Black Mobility, 2/7, 6:30pm

Title of Event: Marital Selection x Black Immigrants in the USA
Date: Tuesday, February 7th
Time: 6:30 to 8 pm 
Location: LC 100 or join via WebEx


Co-sponsors: Center for Student Engagement, Eddy at New Paltz, Black Studies Department, Black Lives Matter at School

Panelist #1: Dr. Vadricka Etienne
Assistant Professor of Gender, Race, and Identity and Sociology, University of Nevada, Reno

Title: “…As far as Black people go, they would rather deal with Haitians…”: Black (Ethnic) Mobility through Romantic Partner Choice 

Abstract: This presentation explores how diasporic Haitian families employ intimate relationships as a social mobility strategy. Through forty-one in-depth interviews and ten months of ethnographic observations of Haitian Americans in Miami, FL, the analyses of these data reveal a generational and cultural negotiation of “a good partner” that places co-ethnics as the best romantic choice for second-generation Haitian Americans. The preference for Haitian partners, specifically co-ethnics, allows Haitian families to assert the self-perceived superiority of their culture and class-based values, reaffirming their importance within an anti-Black society. This presentation considers the implications of constrained romantic decisions in shaping Black mobility and perpetuating Black ethnic continuity. 

Panelist #2: Dr. Karen Okigbo
Dr. Karen Amaka Okigbo is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy. Broadly speaking, her research is on the areas of immigration, race, ethnicity, and sociology of the family.

Title:  Marital Selection as a Pathway for Social Mobility among Black Immigrant Households 

Abstract: Building on the body of literature seeking to understand the social mobility and economic trajectories of post-1965 immigrants to the United States, this paper looks at how a marital partner’s race/ethnicity impacts the economic outcomes of Black immigrant households (i.e. households with at least one first-generation immigrant of African or Caribbean ancestry). Using the harmonized decennial census from 2020, this presentation argues for a more nuanced definition of intermarriage by both race and ethnicity. In doing so, this study serves as a point of departure for reframing the story of intermarriage – from one that primarily focuses on mixed race unions with White partners – to one that highlights the diversity within the Black population. This presentation ultimately argues that extending the definition of intermarriage to include ethnic diversity among the Black population complicates, yet furthers, our understanding of how marital selection can be a pathway for social mobility. 

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