face "white as snow" before the Babylonian exile but having faces "black as soot" after the attack. "Can a leopard change its spots, or a Kushite its skin" was a biblical saying. The Song of Songs features a women who pleads with the "fair women of Jerusalem" not look down at her for her brothers made her work in the olive fields, which darkened her skin. The Arab and Berber Muslims of the middle ages trafficked in millions of slaves, but reserved the best positions (concubines, advisers, military leaders) for whites slaves, and the lowest positions for black slaves, according to Ronald Segal in "Islam's Black Slaves" ("abd" is Arabic slave but came to refer to all black people, free or slave, by the 1400s). America and the West are the only nations to fight against this millennium old discrimination while the rest of the world could care less about "white guilt" and continues this preference for lighter skin.

  147. What your comment cites is the questionable translation of ancient metaphor into modern American English. It's a good example of not meaning what it says, and represents more accurately biases of modern interpretors.

  148. I read your piece as one long question: will the fairer always find preference? Certainly I cannot suggest an answer.

    I have neighbors inter-racially married. Stirling has been here 15 years. James and David are more recent and younger. I would never be so callous to ask their white wives about other black men they may have dated so as to sort out preferences. I can't conceive "skin fairness" as ever having been in their minds at the time. More simply, I think they found goodness, kindness, and character.

    On another note, however, I too wonder whether your fairness thesis applies universally and may be at the root of problems in South Sudan and between Dominican Republic and Haiti.

  149. is a single Human characteristic more common than Vanity?
    Even in close families there are always attempts to gain an advantage over our relationships with others.
    We ought to be naming and shaming it instead of pretending any of us are "better than" anyone else.
    But, I don't think I'll see anything like that in my lifetime.

  150. As the gay community has preached and taught us over and over again. Attraction is not choice.

  151. I disagree. Most of when choosing a lifetime partner want someone a close to our own attributes as possible to avoid squabbles.
    I am of Danish, Normandy French. Dutch, German, Welsh and Italian heritage. I am also unabashedly Reformed Protestant.
    I met a woman I liked. Before committing myself in anyway I first ascertained that she had similar attributes even going to her church to be sure that even that was compatible. She was a Particular Baptist and not a General Baptist and other than the Baptism issue held to the same Protestant doctrines that I did.
    We've been married for 43 years. I'd like to believe that my attendance to compatibility is a major part of that.

  152. One curious aspect in the history of American racism is that African American culture seems mostly adopted by foreign musicians filtered through white American imitators of African American innovations. A visitor to a souk in Tunis, Tunisia or even one in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, during the 1990s, might find Emimem T-Shirts aplenty on street stalls, but he'd have to search for one of his black inspirations like Tupac Shakur. But the visitor would also likely find, in Upper Egyptian souks and ones in the sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf, modern black musical culture everywhere direct and, with the exception of rap, find it generally unfiltered and as popular or moreso than adaptations by white American innovators.

  153. Charles, I'm a long time reader and admirer of your work in general, but not this one. Here you seem to be rehashing the hash and hyper- focusing on what are meaningless, vain social quirks. You might as well write about dress style. I can't change the fact that I am what is called white, but it is meaningless. Latinos, of all shades, use the erroneous name "la Raza" which is meaningless. I wrote a college paper back in 1972 forecasting racial amalgamation, and not bemoaning it. Anthropologists and geneticists agree that the only race is the Human Race, which shares many diverse, minor genetic/ color variations. Just yesterday, walking through the Atlanta airport, I was admiring the beautiful examples of the Human Race in it's many colors. Some day all of this will be nothing but an amusing, arcane historical phenomenon, somewhat shameful, like the old New Orleans Quadroon Balls.

  154. What seems meaningless and trivial to you encapsulates the pain of millions caused by a history we are neither learning from nor, consequently, correcting the consequences of.

    While you may not be affected, your refusal to even look at the issues you perpetuate with that refusal minimizes the pain and suffering of your fellow countrymen.

  155. My 18-year-old daughter (we're white) thinks Lupita Nyong'o is one of the most beautiful women in the world. Lupita is beautiful to me because unlike a couple of music stars I'll refrain from naming, she doesn't go out of her way to appear mildly caramel with hair that obeys white rules.

    When I was in junior high, the Jackson Five were putting out their hits (yes, I'm that old). I remember my friend Trina confiding at a slumber party, "I know he's black, but I just think Michael is so cute." We said "cute" then; they say "hot" now. It was radical for a white middle-class girl in Appalachia to cross that color line in her daydreams, and to speak of an attraction both matter-of-factly and with an awareness of the social disapproval.

    Also, Michael got less handsome to all of us as he began to alter his natural features.

    The history of skin-color categorization among African Americans in New Orleans has been interesting for me to explore recently. The light-skinned writer Alice Dunbar Nelson (1875-1935) wrote fifty years after the fact about her first crush on a boy "of a deep darkness"; he rejected her because he didn't want to walk in public with a girl who was "yellow". She was once kicked out of a black car on a train by a white conductor who said white ladies didn't belong there; and then when she tried to eat in the white dining car, was outed by a black waiter.

    I don't have any big thoughts; these are just some things the column brought up for me.

  156. Skin color is the primary characteristic American society uses to judge a person, and the default color is white. If a person is accepted as part of mainstream, i.e., white, culture, that person is assumed to be and treated as white, regardless of the color of their skin (though not if they find themselves out of that context, for example shopping alone). There remains an almost unfathomable gap between where we are now and a country in which each of us is valued as a fully American citizen, entitled to success.

  157. Sisters,

    You will find no help or solace in the comments presented in this discussion. People will throw up their hands, shrug and say that is life. It is not their problem. After all dark-skinned is the opposite of being a woman. Or, we can only hope this will go away when everyone turns brown.

    I say Black female lives matter. Living, loving, being cherished, in a whole, healthy and free way matters for Black women of the Diaspora. It matters today! Band together, love one another in deep friendship, love your families, train your children, showcase your beauty, seek education, walk with God (our Creator who made us in his image) and with clear eyes search for those who will value us. They are out there. And for those who don't, whoever they may be, leave them by the wayside without a second thought. Life is too short to succumb to their poison. Black is Beautiful.

  158. "I am dark but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem ,,, Do not despise me because the sun has looked upon me." (quoted from memory)

    Apparently when Song of Songs was written, suntan was the mark of a country girl, who was of lower class than the urban ladies of the big city. Light skin was a sign of delicacy and refinement, darker skin a sign of coarseness.

  159. True enough, but be prepared for change. I now see black and brown skin as more attractive than white. Yet it took me fifty years or more. Expect the pace of change to quicken.

  160. The real losers from all this bias, intentional or not, are Black women who face the dual prejudices of racism and sexism. Thanks goodness for Michele Obama and Serena/Venus Williams, Oprah, and others who are helping America appreciate the strength and beauty of these women. It will be a long struggle, however, as two-thirds of Black women now live alone...

  161. If a man finds himself attracted more to white women than to black women, Mr. Blow calls this a "sickness." A person is now morally blameworthy for their taste. What's next, if I find myself liking Mozart more than hip-hop, this too is a sick bias?

  162. So, are you suggesting that any personal preference must be a viewed as racism? Is that really where you want our country to go?

  163. Mr. Blow has a keen and deep perception of race in America. I wonder if all the "multi-racial" hoopla isn't just the historic resurrection of the old gens-de-coleur of earlier times. There was always a caste-system in the Americas, from "white" to "African" to "mixed blood, aka 'colored'". Is this just a way of side-stepping a revaluation of 'race' as he suggests? What a dis-service that would be to the real commitments of those young, interracial couples. What is so persistent about this morally dark side of the American character?

  164. Mr. Blow thinks racism is only a Black American problem. I guess he has not spent much time in Japan, China, Pakistan or India where racism is alive and well and is focused on those people who are not from those areas. Racism exists in many cultures and countries and and is a quite tribal phenomenon in parts of the middle east and Asia. There is racism and even genocide in Africa amongst people of different tribal affiliations. Almost every immigrant group that has come to this country has experienced racism upon their arrival and many of those groups where of white European ancestry. As I see it the main problem facing black Americans is reconciling their being brought here as slaves and how that impedes their ability to assimilate the way other immigrant groups have. Right now we are stuck between those who want apologies and reparations and those who, justifiably, ask why they should be accountable for slavery that they had nothing to do with. The idea of white privilege is laughable to those of us who grew up as lower middle class whites in America.

  165. America can start to get over its supposed racial divides when not only whites but also blacks, browns, greens whatever, especially the Op-Ed columnist, get over it and stop writing about it incessantly as if it were the only problem in the world.
    The Eurozone may be collapsing, The American West is seeing the worst drought in 500 years, 40000 Americans die of gun violence each year (yes, more blacks are killed by blacks) - Get a clue - write about something else, Charles, and do something about it.
    (btw, I am a darkskinned American, who believes that there is racism in America, just like in any country with human being in it, but it is not the only or biggest problem for humanity's future)

  166. As someone who is neither black nor white... I cant believe this article is not meant as satire/comedy.

  167. Mr Blow ... People will always 'prefer' being with their own family ... this was instilled in us when we were created at the beginning of all time. All of us are more comfortable with our own people, a basic trust built on millennia of time. That will never change. And it isn't a 'bad' thing. What's 'bad' is prejudice which 'rigs the game' by having different families play by different rules. Such as the growing plutocracy in America. Happiness is ensured when we feel gratitude for all the many Blessings we have in life, instead of always focusing on the negatives searching for faults ...

  168. Please let's not ascribe everything to bias against blackness. For hundreds of years, and in cultures where there were no Blacks, women have avoided the sun in order to keep from looking like the peasants who had to work outdoors.

    And for women, whose powerlessness has traditionally made them eager to seize the only opportunity open to them -- to "marry up" -- it is natural to prefer whatever group of men has the better prospects. In the real world, this happens to be white men. So this preference could be no more than sexual real-politik.

    After years of agreeing with your columns, I started to get skeptical a few months ago when you claimed that no one ever used the "race card" -- as if Blacks were the only ones to never resort to a convenient excuse for personal failings. But we all do that!

    Please don't let your excellent mind get blinkered by an over-simplified view of the world. Your intimate knowledge of how American racism works lets you make a valuable contribution to the debate. But please don't extrapolate what you know well, to the whole world and the whole of human psychology. You don't want to risk losing credibility by sinking into ideology.

  169. Whats next? Wanting to live in a low crime neighborhood is racist? Wanting your kids to attend a good school is racist? Watching Hockey is racist?

    Just trying to give Mr. Blow a few ideas for his next column.

  170. When I was on the board of the local anti-poverty agency, we had to take a training on "Dismantling Racism" where we learned that only white people can be racist. Since that was so much balderdash in my experience (where lighter skinned blacks had higher status among black people) that I vowed never to use the term racist. Bigot is the word and bigots come in ALL colors.

  171. Blow has a point, but he sounds a bit put out that the fundamental problems of race will be solved in a way that he doesn't prefer (which seems to me besides the point.)

    He overlooks a major upside of racial intermarriage: as white people and other groups experience black people as literally members of their family, they will be less likely to look down on them and -- more to the point -- less likely to resent any social assistance that might help them.

    Studies have shown that the more racially diverse a nation is, the less people support programs to help the poor, because they fear those programs are going to other, less "deserving" groups. This is why nations like Denmark have a stronger social safety net while more diverse nations like ours resist it.

    That kind of open, family proximity was a huge help in the cause of gay rights. Once enough people were out of the closet, then it became harder for their friends and family to generalize about gays as someone different and other and worse. The same is likely to happen here.

    It would be nice if people reached a higher level of consciousness and saw everyone as having equal value and cultural worth, but my feeling is "good luck with that." It works against a lot of age-old human tendencies, personally and culturally. I'd rather see people become less racist because of family self-interest than hold my breath waiting for people to become better human beings. History is not very hopeful in that regard.

  172. I'm white of Norwegian descent, which is about as white as you can get. There must be something I missed growing up white in an almost exclusively white neighborhood in th 50's, because I am in awe of and easily see the beauty of black women, of every shade. I saw a woman once in a public gathering who was as black as midnight, wearing gold jewelry, and she was a queen, in her look and her bearing. Jewelry and rich colors look so beautiful against dark skin...I was actually jealous. Not of her life, which must have been a struggle in a racist world, but of her beauty. So, you see, all is not as it appears. I welcome interracial marriage, but I love and admire and would hate to see a world without black beauty, or white beauty of the ice queen variety, or any other ethnic coloring that makes our world so wonderfully diverse.

  173. There is apparently no activity or preference where Mr. Blow doesn't see racism at work; I wonder if someone were to prefer black women or men if, in this context, he or she would then be charged with a denigrating fetishism, such as the charge often leveled at white men's liking of Asian women.
    Instead of as a sign of global racism the strong preference of Asian women for white skin may rationally be explained the same way as a 'tan' is for whites: a sign of success, the time to have leisure and not have to toil in a factory or office; whereas in Asia to toil in a factory or in an office, and thus have a light skin, is a sign of the success of having escaped the hard farmer's work in the field with its constant exposure to the sun. So, while undoubtedly there is a lot of racism in Asia, not only against blacks, but also against whites (though to a lesser degree), or even intra-Asian, - historical Japanese attitudes to Chinese and Koreans -, to other explanations will have to be found; especially since neither China nor Japan, Thailand or Korea were colonized by the British or Portuguese, nor were they involved to any significant degree in the slave trade. As to digging up exposure to pop culture as the culprit, it seems to me that pop culture is if anything a louder and longer messenger of equality than almost any other medium.

  174. What explains the disparity of black females marrying outside their race? Is it a condition imposed upon them unwillingly, or a condition that stems from their own choices? What are black females' attitudes toward the white women who marry black men? How is the, for lack of a better term, relative "ban" on black females marrying outside their race enforced? Does the disparity occur because of factors non-black males relate to physical beauty -- or to ethnicity, culture, and, frankly, the social pathologies often related to skin color as they have developed in the US over time?

  175. The aversion to the dark and a preference for lightness are deeply biological in origin, which is one reason the social bias for whiteness is a world wide phenomenon. To make this less oppressive socially requires a real desire on the part of social humanity to mentally move out of the caves that they lived in 40,000 years years ago. Globalization and television etc. may aid this effort but it is still very slow going.

  176. Let's recall our Jr. High School history class. The NEW WORLD was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492.

    The Atlantic slave trade or transatlantic slave trade took place across the Atlantic Ocean from the 16th through to the 19th centuries. The vast majority of those enslaved that were transported to the New World, many on the triangular trade route and its Middle Passage, were West Africans from the central and western parts of the continent sold by western Africans to western European slave traders, or by direct European capture to the Americas. The numbers were so great that Africans who came by way of the slave trade became the most numerous Old World immigrants in both North and South America before the late 18th century. (wiki - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_slave_trade)

    "...[T]he most numerous Old World immigrants in both North and South America before the late 18th century..."

    1776, The Declaration of Independence, slavery ALREADY existed. 1861-'65, the Civil War, slavery abolished; PROGRESS MADE.

    Yes, slavery was a terrible act and can NEVER be excused. In the generations which have long since followed might revisiting the history of how slavery in America came to be revisited by ALL?

  177. Just to address this "Global Sickness" of going for lighter skin. It has nothing to do with white vs. black vs. brown, or to be like white Americans, but rather the socio-economic factors of beauty.

    Throughout the middle-ages and the enlightenment in Europe, white skin was prized because it meant you could afford to spend your days indoors, instead of laboring under the sun.

    The exact same trend is present now in the rest of the world as their economies develop. If you have darker skin it's because you're [relatively] poor and must labor outside. Whereas if you're rich you have lighter skin BECAUSE you don't have to work outside. It's not about being white, it's about looking rich.

    If you look at the tanning industry in Europe, or talk to any teenage white girl, they're not trying to be whiter, they're trying to be darker, BECAUSE you have to be affluent to have an athletic body that is evenly bronzed.

  178. Have we become so PC that our preferences are now being scrutinized as bias?

  179. Mr. Blow omits perhaps the most damning evidence - Are there any truly black individuals in power in America? Barack Obama, Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch, Colin Powell, Condi Rice, Deval Patrick, Corey Booker, etc. are all mixed race. Even in business the same standard prevails. Stan O'Neill, the former head of Merrill Lynch, and Ken Chenault, the head of American Express, are both of mixed race.

    Tim Scott of South Carolina is the only truly black Senator currently serving. Among the House members, less than half are dark skinned blacks.

  180. Mr. Blow:
    the NGS article that you reference was all about "change"...
    a kind of change that is actually happening...
    right now in my own immediate family...
    taken even further by my children...
    some of my great grandchildren will have direct ancestors from every continent...

    from your writing,
    "this" change has little value...

    it is too slow,
    too shallow,
    doesn't "go-far-enough"

    Loving v. Virginia was 48 years ago...
    would that it could have been 148 years ago...
    never necessary at all...
    these mistaken generational teachings do take far too long to reverse,,,

    your measure of "acceptance" will not occur in your lifetime or in mine.

    apparently unlike you.
    i am hopeful with the direction that my family is taking in its adaptations and examples.
    in our own small way,
    we are pushing as fast and as far as we are able to.

    your support would be greatly appreciated.

  181. Our Founding Fathers, absolving themselves of blame, conceived a nation based on hypocrisy, that all of US were created equal. They committed the Original Sin, and we the people have had to bear the burden of that sin.

    The Founders compromised a fundamental non-negotiable for the sake of breaking from Great Britain, an empire whom we had, have, and will have the most in common with of all nations on earth. The Founders took the greatest risks but had the most to gain should they be victorious. They represented a mere third of of the colonies population who wanted independence. Most didn't care.

    The Founders forced the Colonies into a shotgun wedding, a marriage mired in slavery. Their actions are looked upon with great reverence because we won, becoming the most powerful nation in history. To the victors go the spoils, while males to the manor born.

    The Founders compromised their principles. Beating the British was paramount to instead adhering to their supposedly sworn Declaration of Independence. Reading history, I do not wonder why we are still grappling with racial inequality and injustice in America. I wonder why we are so naive, and insist on revising our history in myriad attempts to whitewash (yes, pun intended) the Original Sin committed by our illustrious Founders.

    America the Beautiful is a great nation. I can only imagine how much greater we would be not having to live in Sin, defected.


  182. This is the first I have ever read that white skin is more associated with femininity than dark skin. Most of the examples are from India and Asia, here, so I am not convinced this view is common in the United States.

    I have always thought dark skin the more attractive, taken by itself.

    If the fairest skin is the most attractive, why did generations of Americans destroy their skin with tanning efforts before the risks of skin cancer from that practice became so well known?

  183. Stereotypes can be pervasive, but seem to be breaking down as the internet and travel bring us closer. We have a way of tipping it all over--for example, the blacks and the Jews had immense attraction for one another and found common experience, in my own personal life. I bet Mr. Blow himself will be no stranger to this phenomenon, especially there at the NYT. (And now we are finding out that homo sapiens interbred with Neanderthals. Check your DNA.) Of course, a person struggles to find her own voice and her own beauty from under the weight of social judgement until many throw off that weight. As an educator, I know there are definitely investments the society can make to lift the burden through education and awareness, so that the general level of tolerance increases. That goes across the board; the U.S. won't remain as it was or even as it is today.

  184. All of this nonsense is predicated on the fact that peoples living in the more tropical areas of the Earth have evolved to reflect a darker skin color that protects them from the sun.

    A simple matter of melanin that has nothing whatsoever to do with the societal uproar that occurs when people of different physical characteristics intermingle.

    There appears to be , not an innate , but a cultural fear of simple physical differences that are dictated by a natural response to geographical location.

    We now live on a planet that has been made accessible to all via the internet and rendered considerably smaller by the advancement of communication technology in the past 30 years or so.

    Such advancements and the international business markets now being established , will hopefully serve to eradicate those perceptions of difference which have heretofore been bolstered and maintained by a lack of geographical contiguity.

    It is that simple , but millenniums of superstition , ignorance ,and religious beliefs must be overcome before natural diversity is accepted by all.

  185. Yes, Mr. Blow, racial bias in our nation is more than skin deep.

    Indeed, it is at the core of every article that you write. It is your raison d'etre; it is at the core of who you are.

    And until you, and black pundits who carry the same "flaming" torch, put out that flame, you will be plagued by issues of race whether or not they are present and/or real.

    My family gave up racism in the 1850s, both employing the Negro in their enterprise at salaries similar to those of their other employees, and in harboring fleeing slaves as a station on the Underground Railroad in mid-state New York.

    I need no lectures from you about the lot of you and your people, particularly when you seem to evade all responsibility for how your people have progressed since then when they have suffered all of the same impediments as the Irish, the Jew, the Pole, the Slav, and all of the others who have chosen to become Americans...Americans without the hyphenation that you so regularly attach to your origin.

    Please spare us your indignation until such time as you have demonstrated YOUR willingness to become part of the American world.

  186. Charles is venturing into territory journalists and the government should keep their noses out of. Who you find attractive is a pretty personal decision and that attraction may be based on a zillion different factors. It may be possible that their is yet another great White conspiracy at work here, but really, all anyone can expect is to be treated fairly and be given the opportunity to succeed economically. Nowhere do I see it written that dating should be color blind.

    I'm male and have dated women of various races and ethnicities. I'm pretty eclectic and skin color is way down the list of factors for me. Of course you never know, some racist white guys would rather date the least appealing white girl in town than the best looking dark skinned girl, but I doubt it.

    So rather than the typically misleading simplistic statistics you present here, let's devise several different factors (height,weight, eye color, facial symmetry, athleticism, intelligence, hair, religion, and other factors I can't use in a family paper) and plug them into a hierarchical regression and see how much variance skin tone accounts for. My bet is, despite your attempts here to find yet more evidence of white racism, you'll find skin color accounts for very little re who we find attractive. But that would be real statistical work.

  187. I am in favor of anything that breaks down the idea of groups. Once we are of one group we will have less reason to kill each other.

  188. In the 1930's my Catholic aunt ran away and married a Protestant and was temporarily banished. In the 60's Catholic me married a Jew. I wasn't banished. In the 90's my cousin's son married a Black woman (not light skinned) and both families went to the wedding. Two month ago my niece married her girlfriend and it was a big wedding with 16 bridesmaids.

    Change is slow, but it's coming whether we agree with it or not.

  189. Times readers, I will make this short and sweet for Mr. Blow.
    Nothing that appears in this column ever happened to me for a second of my 35 years of known life on this planet. I have never experienced a split second of self-loathing or even concern about the color of my skin.

    As a lawyer in Washington DC, by "Blackness" or "Brownness" has never been part of a case, nor has it been mentioned by any judge, juror or person I work with. It just isn't a thing.

    While Mr. Blow sits around overthinking skin hue, those of us in the Black community that have lives and values know we are American, and the easiest way to make skin color a non-issue is to respect yourself, work hard, love your country and serve your fellow American, regardless of skin color.

    I had entire semesters of college and law school when I was the only Black person in the room. Did it make me feel frightened or oppressed? No. It made me proud and challenged me to prove myself. I walked the streets of Harvard Square, stacks of law books under my arm, completely oblivious to race. Why? I wasn't in college to be a race, I was there to be a student.

    On a side note, if Mr. Blow were this color-obsessed, why did he allow his son to attend Yale, instead of a historically Black college?

  190. Lupita Nyong'o. No one is more beautiful than she.

  191. I'm growing to appreciate you more and more, Mr. Blow. You say it straight, in plain language, cutting to the chase. Your columns also seem to have become more and more personal. Perhaps you sense that this is an important way to participate in today's conversation about race, sexual abuse, and other complex, central conversations. To speak straight from the heart and soul, as a commentator, in hopes of truly connecting.