Singles, some for the first time, turned to virtual dating this year when the usual ways of meeting people vanished and the pandemic goes on and on. Online dating sites report record use as lonely singles look for someone to enrich their lives for a day, a month, or even forever. Selective Search, a luxury dating service for commitment-minded singles based in Chicago, is busier than ever this year, with 15 marriages taking place so far, says senior director of matchmaking Sara Heimerl. Public health experts are not discouraging people from dating as long as they do it safely. Americans are looking for partners who take precautions against COVID seriously, according to an online survey of 1, singles in July by YouGov, a public opinion company.
Editor's Note: Code Switch is engaged in a monthlong discussion and exploration of interracial and cross-cultural dating. Follow the conversation via the Twitter hashtag xculturelove. It is my humble opinion that most things in life need a soundtrack, and this xculturelove project was begging for one. So I turned to my Facebook and asked for song submissions.
Bad girls get old
There were nearly 90 comments — with songs about love across borders and across racial lines, songs with a socially conscious messagesongs that fetishized women of colorsaccharine-sweet songs about racial harmony. But so many of the songs that overtly and explicitly talked about interracial romance were pretty old.
You don't hear pop stars crooning about miscegenation these days. But, as we know, coupling up across racial and ethnic lines is happening now more than ever. The census showed that interracial and inter-ethnic married couples grew by nearly 30 percent in 10 years.
So if pop music is a reflection of the issues of the day, why aren't we bobbing our he and shaking our hips to more songs with lyrics about cross-cultural lovin'? We can call them the ebony and ivory of music critics for the sake of this blog post.
Faces of death row
First off, both King and Powers agree that the reason we're not hearing more pop songs about cross-cultural love is not that we're all totally fine with mixin' it up. Each used the backlash against that Cheerios commercial with the mixed-race family as an example.
Powers says that anxiety and desire across racial lines is one of the fundamental subjects of pop culture in the U. She points to Creole ball from the early 19th century written by white men expressing forbidden desires in the voice of Creole women, and to the musicals ShowboatSouth Pacific and West Side Story.
But things are much more complicated today. The growth of the Latino and Asian-American communities in the U. King says writing a pop song that delves into the complexities of today's cross-cultural romances is tough to squeeze into a marketable pop song that lasts all of 3 minutes and 45 seconds. He says the lyrics need to do more than say "can't we all just have a good time.
Powers says pop music is having a very decadent moment, that lyrics today are all about having a good time, not politics. She says the only place to find interracial attraction is in music videos and concert performances, but the visuals represent interracial harmony through sexuality.
When I was looking for contemporary pop songs that talked about interracial romance, I found " My Baby ," by Auburn. Auburn is African-American but grew up in East St. Paul, Minn.
Most of the love interests in her videos are Asian. I'm very attracted to Asian guys; not to say I'm not attracted to white guys or black guys or any other type of guy. Auburn says she has gotten a lot of grief for her choice in partners, over the years, especially from African-American men.
So, she wrote "My Baby" last year to put her boyfriend's mind at ease and tell the world that it doesn't matter. In the lyrics to "My Baby," Auburn mentions not being the same color as her Asian boyfriend and not worrying about it — she loves him anyway. It's not a deep song, it's not complex, but it hit a nerve with listeners and she says she got thousands of positive responses from people who could relate.
When I asked her why we're not hearing more of these songs, it took her a moment to answer. I don't even like that I have to call them interracial relationships, I just want to call them relationships to be honest. I don't know, I don't know," she frets. A playlist of songs of interracial romance compiled by music critic Jason King for Code Switch.
Written by New York folksinger Peter LaFarge, this tune fits into the tragic genre of white men pursuing "impossible" relationships with Native women. Pure doom and darkness.
The first half of this two-party ditty from the Broadway musical Hair is a white female ensemble raving about the glories of dark-skinned men. Then a black female Supremes-style ensemble sings about the glories of men who are melanin-challenged. Notable for the skyrocketing vocals of a young Melba Moore on the second half.
Motown journeyman Taylor famous for discovering the Jackson 5 scored his only Top 30 hit with this post-Summer of Love track. Is this song about class? Or race?
It's been said that race is the way class is lived; and this is a typically smart track from the groundbreaking Maggot Brain. Capitol Records barely wanted to release this interracial tune from the California country rebel, but it wasn't his first: He'd earlier recorded the controversial "Go Home," about his doomed romance with a Mexican woman. Vying for the award for most jaw-dropping of interracial-attraction-themed pop songs, the early punk rock band delivered this tune about a white man's love for an African girl living in the U. It's on the same album as a song called Master Race Rock.
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Not necessarily a fan of the faux Caribbean music track, but the lyrics are about a New York prostitute contemplating — or expected — to return to her native Jamaica and caught up in "a white man's world. Written by Iggy Pop and Bowie, this favorite from Let's Dance happens to be classically Orientalist in terms of both lyrics and music.
The video tries to be critical of racism, but I'm not convinced it fares much better. Sure it's got a memorable melody and a sentimental "can't we all get along" lyric, but sweep this one under the rug when praising the genius of Stevie or Paul. From the powerful Fear of a Black Planet album, this is a stinging critique of explicit and internalized racism from the most avant-garde and profound band of hip-hop's golden age.
From the soundtrack of the Spike Lee movie of the same name, and next to "Ebony and Ivory," this is Stevie Wonder's other big-time cringey song in his otherwise formidable catalog. The main problem is the lyric is just too literal. The lead single from Michael Jackson's underrated Dangerous, this rock ditty got almost too much play on radio and MTV in its day — but the lyric is fun and the video, with its diversity of morphing faces, is still groundbreaking.
Their first hit single, "I Believe," is earnest social protest: They go there in the third verse with the N-word.
Dating during the pandemic: online and restless
Kid Rock penned this supposedly true biographical story about interracial romance — in his personal life, he's father to a son of color. But he's been in trouble in the past with civil rights groups for his use of the Confederate flag onstage. New York hip-hop group delivered this doomed-love entry about an acrimonious argument between a white father and son about the son's black girlfriend. You can read between the lines. Copyright NPR Close close Donate.