Devaceo S. Mitchell
April 19, 1999
Thesis: Stereotypical society still views interracial relationships as controversial
based on their relevance to social, racial, political issues, and personal experiences.
I. Social Reactions
A. Racism, Stereotypes, & Controversy
B. Relation to Actor-Observer Theory
II. Race Reactions
A. “Third-World” Opinions on Interracial Relationships
B. Cross -Cultural Perceptions
III. Political Aspects
A. Place of Loyalties & Identities
B. Politicization of Dating/ Marriage Choices
IV. Personal Experiences
A. Filipino (mother)/ Swedish (father)
B. Mexican (father)/ German (mother)
C. African-American (father)/ Caucasian (mother)
Living in a world where society controls the greatest influence on individual mindset,
interracial relationships are viewed by some as a “racial barrier” and to others as a form
of “multicultural diversity.” Relationships today are evaluated differently and produce mixed personal reactions. Because of such differing mindsets, society will never be united under one sole positive perception of any given relationship. For point of discussion, an evaluation of interracial relationships will be performed. Stereotypical society still views interracial relationships as controversial based on their relevance to social, racial, political issues, and personal experiences.
Firstly, we will deal with social reactions to interracial dating. Interracial dating is still a very controversial issue in the United States’ society. Much of this is due to the prolonged racism and stereotypes. Racism is defined as the preconception that a person or the basis of race, performs inadequately or has negative characteristics ( Woodson 13). A theory that is often related to interracial relationships is the actor/observer theory. This is the tendency to attribute our own behavior to external, situational factors, but to attribute the behavior of others to the internal dispositional factors such as choice or will. An example of this is if a child is dating someone of another race and the parents do not like the person who their child is dating, the parents and the child may argue about the situation. The parents inter traits from behavior, have a tendency to perceive their teen as stubborn, difficult, rebellious and too independent. Both the parents and the teens see their behavior as being motivated by external factors. External factors, such as movies, television, and magazines, influence society about interracial relationships and dating
(Hewett 9). It is proven that 71% of African-American-white marriages are between black men and white women.This is probably due to the factors like the sports illustrated swimsuit issue, which portrays white women as the “ultimate” sex symbol (Bode 43). A stereotype often heard is that African-American men have a sexual prowess that white men lack. Likewise, Asian women tend to date white men due to the stereotype that they are submissive. Many of these stereotypes have been brought up by television, media, and other forms of communication. If you can get past the stereotypes and preconceptions, then one can accept interracial marriages and relationships (Bode 43).
Another interracial relationship topic is race reactions. Although a lot of the information pertains solely to white and black, studies have shown that there still exists a conflict with interracial dating and marriage. Studies have also shown that a commonly held belief involved in intra-third-world interracial dating is not as talked about but also more acceptable (Dutton54). Everyone wants to talk about the controversial thing— white, non-white dating. With a certain segment of the third world community, it is more accepted because at least it’s third world.
In some interviews held about the controversial ” Wall of Shame” which provoked a deeper look into interracial dating, some interesting ideas were brought up. For instance, several individual’s perspectives on the issue suggest arguments for or against interracial dating are not grounded in close-minded views or an unwillingness to experience cross-culturalism. Rather, notions of the community, solidarity, self-esteem, and standards of beauty played a more important role in formulating opinions about dating between
different races (Rosenberg 33). Some individuals may not accept interracial dating due to a desire to maintain solidarity within an ethnic community. Moreover, others see the ethnic communities as a source of strength and unity for many students, and shared values within these communities are of much importance. Moreover, the third world community also displays the need to maintain a notion of solidarity. The reason the third world community and the individual minority communities are so strong is believed to be because of their size. Because they’re so small, they need to hold on to their sense of community, which would be shattered if someone dated interracially. A lot of strong social networks are formed around these communities simply because they’re small and exclusive to their individual race (Mathabane 75).
Moreover, according to on colored person, a lot of what is talked about within a community of color is oppression. Interracial dating is therefore seen as contradictory. There is, once again, that strong need to stick together because of a common bond that is shared that whites “don’t understand.” The lack of understanding would consequently cause tension within an interracial relationship. It has also been shown, through studies, that interracial within the minority community is more acceptable than dating outside of the minority community. This perhaps is a consequence of that “common” bond that is shared within minority groups (Davol 83).
Another aspect of tensions with interracial dating is political. Some individuals interpret loyalties and identities through who a person dates. The politicization of dating choices, however, takes something personal and private and makes it public and political (Wyeth 67).
Also, the perspective involving perceptions of stereotypical standards of “beauty” is causation for tension with interracial dating. The learned belief in society has been that white women are at the top of the racial hierarchy (in the U.S.) and consequently, many women of color perceive themselves as ugly. If a person of color dates another person of color, people don’t care as much or look down upon the relationship because there is more of a chance when a person of color dates a white person, it’s either a fetish or they have internalized beliefs about beauty and who’s attractive. People will raise their eyes to a person of color who’s dating a person to raise their status. Moreover, relationships between a minority student and a white student are sometimes categorized as “selling out”, sacrificing allegiance to a ethnicity in order to date someone of a higher social status (Wyeth 74).
The negative attitudes towards interracial dating in the black community is fostered in part by the stereotypical standards of beauty which stipulates that black females are considered the least attractive among women. Black women express frustration over the situation at a forum on dating between black and white individuals. The mood for the women was, “Why does this happen?” Further perspectives from other black women were: “There’s a reason why black girls grow up thinking they’re the ugliest things on the planetI think it concerns us when we see the men in our community in their adulthood purposely turn away from African-American women when they choose a mate. It hurts to see that you are not wanted by your brother. I know if I was to have a black son, and he dates white women, it would seem to me to be a blatant rejection.” ” A lot of
people are seriously hurt by black men dating white women. Black women see this and it makes them upset. I think they have a right to be upset(Toyomi 75)”
According to the essay, “Interracial Dating”, written by Loan Huynn, in the past, interracial dating was often prohibited in earlier years. The mixing of the races were forbidden by separate cultures. There was a fear that the blood or the traits of their given culture would combine with other cultures. In the 1940’s, interracial dating was illegal in many parts of the U.S. Many couples were either separated by the law of the state unless if they were prohibited by their parents to date or marry anyone outside their race. Some individuals hold the belief that their relatives should be of the same color and culture (Yep23).
If an individual is placed in a new environment, such as a family there may be problems that occur with language barriers and differences in cultures present. These factors have led to the discouragement of interracial relationships. The discouragement has been so strong in some cultures that prearranged marriages are commonly performed in order to prevent the practice of interracial dating. This custom usually exists in East Asia according to Loan Huynn. Each generation desires the existence of their particular culture. This custom tries to prohibit the development of a bi-racial child (Mathabane 77).
There have been drastic actions in order to stop interracial dating in a single culture family. Violent behavior has been exhibited because of a strong objection to interracial relationships.There have been stories where a parent will call and threaten the boyfriend or girlfriend of their child (Mathabane 77).
Today, few families object to their child’s involvement in interracial dating. If there is disapproval present from a parent, the teenager may ignore the objections. For the most part, cultures are now open to interracial dating. Interracial dating in the present is not a big issue for many households, yet minor problems may still occur.
The following experiences have been experienced by three members of different racial backgrounds. All experiences are interpreted by their point of view. First to be mentioned is a female student whose mother is Filipino and father is Swedish. The second scene mentioned concerns a male student whose mother is German and father is Mexican. Finally, the third experience to be mentioned concerns a female student whose mother is Caucasian and father is African-American.
” There was a conflict with my dad’s side of the family because of a racist uncle. He saw my mom, my brother and I as ruins to the perfect Aryan blood line. He always saw my mom as an “airhead” even though she was currently a practicing nutritionist and lawyer, but couldn’t see her or her race any other way,” states the female student with a Filipino mother and Swedish father (Rosenberg 59).
The male student says, ” When I dated a black female, my father was bitter, harsh and didn’t accept it as well as if I had dated a white female. Whenever this black female called my house and I wasn’t home he wouldn’t transfer the message to me. After questioning my parents about the noticeable situation my mother replied that they had no problem with the relationship. My father refused to speak about the subject. Growing older, he has fixed in his mind that black race has brought him trouble and he feels that the black race today is somewhat intimidating (Rosenberg 59).”
The young lady with an African-American father and a Caucasian mother stated, “When shopping with my mom, people would often assume that I was adopted or sometimes that I wasn’t even her child. One example would be when I was younger and I got lost in a department store and a store clerk tried to help me find my mother. I pointed a blond-haired white woman (which was truly my mother) and the clerk said no
she couldn’t be your mother and continued looking for a dark-skinned mother.” “My mom and dad’s mother would not get helped at a gas station together while being in the south, because racial mixing was not accepted. This was around 1975 (Rosenberg 60).”
As can be seen, interracial relationships are still a controversy in some parts of the U.S. Many cultures do not want their children dating descendants of other races, however, the controversy pertaining to interracial relations is held to a lower level than in past history. In fact, interracial dating and marriage are much more acceptable today in
almost all aspects of cultural diversity on social, racial, political, and personal issues.
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