Although it has been forty-eight years since interracial marriage became legal throughout the United States, some interracial couples feel ostracized because of stereotypes that are still prevalent in today’s society.
“I am used to the stares, the whispered comments and the awkward moments,” said Kent State sophomore Alex VanMeter. “My mom once asked me if I was going through a phase.”
Alex VanMeter has been in an interracial relationship for three years now. Her partner, Casey Stevenson, is black and she is white. For many people of this generation, dating outside of one’s race is nothing surprising. However, statistics show that Americans still lean toward racially homogenous dating patterns.
“You would think that in 2015 people would be more open to the idea of dating outside of your race,” said Haleigh Shammo. “But I still hear stereotypes all the time like white women date black men to anger their fathers.”
“I’ve heard that white girls only like black guys because they’re athletes,” said Joshua Crew. “I know that people often say black girls who are ashamed of their race date white men.”
According to the Pew Research Center, 12 percent of newlyweds in 2013 married someone of a different race. This may not seem like a huge number, but it is a record high in American history, showing that there has been a change in social norms and opinions on interracial relationships.
The media have always been one of the main factors that influences and even decide what social norms are in American society. In terms of interracial relationships, television shows like Shonda Rhimes’ Scandal has been the subject of much debate because the main character is romantically involved with someone outside of her race.
“I always hear negative things abut black girls dating white men, especially with shows like Scandal,” said Kent State junior Brenna Rettnerg. “It just seems that the media portrays black girls as people who need to be saved by white men and I think that adds to the taboo of it all.”
Professor Angela Onwuachi-Willig of The University of Iowa writes about the hit show in her book According to Our Hearts. She argues that the only reason Scandal is a hit show is that interracial relationships are of interest since they are framed as deviant.
Others disagree, saying that the media are right in representing interracial relationships because media should reflect the changes in social norms and the increase in diversity.
“I love Scandal so much. I have always been attracted to white men and I’ve gotten heat for that,” said sophomore Madison Bentley. “I think that showing a beautiful and successful black woman on television is one step closer to eradicating the negative stereotypes.”
It is clear that interracial dating is becoming more socially accepted, although stereotypes continue to live on. This begs the question: is the portrayal of interracial relationships in the media a case of art imitating life? Or is the increasing popularity of interracial relationships a case of life imitating art?