The history of interracial sex is often told from the perspective of either legislatures or lynch mobs. The approach has a certain appeal; it allows us to track the ideological currents of the dominant society, as they ebb and flow from passive acceptance of the practice to outright hostility. But the approach also minimizes the role of the participants, routinely casting them as unimportant players in the overall history of sex and race in this country. In this book chapter, I look at the subject of interracial intimacy from the perspective of the people involved: one story involves a white man and black woman from slavery times, and the other involves a black man and white woman from the turn of the century. The purpose is to add some depth and detail to our understanding of some of these relationships, in the process upending some of our basic assumptions about what they might have been like. Indeed, by shining a light on individual cases, we begin to appreciate both the contradictions and complexities of interracial unions, breathing life into a portion of history too often left untold.
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