Monday, March 31, 2008

Poll shows interracial dating widely accepted

Pick a color -- black, white, brown, yellow, red or any color in between.

Interracial relationships are now widely accepted by Americans of all races, according to a recent Gallup Poll, with 95 percent of young people, ages 18 to 29, approving. Nearly half of all Americans say they have personally dated a person of a different race.

"There is no question that people are more tolerant of interracial relationships today than in the past, but unquestionably people are not as tolerant in their hearts as they believe they are in their heads," said Sam Richards, senior lecturer in sociology.

Richards said people of different races are dating others who have similar class and cultural backgrounds. They are not just dating anyone across the race line, but people they have a lot in common with, regardless of race, he said.

This acceptance of interracial dating is a large change from past generations. According to the Gallup Poll, while 95 percent of the younger generation polled accepted these relationships, only 45 percent 65 and older approved.

Communications lecturer Jo Dumas said she has had firsthand experience with the changes in tolerance among different generations. "I am involved in an interracial marriage, and the incidents of racism I have experienced are much fewer now than in the past," she said. "I have gotten ugly looks before and curt behavior from some individuals, but it mostly occurred in areas that were predominantly white."

Danny Brawner (junior-Japanese) said Penn State is a good example of those communities where there is a lack of diversity.

"It's obvious that people here haven't been exposed to enough diversity because if you look at the greek system, for instance, you can see that there is obvious segregation with the designated Jewish, black and white frats," Brawner said. "A different race is something strange to many students here, and a lot of times something considered strange is more likely to become the subject of jokes."

Brawner said he has personally experienced such jokes when a member of his fraternity spent time with someone of a different race and was later ridiculed.

Dumas said there are "wonderful" efforts under way to promote cultural awareness and acceptance by student organizations.

"We still have a long way to go, but acknowledging and celebrating cultural differences enriches our lives and puts us in a position to more openly recognize our oneness," Dumas said.

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