All Articles Tagged "Christelyn Karazin"
Today is my 10-year wedding anniversary. It’s been a wild ride, but I can’t help but poke my tongue out and thumb my nose at some of the folks at my wedding who thought we wouldn’t last 10 months. I remember walking down the aisle; to the left of me was my family, mostly brown faces. To my right was my soon-to-be husband’s parents and extended family, white as rice.
The walk between the crowd was like parting the sea on a black sandy beach bubbling over with sea foam. Amidst all the butterflies in my belly, I thought about the chance online encounter that connected us, the family drama, and leaps of faith it took to get me to this place, looking ahead at my future husband, a wonderful, handsome man that I almost didn’t marry because he happened to be white.
There were dozens of times our marriage might not have happened. Like the time my well-meaning cousin told me that no family of my husband’s class would accept him having a black women raised by country Texas folks with an out-of-wedlock daughter. Ten years my senior, she recalled vividly (as evidence) her long-term relationship with a Jewish man that crashed and burned when his parents outright told her boyfriend that he’d be disowned if the thought of matrimony crossed his mind.
The second time our union could have vanished into vapor involved my own personal “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” moment when I visited his parents in a swanky Connecticut town and felt so uncomfortable and out of place that I hid in the guestroom and cried for an hour.
We broke up three times, and got back together three times. The third time my husband realized that he didn’t give a damn what anyone thought and put a ring on it on the evening of September 11, 2001–the day the Twin Towers were obliterated by terrorists hell-bent on indiscriminately killing all Americans, regardless of race, color, or creed. I of course said yes, because after two years of dating, I couldn’t have cared two figs about what people thought about us. It was gonna be me and him–the hell with what the world might think. Nothing like a catastrophic event to put things into perspective.
My experience in the only serious interracial relationship I’d ever had was so full of ups and downs, hilarity and absurdity, with the source of all the stress boiling down to something simultaneously small and huge, trivial and profound as a difference in the level of melanin. I wondered out loud, “How many other black women worry about this sh&$!?”
So many times I wished I’d had a confidant to prepare me for the challenges I might face, going in–sort of like a “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” for interracial couples. I didn’t see it on the bookshelves–nothing even close. That’s how “Swirling: How to Date, Mate and Relate Mixing Race, Culture and Creed” was born.
I was determined not to write another naval-gazing compilation about why 70% of black women are single, or how black women should lower their standards, be better, do better, act better, or be forced kicking and screaming into doing something they didn’t want to do. “Swirling” isn’t a book about convincing black women to do anything. It’s about what black women should know after they’ve decided to date a rainbeau.
Some people think the whole “interracial thing” should be given a rest, or that these stories and books are unnecessary. I’d have to disagree. Census data, released just yesterday, indicate that interracial marriage is up 28% since 2000–an all time high in the United States. But statistics don’t always tell the whole story, do they?
The term, “interracial” is wide-sweeping, and could refer to a motley of racial combinations. But the global rise doesn’t mean America is colorblind, or that there isn’t some sort of minority hierarchy when it comes to intermixing. For a variety of reasons, black women are dead last when it comes to mixed-race pairing. My research and numerous interviews revealed that the reasons have less to do with black women’s desirability across color lines (yes ladies, white guys think you’re HOT!!), and more to do with a lack of exposure and access. There’s a ridiculous amount of black women who believe that other races simply aren’t interested or just want some “jungle booty.” There’s a lot of stereotypes happening on both ends of the melanin spectrum, so perhaps more than ever, people of all races need to know what to expect before and after they walk down the aisle, if they so choose.
Christelyn Karazin is the co-author of “Swirling: How to Date, Mate and Relate Mixing Race, Culture and Creed” (Simon & Schuster/Atria Books) now available for pre-order. She is also the publisher of Beyond Black & White, a blog dedicated to African American women who are interested and/or involved in interracial relationships.
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Probably, like most of you, I’ve been watching the republican primaries with the peripheral interest of a circus sideshow. As Gingrich, Santorum and Romney duke it out, I’ve heard such alienating phrases as, “I want African American people to demand paychecks, not food stamps,” (Gingrich), ”I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money,” (Santorum), and Romney’s flub about not caring about the unemployed–never mind that blacks make up 12 percent of that group. And to put icing on the cake, a recent report indicated that 29 percent of republicans from the Deep South think interracial marriage should be illegal, and it appears none of the presidential hopefuls have chosen to disabuse them of this notion. Surprise, surprise.
All this pandering to the extreme right wing of the party has backfired because the ignorant comments, Freudian slips, and allusions to swipe at women’s hard-won reproductive rights impacts not only blacks, but other minorities and white soccer moms. Rick Santorum’s recent comments about how Puerto Ricans should speak better English is just another on a long list of buffoonish remarks aimed at minorities. Santorum single-handedly managed to offend both Hispanics and black people part of the African diaspora.
But it looks like republicans don’t too much like it when “off color” remarks are thrown in the other direction. At a recent fundraiser for President Obama, Robert DeNiro joked about America not being “ready for a white First Lady.” Newt Gingrinch was outraged, OUTRAGED!! He said DeNiro’s comments were inexcusable, and wanted the president to apologize for DeNiro; I guess because an apology from the mega-star wasn’t sufficient for Mr. Gingrinch.
Republicans have essentially given up trying to win “the black vote,” so there seems to be little self-editing happening. Lenny McAllister, senior contributor at Politic365.com and radio host of “Get Right with Lenny McAllister” (www.LMGILIVE.com), and frequent guest on CNN, says that the recent antics in the republican party aree less about alienation, and more about a failure to connect. “There hasn’t been a concerted effort to reach minorities [in the republican party] for 40 years.”
McAllister, who is a member of the group, Hip Hop Republicans, worries that this continued failure to connect will prevent republicans from leading a more diverse America, and the country continues to “brown.”
But there’s good news for Obama fans: Although McAllister thinks the president should get a “C-” for his first term, he still predicts a narrow win against Mitt Romney, whom he believes will be the single man standing after the republican primary. Who do you think will win the republican primary?
Christelyn D. Karazin is the co-author of “Swirling: How to Date, Mate and Relate Mixing Race, Culture and Creed” (to be released May 2012), and runs a blog, www.beyondblackwhite.com, dedicated to women of color who are interested and or involved in interracial and intercultural relationships. She is also the founder and organizer of “No Wedding, No Womb,” an initiative to find solutions to the 72 percent out-of-wedlock rate in the black community.
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After hiring a white female fashion director last year caused a great deal of disappointment in the black community, Essence magazine has recently chosen to hire a white man to serve as managing editor. Rumors have been circulating for days concerning this decision, which was first reported by writer Christelyn Karazin. Essence editor-in-chief Constance White (who is relatively new to her role) confirmed that Michael Bullderdick will in fact step into this executive position at Essence, “to manage production and workflow,” according to the black media blog Journal-isms. White stresses that Bullderdick will have no editorial decision making power at the magazine that promotes itself as the brand “where black women come first.”
Karazin notes the irony of the Essence tag line in her piece, given that the editorial message of the magazine expresses a lack of appreciation for black women. Of particular note is the way Essence sells out black women regarding love, in her opinion:
Personally, I care not about Mr. Bullerdick swinging his manhood all over the New York offices of Time Warner. It was inevitable. Essence has become completely irrelevant to a new segment of black women who actually feel like their smarts, looks and loyalty should be appreciated by ALL men, of all races, not just by the yearly dog-bone, “10 Black Men Who Want You!” piece geared to stroke the egos of men whose heads are bigger than a Dodger’s baseball bobblehead, and frankly don’t need it any more. They won. We lost.
Essence has taught us over the last few decades that black women should expect LESS not MORE from their partners. We should not expect to be married, because black men don’t want to. We shouldn’t expect help with raising a child, because 73% of black men don’t want to. We shouldn’t speak about how educated or well-travelled we are, because it makes black men feel inadequate.
She articulates well the feeling many African-American women have: Essence is out of touch. It has been slowly devolving into a company merely making a product that satisfies black women just enough to attract advertisers seeking to target that market. Choosing a white man to run a black woman’s magazine even at the business level is yet another public rejection of the mission Essence magazine claims to believe in. It’s certainly not black female centric.
Yes, Bullderdick is a magazine industry veteran, according to his profile on LinkedIn. And yes, Time Warner, the parent company of Essence, is a hard-nosed business before it is a servant of the African-American community. At the same time, Essence was founded to address the exclusion of black women’s perspectives from mainstream magazines. Because of this, it has a social responsibility to its audience to work towards publishing industry parity on all levels. Attempting to support this mission is one of the reasons black women read the magazine. By ignoring that central idea, yet again, Essence gives more African-American females cause to detach itself from the brand and seek affirming emotional nourishment elsewhere.
Michael Bullderdick might be a great executive, but part of the reason he is so seasoned is that, as a white male, he has more doors of opportunity open to him. This is what allowed him to garner the experience that makes him seem more valuable. But, hiring him to run a black woman’s magazine based on that criteria defeats the purpose of the publication. It re-inscribes the very system of preferences that prevent black women from attaining the same level of expertise at other magazines in the first place. Essence should be a training ground for black female magazine executives, not a place where — yet again– they are excluded from the top levels of leadership. Readers know this intuitively, and will respond to this rejection by rejecting the magazine in return.
Not a very sound business decision. No amount of experience Bullderdick has can counteract the effect of his presence creating a magazine black women don’t want to read.
Attempts at colorblind hiring are driven by noble and money-smart intentions. But in instances like these, it negates the healing power a brand like Essence symbolizes. Black women want an entity like Essence to represent us well and give us power — of all kinds — shining like a beacon that compensates for the inadequate treatment the rest of society presents. If the upper managers of Time Warner keep ruining the spiritual gift of the brand, they will soon find themselves without the audience they are taking for granted.
For now, it’s clear that Essence is a magazine where money comes first. The desires of black women? Second or third, if at all.