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Fewer young people against interracial dating
Thursday, July 27, 2006
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The below is taken from an essay written by a college student titled "Interracial and Cross Cultural Dating of Generation Y"

It is a well-written, well-researched and informative article on interracial dating among young people. Yet there remains one aspect of interracial dating that continues not to be explored, and that is the question of "why the exclusivity among Black men and Black women". Most White persons who date Blacks don't have a Blacks only policy, but most Black persons who date Whites seem to have a Whites only policy. What accounts for this? And can we then overlook the deeper issues that lie at the heart of a great many Black men and Black women's choice to date White persons exclusively? is it really as simple as preferring a White woman to a black woman or preferring a White man to a Black man?

Today, as Americans continue to struggle with racially charged issues from affirmative action to immigration, high school students have started a quiet revolution that could signal a big shift in the way the nation will come to look at race. Generation Y may be the first generation to grow up without the heavy-hearted feelings about race relations of their predecessors. When interracial dating is addressed to people of Generation Y, it is evident that it is very much a non-issue. Most see it as just dating, and don’t think twice about the fact that their partner may be a different race than they are.

According to a 1997 USA Today/Gallup Poll of teenagers across the country, 57% who go out on dates say they’ve been out with someone of another race or ethnic group. This is a large increase. In 1980, just 17% said they had dated someone of another race.

Most of those interviewed in the poll say the heavy immigration of Hispanics and Asians has increased chances of meeting people from other racial and ethnic groups, so interracial dating has become far more common. Minority enrollment in public schools nationally has increased from 24% in 1976 to 35% in 1997. Schools are very diverse and have a wide variety of students. As a result, people are getting used to growing up with different races, and are feeling comfortable with it. The majority of teens view interracial dating as no big deal, and see it as “just dating.” Many have dated interracially, and if they haven’t, they say they wouldn’t have a problem doing so.

Also, in most cases today, parents aren’t an obstacle. A separate USA Today/Gallup Poll found 62% of parents of teens say that they would be “totally fine” if their children dated interracially. Reynolds Farley of New York’s Russel Sage Foundation, which sponsors social science research, says this does not surprise him. “The parents of these teens would be in their late 30s and early 40s,” he says. “They will have experienced some of the liberal attitudes from the civil rights revolution (49).

Parents of Generation Y youth are generally accepting of interracial relationships. Being born in the 1960s and 1970s, they have more liberal ideas than their own parents held. Many Gen-Y parents exhibit positive reactions to their child’s dating choices, and are thrilled when their teenager meets someone they care about. “There are families that very much value differences. In that environment, you can come home with a wide variety of people and each one is viewed as an individual (Bode 54).” They realize that if children are raised in a climate of tolerance, eventually it will lead to a society where race will no longer matter, and we will all form one race, the human race.

Some families may be hesitant of an interracial relationship at first, but will come to accept it when they see how serious the children are about the relationship. Also, families may be afraid of losing someone they love over differences in opinions on dating. Many adults today wish to help bridge the gap between the races in our society, so they learn to love and accept the differences of others.

However, other families have mixed feelings when it comes to interracial relationships. Diamonds in Interracial Dating and Marriage states that, “Some parents expect that their children will follow the dating models that they have set out. And often that model is one of sameness, not difference. For parents, seeing their offspring dating someone of the same race and ethnic background, the same religion, and same worldview feels most familiar and comfortable. Consequently, in our society, people tend to associate with, date, and marry within groups very similar to their own. Crossing racial lines remains a taboo for many.” Concludes Diamond, “All parents, motivated by love, concern, and a deep desire to protect [their child], push for a course of action that they believe will lead to the fewest complications (55).” Interracial relationships may seem complicated and troublesome to some families, and that is why they don’t want their children in that situation.

Negative reactions to interracial dating on the part of some parents may seem controlling and insensitive. Some may say they themselves aren’t against the dating; that they aren’t prejudiced. They may believe society isn’t ready, and it’s not a good idea to become involved in interracial relationships at this time. But if parents continue to believe this way society will never become ready. Negative thoughts about interracial dating will still be prevalent.

Parents, just like kids, seek peer approval. They feel pressure to have kids live right, go to the right school, date right, and eventually marry right (Bode 49). Parents may ask their child, “What will the neighbors and relatives think about this?” This could be the first in a series of escalating questions: “How could you do this to yourself? Don’t you have pride in your own culture? How could you reject your parents like this?” These are often questions parents ask when they have difficulty accepting an interracial relationship.

Despite a more general tolerance regarding interracial relationships, there can be severe family friction when a child insists on a relationship with someone from another race (Gibson 1). Some parents may do everything possible to end the relationship. They may openly state derogatory views. They may forbid their child to see the dating partner, and punish them if they do. Some couples try to keep their relationship a secret from their families in order to prevent arguments. This usually leads to more trouble, and may make the family angry and disappointed.

A good way to get parents to accept a dating partner of another race is for the teenager to bring the date home with a group of friends, and let the family get to know the person. Pointing out good qualities, and things that parents may approve of about the person will build a positive rapport. Getting parents to really become acquainted with the new boy/girlfriend before passing judgment is the key. Soon, parents may learn to accept a child’s dating partner based on the person’s character alone, and not based on their race.

Overall, studies prove that racial barriers are indeed coming down as students test interracial relationships for themselves (Knox 3). Increased individualism, tolerance for diversity, and greater minority enrollment in colleges and universities have resulted in more approving attitudes of college students toward interracial relationships.

Author: Heather Huston
Interracial and Cross Cultural Dating of Generation Y

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