Interracial dating has been a hot topic within America since its inception. What was once illegal is now becoming common place among the majority of the population. Racial acceptance within the country has been determined in part to current interracial dating statistics, both of the relationship itself and of the community’s reaction to the couple. Using data collected from the beginning of the United States to current conditions, the following will examine the country’s history of bi-racial relationships.
In the early colonial years interracial relationships were illegal due to property ownership. As slavery was still in effect, the question, especially within the state of Maryland was whether the children would be black property or white who would be free. Virginia followed suit in the late 1600’s, labeling children as abominations. Even when slavery was abolished with the thirteenth amendment, there were still southern states that created Black Codes, denying interracial couples validity and legality.
Up until Loving v. Virginia in 1967, there were many legal blocks to biracial relationships. Mental health professionals tried to explain that the psychology of a white person had to be confused or ill if interested in a black person. Also, black students, including Leroy Gardner of Bethel College in 1943, had to sign contracts detailing a promise to have lack of contact with white females on the school’s campus. Women were sent to mental hospitals when admitting to be in multi cultural relationships. Bi-racial dating was considered an illness and something that could deter a healthy gene pool. Although the Supreme Court had ruled the illegality of bi-racial relationships to be unconstitutional, that did not negate the natural preconceived stigma associated within the couple.
As schools become more diverse in time, so have the perceptions of what a relationship should look like. In 1980 only 17% of teenagers had dated outside of their race. Compare that to the 57% in 1997. 62% of parents with teenage children said they would be fine if their children were to date bi-racially. In 1994 at Wedowee, Alabama, a white principal told his high school students if interracial couples planned to attend prom it would be cancelled.
Currently most people say that they are comfortable with interracial dating, whether it is due to the current norm or to look politically correct. As only 5% of marriages within the United States are currently in interracial relationships, the figures do not support the claims. Parents have a large role in this. Students and young adults generally want to impress or make their mom and dad proud. Unfortunately the older generation does not have the same perspective and tends to look down on interracial relationships.
Jones and Smith conducted a research study on bi racial dating in 2002. In the reports, African American participants were two times more likely to positively view and were open to, bi racial dating. Generally in these cases the mother was the determining factor in whether or not the black student would chose an interracial partner. On the other hand, in the same study, white students were far more likely to determine a partner according to the father. Parents prove to be a significant variable in dating within bi racial couples.
Location of data plays a critical influence on the acceptability of interracial couples. Culturally diverse locales generally have a more favorable opinion and better acceptance of bi racial dating. Cities and more metropolitan towns tend to be more ethnically conscious. Whereas the south and more old fashioned places generally do not favor interracial relationships.
The main argument from those against multi-cultural relationships tends to be losing one’s culture. Most believe that by creating a multi-ethnic relationship, especially one that leads to children will dissuade traditions and culture. Many supporters believe this claim is in fact racist. Their explanation goes on to say that those pretending to defend culturally similar relationships just believe in a hierarchy where whites are in some way better than other cultures.
Although interracial dating has been a longstanding debate among American people, there is a plethora of information and statistics available to determine social acceptance. From slavery in the 1600’s to the current opinions on bi-racial dating, opinions have vastly changed. What was once illegal nationally is now more favorable within youth. If the data continues in this fashion, in about a decade there should be as many, if not more, bi-racial relationships compared to same race couples within the United States.
For more information about interracial relationships, consult the following resources.
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