Kareem Phillip-Jackson 0:00
START OF TRAILER: Is it such a terrible thing for women to be single, or is it just the fact of they quote unquote, not have any eligible partners?
Cheryl Judice 0:15
Does everybody necessarily want to have a partner? Well, I think most people want to have someone to love. Men feel far more free to date anybody. They don’t feel to necessarily limit themselves based on anybody’s notion of who they should date or so on and so forth. Most black women do have some reservations about dating outside of the race.
Kareem Phillip-Jackson 0:38
It’s interesting because you’re saying there’s not enough black men on college campuses
Cheryl Judice 0:42
No, not enough Black men period, they’re far more black women numerically, and then there are black men.
Kareem Phillip-Jackson 0:49
Do you think the media has anything to do with the view that black women, all they want is black men with money?.
Cheryl Judice 0:59
I do, and I do think that gets played up in a very negative kind of stereotype.
Kareem Phillip-Jackson 1:04
START OF INTERVIEW: Hey guys, my name is Kareem Jackson, I’m the founder of Unpluggd Media. Today we’re starting a new podcast called Untold Perspectives. Today, we want to explore the topic of “Interracial Marriages, Interracial Relationships”. I have a special guest today, Dr. Cheryl Judice, who is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University, and she wrote a book titled “Interracial Relationships Between Black Women and White Men”, which me, as a black man, I was very interested when I saw it because I was like, okay, this has to be something crazy, like I wanna know what’s really going on here so I’m very happy to have her here today. Dr. Judice, how are you doing?
I am doing just fine and looking forward as usual, to telling people about my research.
Before we get into that, can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
Yes. Well, I grew up in Chicago, Illinois, and I live in Evanston, Illinois, where I not only teach at Northwestern University and I got my PhD in Sociology, but I also own a business. My late husband, I had a business that’s been around almost 40 years called Techies Barbecue. So at any rate, between doing the book and teaching and learning how to run the business my life is pretty full. My husband passed in May of 2020, I have three adult children, two grandchildren, and of course, I include my husband’s children from his previous relationships. So if I think about I have something like seven children, and maybe 12 grand and then another 16 great grandchildren all because of my husband’s life. Yeah, I got interested in this topic of interracial relationships and marriage while I was doing my dissertation. Let me tell you what happened. I was talking with some other professors at Northwestern, they kept referencing black men with white women and I was having a disconnect because even though it is far more common for black men to be married to white women, in my personal experience, I know far more black women married to white men than in that pattern. And my interest in this topic, actually goes back to my own family. My family has been a multi-ethnic for many, many, many generations even though I identify as African American. The first documented interracial marriage in my family can be traced to the 1930s and that was when one of my mother’s cousins married an Italian woman and this was up in St. Paul, Minnesota. Now Minnesota happened to be one of those states, where they never legislated against interracial marriages. Prior to 1967 interracial marriage was illegal in many states across the United States, primarily, I would say in the south and so on and so forth. But there are many other states, they never bothered to put any legislation against interracial marriages because after all, who would do that? So they never bothered and Minesotta was one of those. So at any rate, my mother’s cousin and this Italian woman, Angeline, married in the 1930, 1931. As it turned out, they met in church and the church, which is also unusual. Going back to the 1930s think of how unusual it’d be for a church to be interracial, but again, they met there, and they did get married and they did have two children and they lived in Minnesota. And Minnesota, according to my research, is one of the states that is really probably more welcoming to interracial couples and again, I think it has something to do with the kind of people that settled in Minnesota. Many of them are Scandinavian background, and most Scandinavians tend to be people that live and let live. They don’t get into your business, you don’t get into theirs, they don’t giet into yours. But anyway, my Angeline and Lewis did encounter some you know, racism, obviously being married interracially and of course, initially, she got disowned. And even on my mother’s cousin’s side the husband’s side, his parents, they weren’t all that thrilled that he was marrying and white woman either. But this couple did manage to be married far more than 50 years when he passed. And of course, he was one of three siblings and the only one whose marriage endured. Everybody else married within the race and of course, divorced. But so anyway, that kind of piqued my interest: What was it that allowed them to stay married?
That’s interesting, so why is it of course that they got divorced?
You know I shouldn’t have put it like that, they wound up married for different reasons. And sometimes when you’re an interracial couple you think long and hard about what you’re doing. And as a result, you might have a little deeper commitment level than other people that are entering it for the first time as well. But no, I’m not cynical about marriage. I mean, I was married a very long time before my husband passed, I was married almost 38 years. So yeah, so I mean that’s long and then I have friends who are divorced. So what can you say? I think the divorce rate has not really changed that much over the past several decades in this country. What’s changed is a category of people that are getting divorced. You’re finding older people getting divorced, sometimes in greater numbers than they had before because as our lifestyle expands and people feel healthier longer, you know when they wake up at 50 maybe they don’t like this person anymore so they wanna try somebody else.
In your book, you refer to young black women not finding eligible partners as pain and anguish. Walk us through that, like is it such a terrible thing for women to be single or is it just the fact of their quote unquote, not having eligible partners?
Cheryl Judice 7:11
Okay. Remember I just told you we’ve talked about how my family and interracial relationships. I used to work for a very long time in graduate education and I had the opportunity to travel across, and visit numerous college campuses in the United States. And one thing that was kind of a hallmark of these campuses is that I found all these accomplished young black coeds doing great things in other areas of their life, academically, keeping in shape, involved in their communities, giving back. But when it came to their social lives, they were having a far more difficult time and I’ll tell you some of the reasons behind this. Does everybody necessarily want to have a partner? Well, I think most people want to have someone to love, whether that is in a heterosexual or homosexual relationship, whatever their terms, that mean, that isn’t the issue. I think everybody wants a partner of some sort. And unfortunately, on college campuses, even those that are co-ed, women outnumber men, no matter what the racial ethnic background. When you factor in race, particularly for black males, you’d most often find far more black females enrolled in college than black males which means [inaudible] for those black males that aren’t there many of them wind up being able to date whom, you know – well first of all, men, period, don’t even have to stratify by race. Men feel far more free to date anybody. They don’t feel to necessarily limit themselves based on anybody’s notion of who they should date or so on and so forth. So black men are like any other men when it comes to dating. They feel they can date black women, white women, anybody else they want to. Unfortunately, that is not the same for most black women. Most black women do have some reservations about dating outside of the race. Again, why do they have that? All you have to do is look at the historical background of this country where black women have never been as respected or as put on and held up to the highest standards of femininity as other groups of women and black women recognize that and so they’re not, and again, if we look at the background and get some relationships with white men with black women, they’re not going to put themselves out there to be available to anyone else, so they are hoping to the most part. And most people irrespective of their race, ethnicity, always kind of look today, some within their own group. But black women are the only group of women in the country they can’t take for granted. They wish to date and marry that they can find someone simply because the numbers aren’t there. I’m always making sure black men understand I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with black men whatsoever. All I’m saying is that there are not enough of you. So if a black woman limits their options, look out she has a very [inaudible] single.
Kareem Phillip-Jackson 11:28
Well, I have a different perspective because I went to university, a technical university, and there was more men and women. It’s interesting because you’re saying there’s not enough black men on college campuses.
Cheryl Judice 11:39
No, not enough Black men period. There are far more Black women numerically than there are black men in the United States.
Kareem Phillip-Jackson 11:47
What are the reasons for that? Can you give us a rundown of some of the reasons for that?
Cheryl Judice 11:51
Well first of all, I’d go right back to infancy, when there are, you know, again, for every 100 females that are born every year, 105 males are born. So nature, right to the beginning is trying to compensate for the fact that further along the lifeline, there are going to be fewer men. But why is it happening? Right around about age 16, Black women begin to outnumber black men. For whites, that doesn’t happen ’til around age 32. So consequently, black women are twice as young are more likely to start feeling the differences in the number of men around versus women. So that’s firstly, what accounts for that higher mortality rates, higher incarceration rates but no, all you have to do is look at what goes on and all the central cities who are very anecdotal, example, when you hear about the number of black people that are killed per year. Male to female was it, four to five to one. I mean where I am in the Chicago area, we take for granted and we’ve [inaudible] to how many young black males get killed all the time. You don’t have comparable numbers of black females getting killed in that same way. So back with all the other factors going on in the broader scope of course, we can look at it as racism, that it’s attended factors of poverty, and so on, or whatever it is. The bottom line is that there are far more black women than there are black men.
Kareem Phillip-Jackson 13:29
So coming back to your research has it considered so the potential for happiness and compatibility in these interracial relationships given the history of racism in the USA?
Yes. And that’s what I was looking for. Because when I was doing research, my goal was to say okay, now against the backdrop of all this racism, can these women really forge meaningful, happy relationships, and yes, that’s that those are ones I report on in the book. Now, this is not a [inaudible] story, some of these relationships do end in divorce as well. But generally speaking, what I have found is that for black women that marry outside of the race, they tend to marry and stay married. They have great sustainability in their marriages. Here’s a statistic that one that I had for that. At the 10 year anniversary mark, a black woman married to a white man still has a greater likelihood of still being married. Now a white oman married to a white man. Now for a black man, married to a white woman at the 10 year mark you are not as likely, black men are not as likely to still be married, as you know as the other marital patterns that go on. And then finally, where you find the least stability in marriage comes with a black couple, again, because of higher pressures and demands on them. So all I simply said is that, even though marriages between black women and white men are far less frequent than the other way around black men with white women, where these marriages do occur, for the most part they tend to work out well.
So you just mentioned higher pressures on black couples. Can you expand on that a little bit, please?
Number one, financial pressures. You know, it’s very rare when you find a black couple, a middle class black couple and a middle class white couple are of two totally different financial parameters. So I do feel, I mean, there are greater financial strains on black families than other groups. That also would apply not just financially but in terms of, again, sometimes resulting from those financial strains, you find it more difficult to keep the family together and so on and so forth. So all the attendant things that happened when we’re not as financially secure as you’d like to be result in those relationships. Even where black people are employed at high levels that also comes with a lot pressure because it’s not like your peers are gonna be other black people. You’re very fortunate if you’re a black person hired at the highest echelons in corporate America. If you have one or two peers, most likely you don’t. You know, again, things are getting better than they once were but it was so rare when you had black people at the highest echelon and they were always writing newspaper articles about them, pointinng out who they were and so on and so forth. So again, that brings its other pressure. You know, you’re a black person that’s constantly being called upon to perform in a white space, and then they bring back that home as well. So, anyway, you toss the coin there are certainly greater pressures on black people, period, than white people in terms of making it in America. I had a friend who did a study once a black males in one country from in Africa versus what was going on here and he was annoyed as all get out to discover that black man in Africa, were not contracting or dying from or being debilitated from some of these diseases that black men in this country got [it/in] far earlier ages. So he said that there has to be some reason why being an a black man in America is not as quote unquote, healthy for you as being a black man in certain parts of Africa.
I know in your books you’ve spoken about Black women having difficulty finding black men that are ready to commit. You have any thoughts on what causes that divide or unreadiness in Black men?
Cheryl Judice 17:57
Sure. This is what the women have told me that they hadn’t found men that were ready to commit and so consequently that may have led them to start looking outside and race. Yes, one of the main things I feel is that for black men, in terms of commitment, many of them feel they have a world wide range of women from which to choose from. For many of them they want to make sure every other part of their life is where they want it to be in place first, before choosing a partner. Because that’s, that’s a, you know, real strong priority. So that puts them somewhat at odds. And then of course, there are some black men that I’ve been told about, I haven’t necessarily counted, that really want to make sure they kind of do a cost benefit analysis about who the woman that they wind up with for example, okay, say he’s on his track to become a professional whatever field, some men they want a woman that’s equally you know, as competent or as able to be as equal a bread earner than he is so they’re looking more for that so they hold back to make these commitments, so it’s things along that line. I think for many black men that you have an additional pressure on you when it comes to a relationship, because you’re going to have all these women coming at you if you’re you know, if you’re doing well and so on and so forth so you want to make some the best choices. If you’re poor, you don’t have to worry about that happening. But if you are well educated, working, what do they call it, a BMW, a black man working? Yeah, you probably are going to have a whole lot of people trying to check you out.
Kareem Phillip-Jackson 19:35
In your research, do financials have anything to do with the choices that you wanted these black women to make so for example, if there are suitable black men that possibly are not as educated, maybe don’t have the same earning power as these women, but they’re ready to commit. Would you say that’s a suitable match for some of these young ladies?
Cheryl Judice 19:55
Yes. I’ll tell you, what one person thinks is unsuitable and another does. Plenty of women marry men that are quote unquote, as comparably educated, don’t earn as much as they do. I believe in the country, period. I think I’ve read somewhere once, somewhere between 25 to 30% of all marriages, in those marriages, the wife earns more than the husband and they are still ongoing. I don’t think most black women only equate a man’s earning power with making him a suitable partner. Many of them have put that out there now obviously they don’t want somebody making a minimum wage if they were you know, that kind of huge disparity, but other factors are equally as important. For example, you know, what kind of person are you? I think what it what is it that you want from life? What are your goals? What are your values? Many women want a man that is for lack of a better, I’m gonna say spiritually based, not necessarily connected to one particular religion, but at least have a very strong spiritual base. And I think that’s what a lot of people are looking for irrespective of race. Yeah.
Kareem Phillip-Jackson 21:02
Has any of your research included like the black male perspective? For example, educated black men, who either have a preference for either black or non black women to understand like where the divide is between the two of them?
My first book that got sold as an academic text which is probably harder for you to access it, it’s called Interracial Marriages Between Black Women and White Men. And in that that book was based on my dissertation where I interviewed 50 couples. 30 were black women with white husbands but 20 were black men with white wives. And I compared and contrasted their relationships on different factors to kind of determine where one worked, what basis something else worked, and overall, I can tell you like I just mentioned, black women married to white men have a far easier time of it socially. In the terms of their presentation, just think of the social hierarchy period in the country. White men are at the top of the heap and then you have white women but for African Americans, it kind of flips. We try to put the black woman ahead of the black man, but essentially all my dissertation confirmed is that a white man can marry anyone he wants and he’s never going to face the same kind of social disapproval that some black men may face if they marry outside the race. But in both cases, again, I have, I’ve actually interviewed several black men who told me their preference was a black woman, but they didn’t quote unquote, find who they wanted that was black and then along comes someone else and maybe she’s white, Hispanic, or, you know, another racial or ethnic group. That’s why they married outside of the race. Their preference is not a white woman, that’s just who they wound up married to when everything came down to it. And I want to be careful to make sure that I’ve emphasized that I have never interviewed a single black man that was anti black women, whatsoever. I mean, because sometimes you get some, I call a black woman out there hating on the black man that’s with a white woman or a woman of a different group. But I’ve never come across an interview of any black man that I felt married the white woman because he thought she was better than or had greater status than a black woman. Not at all. And in fact, where black women are married to white men, most of those relationships with the couple were in comparable careers, like two lawyers, two doctors, two musicians, the whole bit. But also, and even though you don’t have quite that same disparity, you don’t have the same kind of equality going on in a black male at the white woman. You know their stereotype is that you’ve got the high funding or the high earning black male married to a much lower status white woman. And I actually did not interview but maybe one or two couples where I can even broadly say that might have been the case. Again, with the black men that were married outside the race they were married to women that were comparably educated on all these different factors as anybody as they were.
Do you think the media has anything to do with the view that black women all they want is black men with money? Because there’s a thing in the media. You see it all the time where you know, if you have like a regular guy, average Joe so to speak who desires the black woman, but she necessarily doesn’t go for that, she goes for the athlete or the entertainer who has like four or five of them. Do you think that the media has a lot to play in how people view these type of relationships and how people view the dynamics between black men and black woman today?
Yes, I do. And I do think that gets played up in a very negative kind of stereotype. I agree 100%. And the other thing is that if you notice, I’m not a person that watches a lot of television, but in the few times that I have, one of the things that I’ve observed is how the media still is reluctant to put a black man out there in a relationship with a white woman, particularly in commercials and so on and so forth. But they become a lot more open to putting a black woman out there in a relationship with a white man. I mean, I’ve seen a couple of commercials where the, you know, the wife is black, the husband is white, and then you have their children, but they’re not yet as open to doing the reverse pattern. And yeah, so I totally agree that media is kind of pushing that envelope.
I think it comes down to, not comes down, but comes back to the idea of higher education. Is education the final factor in choosing a suitable mate on both sides? So women want someone that’s just as educated as they are and then the men wants someone just as educated as they are? Is that like the breaking factor sometimes?
I imagine it could be but I can’t say that I have interviewed people with that as the breaking factor per se. In my book, I think I referenced maybe two women who grew up in families where their parents emphasize that they marry a man who was as educated as they were. So that was kind of their, their first factor they looked at. The first attribute they looked at for a guy to be potential mate. But then I’ve interviewed other women that yeah, they’re more educated formally than their husbands, but they don’t dismiss that there husbands have more life experience than they have. That also comes in handy in terms of making sure they have a good life together. My husband, for example, he didn’t have a PhD but he had a bachelor’s degree, but he was in business and working and he used to tease all the time that his BA paid for me to get my PhD and I would laugh because absolutely. He supported me all the way. And the other thing is that we always look at, is the fact that, don’t get carried away with formal educational credentials from academia because people in the technical trades do perfectly well if they aren’t good and can earn as much as, if not more than, as my husband would point out. My wife has a PhD, how does that help when the refrigerator goes out? Or we need the plumber or we need an electrician. So again, many women also think along that way, they don’t look down and someone that doesn’t have what they have in terms of matching education like that. A woman that is serious about someone looks at the total person.
So would you say that some men may be to some degree of seeing, like, they might feel like they’re not enough to seeing educated black women. So that might be a factor in them kind of shying away from approaching certain women.
Cheryl Judice 27:49
Well, I don’t know if from a lot of research, I can only speak to that anecdotally. When I got my PhD, my husband was approached by a number of his male friends both black and white. “Whoa, your wife is so much more formally educated, how does make you feel?” You know, like all of a sudden he’s supposed to feel diminished. Like we haven’t been married forever in a day. And he goes, “No I think it makes me look good.” I can smell the pizza. You know, it’s right with the others and let’s, I must be worth something. And years ago, before I formally started researching this topic, I was at one of the universities on the East Coast, and the woman a black one at one of the black schools, the wife was the head of a department and her husband was a Custodian and they’ve been married, by time I even met them, more than 40 years. And she said “ohhh, that means nothing. James is blah blah blah, blah, blah”, she appreciate him for who he was. And apparently they were doing just fine. There’s kids and grandchildren together but her being more formally educated didn’t intimidate him and she was perfectly happy telling me “my husband’s a custodian”. [inaudible] the relationship is based on love and of course, that’s not to say you can’t love someone that’s educated or not but it was just one sweeping example of all the material things in the world and the outer or material types of accomplishments didn’t get in the way of their own relationship.
Kareem Phillip-Jackson 0:00
So is there a way forward to make interracial dating less taboo?
Cheryl Judice 0:04
Well, the way forward I think is to talk about it, to bring it out in the open. And that’s happening whether I wrote my book or not. Society is going that way, and I’m just happy that I can begin to document it. And for me, I don’t have to encourage the black man to think about who he wants to date or marry. Men are men, they date and marry who they want. But my goal is for every black woman to feel as free and confident as any other woman. To think that she can date and marry anyone she wants. That’s the whole purpose of my research. It was very painful to me to see because I had a great college experience in dating and had a great time when I was in college. I hated to see so many of these young women, they go to college, like in my opening chapter in my book, I talked about this young woman and she stood up. I’m a junior college, and I had never been asked out on a date. And [inaudible] I just thought that was borderline tragic because one of the most, you know, you go to college for a social life as well. And that’s very important and for you to have to go all those years and no one thinks enough of you to ask you out, I found that to be very sad. But then when I realized that this young woman was only hoping to be asked out by one of the far fewer in number of black men on campus, I would just say, “Honey, the school has lots of men, stop putting all your eggs in this one basket.” And of course, her experience gets exacerbated out in the real world and this is where it gets very tragic. And that is when women, black women give up some of the best childbearing years of their lives in search of a man that may not exist for them. And then, you know, here they wind up, you know, 45 or older trying to marry or, you know, start a family most likely they’re not but they’re married maybe to a man who is divorced and has children and you know, they wind up with stepchildren. But as I tell these young women if your goal is to get married, and have children, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, broaden your net, because you just never know who might turn out to be the person for you.
Kareem Phillip-Jackson 2:18
That’s a powerful message. So, what would be your message to black men on the subject, if any?
Cheryl Judice 2:24
Well for black men, or just you as well. I don’t think you need, I don’t think black men need to limit in any way who they feel attracted to as well. I just want black women to feel that they have the same freedoms that black men have. I am not one of these, yes I’ve had tonnes of people “You should be telling black men just look”. Uh-uh, life doesn’t work that way. The heart knows what it wants and the heart loves who it wants. Black men continue on, you do your thing, let’s just get the women out here doing their thing. You shouldn’t feel obligated to find a woman of a particular race or ethnicity. That’s not life, why should you? The problem is women shouldn’t. That’s the paradigm I’m trying to break through.
Kareem Phillip-Jackson 3:11
Thank you very much. Dr. Judice. This has been a very enlightening conversation. I appreciate your time today and definitely, if you have any more any more books, definitely shoot them over to me so I could, I could check them out. I must admit, I know I told you this the first time we met that initially I was kinda angry. Why did she write this book? But then actually, after actually reading it is like okay, it makes.. it makes sense. So I appreciate you taking the time to talk with us today and have a wonderful day.