Interracial Dating: The New Enlightenment
Less than a century ago, interracial dating was something you didn’t talk about, and something to hide if you did prefer a person of a different color. There were few places you could go to safely without causing some sort of scandal, and even fewer people who were willing to listen with understanding.
Maybe it was the rhythm and blues saturating the basements of late night entertainment. Maybe it was a society lifting out of the Great Depression, with more tolerance accompanying their more affluent life styles. Maybe it was the boldness of writers, spokes people and celebrities campaigning for civil rights, but by the 1960’s, interracial dating slowly became more acceptable.
The changing times brought its own set of problems. Even as the work force became more integrated, with minorities and women stepping into roles once designed for white, professional males, and public places ceased separating or refusing services to minorities, interracial dating was still awkward. It was an era of general agreement on civil rights, but there weren’t very many among the Depression Years parents who were prepared to bring racial integration into the home.
The Millennial Perspective
The awkward early years of racial integration jump-started interracial dating. Today, seven percent of the population claims a mixed race heritage. The number is growing rapidly, with most interviewee’s stating pride in their multiracial origins and claiming their heritage has made them more open to other cultures.
Seven percent is significantly higher than in the 1970’s, when only one percent declared a mixed race background, but analysts feel these number are actually only about half the actual percentage, as many who are mixed race claim only one ethnic background. The majority of those who claim only one race are middle-aged or older.
From Age to Regional Location
The younger you are, the easier it is to find a partner for interracial dating. The twenty to thirty year old set are generally very casual and already have a wide mixture of multi-cultural and multi-racial friends. Tolerance, however, especially by family and community, can vary greatly according to demographics. In many areas, especially regions that historically disapproved of mixed race dating, there may no longer be taboos, but the cultural clash still exists. The family, and even your date, might have stereotypical views of your personal tastes and behaviors.
Crossing the barriers where racial misconceptions still exist takes fortitude and patience. Interracial views are changing rapidly but not racial views. You may experience those uncomfortable moments of somebody going out of their way not to offend you, anxieties concerning appropriate behaviors, or even suspicion and reserved behaviors.
Unless you are dating someone with exactly the same historical background, social status and religion, you are still going to be challenged by your date’s customs. For many races, the customs are more engrained than color, status or ancestral origins. Religion may be an important influence on their lives, even if they no longer declare a religious preference, as they will make time for the traditional values of their family.
But that’s part of what interracial dating is all about. It’s an opportunity to take a broader look at the world around us, to improve our communications with others, and learn about differing cultures and customs that can enrich our everyday lives.
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