How “Commonsense” Notions of Race, Class and Gender Infiltrate Families Formed across the Color Line
Eileen T. Walsh
DOI: 10.4236/sm.2012.21010   PDF   HTML     5,153 Downloads   9,429 Views   Citations


This research presents data from in-depth interviews of sixty adults in Southern California who have formed families across the black/white color line. In a societal context where normative family formation remains mono-racial, many adults in multiracial families manage their social performances to mitigate the stigma associated with their unusual family pattern or to challenge social expectations associated with race, class, and gender. Their stories reveal how they deploy strategic exaggerations of gender and stereotypes of social class in their day to day lives. These deployments operate to manage social interactions when confronting commonsense expectations about what it means to be a man or woman who trespasses the color line in family formation.

Share and Cite:

Walsh, E. (2012). How “Commonsense” Notions of Race, Class and Gender Infiltrate Families Formed across the Color Line. Sociology Mind, 2, 75-79. doi: 10.4236/sm.2012.21010.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Billingsley, A. (1992). Climbing Jacob’s ladder: The enduring legacy of African American families. New York: Touchstone Books.
[2] Bonilla-Silva, E. (2003). Racism without racists: Color-blind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in the United States. New York: Rowman and Littlefield.
[3] Dalmage, H. (2000). Tripping on the color line: Black/white racially divided families in a racially divided world. New Brunswick: Rutgers Press.
[4] Dalmage, H. (2004). The politics of Multiracialism: Challenging racial thinking. Albany: State University of New York Press.
[5] Du Bois, W. E. B. (1967). The Philadelphia Negro: A social study. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania.
[6] Ferber, A. L. (1998). White man falling: Race, gender and white supremacy. Lanham, MA: Rowman & Littlefield.
[7] Fields, J., & Casper, L. M. (2001). America’s families and living arrangements: March 2000. Current Population Reports P20-537. Washington DC: US Census Bureau.
[8] Frankenberg, R. (1994). The social construction of whiteness: White women, race matters. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
[9] Fu, V. K. (2001). Racial intermarriage pairings. Demography, 38, 147- 159. doi:10.1353/dem.2001.0011
[10] Gubrium, J. F., & Holstein, J. (2002). Handbook of interview research, context and method. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publication.
[11] Harris, D. R., & Ono, H. (2005). How many interracial marriages would there be if all groups were of equal size in all places. Social Science Research, 34, 236-251. doi:10.1016/j.ssresearch.2004.01.002
[12] Heer, D. (1966). Negro-white marriages in the United States. In R. Staples (Ed.). The black family (pp. 292-311). New York: Wadsworth Publishing.
[13] Heer, D. (1974). The prevalence of black-white marriage in the United States, 1960 and 1970. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 36, 246-258. doi:10.2307/351151
[14] Kaba, A. J. (2011). Inter-ethnic/interracial romantic relationships in the United States: Factors responsible for the low rates of marriages between Blacks and Whites. Sociology Mind, 1, 121-129. doi:10.4236/sm.2011.13015
[15] Lichter, D. T., & Qian, Z. (2004). Marriage and family in a multiracial society. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
[16] McNamara, R., Tenpenis, M., & Walton, B. (1999). Crossing the line. Interracial couples in the South. Westport, CO: Greenwood Press.
[17] Monahan, T. P. (1976). An overview of statistics on interracial marriage in the United States, with data on its extent from 1963-1970. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 5, 223. doi:10.2307/350382
[18] Omi, M., & Winant, H. (1994). Racial formation in the United States from the 1960’s to the 1990’s (2nd ed.). New York: Routeledge.
[19] Pascoe, P. (2010). What comes naturally: Miscegenation law and the making of race in the United States. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
[20] Qian, Z. (1997). Breaking the racial barriers: Variations in interracial marriage between 1980 and 1990. Demography, 34, 263-276. doi:10.2307/2061704
[21] Qian, Z. C. (1997). Breaking the racial barriers: Variations in interracial marriage between 1980 and 1990. Demography, 34, 263. doi:10.2307/2061704
[22] Qian, Z. C. (2002). Race and social distance: Intermarriage with Non-Latino Whites. Race and Society, 5, 33-47. doi:10.1016/j.racsoc.2003.12.003
[23] Rosenblatt, P., Karis, T., & Powell, R. (1995). Multiracial couples: Black and White voices. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
[24] Sanjek, R. (1994). Intermarriage and the future of races in the United States. In Gregory, & Sanjek (Eds.). Race. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
[25] Tucker, M., & Mitchell-Kernan, C. (1998). Psychological well-being and perceived marital opportunity among single African American, Latina, and White women. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 29, 57.
[26] Wallenstein, P. (2002). Tell the court I love my wife: Race, marriage and law—an American history. New York: MacMillan.
[27] Zebroski, S. (1999). Black-white intermarriages. The racial gender dynamics of support and opposition. Journal of Black Studies, 30, 123. doi:10.1177/002193479903000107

Copyright © 2022 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.