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With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I cannot help but dwell on who might be coming to dinner.

Last holiday season gave me plenty of food for thought on this all too familiar and often uncomfortable racially-tinged question.

Within this racialized landscape in which whiteness has reigned supreme, the line between white and black has been the starkest marker of racial difference, with the white side of the line representing all that is positive, and the black side of the line representing all that is negative. I recognize that many people form loving relationships across the black-white color line.

Whiteness has been a privileged and prized identity in the U. So when black men select white women and de-select black women, they are doing so in a context of charged racial meanings. Some of the people I admire and respect most in my professional life are black men married to white women and white women married to black men.

These relationships are caring and genuine, and surely bring happiness to the individuals involved in them.

I have even dated outside of my racial group, and I married someone who isn't black -- a Native American man (with, I must add, distant French and African ancestry).

Genetically speaking, there are no racial categories; race is merely skin deep.

Dating and marrying across racial lines should therefore be natural, common and acceptable. This is the United States, where a deep-seated notion of racial difference has been the rationalization for oppression, the rallying cry for discrimination against people who are not white.

Try as I might to suppress the reaction, I experience black men's choice of white women as a personal rejection of the group in which I am a part, of African American women as a whole, who have always been devalued in this society.

Certainly my reaction links back to a few bad apples in my own young dating years.

One of my male relatives brought home a date for Thanksgiving who could have been Barbie's twin sister.

She was blonde, thin, big-bosomed, and even had a Germanic name.

Two of my younger male relatives have recently been engaged to white women, and one tied the knot last summer.

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