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While interracial marriage rates in this country have grown remarkably to 8.4 percent in 2010, Americans still marry within their own racial group the majority of the time.
And when people do venture across the color line to date, they do so in ways that continue to affirm a social hierarchy based on race in which whiteness is prized.
White women are less willing than white men to date outside of their racial group, but heavier-set white women are more willing to date black men, because, researchers Cynthia Feliciano, Belinda Robnett, and Golnaz Komaie of UC Irvine posit, of "racial-beauty exchange theory" -- the notion that a white woman who is less attractive by the measure of dominant Euro-American beauty standards is willing to "trade down" on the racial hierarchy by dating a black man.
By the same token, black men who date white women are "trading up" on the American racial hierarchy.
For both these men (and to be fair, they were not much older than 20 at the time and thus had plenty of maturing to do), white women were the pinnacle of womanhood -- the prize that they secretly coveted, the emotional weapon that they knew they could wield.
White men are the most sought after dates by women of all groups (except for African American women, who, researchers speculate, may rule out white men due to the fear of being stereotyped).