No, Newsmax, interracial marriage doesn’t prove systemic racism isn’t real

OPINION: Black people marrying white people doesn’t erase white privilege or destroy systemic racism. But watching Newsmax does destroy brain cells. 


Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Black Baby Jesus, help me now. I have to defend interracial relationships again? But this time from the other side? Reader, this is not the life I chose, this life chose me. I do not aspire to be a leader for people in interracial relationships. We do not need a leader, and we are not a tribe, but when you come for us, it feels personal, and I have to get out my knife. 

You may recall that earlier this week, I had to educate a young sister who tried to say that you can’t be pro-Black and in an interracial relationship. I showed her that, yes, of course you can. This time, we’re slaying George Kelly of Newsmax (or maybe it’s Greg? I get Caucasian names mixed up.) [Editor’s note: It’s Greg.] Anyway, he’s on-air for Newsmax, so you know he doesn’t have anything intelligent to add to the discourse, but here we are. Kelly did a whole segment this week pointing out prominent Black people who are married to white people—he spotlighted my friend Jonathan Capehart, VP Kamala Harris, soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson—and positing that because some Black Americans are married to white people, then systemic racism does not exist. His logic, if you can call it that, is that some white people marrying Black people means white people (in total) don’t hate Black people, so racism’s over, problem solved. You know, sometimes at night, I pray for intelligent foes but sadly, I don’t have that problem.

Kelly did that segment “destroying” the notion of systemic racism without saying anything about the racial wealth gap, mass incarceration, police violence against Black people, the dearth of Blacks in positions of power in business and politics or beauty standards that prioritize European features. Major American companies need to have officers focusing on diversity to make sure they hire and respect some Black employees, but sure one tiny data point destroys systemic racism. Let me explain some things about America to George [Editor: still Greg], whose head is stuck in the sand.

When we talk about systemic racism, we’re not saying every white person or even most of them harbor hateful or mean feelings toward Black people. We’re saying that whiteness is beneficial in America, and Blackness is generally a hurdle to be overcome. That doesn’t mean every white person succeeds in America, but for those who don’t, whiteness didn’t hold them back. You don’t need to dislike Black people to benefit from whiteness because there are systems that make whiteness inherently valuable and penalize Blackness in all sorts of areas. Let’s look at homeownership as one example.

In the 1930s, the federal government began giving out loans to help create a nation of homeowners. The overwhelming majority of those Federal Housing Administration loans went to white people. Over the decades, their homes accumulated in value, allowing white people to pass wealth onto their kids to pay for college, buy homes, and/or start businesses. Very few Black people were able to take advantage of all of this, so this amounted to a massive transfer of wealth to millions of white families that financially empowered them through multiple generations. The white families who got these loans and bought homes were able to help their children and grandchildren live better lives. These people were not (necessarily) hateful or racist. I’m sure a few of them married Black people. That doesn’t change the fact that there are racist systems that helped them—whiteness was beneficial for them. 

There’s a massive gap in the number of white people who own their homes versus the number of Black people who do. Among the thousands of Black people who own their homes, there’s an aspect of racism that’s holding them back. Many Black homeowners have reported that their homes are being valued at far less—sometimes $500,000 less—when appraisers know that the homeowners are Black. This means untold millions have disappeared from the Black community. This is systemic racism at work, and none of this is disproven by a few interracial relationships.

Look, I know that Newsmax is not arguing in good faith. It’s performance art that’s selling outrage to white consumers. A big part of their thesis is that racism doesn’t exist and white people are the real victims. Kelly was just following the script, but it’s dangerous to tell people racism doesn’t exist when systemic racism has a massive impact on Black and brown people’s lives. Newsmax is a big part of perpetuating that. Systemic racism doesn’t require the hatred of many white people. It requires whiteness to be beneficial. Black people marrying white people doesn’t erase white privilege or destroy systemic racism. But watching Newsmax does destroy brain cells. 


Touré hosts the podcast “Touré Show” and the podcast docuseries “Who Was Prince?” He is also the author of seven books.

TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, and Android TV. Please download theGrio mobile apps today!