No one has a problem with interracial marriage anymore, right? Poll after poll shows that public support of these unions is at record highs. The 2010 census revealed not only that interracial marriages are up but also that mixed-race children are the fastest growing group of young people. These days television shows feature interracial couples in storylines where race never causes tension. Altogether that means that interracial marriage is simply a non-issue in post-racial America, doesn't it? Not quite. The online reaction to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg's wedding on Saturday to Priscilla Chan is a clear reminder that the country has a long way to go before interracial marriage becomes widely and genuinely accepted.
The day after Zuckerberg's nuptials the comments sections of websites reporting the news included several hateful remarks criticizing the couple's looks and taking aim at their wealth. That's par for the course online, though. What really stood out is the series of comments with a decidedly racial bent.
On the Los Angeles Times website, a commenter named Waskoman exclaimed, "Man, those mail order compaines have some hot chicks! Just kidding!!!" Another, using the moniker Jihadlives, remarked, "He married a chank? What's up with that?"
What we have here is the assumption that because Chan has Chinese ancestry she can't be an American. Of course not. She must be a woman Zuckerberg shipped from overseas to be his submissive bride. In reality Chan is far from a mail order mate. She's an Ivy League-educated doctor who could hold her own without Zuckerberg, but the facts of the situation don't easily lend themselves to racist and sexist stereotypes. The second commenter relied on a misspelled racial slur rather than on a racial stereotype to object to Zuckerberg's decision to marry Chan. On a different note, a third L.A. Times commenter accused Zuckerberg of killing his own kind by intermarrying. Ome-Coatl wrote:
"Why didn't he marry 'a nice Jewish girl?'I once read a conservative Jewish commentator say that 'America's intermarriage culture is destroying Jews more effectively than did the Nazi gas chambers.' Perhaps it was hyperbole… or was it?"
The L.A. Times website was hardly the only one where racist commenters took aim at Zuckerberg and Chan. A commenter named Morney on the gossip web site Gawker applauded Zuckerberg's decision to marry interracially but for completely inappropriate reasons. He wrote, "Good for Mark to marry a submissive Asian woman, instead of a spoiled American. She's not a looker, but this way she'll take care of him and raise his kids, while he can still hit much hotter #@$!* on the side."
Once again, there's the assumption that Chan is not from the United States, as if Asian Americans don't exist. This commenter also assumes because Chan has Chinese heritage she'll be content to serve as Zuckerberg's caretaker (instead of the doctor she studied to be) and will be so passive she'll be cool if Zuckerberg cheats on her. On Gawker, a couple of commenters tried to show Morney that not all Asian women are passive, but they did so by invoking the "Dragon Lady" stereotype.
"You've never dated an Asian woman have you?" commenter Tsol asked Morney. "Especially a driven achiever like Priscilla--there is nothing submissive about them. In fact I guarantee that she's the one wearing the pants in that relationship. There's a reason the Dragon Lady stereotype stills exists."
A word to the wise: you don't fight a stereotype by mentioning another stereotype. Just as all Asian women aren't submissive, all Asian women certainly aren't domineering, so no one can guarantee that Priscilla Chan wears the pants in her relationship with Zuckerberg. As for why racial stereotypes still exist--it's because racism still does.
On TMZ.com commenters plainly suggested that Chan's Asianness makes her a whore. "Bet she love him long, long time," a commenter named Really? quipped. Others followed suit, and the scary thing is that a number of these comments received more favorable ratings from other viewers than unfavorable ones.
So, who cares if racist commenters don't like the fact that Mark Zuckerberg married a Chinese-American doctor? He could buy and sell everyone of those haters. That may be true, but if people exhibit this level of racial animus concerning a powerful couple they don't even know, imagine how people regard the interracial couples they pass on the street, live next to or are related to? It's also important to note that interracial couples consisting of a white man and an Asian woman are largely regarded as the least threatening of all. Given this, if Zuckerberg and Chan's marriage can stir up this much hate, what must interracial couples with a different ethnic makeup endure?