More on Black-Jewish Marriage:

To follow up a bit on Ilya’s post below, I think the survey question is too poorly worded to be used as evidence for or against racism among Jews: “Would you be in favor of a close relative marrying a black?”

As Ilya points out, the vast majority of blacks are gentiles, so some fraction of Jews, especially more observant Jews, are going to answer “no” because they oppose intermarriage. But there is a more subtle problem. I’ve heard several Jews, especially among the older generation, say something along the lines of, “I have nothing against people of any race. However, if my child asked me if I should marry someone black, I’d advise against it (even assuming the black person was Jewish or willing to convert). It’s hard enough to be a Jew in this world [this, note, from people who often escaped pogroms, or Naziism, or official Soviet anti-Semitism]. Interracial couples face additional prejudice, and their children will face the prejudices of being black and Jewish. And it’s hard enough for two people to get along in this world, especially if they have different cultural backgrounds, without facing the additional pressures an interracial marriage would bring. But if my child ignored my advice and decided to marry someone black, I’d accept him/her and welcome him/her to the family, and treat him/her exactly like anyone else.” (And, I should add, I know of individuals who have followed this exact script–including having a wonderful relationship with their black child-in-law–in practice.)

Such people would have to answer “no” to the survey question, but it really doesn’t speak to the issue of racism, or black/Jewish relations more generally.

UPDATE: A commenter points out that allowing societal racism to affect one’s preferences for whom one’s children marries helps sustain societal racism. That’s true, and may make the attitude I described above morally objectionable. But it’s also true that worrying about how others’ attitudes will affect your children and grandchildren–assuming it’s not a pretext for your own prejudices–does not mean that you share those others’ attitudes, even if it hardly makes you an anti-racism crusader.

So I’ll slightly modify what I said before. The wording of the question doesn’t allow us to separate those who are motivated by religious opposition to interfaith marriage from those who are motivated by racial concerns, and of the latter group, those who are motivated by personal racism from those who are motivated by the effects of societal racism. The fact that some people might be willing to allow societal racism to effect their judgments does speak to the issue of racism and black-Jewish relations, but more obliquely than those who are motivated by racism.

Of course, if we are talking about the relative prejudices of Jews, as the original post by Ta-Nehisi Coates points out, the relative comparison would be “to compare the Jewish numbers … with other whites.” The survey data I’ve seen shows that 77% of whites state that they approve of interracial marriage in general, way up from the 1950s, when the statistics was 4% (!). I haven’t seen such data broken down for Jews. I do remember hearing a few years back NPR reporting on a poll that concluded that 40+% of whites would not want a close relative to marry an Asian or a Hispanic (which I thought were surprisingly high figures), and somewhat higher numbers opposed a close relative marrying an African American.