No harmony in unions of black, white

August 14, 1996|By GREGORY KANE

How, people ask me, can I be against black-white marriages and relationships?

Plain old human cussedness, I suppose. I am not a nice guy, at heart. I don't watch "The Wizard of Oz" without rooting for the wicked witch. That little tart Dorothy did drop a house on witchie-poo's sister. That fleabag Toto was a pest.

But I have other reasons than a post-40 drift into curmudgeonhood for my opposition to black-white unions. They range from the trivial -- white people have screwed us enough already -- to my unshakable belief that such unions do not promote brotherhood but actually contribute to white supremacy.

Consider the numerous state laws on the books only a generation ago that outlawed interracial marriage. That was a white supremacist society saying, in essence, this:

"We, the white people, in the glory of our racial superiority, will not deem to lower ourselves to marry you blacks."

Years later, the laws were struck down, hailed as a move that would lead us to racial Valhalla and especially a boon for blacks. That was a white supremacist society saying, in essence, this: "We, the white people, in the generosity that is but one sign of jTC the glory of our lily-whiteness, will now allow you blacks to marry us."

Both those attitudes have the same premise. The conclusion is just different. Both assume that the overwhelming majority of blacks pine away for some white person to come along and rescue us from the sheer drudgery and horror of romance with another black person. Such assumptions lead those who are intoxicated by racial harmony -- as opposed to being merely committed to it -- to celebrate bizarre "milestones" in interracial love.

One such "milestone" often cited was the famous kiss between Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura on a "Star Trek" episode. Why did I get no feeling of elation from this milestone? Because I didn't see then, don't see now, where kissing a white person is cause for celebration. Kissing a white person is simply kissing a white person. Let's not make more of it than it is.

Years later, the news media went bonkers when South Africa announced it had abolished laws banning interracial marriage. It was hailed as a giant leap forward for that country's blacks, who still lived under apartheid and faced that not very minor problem of being economically and politically powerless. Falling in love with the nearest Caucasian, we were left to assume, would make South Africa's blacks forget their troubles.

Such notions have recently been promulgated here. Dinesh D'Souza, in his book "The End of Racism," suggested that America's blacks are so benighted that interracial marriage might be a way out of our dilemma. Since D'Souza used his book to rehash every racist argument ever made about blacks, I now view the practice of interracial marriage even more invidiously than I viewed it before.

My trip to the Sudan and the experience of Anatole Broyard, the late book reviewer for the New York Times, did nothing to change my views either.

We learned earlier this year that Broyard, who died in 1990, had been hiding the fact of his black ancestry all his life. Ernest van den Haag, a friend of Broyard's, told writer Henry Louis Gates for an article in the New Yorker magazine about the critic's wife, Alexandra:

"I do think it's not without significance that Anatole married a blonde, and about as white as you can get. He may have feared a little bit that the children might turn out black. He must have been pleased that they didn't."

So much for interracial marriage promoting brotherhood. It seems to have inspired in Broyard only self-hatred. I figure brotherhood should begin at home. Another place where interracial marriage has not led to racial harmony is the Sudan, where I noticed the northern "Arabs" look like African-Americans.

"They're a mixture of Arabs and native Africans," Rafael Athiem, a southern Sudanese now living in Massachusetts, told a crowd at a Boston forum last week. These "Arabs," Athiem assured the group, have created conditions for Sudanese blacks worse than Jim Crow.

Interracial marriage will not necessarily lead to a rainbow society teeming with brotherhood. Blacks may find they have indeed simply exchanged one form of racial supremacy for another.

Pub Date: 8/14/96

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