Guess Who's Coming to Dinner Now? the Sudden Upsurge of Black Women/white Men Celebrity Couples

By Norment, Lynn | Ebony, September 1992 | Go to article overview

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner Now? the Sudden Upsurge of Black Women/white Men Celebrity Couples


Norment, Lynn, Ebony


The Sudden Upsurge of Black Women/ White Men Celebrity Couples

BLACK women, White men. Its impossible not to notice, for they seem to be everywhere. On the pages of glossy magazines. Smiling happily on television shows about the lifestyles of celebrities. Enduring trials and tribulations on the daily soap operas.

For many years it was quite common to see famous Black men in the company of White dates or mates, while Black women escorted by White men were more of a rarity. But that seems to be changing quite rapidly, especially among the celebrity set. Today, you are just as likely to see a photo of a glamorous brown-skinned beauty on the arm of a Caucasian man as you are to see a Black man with a White date or mate.

Consider, for example, that among the most popular couples in the media these days is beautfful model Iman and her new husband, rock star David Bowie. In the wave of publicity surrounding Tonya Pinkins winning a Tony Award for Jellys Last Jam, the brownskinned actress was shown celebrating with her husband, Ron Breyer, a Caueasian with long Afro-like tresses.

Actress Lynn Whitfield scored both career and personal hits with her starting role in The Josephine Baker Story, for before the movie aired she had married the director, Brian Gibson. Whoopi Goldbergs former husband is White, and the acclaimed actress is often photographed with White escorts at Hollywood events. Recording artist Chaka Khan is romantically linked to a German. Moreover, actress Nell Carter recently wed White hubby No. 2.

And its not just famous Black women who are being courted by White men. A number of popular Hollywood hunks-- most notably Robert DeNiro, Chuck Norris and Jeff Goldblum have been photographed out with Black women. Tennis star Boris Becker has a Black girlfriend, actress Barbara Feltus-Herbst who lives in Germany. And renowned film critic Roger Ebert gave a thumbsup to interracial love and recently married Chaz Hammel-Smith, a Black attorney in Chicago.

As these and numerous not-so-famous interracial couples can attest, love can be colorblind. Hollywood stars such as Sidney Poitier, Quincy Jones, Diana Ross and Diahann Carroll have had White mates. And other noted Blacks, including Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, have crossed the color lines for love. But one cannot help but wonder why, suddenly, there appears to be an explosion of mixed celebrity couples involving Black women. What's going on?

Noted psychologists pin this social evolution to several causes, from greater societal acceptance of interracial mating to the shortage of marriageable Black men. Dr. Fred A. Clark says Black women have been dating and marrying White men "for quite some time," especially in California, but it is just more open now. "People don't feel they have to hide their true feelings anymore," says Dr. Clark, a social-clinical psychologist in Sacramento, Calif., who conducts interracial and intercultural counseling groups. "Its okay to be with someone who is different. Today, everyone is looking for someone with whom they are compatible. If that compatibility is with someone of a different race or ethnicity, then thats who they date.

'Thats what the United States is all about," adds Dr. Clark. "You can select anyone you want for your mate, and I don't think anyone should interfere with

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared unconstitutional laws barring racial intermarriage in Virginia and 15 other states. The 1967 ruling came about after a mixed couple in Central Point, Va., Richard and Mildred Loving (she is Black), challenged Virginia's 1924 antimiscegenation statute in response to their being forced by local law officials to either live apart, go to jail or leave the state.

Today, there are more than a million interracial couples in the United States with about two-thirds of them involving Black men and White women. …

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