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Two African American women offer the first ever handbook on navigating the exciting, tricky, and potentially dangerous terrain of interracial relationships with personal anecdotes, historical context, pop cultural references, and expert tips on how to make the bumpy ride a bit smoother.

When it comes to black women, the statistics have been grim when it comes to the prospects of dating and finding a husband, so much so that the term “black girl curse” is now part of the vernacular. Stanford Law professor and author Ralph Richard Banks made headlines last year as he put the statistics on front street: 70% of professional black women are unmarried compared to 45% of comparable white women, largely due to the fact that the majority of black women choose not to date and marry outside their race, all the while waiting on that “good black man.”  It’s an ongoing debate which has many black women wrestling with their long-held fantasies of whether to hold out for, give up on, or move towards the idea of dating men who are not African American.

For those who are flirting with the idea of an interracial relationship, journalists Christelyn D. Karazin and Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn offer the perfect roadmap to finding potential bliss.  In SWIRLING: How to Date, Mate and Relate, Mixing Race, Culture and Creed (Atria Books; Original Trade Paperback; May 2012; $15), Karazin, who is known for her popular blog, and Littlejohn, a journalist for more than 20 years, write candidly about the personal journeys of interracial dating and marriage and why it is has become increasingly important for more black women who are interested in having a male partner to look outside of the limited pool of black men for mates.  “The lamentable truth is that at least two million of us are in jeopardy of never experiencing that kind of love, especially within our own race. The shortage of black men is real – and black women are fighting like alley cats for the half a handful of eligible and marriageable brothers,” writes Karazin.  Littlejohn continues, “So as the world swirls, black women are stuck in lives filled with made-for-soap-opera drama and settling for less than they deserve.  It is telling when a woman with her master degree and making a decent amount of money decides to steal a car with her man just to prove she loves him, or a Christian woman and mother of four opts to marry a man serving a three-strikes sentence in prison because she doesn’t want to be alone anymore…and all because black women fear cultural isolation from their own community when they mix date and marry.”

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So where does it begin for black women when it comes to interracial dating and finding what the authors call a “rainbeau?” For one, getting rid of the mythical “Strong Black Woman” mentality is a must because it jeopardizes black women’s dating prospects. If the perception is that black women do not need a partner and can or prefer to do everything on her own, then it makes her a less appealing mate.  Next, Karazin and Littlejohn explain that black women should not wait for the “black community to give them the green light to swirl” because it’s never going to happen. Third, black women can love a non-black man and still uplift and represent her race. Fourth, she should know that just because she wants a man who is equally successful or exceeds her income does not make her a gold-digger. And finally, it’s okay for her to have a preference, whatever that preference is.

SWIRLING is filled with honest, straightforward and practical expert tips and personal stories from the authors and hundreds of black women interviewed. Readers will find valuable answers to a multitude of questions about:

  • • Why dating outside her race is a difficult and/or scary concept for many black women
  • • How to filter the potential keepers from the losers
  • • How to begin conversations with a “rainbeau” about issues or concerns regarding interracial dating
  • • Where to go to meet a potential “rainbeau”
  • • How to know when a non-black man is showing he is interested
  • • What it can mean when you encounter “stares” while out on a date
  • • How to cope with feelings of self-guilt when you don’t have the desire to date black men
  • • How to handle the “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” moment
  • • When to know that your “rainbeau” is not “the one”

In addition, there is a comprehensive resource guide that offers the names of blogs and books, tips to finding a partner, and best U.S. cities to swirl, which further explore the concept of interracial dating.  “Janice and I did not write this book to indoctrinate, cajole, or frighten black women into doing something they have no desire to do,” says Karazin.  Says Littlejohn, “Yet, the paltry number of eligible African American men is frightening – and it’s real…Who we find attractive has a lot to do with whom we are exposed to, and if you haven’t been around people of other races and cultures, either in school or in your communities, it’s a little harder to know what it is you find appealing about someone who doesn’t look like you.”

Christelyn D. Karazin and Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn are both available for interview. Please contact me if you would like to speak with them about what is sure to be the next explosive debate in the conversation about race and relationships.

You can pre-order the book, HERE!


Christelyn D. Karazin is a columnist for Madame Noir magazine and also writes for publications including Woman’s Day, Better Homes & Gardens, and others. She runs the popular blog and lives in California with her husband and four children.

Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn has had a diverse twenty-year career as a journalist. A former television columnist for the Associated Press, her work has appeared in publications including the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Essence, Vibe and more. She is directing the forthcoming women in jazz documentary, “…but can she play?” and lives in Los Angeles.

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