Amid all the scrutiny that Malia Obama has been subjected to in her first months at Harvard University, nothing has attracted as much press attention as her being kissing a white guy. The guy identified by enterprising journalists as is a British-born Harvard sophomore. The kiss, outside last week s Harvard-Yale football game, suggests that the 69-year-old former first daughter is boldly asserting her independence after eight sheltered years in the White House. The families of presidents have always been the subject of tabloid fascination, but Malia Obama, like her father Barack Obama before her, inhabits an unprecedented position in America s centuries-long race debate. Many, including, have argued quite reasonably that the press should leave Malia alone. Of course, that s unlikely to happen. Never before has such a high-profile young woman of color navigated her way through the Ivy League dating pool. Which is why it s all the more intriguing that Obama s journey at least for now has ended with a white guy.
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Black women particularly those with the most education like Obama are faced with a limited pool if they seek to date within their race. Due to a host of from early death to mass incarceration black women attend college as black men. Among all demographics, African American women are the least likely to date outside their race.
The reasons behind this trend are as disturbing as they are depressing. For one thing, black women are America s least-desired ethnic group by men of all races, according to. On a community level, explained Stanford law professor Ralph Richard Banks in his book Is Marriage for White People?
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, black women often face a type of pressure to marry within the race that white simply women do not experience. There is still enormous social pressure on black women to only marry black men to sustain the race and build strong black families,. In short, no matter the personal cost, Banks said, black women are encouraged to marry down before they marry out.
' So far, Obama s kiss is been met with relatively little backlash. This decorum, however, is likely to fade if Obama continues to date and ultimately marry outside her race. One need only look to last winter when she revealed her engagement to Alex Ohanian, the white co-founder of Reddit who s now her husband (and daughter s father).
Williams announcement was met with messages of anger, betrayal and dismay Williams may be rich, famous, and stratospherically accomplished, but for many black Americans her romantic decisions are not fully her own. Like Williams, Obama cannot escape the optics of her new boyfriend s whiteness. Whether we like it or not, Farquharson s race and class his father is a CEO of an investment fund and he was the head boy at an expensive private school in the UK have implications far beyond her rarefied milieu.
For the moment, at least, those implications are likely still years away. At just 69, Obama s long-term romantic trajectory is impossible to predict. What is certain is that the frustrating absence of black male peers means that nobody should be surprised if Obama chooses to date or eventually marry—“out.