White Men’s Hostility to Black Women: A Deeper Look

Census data reveal that the interracial marriage rate of black women (and mainly white men) has only modestly increased from 1% in 1970 to 4.1% in 2000. Research also shows that black women are overwhelmingly excluded as interracial dating partners, with one study showing that white men excluded black women as dating options at 93 percent.

The longstanding persistent exclusion of black women as a heterosexual relationship partner for white men (and other men of color) continues to exist in a society that today prides itself on colorblindness and even post-raciality. Quantitative polls that measure racial attitudes of whites today show a marked decrease in racial hostilities, however, these polls do not account for the complexities of frontstage and backstage racism, whereby whites manipulate racial performances for the settings that they are in. See Picca and Feagin’s research.

To understand the phenomenon of black women’s consistent exclusion by white men, I examined 134 contemporary white men’s thoughts, opinions, perspectives, and emotional reactions to black women as they expressed in in-depth online questionnaires. The findings reveal, overwhelmingly, that the white male respondents, despite most admittedly having very limited experiences with black women, held grossly negative views of them as culturally defunct, domineering, welfare queens, and unattractive unless representing a white aesthetic. For example, one respondent stated the following, when sharing his thoughts about black women:

Just the term ‘black women’ conjures up thoughts of an overweight, dark-skinned, loud, poorly educated person with gold teeth yelling at somebody in public. I hope that doesn’t make me racist but honestly that’s the 1st thing I think of (white male respondent)

This respondent is middle-class with no black female friends, rare interactions with black families growing up, and who states his interactions with black women only consist of work-related experiences, yet, he expresses strong racialized, gendered, and classed views of black women as the first impressions that come to his mind.

Another respondent, a middle class white male in his 40’s stated the following about black women and attraction:

Sexual attraction for me is a combination of physical and personal attributes. If I find a ‘black’ woman attractive, it is because their hair type and facial features are more representative of the [C]aucasian race. If that aspect is attractive, then their speech and intelligence level would have to be more representative of that found more prevalent in other races (such as [C]aucasian or [A]sian – i.e.: anthropological mongoloids.

This respondent, despite admitting to having no close black female friends and few personal interactions with black women, places whites and Asians as naturally more intelligent than blacks.

My research disputes convenient notions that only a few uneducated, southern bigots hold such strong deep-seated racist and sexist views of black women. The white male respondents in my study hold current and future leadership positions in society, with 42% possessing some college education, 30% a bachelor’s degree, and over 48% are middle class!

[Note: Brittany has a major book in the works on these issues and data.]