White Husbands Become More Racially Sensitive

Many of the thirty black women I interviewed for my book on interracial marriage cited examples of how their white husbands became more racially sensitive after their marriage. Social situations in which the husbands at one time may not have attached any racial nuances, took on new significance after they married.

For example, one of the white husbands noted how he used to frequent one downtown Chicago restaurant for lunch as it was close to his job. Usually he went to lunch with one or two of his white co-workers. When he would take his black wife to dinner at this restaurant, he observed how they didn’t receive the same level of service as he did when he was with his colleagues. At first he thought he was imagining the differential treatment, but after a few visits, he realized that he wasn’t. He spoke to the manager at the restaurant about his observation, but felt his comments weren’t taken seriously. As a consequence he stopped patronizing the restaurant.

Another white husband reported that one time when he was standing in line to make a purchase that the cashier (another white male) winked at him and said he had to watch out to make certain ‘everything was properly paid for.’ At the time the cashier was waiting on an older black customer who the husband described as very conservatively and expensively dressed. He was annoyed that the cashier made this comment because he felt that if the customer had been a white male attired in a similar manner that no such comment would have been made. When it became his turn to be waited on by the cashier, he let him know that he didn't appreciate the negative comment directed towards the black customer.

One benefit of being interracially married is learning to see the world through the eyes of one’s spouse.

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