Friday, August 10, 2007

Could new Mr. Right be white?

BY DIONNE WALKER RICHMOND, Va. -- For years, Toinetta Jones played the dating game by her mom's strict rule. "Mom always told me, 'Don't you ever bring a white man home,' '' Jones recalled.

But at 37, the Alexandria divorcee has shifted to dating "anyone who asks," regardless of race.
''I don't sit around dreaming about the perfect black man I'm going to marry," Jones said.
Black women nationwide also are reconsidering deep reservations about interracial relationships.

They're taking cues from stars like actress Shar Jackson and tennis pro Venus Williams, as well as blogs, how-to books and novels telling them it's OK to "date out."

It comes as statistics suggest black women are among the least likely to marry.

"I'm not saying that white men are the answer to all our problems," Jones said. "I'm just saying that they offer a different solution."

She reflects many black women frustrated by the field of marriageable black men: Black men are nearly seven times more likely to be incarcerated than white men and more than twice as likely to be unemployed.

Census data showed 117,000 black wife-white husband couples in 2006, up from 95,000 in 2000.

Last year's movie "Something New" centered on an affluent black woman who falls for her white landscaper, a situation not unlikely as black women scale the corporate ladder, said Evia Moore, whose interracial marriage blog draws 1,000 visitors a day.

It features articles like ''Could Mr. Right Be White?'' and pictures of couples like white chef Wolfgang Puck and his new Ethiopian wife.

''Black women are refusing to comply with that message about just find yourself a good blue-collar man with a job, or just find a black man,'' Moore said.

She pointed to low rates of black men in college, a place where women of all races often meet their spouses.

Black women on campus largely are surrounded by non-black men: In 2004, 26.5 percent of black males ages 18 to 24 were enrolled in college vs. 36.5 percent of black women that age, the American Council on Education's most recent statistics show.

Even after college, Roslyn Holcomb struggled to meet professional black men.

"I wanted to get married [and] have children," she said. "If I was only meeting one guy a year, or every few years, that wasn't going to happen."

The Alabama author eventually married a white man.

Kellina Craig-Henderson, a Howard University psychology professor, said modern black women agonize over breaking male-female bonds forged in slavery and strengthened through the Jim Crow era.

''It may be even more of an issue for educated black women who have a sense of the historical realities of this country, where black women often were abused at the hands of white men,'' Craig-Henderson said.

But some black women are complaining many successful black men are choosing blonds.
"They don't want a dark chocolate sister laying around their swimming pool," Moore said.

Back men are voicing their own frustrations with women they feel regard them with suspicion. "They treat us all the same," said W. Randy Short, a Washington writer. "The rapist on the TV is the same as me."

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