Friday, November 16, 2007

Interracial dating still not accepted

A couple pulls into the parking lot of a nice restaurant popular with young couples. The guy, who is white, gets out and opens the door for his date, a young black woman, fashionably dressed yet modest. The two hold hands and walk inside. As they are being seated, a couple of people waiting for takeout give them furtive glances and several people stop eating and stare.

This is what happened to us last week at Roscoe’s on Pico Boulevard and the week before at BJs in Westwood.

The calm and carefree environment at Pepperdine makes it easy to forget real world problems. There is little racial tension on campus. Most people have a diverse group of friends who share similar interests. However, one only has to step off campus into the chaotic environment of Los Angeles, one of the most diverse yet racially partitioned cities in the world. An angry glance here, a cold stare there and a smirk and shaking of the head are part of the world encountered by interracial couples like us, whether it is at the Westfield Topanga Mall, the Third Street Promenade, Roscoe’s or Starbucks.

Interracial couples are oftentimes not accepted by members of their own race or the members of the race of the person they are dating. This includes family, friends, and strangers on the street. They do not have the support in their relationship that they would otherwise have if they were of the same race. Society expects a young white upper middle class male from Redondo Beach to date a female of similar ethnicity and background. Likewise a young black female is expected to date a black male from an environment similar to hers. With these societal expectations, it is no surprise the most judgmental group, is the one that knows the least about the couple — complete strangers.

As strangers, they have not sat down and talked with the couple and know nothing of their relationship; yet they make assumptions based on the color of the skin. Those who disapprove of interracial dating have their own misguided reasons. These uninformed individuals may see the relationship as betrayal of one’s own race, settling for something less or even unnatural.
The older population seems to think that love and affection stop at racial lines and vary based on skin color. All of those factors create a feeling of disapproval and places strain and insecurity on the relationships. These situations are not unique and other interracial couples have reported instances of similar events. But there is more to this issue than anecdotal accounts; there is research to back this up.

In 2007, more than half of all college students are still not open to dating outside their race. A study published in College Student Journal stated that only 49.6 percent of college aged students would be open to an interracial relationship. Yet, nearly 95 percent Americans ages 18-29 supposedly do not have a problem with interracial dating according to a recent Gallup poll. Sadly, 17 percent of adult Americans under 45 still do not approve of couples dating outside their respective races. This represents more than 25,000,000 people.

We are taught in school to be tolerant of everyone, but the tolerance becomes distorted and misguided. People say that they are tolerant of other cultures, but look at the numbers. Only half of young adults are even willing to be in a romantic relationship with another race. In a state as diverse as California, refusing to consider dating someone of another race is rejecting more than half of the population, without giving them a chance. Love is not about race or culture or ethnicity, love should be based on the content of a person’s character. The relationship decisions that other people make, are not the concern of anyone but themselves. Respect our choices as we have yours. So, stop staring.

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