Hot Colors: Race, Sex, and Love

Hot Colors: Race, Sex, and Love

Harvard Magazine
March-April 2003

Craig Lambert

Tiger Woods, possibly the world’s best-known athlete, resists being called a “black” golfer. He coined the term “Cablinasian” (Caucasian, black, Indian, Asian) to identify his race, and used it on the Oprah Winfrey television show after winning the 1997 Masters tournament. Although Woods’s ancestry may be unusually diverse, his heritage is far less exceptional than his golfing skill, as professor of law Randall Kennedy makes clear in his new book, Interracial Intimacies (Pantheon). Five years in the making, the volume examines the history, lore, and especially the legalities, primarily in the United States, surrounding sexual, marital, and familial relationships among people of different races.

Racially mixed relationships are becoming more common. In the United States there are 1.5 million cross-racial marriages, a figure that has doubled about every decade. Forty percent of Asian Americans have married whites in recent years, as have 6 percent of blacks. “The general situation for people involved in interracial intimacies has never been better,” Kennedy writes. Most legal obstacles to pairing across races have been struck down, and Kennedy believes that even “public opinion now permits interracial intimacies to be pursued and enjoyed with unparalleled levels of freedom, security, and support.”…

…Yet Kennedy is neutral on the question of amalgamation—the view, advanced by many, including historian Will Durant and Harvard’s Beneficial professor of law, Charles Fried, that biological intermingling will eventually dissolve the race problem. “I’m not a biological determinist,” Kennedy declares. “If, in 50 years time, most whites still marry other whites and most blacks still marry other blacks, can we still have a racially decent society? Sure!”…

Read the entire article here.

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