One of the most addictive of human activities is list making, and among the most entertaining of lists is the famous "S* List" that various folks maintain for various reasons. One person close to me has a log-of-contempt devoted to famous men who have divorced their long-time wives and caroused with girls a generation (or more) younger. Other list-makers track political enemies, or manufacturers of defective automobiles, or a host of other annoyances.
But on a more socially serious front, perhaps, are those who monitor the race of celebrity spouses. Several weeks ago in Amherst I acquired a copy of Randall Kennedy's excellent (2003) book Interracial Intimacies: Sex, Marriage, Identity, and Adoption. It's meditative, balanced, and highly readable, but not lightweight; I'm currently crawling along in it and enjoying the journey. In Chapter Three ("From Black-Power Backlash to the New Amalgamationism") Kennedy writes:
By and large, African Americans fall into three camps with respect to white-black interracial marriage. One camp views it as a positive good that decreases social segregation; encourages racial open-mindedness; increases blacks' access to enriching social networks; elevates their status; and empowers black women in their interactions with black men. A second camp is agnostic, seeing interracial marriage simply as a private choice that individuals should have the right to make. ... A third camp repudiates interracial marriage on the ground that black participation in it constitutes an expression of racial disloyalty; implies disapproval of fellow blacks; impedes the perpetuation of black culture; weakens the African American marriage market; and fuels racist mythologies, especially the fiction that blacks lack pride of race.
Kennedy goes on to explain and expand upon those themes in an extended and thought-provoking discussion. My attention was caught along the way by quotations and footnotes about the many people who "... look for the litmus test of loyalty to the race: the photo of the person's spouse or significant other ..." and who "... kept a mental s* list of black celebrities who had white wives or girlfriends ...". Lists again!
And at the bottom of that page in Kennedy's book my eye chanced to spy a footnote which quoted Professor Halford Fairchild --- a name that struck a sharp resonance in my personal subconscious. Why?
Looking back in the ^zhurnal at one of my own lists (!) --- of postal chess opponents --- I discovered that in 1992 I played a pair of games by mail against one Halford H. Fairchild of Los Angeles, undoubtedly the same gentleman cited in Interracial Intimacies. Dr. Fairchild is a professor of Psychology and Black Studies at Pitzer College, as well as an active chess player . Small universe, eh?!
And, as per the rules of tournament chess, in our two contests we took turns being White and Black. (groan!)