Interracial and Cross Cultural Dating of Generation Y
Interracial romance has been an issue in the United States since the first English settlers established colonies during the seventeenth century. Over the years, views toward interracial relationships in America have changed greatly. The interracial dating trend among today’s teenagers is increasing at a steady rate (Grapes 49). However, there are still many biases facing Gen-Y youth who choose to date someone of another race. A look at the history of interracial romance in the United States will shed light on today’s attitudes.
In the 1600s, Maryland banned interracial relationships between whites and slaves due to the questions over whether the offspring would be considered black and property, or white and free. Many other states followed Maryland, instituting anti-miscegenation laws that banned interracial marriages and relationships. In 1691, Virginia outlawed interracial couples and labeled their children as “that abominable mixture and spurious issue (Grapes 6).” When slavery was abolished with the thirteenth amendment in 1865, southern states issued Black Codes that continued to prohibit relationships between whites and blacks. Many whites believed that Africans and Native Americans were inferior races and interbreeding would contaminate the white gene pool.
Even where interracial relationships weren’t outlawed, mixed couples could face serious consequences within their community. In the 1800s, a visitor from England to Buffalo, New York, described the plight of an interracial couple he met. “The wife (a white woman) was despised by the wives of white citizens, and both (the husband and wife) were shunned,” he reported. “White etiquette would not let him attend her at the theater box; they never ventured out together. If they did go out, it was usually after dark. On one occasion, the man was mobbed and nearly lost his life (Landau 3).”
Even decades later, white society seemed determined to prevent interracial romances in most instances. A variety of obstacles were used to prohibit these relationships. Many social scientists in the past focused on the supposed pathological aspects of the interracial relationship, and they assumed that anyone involved in such a relationship must be “disturbed” in some way. In one case, a young white woman’s grandmother had her placed in a mental institution after the young woman announced her engagement to an African American (Landau 5). When a young black man named Leroy Gardner enrolled in Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1943, he had to sign a formal agreement promising not to socialize with the white females on campus. Social scientists have observed many justifications for black-white relationships, such as the need to rebel against parents or society; a passion for the exotic or “forbidden fruit,” the blacks’ desire to get even with the dominant culture, or whites’ desire to atone for past racism (Majete...