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Genetically speaking, there are no racial categories; race is merely skin deep.Dating and marrying across racial lines should therefore be natural, common and acceptable. This is the United States, where a deep-seated notion of racial difference has been the rationalization for oppression, the rallying cry for discrimination against people who are not white.Two of my younger male relatives have recently been engaged to white women, and one tied the knot last summer.This is a pattern that I have observed in my professional life for years: successful black men pairing up with white women, but now that the practice has come home to roost, so to speak, I cannot help but admit to feeling a bit demoralized.

Romantic attraction is subject to the larger social forces of racial prestige and stigma that swirl all around us, and in this environment, black women are losing out.

These relationships are caring and genuine, and surely bring happiness to the individuals involved in them.

I have even dated outside of my racial group, and I married someone who isn't black -- a Native American man (with, I must add, distant French and African ancestry).

Try as I might to suppress the reaction, I experience black men's choice of white women as a personal rejection of the group in which I am a part, of African American women as a whole, who have always been devalued in this society.

Certainly my reaction links back to a few bad apples in my own young dating years.

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