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Published:January 13th, 2009 14:20 EST
Charles Barkley

White Wife Hampers Promotion, Says Black Assistant Coach

By George Curry (Former Featured Editor)

The University of Florida`s football team made a statement last week when it defeated the University of Oklahoma 24-14 and was declared national champion for the second time in three years. Charlie Strong, the African-American defensive coordinator who kept the Sooners far below their 54 points a game average, made an even louder statement when he declared that despite all of his success at Florida, he has been passed over for head coaching positions because of his interracial marriage.

Charles Barkley

"Everybody always said I didn`t get that job because my wife was white," Strong told a columnist for the Orlando Sentinel. He added, "If you think about it, a coach is standing up there representing the university. If you`re not strong enough to look through that (interracial marriage) then you have an issue."
Strong`s assertion caught many by surprise. When you look at African-American sports figures - including Charles Barkley and Tiger Woods - many have White wives. So do many big time Black coaches, including Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears. Interracial couples are so commonplace in athletics that one would be forgiven if he or she thought it was a requirement for Blacks participating at the top echelon of sports.

There is no doubt that interracial couples are less of a social taboo today than they were just two decades ago. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2003, more than three-quarters of all adults - 77 percent - said it is "all right for blacks and whites to date each other." In 1987, that figure was only 48 percent.

But Coach Strong`s allegation speaks to a more subtle point. From the days of the Founding Fathers, White males have never objected to interracial liaisons. You can look at the complexion of any group of African-Americans and see that racial lines have been blurred. White men, ranging from the supposedly enlightened Thomas Jefferson to segregationist Strom Thurmond, have had children by Black women, often against their will. The objection has been to the voluntary union between Black men and White women. That has been particularly true in the Deep South.

Gunnar Myrdal`s landmark "American Dilemma," written in the mid-1940s, observed the South`s "fixation on the purity of white womanhood."  Myrdal explained, "The South has an obsession with sex which helps to make this region quite irrational in dealing with Negroes generally..."

In the Matter of Color, a book written by retired U.S. Appeals Court Judge A. Leon Higginbotham Jr., notes that if a free Black man had sexual relations with a White woman in South Carolina during the Colonial period, he would automatically lose his freedom.

In 1955, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy from Chicago, was murdered near Money, Miss. for allegedly whistling at a White woman. Although his killers later bragged about killing young Till, they were never convicted.
Until 1966, interracial marriages were illegal in 16 states. That year, in the case of Loving v. Virginia, which involved a marriage between a White man and a Black woman, the United States Supreme Court invalidated anti-miscegenation laws.
According to the Census Bureau, the number of interracial marriages remain relatively small, increasing form less than 1 percent in 1970 to slightly more than 5 percent in 2000. A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2005 found that more than one-fifth of all Americans - 22 percent - say they have a close relative married to someone of a different race. 

So, what was the reaction to Coach Strong`s remarks on the Orlando Sentinel`s Web site?
Blah, blah, blah. I know that it is so politically correct to support inter-racial marriage as if it`s perfectly acceptable, but I am personally disgusted by it, and I know plenty of others are too. I also find it ridiculous that such a disproportionate number of these marriages involve rich and famous black males who are big in the world of music, sports, or movies. Apparently black women are not good enough for these guys once they reach a certain status in the world.
-      Fungus
 Wow Fungus. Your name is spot-on. You are a Fungus. I am a successful WHITE male, married to a beautiful, successful BLACK female, with a gorgeous little girl who is 3 and another one on the way. Sorry to disgust you, you Neanderthal, with my choice to marry a beautiful woman of a darker skin tone than Barbie. DEAL with it.
- Freekoffhisleash
 Stop complaining, he married that snow bunny and he knew the consequences. He is a self-hating black male, that believed he was too good to marry an educated black women.
-      I`m Glad
... We have some white haters, and some black haters that say the dude shouldn`t have married a white girl. Maybe Coach Strong should say "Thank you Mr. White man for the job that I have, and I enjoy your smell." White man takes us out the jungle and look how we repay him, by creating rap music, dating white women and voting!
                                                         -      Ol` Balls Coach
Maybe we haven`t made as much progress in this area as we were led to believe.
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. He can be reached through his Web site,