Freethinking Couples of the World, Unite!

I’ve become both inured and slightly indifferent to the eyes of the intolerant with respect to my interracial dating. I’ve received the stares from the ignorant while in public with a woman of a different race since high school.  One should expect a small amount of pestering during high school; however, I’ve encountered the eyes of the intolerant from adults well into their 60s while I was freshly in my 20s.  I have occasionally looked the other way, or turned the other cheek if you prefer, to avoid conflict with the racially injured, but when propriety trespasses against morality or the freedom of expression, the affronted have a right to voice their grievances. Young people are not obligated to give credence to our generational predecessors with regards to their views on interracial dating, marriage or religion.  Those of us who are not willing to take everything based on faith or based on race have for too long withstood the monopoly that the credulous has on the right to be offended; the secularist and freethinkers of the world can be offended too.

There are some that feel justified in their own intolerance towards interracial couples. The first reason seems to always come from the irascibility of some blacks having lived pre Civil Rights Movement. The argument goes like this, “I lived during a time when a black person could get lynched, hanged, tortured or convicted of a crime for flirting with a white person.” I am willing to grant that premise and take it one step further by saying one could have experienced those same injustices for interracial dating as they could just for being black, but living through racism in its legal and more vicious forms does not grant a pardon for discrimination, racism, or supporting anti-miscegenation.  In order to put a face behind the locus of “miscegenphobia,” the name of Emmett Till is often usurped to illustrate why blacks should avoid dating white people, however, the story of Emmett Till does not work in today’s context for blacks using his torture and murder as justification for anti-miscegenation.  In fact, the argument works better in the opposite.  The murder and torture of Emmett Till means blacks should not appease the demands of white terrorists and segregationists of the 50s, 60s or now.  Those of us that do indulge in our right to date, love and have sex with whomever we choose are not the antithesis of the civil rights movement; we are bringing the idea of civil rights to its fruition.   If slavery and white terrorism drives the reasoning to support anti-miscegenation for some black people, then, I ask, why not emancipate yourself from the religion that was forced upon African slaves, used to justify slavery and sanction lynching by white terrorists?

Of course, as a black person, you cannot liberate yourself from religion because positions such as agnosticism or atheism are considered “white,” and there are social consequences for any black person perceived to be embracing “white” culture or ideas.  Withstanding black stereotypes will earn someone racial epithets like sellout, Uncle Tom, or Oreo to people dating outside their race.  One could argue that the real sellout would be to hold onto the same pathologies that supported totalitarian structures such as slavery and racism.  This is not the anecdotal ranting of an angry atheist (Remember you can’t say angry “Black” atheist.  That wouldn’t be PC).  Frederick Douglass makes it clear that Christianity was used as religious sanction and support for slaveholding.  In his autobiography he recalls the brutal whipping of a young woman and quotes the slave master as saying

“He that knoweth his master’s will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes.”
                                                                                                                                         – Luke 12:47

Frederick Douglass goes on to say:

 “The religion of the south is a mere covering for the most horrid crimes, -a justifier of the most appalling barbarity, -a sanctifier of the most hateful frauds, -and a dark shelter under, which the darkest, foulest, grossest, and most infernal deeds of slaveholders find the strongest protection.”

In other words, with religion anything is possible and justifiable.  Douglass did not have available to him words like agnostic or atheist.  If he did, he certainly would not have been in a position to identify as such publicly.  So, I question the black Americans that do not embrace black secularist or freethinkers as part of black culture, why not shed the robes of Christianity?  If blacks can be regarded as being a “sellout” for embracing tenants of “white culture,” then embracing a religion that was violently spread and used to enslave African Americans by “white culture” is an equal offense.  Why not rid yourself of the disease that has helped permeate the patriarchal structures of oppression?

It’s already problematic that religion and race, as separate entities, have received protection from charges of offense, however, when the two are brewed together it creates a social Molotov cocktail. It has been consider taboo to suggest that any theist or black person is being discriminatory when they frown upon and disapprove of same-sex couples or blacks dating outside their race.  I have been personally asked, “You couldn’t find a black women to date?” And, I’ve been told I should prefer “my own” race. If you have been on the receiving end of such suggestions or questions, then you have also experienced the corollary explanation of how the questioner, after saying something racist, is not racist but thinks black women represent a higher quality of woman than any other racial group.  After the “I’m not racist but..” throat clearing, the racist non-racist individual gives a revelation story about why they accept interracial dating, which is only a concession made to be politically correct; however, this is not acceptance it is submission and the two should not be conflated. The word “accept” implies a lack of resistance. People who come to “accept” interracial dating are merely yielding to it and they should not get credit for surrendering to tolerance.  Those of us that are incapable of using religion or race as immunity from charges of racism, sexism and other forms of oppression should not allow those who are religious or racist to do so.

We know why we have different races and it’s not because the Big Boss demanded it.  Natural Selection and sexual selection are the reasons for racial diversity.  It is common belief to attribute dark skin in certain areas evolved to protect skin. Associations like this are imperfect.  Native peoples had very dark skin in some areas receiving relatively little sunlight like Tasmania; No American Indians have black skins, not even in the sunniest parts of the New World.  The key thing to remember is that according to Darwin:

“Not one of the external differences between the races of man are of any direct or special service to him.”[1]

Trying to concoct an explanation for the separation of humans based on race will lead to statements such as the ones uttered by a judge in the anti-miscegenation era. In 1963 Judge Leon Bazile denied the appeal of the conviction of the Loving’s for violating Virginia’s ant-miscegenation laws and stated:

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.

For any human to claim that he or she belongs to one race has a myopic view of science and humanity.  Racial variation is not limited to humans. White-handed Gibbons vary in hair color (Variously black, brown, reddish, or gray), hair length, tooth size, protrusion of the jaws, and protrusion of bony ridges over the eyes.  All of these traits differ among human populations. [2]

Natural Selection is an explanation for geographic variation “racial variation” in humans. Many African blacks but no Swedes have the sickle-cell hemoglobin gene, because the gene protects against malaria, a tropical disease that would otherwise kill Africans. This same idea of genetics and natural selection can be applied to the large chest of Andean Indians (Good for extracting oxygen from thin air at high altitudes and the compact shapes of Eskimos (Good for conserving heat).[3]

Sexual Selection is another factor in racial variation.  In the animal kingdom, which humans belong, there are animal features that have no obvious survival value but do play a role in securing mates for example, the tail of the male peacock or the mane of a male lion.  Because the mane of the male lion is an indicator of health, female lions prefer darker manes (If a male lion goes through a rough period, his mane becomes lighter. If he becomes better nourished or lives in a different habitat, his mane may get a lot darker. Dark color also indicates higher testosterone levels).[4] We are all confined to the rules of attraction by nature.

Are you naturally attracted to gluteus maximus or are you more into breast? Do you like your men/women busty or more on the thin side? The ideal that each of us pursues is an example of what are called “search images.”  A search image is a mental picture that we use to compare objects and people around us in order to be able to recognize something quickly.   For example a Peier bottle amidst all the other bottled waters on the supermarket shelf, or one’s child at a playground with other kids. So, how are they developed? We tend to live in neighborhoods defined by socioeconomic status, religion, and ethnic background, so we meet people of the same religion when we go to church and we experience people that have similar political views or the same racial makeup.  As children, we develop our search image of a future sex partner, and the people of opposite sex whom we see often heavily influence that image.[5]

A beautiful example of how search images affect our mating preferences are found in snow geese. Snow geese occur in two color phases, a blue phase commoner in the western Arctic and a white phase commoner in the eastern Arctic.  Birds raised within its color phase prefer a mate of the same phase.  This should not be surprising because this is what happens in humans, however there is something we can learn from snow geese.  When goslings (Think baby snow geese) are reared in a large mixed flock of both blue and white birds, they show no preference between blue and white mates when they reached adulthood.  When biologist dyed the white snow geese parents pink, the offspring came to prefer pink mates.[6]

With our knowledge of science, history and morality, are we condemned to have respect for the views of the credulous? With the recent DOMA rulings and Prop 8 overturn, the parties of God have been quick to claim offense by the spreading support of homosexuality.  I have been bombarded with nasty things said about interracial dating, atheist and same-sex couples and I often have to ask myself, who is really being offended when an interracial couple, who display their love publicly are reduced to degrading epithets? Who is really being offended when someone says public expression of same-sex of love is a form of indecency and unnatural according to God? The misguided belief that God is on one’s side and has a special relationship with one’s race does not trump my right to be offended by the teachings of that God. The same applies to blacks treating “blackness” like a religion.  Humans are not divided by race; we are all Africans and belong to the same species.  People in interracial relationships and same-sex couples are representing the best of civil rights not only on the behalf of equality but on the behalf of love too.


[1] Darwin, Charles. “The Descent of Man.” The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton UP, 1981. 248-49. Print.

[2] Diamond, Jared M. “Sexual Selection, and the Origin of Human Race.” The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1992. N. pag. Print.

If you are wondering, closely related species that would “normally” interbreed in the wild would if they otherwise had no choice. For example, Lions and Tigers, however, humans belong to the same species.

[3] Diamond, Jared M. “Sexual Selection, and the Origin of Human Race.” The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1992. N. pag. Print.

[4] Trivedi, Bijal P. “Female Lions Prefer Dark-Maned Males, Study Finds.” National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 22 Aug. 2002. Web. 30 June 2013. <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/08/0822_020822_TVlion.html&gt;.

[5] Diamond, Jared M. “Sexual Selection, and the Origin of Human Race.” The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1992. N. pag. Print.

[6] Diamond, Jared M. “Sexual Selection, and the Origin of Human Race.” The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1992. N. pag. Print.

2 Comments

  1. Incredibly, beautifully, written Anthony. You have made me, as a liberal democrat, reconsider being tolerance of the intolerant. Well done.

    Like

    1. Anthony Conwright

      Thank you for reading Andrea. I guess you are right about the audience… Sometimes, liberals do try to have it both ways (Being tolerant of someone’s intolerance)..

      Like

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