Boundaries of Love: Interracial Marriage and the Meaning of Race

Posted in Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Family/Parenting, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, Social Science, United States on 2019-01-05 20:07Z 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
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‚ÄĒLos Angeles and Rio de Janeiro‚ÄĒBoundaries of Love explores how partners in these relationships ultimately reproduce, negotiate, and challenge the ‚Äúus‚ÄĚ versus ‚Äúthem‚ÄĚ 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‚Äďslavery 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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On Prince Harry and Meghan Markle: Interracial Couples and Their Multiracial Children Will Not Save Us

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom, United States on 2018-05-18 18:54Z by Steven

On Prince Harry and Meghan Markle: Interracial Couples and Their Multiracial Children Will Not Save Us

Chinyere Osuji
2018-05-18

Chinyere Osuji, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (Camden)

This weekend, people all around the world will be tuning in to watch the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, an American actress. With a black mother and a white father, Markle identifies as biracial and will be one of the first Americans to marry into the British Royal family. To the chagrin of some, British royal weddings are a big deal in its former colonies, the United States included. But this is a major exception. Black women have been excluded from Western princess imagery until recently with the Disney Princess Tianna, who spent most of the movie as an animal. Yet, with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, for the first time in living memory, an Afrodescendant woman will be the star who ends the movie as a princess in a real life royal wedding.

Last year was not only the year that Prince Harry proposed to Markle, it also marked the 50th anniversary of the landmark 1967 Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision outlawing state anti-miscegenation laws. To celebrate interracial love, The New York Times ran an editorial titled ‚ÄúHow Interracial Love Is Saving America‚ÄĚ by Sheryll Cashin. The author cited research by the Pew Research Center on how 17% of newlyweds and 20% of cohabiting relationships are either interracial or interethnic, many times higher than in 1967. Cashin saw the enlightened whites who had married across color lines as being at the forefront of a New Reconstruction in the Trump Era. Many people think that as an important symbol of racial harmony, Prince Harry and Ms. Markle will change the world. Like these U.S. newlyweds, their love will be the acid melting the boundaries separating blacks and whites.

Unfortunately, it is not true…

Read the entire article here.

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As a white supremacist society, the United States privileges Dolezal’s challenging ethnoracial boundaries.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2017-05-28 21:14Z by Steven

As a white supremacist society, the United States privileges [Rachel] Dolezal’s challenging ethnoracial boundaries. This is so unlike the thousands of blacks who quietly dissolved into the white population a century ago. A media stir would have cost them their lives. Even Anatole Broyard, the New York Times film critic who passed away in 1990 took his hidden blackness to the grave to be taken seriously in his career as a writer. At the same time, unlike the acceptance that many Afro-Brazilians have for their negra frustradas, many Afro-Americans find her problematic at best. Their relatives and ancestors who passed as white (or do so now) do not receive the same rewards. Instead, it has to be quiet without any fuss, for fear of upsetting the status quo.

Chinyere Osuji, Ph.D., ‚ÄúRachel Dolezal: ‚ÄėNegra Frustrada‚Äô (Frustrated Black Woman),‚ÄĚ Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, May 24, 2017. http://chinyereosuji.camden.rutgers.edu/2017/05/24/rachel-dolezal-negra-frustrada-frustrated-black-woman/.

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Rachel Dolezal: ‚ÄėNegra Frustrada‚Äô (Frustrated Black Woman)

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Passing, Social Justice, United States on 2017-05-25 01:25Z by Steven

Rachel Dolezal: ‚ÄėNegra Frustrada‚Äô (Frustrated Black Woman)

Chinyere Osuji
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
2017-05-24

Chinyere Osuji, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rutgers University, Camden


Rachel Dolezal

Race is a social construction. We have heard that phrase over and over again to the point that it has become a bit hackneyed. When I teach my sociology students, I tell them, ‚ÄúSociologists study what people do together: we create families, schools, economic systems.‚ÄĚ All of these things are social constructions that are produced, reproduced, and even demolished because people together make it so.

And then Rachel Dolezal comes along…

Read the entire article here.

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279. Invited Thematic Session: Crossing Interracial Borders

Posted in Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Live Events, Media Archive, Papers/Presentations, Social Science, United States on 2015-02-27 01:35Z by Steven

279. Invited Thematic Session: Crossing Interracial Borders

Crossing Borders: 2015 Annual Meeting
Eastern Sociological Society
Millennium Broadway Hotel
New York, New York
2015-02-26 through 2015-03-01

Saturday, 2015-02-28, 12:00-13:30 EST (Local Time)

Organizer: Erica Chito-Childs, City University of New York – Hunter College

Presider: Erica Chito-Childs, City University of New York – Hunter College

  • Transracial Kin-scription: The Silent Engine of Racial Change? Kimberly McClain DaCosta ‚ÄĒ New York University
  • Emerging Patterns of Interracial Marriage and Immigrant Integration in the United States Daniel Lichter ‚ÄĒ Cornell University
  • Interracial Marriage in the U.S. and Brazil: Racial Boundaries in Comparative Perspective Chinyere Osuji ‚ÄĒ Rutgers University
  • A Global Look at Attitudes Towards “Mixed” Marriage Erica Chito-Childs ‚ÄĒ City University of New York – Hunter College

Discussant: Amy Steinbugler, Dickinson College

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‚Äô reactions to black spouses. I find that U.S. couples employ ‚Äúcolor-blindness‚ÄĚ 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 ‚ÄėBoundary-policing‚Äô: 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 ‚ÄėBoundary-policing‚Äô: 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 ‚Äúboundary-policing.‚ÄĚ 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‚Äďwhite 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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A Racial Paradise? Race and Race Mixture in Henry Louis Gates’ Brazil

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science on 2013-11-27 14:45Z by Steven

A Racial Paradise? Race and Race Mixture in Henry Louis Gates’ Brazil

Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies
Volume 8,  Issue 1, 2013
pages 88-91
DOI: 10.1080/17442222.2013.768464

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

In this documentary, Henry Louis Gates explores the extent to which the notion of being a racial paradise applies to Brazil. He introduces Brazil’s contradictions of being the last country to abolish slavery’ in the New World in 1888, yet the first to declare that it was free of racism.¬†He explores a variety of cities in Brazil in order to understand the history of early race mixture, contemporary valorization of Blackness, and attempts to address racial inequality. As a viewer, we watch how Gates’ fascination with the Brazil’s African heritage and race mixture at the beginning of the film turns into a questioning of the myth of racial democracy.

The film is useful in terms of providing a primer on race in Brazil for novices on race in Latin America. Geared towards the general public, this is a film that could be used in an introductory course for undergraduates about race in Brazil or Latin America more broadly. Its strengths are in illuminating the nature of slavery and race mixture in Brazil’s history while introducing the racial ideologies of whitening and racial democracy. Gates introduces scholars such as Manoel Querino and the more renowned Gilberto Freyre to discuss their scholarship on black contributions to Brazilian society. Gates’ film also has vibrant images of Carnaval, capoeira, and a Candombl√© ceremony, providing opportunities for students to gain exposure to these African-influenced cultural practices.

This film is somewhat problematic in terms of illuminating racial and color categories in contemporary Brazil. Gates indirectly cites a 1976 Brazilian National Household Survey study that found people used over 100 terms to describe their color. Gates says: ‘In the U.S., a person with any African ancestry is legally defined as black. In Brazil, racial categories are on steroids.’ However, this perspective has been discredited by scholars who argue that most Brazilians only use a handful of terms to describe themselves. In fact, re-examinations of the same 1976 survey found that 95 percent of Brazilians used only six terms to describe themselves: branco, moreno, pardo, moreno-claro, preto and negro (Silva, 1987; Telles, 2004). The 10 most common terms were the aforementioned as well as amarela, mulata, clara, and morena-escura. All together, these 10 terms account for how 99 percent of all Brazilians think of their race/color. These findings have been replicated using more national survey data (Petruccelli, 2001; Telles, 2004). However, the myth of the hundreds of racial and color terms that Brazilians use to identify themselves will not die, and now Gates aids in perpetuating it…

Read or purchase the article here.

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