Which box to check, African American, Caucasian, Native American, Pacific Islander, Hispanic, or Asian? And these are only some of the choices. People in today’s society are more commonly experiencing the question of what box to check, after the word race. This happens in the classroom, on censuses, and even job applications. Why are so many people seeing this simple question and having so many problems answering it? The response is that they are products of interracial relationships and are at a crossroads as to what race they are supposed to consider themselves.
It is further complicated as to whether they should follow their own terms, or societies terms when choosing. This should not be happening in our society. Unfortunately this is not even the biggest problem regarding race. Essentially, it stems from another debate. There is an ongoing debate as to whether or not people of different races should be able to date and or marry. The debate is a display of emotions concerning people dating and marrying outside of their own race. This debate, essentially leads to the idea that children will stem from the relationships. This will cause them to experience difficulties, further in life.
This proposal discusses the root of the issue, which is: Should there be interracial dating and marriages in today’s society? In dealing with this notion, society has two main views, each on one end of the spectrum. There are those in support of interracial relations and those who are against them. In dealing with so much controversy regarding interracial relations, those in both positions can be analyzed using many different standpoints. Demographics have proved to play a part in both sides. Aside from demographics, societal factors as well as historical factors have also contributed to both sides of the argument.
Before introducing both of the views, some historical content, as well as some statistics must be transmitted for a complete understanding of where some of the views are coming from. The attitudes, on both sides, largely reflect on the history of race relations within the United States. Understanding historical issues dealing with race is important when attempting to understand views of people in different demographic regions. Caucasian dominance, enslavement of African Americans, massacres of Native Americans, and Japanese internment camps are just some of the factors, which may be behind the views regarding interracial relations.
Since these times of colossal impact, it has been a goal of the United States to achieve equality amongst races, as well as have a more integrated society. All of these factors contributed to the separation of races, which existed largely throughout history. In the 1960’s the last laws, which barred interracial marriages, were finally overthrown. The Supreme Court, after hearing Loving vs. Virginia, ruled that it is unconstitutional to prohibit interracial marriages. 1 Despite this occurrence, the struggles for those who still wished to date outside their race did not disappear.
Decades later, some institutions still enforced guidelines to prevent interracial dating. For example, there was a ban on interracial dating at Bob Jones University, which was not eliminated from the schools policy until March of 2000. This is after many heated debates between the candidates in the school’s Presidential Elections, that year. (Update from Christian Today, Interracial Dating Ban Lifted, 4/24/2002)2 This exhibits that in spite of what others say, there are still official barriers and personal hurdles which are continuing to make interracial relationships less intricate.
Finally, there are some important numbers and facts, which need to be understood in order to grasp the forward momentum of interracial dating, in regards to the United States. As of 1999, 1. 2 million marriages were interracial. 3 The barriers are slowly being broken down. Of all interracial marriages, the total of White and African American marriages is less than the groups of whites married to someone who is not white, but who is also not African American. 4 Although many views seem to focus on black-white relations, there are many other interracial relationships in mainstream society.
It is just perhaps that black-white relations are the most notorious, in our society. By definition, interracial dating, however, focuses on any relationship which has two people who are not of the same race. At this point in time, there are still innumerable amounts of people who are against the belief of interracial dating. This affects their relationship with people of a different race. Yancey states that, “those who resist interdating are also less likely to be resistant to racial integration, on. “5 Opposing oppression only has a negative impact on society.
Those against interracial relationships incorporate most of their beliefs on their outlook on society to make their case as to why they will not give their support. Their focus predominately lies on the structure of society and its hierarchies, as well as the idea of mixed race children. Added factors to their objections are the negative effects and questions, which those involved in interracial relations, have experienced in the past. Those people which reject interracial dating can also be demographically analyzed.
An attempt to maintain the hierarchy, which has been part of society since the U. S. was formed, is one of the most predominant reasons interracial relationships are not supported. One major reason for this is that some people wish to maintain the social significance of race. 6 By mixing races, the structural hierarchies, which are due to racial differences, are subject to change. In the racial and social hierarchy, white Americans claim the largest amount of people at the pinnacle. So, this can seem threatening to them.
Some members of this category also feel threatened by the fact that predictions have been made in the past, proposing that the U. S. will become an all colored society in the early 21st century. 7 This would be due to the intermixing of different races. Therefore, Caucasian Americans would lose their place in society. As put by Lewis and Yancey, “Barriers to interracial romantic relationships are mechanisms for maintaining a racially stratified society. “8 Those people who fear losing their place are those who continually criticize the notion of interracial relationships.
This causes more reasons for people to shun interracial relations. It has also been said that “The punishment of interracial relations is seen as a component of a specific ideology forwarded by elite white males, in order to prevent the blurring of the races to maintain their social and material interests. “9 This is a very elitist view, which seemingly supports the oppression of those at the bottom, in order to maintain white supremacy. This view of maintaining a hierarchy is a Darwin approach to viewing society. The general idea, here, is survival of the fittest.
If the white supremacists want to stay at the top, then they must do whatever they have to. But, time is running out for them. In this case, it is withholding support for integration of races through relationships. Societal pressures are also one of the most common reasons that people are unable to accept interracial dating. Some examples of these are ruining relationships with parents, hurting chances of excelling in the work force, losing friends, and experiencing criticism, by close friends and family, as well as strangers.
In a study of fifty interracial couples, the difference of race brought about “subtle racism’s from community, friends and family”. 10 Marrying into a family, who possesses has racist feelings against you is extremely discouraging. Many people state that it should be avoided all together. There can also be pressures from the race which you are, in a sense, entering into. “Race and cultural identifications matter significantly for persons in interracial marriages who may not experience the sense of connectedness or belonging that is typically theorized in the politics of racial identity.
“11 People may feel ostracized by the race, which subsequently their children will become part of, if they choose to have them. Not only might people feel ostracized by the race which they are going to be “entering”, but that can experience this feeling from members of their own community. In a study of Asian men, they have also been criticized for leaving their race in regards to dating. They have been called “race traitors” and labeled as “white washed” by members of their own community. (Esther Pan, “Why Asian Guys Are On A Roll”, Newsweek, 2/21/2000)12
This brings up the next issue of children becoming mixed race and thus having more than one heritage. Parents of mixed race children are often criticized because they are not able to teach their child the history of the opposite parent. For example, with an African American father and a Caucasian mother, the mother may be criticized for being unable to relate to or convey the history of the father. This is why critics feel that heritage is lost or perhaps tainted. People are angry because as they are struggling to maintain their cultures and history others are at the same time mixing cultures and races.
In the same study of the fifty interracial couples, reactions from family members in the interview also agree with the notion of losing their culture as a reason for opposing interracial relationships. In one family, the response to hearing about an interracial marriage was, “Parents raise concerns about the potential loss of cultural heritage and practices, and about have mixed-race grandchildren: ‘[My parents] were worried about the children and how the children would be accepted and how we would be accepted as a couple’.