The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Does it matter if you’re black or white?

Michael Jackson once sang, “It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white.” But in a society aiming to shake the racial inequalities that still dangle from the civil rights movement, does it matter if you’re black and white? Is interracial dating still taboo?

From childhood, we are conditioned to adhere to what is considered “right” and “wrong.” We are taught people are people and told to love them despite differences, even if they are purple, green, orange or blue. But we didn’t actually see our friends as purple, green, orange and blue. We saw them in their most genuine existence, as Billy, the kid who liked to eat glue and pick his nose and Rebecca, the girl who played dress up with us. At some point as we entered adolescence, we began to visually recognize these differences, especially in regards to color.

And as we entered adult life, society taught us to be more attracted to outward appearances over inward features. In regards to dating, these ideas seem to still apply. Ken and Barbie still reign in America.

Interracial couples only make up 5.4 percent of American marriages, according to an article published two months ago in USA Today. The numbers are expected to triple by 2050.

But the question still stands – is interracial dating still taboo?

After consulting with several people, the comments remained consistent. “I’m okay with interracial dating, but I would never do it,” or, “I don’t know why, but I’m not attracted to [insert a particular race].” And people in interracial relationships feel strongly about the gap between same race dating versus mixed couples.

The first inquiry that comes to mind is: Why are people unattracted to specific racial groups?

The more I think about interracial dating and its limitations, I continually find my conclusion at the beginning. The issue has its roots deeply embedded in racism and prejudice. It’s not a matter of being attracted to a certain racial group of people. The issue is more about learned behavior.

Many people openly admitted their parents would be uncomfortable and unhappy with the notion of having mixed grandchildren to continue on their lineage. And while society has obviously undergone significant changes since the 1960s, this suggests interracial dating is still somewhat of a concern. The problem spans across all cultures, not just black and white.

Pop culture seems to be setting the standards, as it always has, for what’s acceptable and what’s not. Today, television has more interracial couples than ever before – Grace (Debra Messing) dated Gregory Hines on “Will and Grace,” Lucy Liu dated Matt LeBlanc in “Charlie’s Angels,” Pierce Brosnan’s leading lady in “Die Another Day” was Halle Berry, David Schwimmer dated Aisha Tyler on “Friends,” Rosie Perez dated Woody Harrelson in “White Men Can’t Jump,” and the list goes on.

To gain a broader perspective, I asked people in their early fifties what interracial dating was like 50 years ago versus today. One person said interracial dating was no big deal nowadays in comparison to when he was growing up.

“The stigma in my mind has almost totally gone away. In my day, you would never see a white guy dating a black woman. Nowadays, no one even gives it a second thought. Every single one of us is a mixture of races. I think in 50 years, it’s not even going to be something people talk about anymore. The line is becoming fuzzier and fuzzier as more people become products of interracial marriage.”

Another person suggested that interracial dating is no longer a problem among young people in metropolitan areas. But in small towns, especially with southern conservative roots, interracial dating will be an issue for quite some time.

Carolyn Smith-Morris, an assistant professor in the anthropology department, associated the issue with a concept called “hypodescent.”

“Hypodescent is a societal practice or tendency to treat those bi-ethnic people as belonging mainly to the LOWER of the two ethnic/racial groups.  So a child of a black father and white mother, regardless of skin color, tends to be treated like a black in these societies.  The U.S. has a significant amount of this hypodescent practice, as do other nations.  But it is a practice of exclusion and prejudice,” said Smith-Morris.

If you find yourself leaning towards the “I’m okay with interracial dating, but I would never do it” side, ask yourself why.

Fear got the best of some people 50 years ago, and it seems as if it’s still dominating today. Why do we avidly encourage people to think outside of the box in business and educational settings, but not entirely when it comes to matters of the heart?

I miss the days of Billy and Rebecca.

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