Interracial Relationships Essay, Research Paper
Statistical data indicates that we are becoming a more integrated society everyday. Presently, in the U.S we have 1.3 million interracial marriages, and the number continues to rise (Newsweek, p.38). For our multicultural group presentation, my group, Imagine, choose to study interracial relationships in America. We wanted to determine how many adult Americans had been in an interracial relationship. We also wanted to know if this past dating history was influential in determining if someone would marry someone outside his or her race. By surveying a random sample of seventy people in the San Fernando Valley and dividing them by age and gender, we hoped to uncover any patterns of behavior.
My group chose this topic because interracial relationships have been a common issue throughout American history. We only need to look at televisions shows like, ?I Love Lucy,? ?Ally McBeal?, or movies like ?Westside Story,? ?Jungle Fever,? and ?Fools Rush In? to see examples of interracial relationships portrayed by the media. However, it was not always considered so acceptable to participate in or discuss interracial relationships. In 1967, less than 35 years ago, sixteen states still had laws prohibiting sexual relations or marriage between black and white people. In the past, this number had been as high as forty-one. Before the end of the war and the emancipation of the slaves, the few known cases of sexual relations between black men and white women had been considered fornication or adultery. Under slavery, any child resulting from mixed unions took its mother?s civil status; if she was free (and hence usually ?white?), the child was free; if she was a slave (always ?black?), the child itself would be born into slavery (Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, p.332).
METHODS OF RESEARCH
One of our aims in our group presentation was to find out if people?s actions and attitudes toward interracial relationships have changed over time. Our method of research was conducting a survey of seventy people who lived in the San Fernando Valley. We divided the participants into gender and age groups of 18-29, and 30-45. Out of all the people surveyed, there were thirty-five men and women between the ages of 18-29, and thirty-five males and females between the ages of 30-45. Each age group consisted of eighteen males and seventeen females. We attempted to keep the numbers balanced and even in both age and gender categories to make the study an equal comparison. We asked the participants a series of questions to determine past dating habits and their attitude toward interracial marriage.
RESULTS AND ANALYSIS
Our questions revealed that among males ages 18-29, sixty-five percent had dated outside their own race, compared to thirty-five percent that had not dated outside their race. Out of the sixty-five percent of males who said they dated outside their race, all of them said they would marry outside their race. Among thirty-five percent of males who had not dated outside their race, half said they would marry outside their race and the other half said they would not.
Eighty-nine percent of men ages 30-45 proclaimed they had dated outside their race, with the other eleven percent saying they had not dated outside their race. The eighty-nine percent of males, who had dated outside their race, were equally divided on whether they would marry outside their race. The eleven percent of males who had not dated outside their race, all stated that they would not marry outside their race.
The results of the females ages 18-29 revealed that seventy-one percent had dated outside their race, while twenty-nine percent had not. Out of the seventy-one percent of females who declared they had dated outside their race, sixty percent said they would marry outside their race.
Among females ages 30?45, fifty-six percent affirmed they had dated outside their race, with the remaining forty-four percent never having dated outside their race. The fifty?six percent of females who had dated outside their race had mixed results regarding marriage outside their race. Half stressed they would not marry outside their race; thirty percent stated they would marry outside race, and twenty percent were undecided. The forty-four percent of women who responded that they had not dated outside their race, an astonishing eighty-eight percent declared that they would marry someone outside their race.
Many interesting inferences can be made with our results. For example, given the mixed results between the men and women, it is apparent that they have different attitudes regarding marriage outside their race. Comparing the sexes revealed that, in the younger age group, men who had dated outside their race were all willing to marry outside their race. However, among younger women who had dated outside their race, only sixty percent were willing to consider marriage outside of their race. In the older age group, half of the men and women who had dated outside their race said that they would not marry outside their race. However, the men were more willing to consider interracial marriage since the remaining half said they would marry outside their race, while only thirty percent of women said they would marry outside their race. In both age groups, men, who had dated outside their race, were more open-minded about marrying outside their race.
Another interesting fact that our research indicated is about interracial dating in general. In the younger age groups, women had more interracial dating experience than men. But, in the older age groups men had more interracial dating experience than women. This indicates that younger women and older men tend to be more open to the idea of interracial dating than older women. Perhaps older women do not find the idea as acceptable as men of their generation or as the next generation of women do.
The males who had not dated outside their race strongly opposed marriage outside their race. The females who had never dated outside their race proclaimed that they would marry outside their race. These results differ from those of people who had dated outside their race. In this case, women tend to be more liberal than men, whereas, the opposite was true for those who had dated outside their race.
These results correspond with the results found in other research done on interracial relationships. While men tend to participate more in interracial dating, they are not so liberal about interracial marriage. Women, on the other hand, may not participate in interracial dating as much as the men, but tend to be much more open-minded about the possibility of an interracial marriage.
Another concern I had was if the younger generation was more open-minded to interracial dating. Studies that have been done in this area indicate that some progress has been made. According to a USA Today/Gallup Poll, sixty-seven percent of teens that date said they’ve dated someone of another race. The new poll of 602 teens also found that thirty percent of teens that have not dated outside of their race said they would not have any objection to doing so. Only thirteen percent of teens said they would never cross-racial lines. In 1980, the survey found that only seventeen percent of teens had dated someone of another race. While the study sheds light on a generation that may not be as distracted by race as the rest of the nation seems to be, it does reveal that some racial barriers remain, particularly between black and white teens. When it comes to blacks and whites dating, the numbers decrease. Forty-four percent of black teens that date said they’ve dated a white person. Thirty-eight percent said they’ve dated a Hispanic, although, in this country, whites overwhelmingly outnumber Hispanics. Only seventeen percent of white teens have dated black teens, which is about the same number as whites dating Asians (fifteen percent). The survey revealed that black-white dating is most likely to cause trouble. Among black teens, twenty percent said they would have a problem with a black teen that dated a white teen, and 24 percent of whites said they would have a problem with a white teen dating a black teen (Jet, p.32).
THE MULTICULTURAL GROUP EXPERIENCE
Working in a multicultural group gave me an opportunity to collaborate with my fellow classmates on what our perceptions were regarding interracial relationships. We learned about each other?s past experiences and attitudes regarding dating and marrying outside our race. Our group was very diverse and I believed it was illustrated by the name we chose to call ourselves. We chose to name our group ?Imagine,? taking the name from a John Lennon album and song. We, like Lennon, welcome diversity, and only wish that we lived in a world where everybody lived more for today. ?You might say we?re dreamers, but were not the only ones?. Since all of the group members are Communication Studies majors, I believe that it is necessary for all of us to have group experience, because it will be essential in our future careers.
This project showed me that, while great steps have been taken to make interracial dating more acceptable in America, we still have a long way to go. While laws have been changed to prevent segregation and discrimination on the basis of race, it takes many years for society?s attitudes to follow these changed laws. For example, Hulond Humphries, the white former principal of a high school in Wedowee, Alabama, made headlines two years ago when he threatened to cancel the school prom if interracial couples attended. He is now being considered for the county’s superintendent of schools after winning a runoff (Jet, p.72).
However, at the same time we have people like David E. Kelley, producer of ?Ally McBeal,? who try to portray society as they hope it can someday be. “We are a consciously colorblind show. In the history of the show, we have never addressed race. The reason is simple. In my naive dream, I wish that the world could be like this. Since Ally lives in a fanciful and whimsical world, there is not going to be any racial differences or tensions. All people are one under the sun (Ebony, p.218).? We have moved forward from the days of segregation in communities, courts, and schools. Martin Luther King Jr. once said,? I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.? We remember his legacy, and continue to move forward, to make it a reality.
In conclusion, relationships are about nurturing, caring, and loving one another. Maintaining any relationship takes work. I?m in an interracial relationship. From my experience I truly believe that love is colorblind. I welcome the day race no longer defines us.
Ebony, November 7, 1999 v55 il p218
Jet, July 15, 1996 v90 n9 p72
Jet, Nov 24, 1997 v93 n1 p32
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, June 2000 v6 i2 p332
Newsweek, September 18, 2000 p38