The Question Sisters Ask About Gen. Brooks
According to George Curry who got an exclusive interview Army Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks last month in Qatar, the top question from most black women is whether or not the General is married to a sister (black woman). No surprise there. Things got a little heated here on my site when someone left a comment (which I subsequently deleted as it was a false rumor) indicating that his wife was white. I personally don’t care, but I know a lot of other black women get upset when successful black men date and marry outside their race. Not wanting to let the false rumor just hang out there, two family members actually came forward and confirmed to me that Mrs. Brooks was indeed black. But I see the question still rages on. Obviously these folks have not been to my site.
[5:56pm]: Btw, here is why I wouldn’t care if Gen. Brooks wife were white: His wife’s race has nothing to do with the superb job he was doing in Operation Iraq Freedom. I don’t care if someone dates or marries outside their race, as in this crazy world, finding someone to love who will truly love you back in the way you want and deserve is tough enough. So if you happen to find it with someone outside your race, go for it. I myself would like to marry a black man, but if someone of another race steps forward and is treating me the way I want to be treated in a romantic relationship and it gets to the proposal stage, I’m not going to turn down the proposal because they are of a different race. Sure it will difficult…but I truly believe “love conquers all.”
The Question Sisters Ask About Gen. Brooks
by George E. Curry
Tuesday, May 06, 2003
Since I returned from Doha, Qatar, there is one question that every African-American woman inquiring about my trip asks. No, it’s not whether Army Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks’ private persona is the same as is public demeanor. It’s not about his height. And it’s not about his intelligence. Come on, you know the question: Is he married to a sister?
It’s another twist on a problem Brooks has faced throughout life. Because of his success, some African-Americans are quick to question his blackness. They ask: Is he a “real” brother? Unfortunately, it’s a case of being presumed guilty until proven innocent, not vice versa.
“When some of our men gain success, the first thing they do is marry a White woman,” one sister complained.
And there are plenty examples of Black men and women marrying outside of the race: James Earl Jones, Diana Ross, Charles Barkley, Quincy Jones, Julian Bond, Rep. Major Owens, Cuba Gooding Jr., Barry Bonds, Iman, Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Berry Gordy, Gregory Hines, Clarence Thomas, Shelby Steele, Ward Connerly, John Edgar Wideman, Kobe Bryant, Michael K. Powell, Montgomery County (Md.) Police Chief Charles Moose and Harvard professors Henry Louis Gates, Jr., William Julius Wilson and Orlando Patterson.
Julia Hare, a San Francisco-based expert on male-female relationships, says interracial marriages, even those involving high-profiled Blacks, are rare.
“The majority of successful Black men are not married to White women,” Hare states. “Colin Powell didn’t marry one, Andy Young didn’t, Minister Louis Farrakhan didn’t, Jesse Jackson didn’t, Al Sharpton didn’t. That’s a myth.
“The media elevates those interracial marriages because they want to advance the myth that all Black men want to rape, live with or marry a White woman, and that’s not true.”
According to the Census Bureau, interracial couples represent about 4 percent of all U.S. marriages. Black-White unions represent only 20 percent of interracial marriages.
Hare says she knows why Black women seem preoccupied with knowing whether Brooks married across the color line.
“We’ve been conditioned to believe that if someone reaches that position, a White woman must be the reason for that person’s success,” she explains. “That’s an insult to the Black woman who brought these Black men into the world and the other Black women who have supported them.”
But suppose Brooks is married to a White woman. How does that diminish his contributions?
And if we’re going to go down that path, are we also ready to disassociate ourselves from Frederick Douglass and Paul Robeson? Does that mean that Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors, is less valuable to us because of his choice in mates? Is Marian Wright Edelman less a champion of children’s rights because her husband is White? Is W. E. B. DuBois biographer David Levering Lewis unqualified to be an expert on DuBois because his wife is White?
When pressed, most African-Americans would answer no to these questions. But that still doesn’t prevent them from raising questions about “race men” marrying outside of the race.
Another Black female friend of mine confided that some single sisters secretly want Brooks to be married to a White woman because that feeds into the concern over the paucity of eligible Black males. Between 1950 and 2000, the percentage of never married African-American women doubled from 20.7 percent to 42.4 percent, according to the Census Bureau.
“If Brooks has a Black wife, it’s hard to explain why Brooks picked a Black woman and that Black woman wasn’t you,” my friend says.
Julia Hare sees a double standard. She notes that no one ever asks whether a high-profile Black woman is married to a White man.
And when Black women, such as presidential candidate Carol Moseley-Braun, marry across racial lines, they are never viewed as race traitors.
“When a Black woman marries a White man, they say, ‘He must have money.’ He could have been in the trash bin and she cleaned him up. Yet, we say, ‘You go, girl. You know how to work the system.’”
Hare continues, “We give Miss Ann—that’s what I call her—too much credit,” she says. And that extends to crediting her with the success of her Black husband, who might have reached the top with or without her support.
It’s interesting that we are still having this kind of debate today, 36 years after the U.S. Supreme Court, in “Loving v. Virginia,” sanctioned the marriage of a White man to a Black woman.
As this debate continues to rage, don’t cast a suspicious eye toward Gen. Brooks.
Someone who socializes with Brooks describes his wife as “an extremely attractive, 100 percent sister” who is “similarly intelligent and articulate.”
George E. Curry is editor-in-chief of the NNPA News Service and BlackPressUSA.com.