Sometimes the answers to black and white questions are too obvious to see.
Over at TPM, Nichole Perkins asks poses this question:
“Why does seeing a black man with a white woman stir up a hornet’s nest of racism, but not the reverse?”
The subject of Perkins’ essay centers largely around reactions to last year’s innocuous Cheerios commercial, which featured a fictional family with a black husband and white wife. Those expressing outrage were (I hope to God) a small percentage of our society, but they so vitriolic and offensive that Cheerios disabled comments on the YouTube page that featured the ad. As Perkins rightly points out, this is a fairly common response whenever black men are shown with white women: a small percentage of people enraged to a point that should be frightening to the rest of us. Depictions of white men with black women, on the other hand, seem to merit little or none of this kind of over-the-top bigotry.
Perkins doesn’t make much of a guess for why this might be the case, so I thought I’d throw in with what seems to be the most obvious answer:
Men — young men in particular — are more prone to being assholes.
And for those young men who are both white and fall into that asshole minority, the thought of them being able to be with a woman that looks like Halle is awesome, but the thought of a woman they want to like them being attracted to the guy that looks like Denzel is a trespass that cannot be tolerated and must be stopped.
My guess is that there are just as many female bigots out there as there are male bigots. But whether by nature, nurture, or some combination of the two, or some totally different reason altogether, men are simply more likely to be trolls and more likely to take to YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook and post knee-jerk, bigoted mini-rants that will ensure they never work above minimum wage. (As a guy who spends way too much of his time having behind-the-scenes discussions on what to do with trolls on this very site, trust me on this. I know of what I speak.)
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of other things going on here — and almost all of those things have to do with race.* But as to the question of why why white men vs. white women dating interracially receive different levels of outrage from white bigots, I think the answer is obvious.
So Nichole, if you’re still wondering, I think that’s pretty much your answer.
*For example, why don’t black men tweet death threats to white men who date black women the way white men do in the reverse? Or why don’t white men seem to get as excited when, say, an asian is shown dating a white woman?