Thesis: Interracial Dating the United States

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Interracial Dating

The United States is becoming increasingly diverse, but is this having an impact yet on interracial dating and relationships? Because interracial dating and marriage were so negatively viewed for most of American history, many social scientists believe that any trends with these relationships would be indicative of the status of race relations in the United States. Social acceptance of relationships across racial lines varies throughout history, but racism and discrimination are constants. Over the past several decades, however, racial attitudes have been changing. Many reports on multiracial Americans, couples, and families appear in the media. Questionnaires concerning racial attitudes suggest significant improvements in American race relations.

Based on a Gallup poll conducted in 2003, 86% of black, 79% of Hispanic, and 66% of white participants would accept a child or grandchild marrying someone of a different race. The number of whites agreeing with laws against marriages between blacks and whites declined from 35% in the 1970s to 10% in the 2000s. Further, in a 2003 survey, 77% of respondents agreed that it was all right for blacks and whites to date each other.

According to a survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, in the past many people who truthfully accepted equal treatment across a variety of social interactions would actually draw the line when it came to [a romantic relationship] between races. However, it appears that this prohibition may gradually be disappearing. The percentage of all American interracial married couples jumped from close to percent to 5% between 1990 and 2000, to over 3 million. Also, other surveys report that American attitudes about mixed racial marriages are also improving. In 1986, 70% of adults said they supported interracial marriage, a number climbing to 83% by 2003. This does not necessarily mean that someone would go out of his or her way to date someone of a different race. It is one thing meeting a person of a different race by chance or being introduced to someone else in another racial group by a friend. It may be another thing, however, if young adults are able to choose someone of their own race to date rather than an interracial individual. The aim of this present study is to determine whether, given the opportunity, college students would date a similar or interracial individual.

HYPOTHESIS

Harris and Kalbfleisch (2000) found that although participants were forced to imagine themselves being interested in and asking for a date with someone from another race, they supplied several reasons why they would avoid an interracial romantic relationship in real life. Only a few said it was because of lack of attraction; instead they said there were external reasons for being discouraged such as fearing that their parents would be upset or disown them, believing that this would impact job opportunities, and being afraid of what other people would say or how they were perceived in public. In this study, all participants had to role play showing interest in someone of another race.

As this study demonstrated, low rates of interracial relationships are frequently due to social concerns and lack of contact. However, what about when individuals are brought together for a speed dating session, when they are in closer proximity of these individuals and can choose who they want to learn more about? Would they be more apt to cross over these social boundaries? When singles are presented with wider networks of people outside their own race, would they be more willing to pursue these relationships?

H1: Even when given the opportunity to widen their frame of reference and meet more people through speed dating, most of the participants will pursue someone of their own race and culture.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Research to date has analyzed the subject of long-time unacceptable interracial relationships between Europeans and African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians. At different times in history, it has been taboo for whites to have romantic relationships with people of color, especially African-Americans. In turn, these individuals were not motivated to have interracial relationships with Caucasians due to hundreds of years of bias and oppression, which has led to distrust and lack of communication in many cases (Collins, 1990). As a result, interracial relationships often stand for oppression and many negative attitudes of anti-interracial relationships still exist, regardless if the couple is intimate great deal of the research regarding attitudes about interracial relationships has been focused on whites and African-Americans. Most of the research has not covered how relatives felt about a family member having a relationship with someone of another race, but instead how they felt about interracial dating or marriage in general. Studies concerning students' anticipations of people being against their dating found that they thought their parents would be the strongest opponents and religious leaders the least in opposition (Barnet, 1963). One of the larger such studies was at Oregon State University where students were asked a set of questions about their feelings on interracial dating and to rank from a list of persons (parents; siblings; relatives; friends; college peers; religious leaders). This study indicated that family members, especially nuclear family members, have strong influence on a person's decision to choose whether to date and marry outside of their race. Another research study with these same 200-odd Oregon State University students and a different set of questions looked at attitudes toward interracial dating and the degree of contact of whites with other racial group. This found that those respondents who had greater contact with a minority race were more positive in their feelings toward dates with that race than were those with little contact with that particular race (Barnet 1963).

In one focus group that was conducted about interracial relationships, 11 couples provided valuable input. The results demonstrated that African-Americans display more ambivalence toward such relationships and whites show stronger reservations (St. Jean 1998). When looking at the results of the 1980 United States Census and married couples with one or more African-American partner, the marriages were highest in the West and lowest in t he South. Married black men and women tended to be younger, more highly educated, and more apt to be born and raised in the South.

Such studies are helpful in increasing understanding about the nature of race relations (Aldridge, 1978). Stember (1976) strongly believes that negative majority group attitudes about racial relationships demonstrate the amount of American sexual racism. Putting up barriers against interracial relationships is a means for keeping a racially stratified society (Lewis and Yancey, 1997). Therefore, bans against racial relationships can be thought of as society's attempts to keep African-American, especially African-American men where they belong in terms of sexual interactions with majority group members. If Americans will not enter into romantic activities with people of other races, then racial equality is unlikely. In fact some contend that American blacks cannot be assimilated (Glazer & Monyihan 1963). The relative lack of ability blacks to assimilate into the major culture is probably associated with the relatively low percentage of them who marry out of their race.

No one believes that the same amount racial integration occurs in all parts of the United States and among different demographics. Studies show that people in the United States who have higher amounts of education are more racially liberal and more prone and supportive of mixed marriages and dating. Yet attitudinal studies are not the sole method to determine the possible influences of demographic and social characteristics such as education on interracial relationships. For instance, Emerson and Sikkink (1997) have found that even though there are examples of well-educated whites who have supported integration, there have also been those who worsen residential and educational segregation. Similarly, to determine which of the social factors are related with interracial relationships, it is also essential to see who does participate in these relations.

Over all, there are not enough studies to best understand the parameters of interracial dating and marriage. As the United States becomes more diverse, it will be more necessary to conduct greater numbers of studies in this area. More has to be done on differences, such as gender, geography, education, and socio-economic level among other areas. Also, the role of religion in further encouraging interracial dating needs to be studied more.

METHOD

Approximately 100 college students from the same university of equal amount of men and women of African-American, Asian, white and Hispanic will be asked to volunteer to try out a new form of speed dating. The students will not be told that this has to do specifically with interracial dating until after the activities are complete. Instead, they will be told that they will be asked about the value of such speed dating and whether they feel it is worth their while. Then their input will be requested with focus groups on why they responded the way they did.

These 100 college students will each be able to meet with eight individuals of the opposite sex (who are additional students chosen at random).… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Interracial Dating the United States.  (2009, March 19).  Retrieved December 6, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/interracial-dating-united-states-becoming/1060515

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"Interracial Dating the United States."  Essaytown.com.  March 19, 2009.  Accessed December 6, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/interracial-dating-united-states-becoming/1060515.