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Boundaries of LoveInterracial Marriage and the Meaning of Race$
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Chinyere K. Osuji

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781479878611

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479878611.001.0001

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“A Fly in the Buttermilk”

“A Fly in the Buttermilk”

Black Spouses in White Families

(p.157) 5 “A Fly in the Buttermilk”
Boundaries of Love

Chinyere K. Osuji

NYU Press

This chapter compares the discursive strategies that black-white couples and their families drew on to navigate the integration of black spouses into white extended families. White Carioca families engaged in more openly racist opposition, racist humor, and/or indirect insults to express discomfort with blacks marrying into the family. In an “irony of opposition,” past race-mixing in Carioca white families did not shield black spouses from these sentiments. This countered the myth of racial democracy in which color is not an impediment to interpersonal relationships. Nevertheless, Carioca respondents were less likely to report resistance in white families than Angelino couples. U.S. couples' higher rates of domestic migration resulted in less integration of black spouses into white family life than among Brazilian couples, whose tight-knit family relationships led to black spouses' greater incorporation. Los Angeles couples understood white family members as using the discourse of “expressing concerns” about the relationship, then moving to more overt discouragement of marrying black partners. Couples understood this “expressing concern” discourse as an attempt at social desirability on the part of white family members, emblematic of U.S. “color-blind” racism.This chapter shows how intermarriage can leave white supremacy, anti-blackness, and racial boundaries intact within the family.

Keywords:   White families, Interracial marriage, Multiracial Family, Comparative Race, Intersectionality, Casais interraciais, Mestiçagem

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