Friday, December 14, 2007

Interracial Dating In Today's Society

“Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight,” are lyrics from one of the most commonly known children’s church songs.

Yet the state of Alabama did not legally endorse the meaning behind this religious tune until 2000 when it became the last state to overturn its anti-amalgamation laws, which had prevented whites and blacks from being married.

Although law states that people of different race can now marry, date and procreate with their person of choice, it remains a divided issue today.

The Civil Rights Era has come and gone and despite the removal of this unconstitutional law, society still stigmatizes mixed-race couples. The ethical and emotional fence straddling interracial dating remains divided and black and white is not yet an equal opportunity phrase.

To some, Bull Connor, who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and a strong advocate of racial segregation, and white supremacy are more alive than ever. According to the opposition, it is black or white and not something to be mixed.

Several students at Stillman College and the University of Alabama expressed their opinions about interracial dating. While some say it is not taboo anymore, they all agree that it isn't something that is endorsed and openly practiced.

"You don't see a black and white couple walking down the street holding hands," said Dalyn Ward, 19, a Stillman College journalism major.

Ward, a fair complexioned black female first met her boyfriend Bowie a year ago. She was attending an all black private school at the time, and Bowie, white, went to a mixed public school.

She met him at her friend's fifth grade class reunion, and they hit it off immediately.

"I got lost coming in, and he came out to help me find my way," she said.

She said she was the first to make a move and was surprised to find that he showed the same interest. They recently celebrated their first year anniversary.

Despite Ward's content with her relationship, she says the fact that he is white is not the first thing she tells people. She tells people that Bowie is confident and very intelligent with eyes that catch you off guard.

"I knew he was white but it wasn't an issue for me at all," she said. "When most people find out I'm dating a white guy, they say they had no idea and act surprised," she said.

According to Ward, it's still preferred that you marry or date someone within your own race.
She said that from a family perspective, people are still uneasy from the Civil Rights era.

The perception of the “white man” in the black race is still something totally different, according to Ward.

She said that her mom has always been very open about the people she dates but that she receives more 'flack' within her own race about dating a white guy than from the opposite race.

“My grandmother would be the first to say no,” she said. “Growing up in a predominantly black neighborhood in Milwaukee, people weren't exactly 'accepting,’ but it was okay."

“People will have opinions wherever you go,” Ward said.

However, Sarah Thomson contends, "I don't see what’s the big deal."

Thomson, a 22-year-old University of Alabama graduate student believes “People are people.”

Thomson has been in interracial relationships before, although it was not something her family talked about growing up. She said that it is often 'talked down' in our society, and that there are a lot of negative stereotypes towards all races.

Stereotypes depend on the race, according to Thomson. "Any bigot or racist can come up with something negative," she said.

As far as being attracted to someone of a different race, Thomson said she has never disliked someone because of the color of their skin.

"Color of the skin is a genetic pigmentation," she said. Thomson said that she definitely thinks people have come a long way and that in today's world it does not make much of a difference. She said that you are no longer ostracized for being in interracial relationships but that people have to continue to work at being open-minded.

Matt Dowd, 22, said that interracial dating was something that became more “normal” as he got older.

The University of Alabama student said he remembers seeing mixed couples as a kid and thinking it was odd but that it does not make a difference anymore. He said that while he has never dated anyone of the opposite race, it does not mean that he would not. He said that his best friend since the fourth grade was mixed and remembers his friend receiving a lot of criticism growing up. Although his friend is married now with a child, Dowd recalls a time when his friend faced a lot of difficulties dating girls.

“I don't know if people give him a hard time now. I know that in high school he tried to date some black girls but got a lot of crap from their dads,” Dowd said.

David Greenberg, a contributing writer for Slate.com, wrote a commentary on Alabama’s removal of the anti-amalgamation law and said, “In November 2000, after a statewide vote in a special election, Alabama became the last state to overturn a law that was an ugly reminder of America’s past, a ban on interracial marriage. The one-time home of George Wallace and Martin Luther King Jr. had held onto the provision for 33 years after the Supreme Court declared anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional. Yet, as the election revealed – 40 percent of Alabamians voted to keep the ban – many people still see the necessity for a law that prohibits blacks and whites from mixing blood.”

Although some discrimination still exists today, Alabama has made progress since the Civil Rights Era. Equal rights, desegregation and the removal of unconstitutional laws have helped pave the way for interracial dating and marriage. The increasing number of interracial relationships today, according to the 2006 U.S. Census, indicates that younger generations are more tolerant than previous generations.

According to a recent Gallup Poll, most Americans say they approve of interracial dating. Even though most whites say they approve, they are somewhat less likely to approve of interracial dating than are blacks or Hispanics, according to the Poll. “Racial diversity is especially common in college friendships because that age group is exposed to a wider range of people, and college students have more opportunities to become friends with peers of other races,” Anthony Antonio, an associate professor of education at Stanford University said.

To University of Alabama student Mizue Torikoshi, 22, said, “Race, itself, doesn't matter."
“In today’s modern world, it doesn’t make a difference,” said Thomson.

2 comments:

Lisa Delgado said...

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Hopefully, we can evolve someday to a place where relationships between any two people can be treated without the distraction of skin color, religious background or any other irrelevant factors.