Renee C. Romano Oberlin College
Robert S. Danforth Professor of History, Comparative American Studies and Africana Studies
Marriage between blacks and whites is a longstanding and deeply ingrained taboo in American culture. On the eve of World War II, mixed-race marriage was illegal in most states, politicians argued for segregated facilities in order to prevent race mixing, and interracial couples risked public hostility, legal action, even violence. Yet, sixty years later, black-white marriage is no longer illegal or a divisive political issue, and the number of such couples and their mixed-race children has risen dramatically. Renee Romano explains how and why such marriages have gained acceptance, and what this tells us about race relations in contemporary America.
Telling the powerful stories of couples who married across the color line, Romano shows how cultural shifts are lived by individuals, and how they have enabled mixed couples to build supportive communities for themselves and their children. She warns, however, that the erosion of this taboo does not mean that racism no longer exists. The history of interracial marriage helps us understand the extent to which America has overcome its racist past, and how much further we must go to achieve meaningful racial equality.
“Romano’s monograph is excellent, and I hope it will gain the large audience that it deserves.”—Randall Kennedy, The Atlantic
"Renee C. Romano’s fine study, Race Mixing, describes how the last 60 years brought us to current attitudes toward mixed-race relationships, which are, at best, increasingly tolerant but still fraught with ignorance and stereotype… She focuses her copious research on places where race mixing is viewed with particular fear or rare favor—schools, the workplace, the military.”—Kate Manning, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Throughout her cogent and extremely readable history of interracial love and marriage since 1940—which begins at a period, still well within living memory, when such relationships remained illegal in much of America—Romano consistently avoids straightforward liberal triumphalism and remains admirably tentative about drawing sweeping conclusions from her data… Astute and well-judged, Race Mixing is a welcome addition to the study of interracial love in American history, which both offers new information and a new approach. Of particular value is Romano’s insistence that even the apparent sweetness of love…is neither apolitical nor ‘free’ but suffused with the race matters that remain paramount to American formations of identity and culture. Race Mixing offers a timely reminder of how far America and the Western world have traveled, and how far they still have to go.”—Andrew Warnes, African-American Review
"It is this fear of ‘miscegenation,’ ‘mongrelization,’ and the threat posed by allegedly hyper-sexualized ‘big black bucks’ that makes up the central conflict in Renee Romano’s wonderful book, Race Mixing. Romano explores the post–World War II history of interracial marriage, focusing on unions between blacks and whites in the United States. Romano has probed this most vilified of social phenomena in clear, well-written prose and her book is a welcome addition to postwar American social history, and to the burgeoning literature on race, civil rights, ethnicity, gender, and sex (the act as well as the chromosomal configuration). Romano skillfully takes a different focus in each chapter, covering a range of thematic issues while at the same time maintaining a chronological drive that gives the book momentum… It is history at its finest.”—Derek Catsam, H-Net (Link to full review)
Romano’s engaging and readable account of changes in black–white marriage draws on a number of resources besides legislation and court decisions, including social science literature, magazine articles and biographical accounts… Romano is to be commended for tracing with equal care the evolution of black and white opinions about interracial marriage and gender differences within each group.”—Rachel Moran, Journal of American History