Chinyere K. Osuji

Posted in Anthropology, Audio, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Family/Parenting, Interviews, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2019-07-12 12:09Z by Steven

Chinyere K. Osuji

New Books Network
2019-07-11

Reighan Gillam, Host and Assistant Professor of Anthropology
University of Southern California

Chinyere K. Osuji, Boundaries of Love: Interracial Marriage and the Meaning of Race (New York: New York University Press, 2019)

The increasing presence of interracial relationships is often read as an antidote to racism or as an indicator of the decreasing significance of race. In her book, Boundaries of Love: Interracial Marriage and the Meaning of Race (NYU Press, 2019), Chinyere K. Osuji examines how interracial couples push against, navigate, and often maintain racial boundaries. In-depth interviews with black-white couples in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Los Angeles demonstrate how couples negotiate racial difference with their spouses, within their families, and during public encounters. This comparative study of interracial couples in Brazil and in the United States shows just how race can be constructed differently, while racial hierarchies persist. This book would be of interest to those in fields such as racial and ethnic studies, family and kinship studies, gender studies, and Latin American studies.

Listen to the interview (00:52:56) here. Download the interview here.

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Being More ‘Open:’ Black Women Negotiate Dating and Marrying White Men

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science, United States, Women on 2019-07-11 17:23Z by Steven

Being More ‘Open:’ Black Women Negotiate Dating and Marrying White Men

Chinyere Osuji, PhD
2019-07-10

Chinyere K. Osuji, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden

When I was studying at Harvard in the early 2000s, I had a black professor who had built part of his career gas-lighting anti-black discrimination in favor of 1990s-style black cultural inferiority tropes. My grad school girlfriends and I awkwardly giggled over “the sex parts” of his book on black upward mobility. He cited statistics saying that black women did not perform oral sex as often as white women, making them less desirable sexual partners. Sexual incompatibility on this sex act was part of the motor driving black men to date interracially more than black women. I was struck by how he ignored scholarship showing how white women are lauded as the essence of beauty, domesticity, and ideal womanhood. Instead, in a reversal of the Jezebel stereotype, he explained this race-gender imbalance as due to black women being prudes. I remember that when we stopped laughing, we speculated on which black woman might have hurt him and whether this was scholarly revenge porn against black women. We also questioned how his much paler wife felt about this discussion.

Over a decade later, I noticed the increasing popularity of a similar dynamic: “Black women need to be more open!”

How many black women have heard this in reference to our dating and marriage prospects?…

…In my book, Boundaries of Love: Interracial Marriage and the Meaning of Race, I conducted over 100 interviews with people in black-white couples in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro. I had the privilege of listening to men and women across racial pairings share the monotony, excitement, struggles, and joys of being married to a person on the other side of the ethnoracial hierarchy. Almost all couples seemed content in their relationships. Several were parents navigating how to raise children who were comfortable with the black, white, multiracial, and multi-ethnic sides of their extended families.

One thing that struck me about the black women whom I interviewed was how several of them complained about their white husbands who “just didn’t get it.” As people on the top of gender, racial, and often class hierarchies, these white men often could not make sense of the privileges they accrued in a society that fought very hard to occlude them. The work often fell on their black wives to teach them how they navigated the world as white middle class men. A few white husbands were “woke” to these dynamics. When I interviewed them individually, we laughed about their couple tactic of wives “tagging” them for interactions with customer service representatives and other outsiders. This strategy ensured that they used their race and gender privileges for the good of the family. Still, black women in other relationships described the emotional labor of explaining intersections of disadvantage to their oblivious white husbands…

Read the entire article here.

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Sociologist’s Book Highlights Experiences of Interracial Couples and the Meanings They Give to Race and Ethnicity

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2019-06-11 00:16Z by Steven

Sociologist’s Book Highlights Experiences of Interracial Couples and the Meanings They Give to Race and Ethnicity

Rutgers-Camden News Now
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
2019-06-10

Tom McLaughlin, Media Relations Specialist


Throughout her book, Osuji uses her findings to challenge the notion that society should rely on interracial couples and their multiracial children to end racism.

While people in American society often talk about race mixture as an antidote to the country’s racial problems, interracial couples remain stigmatized, according to a new book by a Rutgers University–Camden sociologist.

“The idea is that, the more people who are interracially marrying, then we will have more multiracial children and magically there won’t be racial inequality or racism anymore,” says Chinyere Osuji, an assistant professor of sociology at Rutgers University–Camden.

That’s not the case, says the Rutgers–Camden researcher.

According to Osuji, looking at interracial couples in Brazil – a country historically known for its racial diversity – shows how racism can coexist with race mixture. She explains that, although the country does have a substantial multiracial population, interracial couples are very much still stigmatized and race mixing is segregated by class – more likely to occur “in poor communities, where brown and black people live.”

These are just a few of the illuminating findings in Osjui’s groundbreaking new book, Boundaries of Love: Interracial Love and the Meaning of Race (NYU Press, 2019)…

Read the entire article here.

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Boundaries of Love: Interracial Marriage and the Meaning of Race

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science, United States on 2019-05-01 22:08Z by Steven

Boundaries of Love: Interracial Marriage and the Meaning of Race

New York University Press
May 2019
320 pages
16 black and white illustrations
152.40 x 228.60 mm
Cloth ISBN: 9781479878611
Paper ISBN: 9781479831456

Chinyere K. Osuji, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden

How interracial couples in Brazil and the US navigate racial boundaries

How do people understand and navigate being married to a person of a different race? Based on individual interviews with forty-seven black-white couples in two large, multicultural cities—Los Angeles and Rio de JaneiroBoundaries of Love explores how partners in these relationships ultimately reproduce, negotiate, and challenge the “us” versus “them” mentality of ethno-racial boundaries.

By centering marriage, Chinyere Osuji reveals the family as a primary site for understanding the social construction of race. She challenges the naive but widespread belief that interracial couples and their children provide an antidote to racism in the twenty-first century, instead highlighting the complexities and contradictions of these relationships. Featuring black husbands with white wives as well as black wives with white husbands, Boundaries of Love sheds light on the role of gender in navigating life married to a person of a different color.

Osuji compares black-white couples in Brazil and the United States, the two most populous post–slavery societies in the Western hemisphere. These settings, she argues, reveal the impact of contemporary race mixture on racial hierarchies and racial ideologies, both old and new.

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Leitner Human Rights Speaker Series: Chinyere Osuji, Rutgers University – cosponsored with the Center on Race, Law and Justice – Boundaries of Love: Interracial Marriage and the Meaning of Race in Brazil and the United States

Posted in Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Family/Parenting, Live Events, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2019-04-08 19:04Z by Steven

Leitner Human Rights Speaker Series: Chinyere Osuji, Rutgers University – cosponsored with the Center on Race, Law and Justice – Boundaries of Love: Interracial Marriage and the Meaning of Race in Brazil and the United States

Leitner Center for International Law and Justice
Fordham Law School
150 West 62nd Street
Room 3-09
New York, New York 10023
2019-04-09, 12:30-13:30 EDT (Local Time)
Contact: leitnercenter@law.fordham.edu

Chinyere Osuji is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University with affiliations in Africana Studies and Latin American and Latino studies. Before coming to Rutgers-Camden, she was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Africana Studies.

Chinyere conducts research on the meaning that social actors give to racial and ethnic boundaries. Her first book, Boundaries of Love: Interracial Marriage and the Meaning of Race (April 2019, NYU Press) takes a novel approach to comparing race and ethnicity across societies by examining the experiences of interracial couples. Boundaries of Love relies on 103 qualitative interviews that she conducted with 52 black-white couples between 2008 and 2012 in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro (in Portuguese). Through using what she calls a critical constructionist approach, Boundaries of Love compares the experiences of couples involving black men and white women with those of black women with white men in these two diverse, multicultural settings. This book reveals how non-elites in these two post-Atlantic slavery societies employ cultural repertoires that push against, bridge over, blur, dismantle or reproduce ethnoracial boundaries.

Chinyere’s next project will employ the critical constructionist approach to nursing and healthcare. In addition, she will be examining the lives of African immigrants, focusing on how they form community without being spatially concentrated.

For more information, click here.

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Divergence or Convergence in the U.S. and Brazil: Understanding Race Relations Through White Family Reactions to Black-White Interracial Couples

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-10-16 19:25Z by Steven

Divergence or Convergence in the U.S. and Brazil: Understanding Race Relations Through White Family Reactions to Black-White Interracial Couples

Qualitative Sociology
March 2014, Volume 37, Issue 1
pages 93-115
DOI: 10.1007/s11133-013-9268-2

Chinyere Osuji, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden

Different approaches to race mixture in the U.S. and Brazil have led to the notion that they are polar opposites in terms of race relations. However, the end of de jure segregation in the U.S., the acknowledgement of racial inequality, and subsequent implementation of affirmative action in Brazil have called into question the extent to which these societies are vastly different. By examining race mixture as a lived reality, this study offers a novel approach to understanding racial boundaries in these two contexts. I analyze 87 interviews with individuals in black-white couples in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro to examine the cultural repertoires and discursive traditions they draw on to understand white families’ reactions to black spouses. I find that U.S. couples employ “color-blindness” to understand opposition to Blacks marrying into the family. Brazilian couples perceive overt racism and the use of humor from white family members. Nevertheless, couples with black males experienced more hostility in both sites. In addition, white male autonomy was related to the lower hostility that black female-white male couples experienced in both societies. By examining contemporary race mixture as a lived reality, this study complicates simplistic understandings of race relations as similar or different in these two societies. Furthermore, with the increase of multiracial families in both societies, it reveals the family as an important site for redrawing and policing racial boundaries.

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Racial ‘Boundary-policing’: Perceptions of Black-White Interracial Couples in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-10-16 18:15Z by Steven

Racial ‘Boundary-policing’: Perceptions of Black-White Interracial Couples in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro

Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race
Volume 10 / Issue 01 / Spring 2013
pages 179-203
DOI: 10.1017/S1742058X13000118

Chinyere K. Osuji, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden

As people who cross racial boundaries in the family formation process, the experiences of interracial couples can actually reveal the nature of racial boundaries within and across societies. I draw on in-depth qualitative interviews with eighty-seven respondents in interracial Black and White couples in Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro to compare perceptions of public stigmatization by outsiders, a term I call “boundary-policing.” I find that couples in Los Angeles perceive gendered, Black individuals as perpetrators of this boundary-policing. In Rio de Janeiro, couples perceive regionalized and classed, White perpetrators. These findings suggest that in the United States and Brazil, racial boundaries are intertwined with class and gender boundaries to shape negotiation of boundary-policing in the two contexts. This analysis builds on previous studies of ethnoracial boundaries by showing how individuals reinforce and negotiate them through interpersonal relations. It demonstrates the similarities and differences in the negotiation and reinforcement of racial boundaries in the two sites.

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Confronting whitening in an era of black consciousness: racial ideology and black-white interracial marriages in Rio de Janeiro

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-10-15 19:39Z by Steven

Confronting whitening in an era of black consciousness: racial ideology and black-white interracial marriages in Rio de Janeiro

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 36, Issue 10, 2013
Special Issue: Rethinking Race, Racism, Identity, and Ideology in Latin America
pages 1490-1506
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2013.783926

Chinyere Osuji, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden

In Latin America, whitening is understood as a goal of darker-skinned individuals who marry whites to gain access to white social circles, increase their social status, and produce lighter offspring. However, in Brazil, increasing black consciousness and race-based policies are seemingly at odds with contemporary attempts to whiten. Drawing on qualitative interviews with forty-nine individuals in black–white couples, I examine how they make sense of whitening in their lives. I find that unlike in the past, respondents do not describe themselves engaged in whitening and either find it offensive or recognize admissions of whitening as stigmatized. Nevertheless, whitening is how friends, families and other outsiders give meaning to their relationships, depending on the gender of the respondent. In addition, I find evidence of some white women understanding their relationships as a way of darkening themselves. This study reveals a transformation in the meanings associated with whitening ideology in contemporary Brazil.

Read or purchase the article here.

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