Do Interracial Couples Really Make Anyone “Gag”?

New York City has elected its first Democratic mayor in almost two decades, and that, according to many political pundits, was pretty big news. Washington Post’s liberal columnist Richard Cohen, however, thinks there was something else pretty big that happened in that election — the unveiling of the mayor-elect’s biracial family. According to Cohen, that family may make some conservatives “gag.”


“Today’s GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party, but it is deeply troubled — about the expansion of government, about immigration, about secularism, about the mainstreaming of what used to be the avant-garde,” writes Cohen in an opinion piece about the Republican party. “People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts — but not all — of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn’t look like their country at all.”

What Cohen appears to feel is somehow unusual and potentially “gag” worthy to some is in reality a major part of the American landscape, regardless of Cohen’s beliefs otherwise. It’s also not relegated to specific “parts” of the country. According to a 2012 Pew Research study, one in 12 marriages were interracial. Add in unmarried interracial couples, and that number rises to almost 15 million. Nearly 90 percent of Americans say they approve of interracial relationships, an 80 point change since the 50′s.

That Cohen would dismiss so many relationships as “avant garde” could have more to do with his own personal issues than those that he seems eager to paint the Republican party with. Cohen had a bizarre “doesn’t’ everyone sort of fear a young black man in a hoodie“ column this summer during the Trayvon Martin trial, and had to watch “12 Years a Slave” in order to realize slavery may have been pretty awful.

What Cohen writes in itself is an enormous issue. An even larger issue is the fact that by printing it, the Washington Post has in essence provided its approval of his views. After all, aren’t editors there to tell someone when their columns simply aren’t worthy of publication, as this one was? At some point, the publication has a responsibility to their own audience and their own integrity to simply scrap a piece. To publish it anyway either implies agreement, or even worse disagreement that is set aside due to a desperate desire to ensure that they get traffic to their website and continued media buzz.

And buzz they are receiving, mostly by people calling for Cohen’s firing. “For the love of God, do what the Graham family should have done long ago and fire this man, Jeff Bezos,” demands UpRoxx, a national culture blog. “Richard Cohen is begging, perhaps subconsciously, to be bought out and allowed to retire,” writes Salon’s Alex Pareene. ”Today it’s obvious that whoever edits him has the same desire.” #firerichardcohen is even going strong on twitter, where tweeters are lining up to demand Cohen’s resignation.

The Washington Post has yet to respond, which is why we’ve launched a petition demanding an apology. If you believe that interracial marriages are not anti-American, we urge you to sign, too.

Hopefully, the Washington Post will respond and they are not just waiting for the fervor to die down again until Cohen can write his next bad column. That would be the real “gag” worthy offense.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Linda Schenk
Linda Schenk4 years ago

I personally until a few years ago didn't like to see interracial marriages. I still may have a little problem with it, but am trying hard to accept that the US is changing and in 20 yrs. this will be the norm and people will think nothing of it for the most part. I wasn't so upset seeing mixed couples, but felt sorry for a white woman marrying a black man only because I felt the woman was destined for a life of difficulty. Usually a black man made less income, had a more menial job and lived in poorer conditions etc. The woman was actually lowering herself from the standards she was accustomed too. Then when I saw a black woman married to a white man I felt the opposite that she was raising her social status and living standards because a white man usually made more money and had a better job. Regardless I felt any child born of the relationship would suffer the most. Thank God that is changing as more black men are better educated and are able to get out of the gangs and slums and living standards they may have lived under. I campaigned heartedly to get Obama elected and while visiting a white co- volunteer I was looking at all her grandchildren's pictures hanging on her wall. Never once did I realize they were of mixed race until she popped up and said something I will never forget. I pondered what she said and realized she was correct. I am certain she thought I was noticing the fact her grandchildren were of mixed race, but honestly I didn't see it till she pointed it ou

ali a.
ali a4 years ago

NO. Things are better today than 50 years ago.

Miya Eniji
Miya Eniji4 years ago

Barabra V.'s comment is enlightening. Read it then realise those of us with Eurasian backgrounds must, for the most part, be carrying Mongolian genetics !
AS for those "cultural conservatives" , why don't they p*** off to another planet - they are doing a fine job messing up this one, aren't they ?
Wow, so glad tohave lived in London ! What a fine place to observe "interracial" love, and no stink eye directed at it !

Debbie Miller
Debbie Miller4 years ago

There is beauty in mixing it up....what is the difference between a vase with all one kind of flower and a bouquet of different color and fragrances... they each have their own beauty.

Myriam G.
Myriam G4 years ago

Wow, Loraine B, do you want to resuscitate Apartheid? Because, that was the kind of argument people used to keep it in place; a false scientific argument, and profound disregard for our only race, ie, the human race.
I'll have you know that my father is a tiger (well, a black man, really, but I'm trying to make sure you can follow) and my mom is a lion (yes, a white woman), and by some miracle, I was born from both of them... am I an aberration of Nature?

Now, seriously, comparing humans with different skin colours to large cats from different species is deeply racist. I pity your son, and I hope there will be people to educate him about biology, anthropology, and altruism... specially altruism!

Lynn C.
Lynn C4 years ago


Joseph Belisle
Joseph Belisle4 years ago

Racism makes me gag. Homophobia makes me gag. Religious bigotry makes me gag.

Roberta G.
Roberta G4 years ago

Loraine B...Lions and tigers to mate and interbreed. The results are a liger or a tigon, depending on the sex of the mother. Really!

Check Google or Natl Geo for verification.

Kailash D.
Kailash D4 years ago

I was handed an evangelical tract once and it was something about cardinals don't mate with bluebirds and eagles not with osprey, etc. The point the tract was trying to make was humans should only mate with their own kind. But the logical fallacy was evident, the analogy was built on true propositions with an invalid inference. In short, red birds and blue birds don't interbreed because they are different species. Asians and Hispanics and Inuits and Caucasians, etc are all same species. Black domestic cats breed with white domestic cats, of course.

But I realized the damage the silly racist track could do. Many would read the invalid argument and concur with the conclusion. Sadly it does not take much to reinforce prejudice in many.