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 [1]. Small universe, eh?!

And, as per the rules of tournament chess, in our two contests we took turns being White and Black. (groan!)

(see also PostaLite (16 Aug 2000), InterracialIntimacies (24 Feb 2003), RacialRelationships (10 Jan 2004), ...)

TopicSociety - TopicLiterature - TopicPersonalHistory - TopicHumor - 2004-07-20

(correlates: AnAcknowledgement, InterracialIntimacies, ZimmermannEnvironmental, ...)