In Interracial Intimacies, Randall Kennedy hits a nerve at the center of American society: race relations and our most intimate ties to each other. Writing with the same piercing intelligence he brought to his national bestseller Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word, Kennedy here challenges us to examine how prejudices and biases still fuel fears and inform our sexual, marital, and family choices.
Analyzing the tremendous changes in the history of America’s racial dynamics, Kennedy takes us from the injustices of the slave era up to present-day battles over race matching adoption policies, which seek to pair children with adults of the same race. He tackles such subjects as the presence of sex in racial politics, the historic role of legal institutions in policing racial boundaries, and the real and imagined pleasures that have attended interracial intimacy. A bracing, much-needed look at the way we have lived in the past, Interracial Intimacies is also a hopeful book, offering a potent vision of our future as a multiracial democracy.
Kennedy, a Harvard Law School professor, relies heavily on case law but uses journalism, letters, novels, films, folklore and even personal ads — "SWM seeks SBF" — to draw a fascinatingly detailed portrait of a nation that remains conflicted and enthralled by crossings of the color line. His chapters on race mixing and children, particularly a long discussion of "passing," take us into a surreal and heartbreaking world where, because of race, children have denied their parents, parents have denied their children and the heavy hand of governmental authority still uses color to decide who can be a family. — Kate Manning