Her research interests focus on issues of race, gender and sexuality in relationships, families, communities and media/popular culture. For the past ten years she has studied multiracial couples/families, and the attitudes and responses of black and white families and communities to interracial relationships. An integral part of the research is an exploration of the images and meanings attached to interracial sexuality in media and popular culture. She has published two books, as well as many academic journal articles and book chapters on these issues. Currently she is conducting a global study of “mixed” marriages in South Africa (summer 2009) and other locations over the next three years.

Other projects include an ethnography in the New York City public schools from 2007-2010, looking at how race, class, and gender play out in the experiences and treatment of elementary school children. She is also working on ethnography of NYC caregivers and their employers through in-depth interviews and ethnographic observation. Currently she is finishing writing up an ethnography of racial and ethnic divisions in neighboring communities in Rhode Island that was conducted from 1998-2005.


Fade to Black and White: Interracial Images in Popular Culture

“Erica Chito Childs’ careful research and creative insights are clearly displayed in this engaging and interesting book. Fade to Black and White is an original study that convincingly shows how the depictions of interracial sex and marriage in popular culture and media reflect contemporary attitudes about race and sex in the United States. This book is a significant contribution to the study of American race relations.”

—William Julius Wilson, Harvard University

There is no teasing apart what interracial couples think of themselves from what society shows them about themselves. Following on her earlier ground-breaking study of the social worlds of interracial couples, Erica Chito Childs considers the larger context of social messages, conveyed by the media, that inform how we think about love across the color line. Examining a range of media—rom movies to music to the web—Fade to Black and White offers an informative and provocative account of how the perception of interracial sexuality as “deviant” has been transformed in the course of the 20th century and how race relations are understood today.

Navigating Interracial Borders: Black-White Couples and Their Social Worlds (2005)

In Navigating Interracial Borders, Erica Chito Childs explores the social world of black-white interracial couples and examines the ways that collective attitudes shape private relationships. Drawing on personal accounts, in-depth interviews, focus group responses, and cultural analysis of media sources, she provides compelling evidence that sizable opposition still exists toward black-white unions.

Contemporary Sociology Review by David L. Brunsma
Journal of Marriage and Family Review by Kerry A. Rockquemore

Selected Publications

  • Looking Behind the Stereotypes of the “Angry Black Woman”: An Exploration of Black Women’s Responses to Interracial Relationships
    Gender & Society, Vol. 19, No. 4, 544-561 (2005)
    In academic research on interracial relationships, as well as popular discourses such as film and television, Black women are often characterized as angry and opposed to interracial relationships. Yet the voices of Black women have been largely neglected. Drawing from focus group interviews with Black college women and in-depth interviews with Black women who are married interracially, the author explores Black women’s views on Black-white heterosexual relationships. Black women’s opposition to interracial dating is not simply rooted in jealousy and anger toward white women but is based on white racism, Black internalization of racism, and what interracial relationships represent to Black women and signify about Black women’s worth. The impact of racism and sexism are clear, with Black women devalued by white standards of beauty and faced with a shortage of available Black men and a lack of “substantive opportunities” to date interracially.
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Selected Book Chapters