Interracial Marriage in America
I would like to believe that life's small moments are not simply a filler for a daily routine, but that they seamlessly construct a profound whole. What if a trip to the movies or morning coffee run could actually provide the deepest self reflection? We are not overly conscious about our actions on a micro level as we are simply going through the motions of a normal day. When I think about deeper topics and implied controversies, I consider these mini revelations.
When approaching the perception of interracial relationships, I internally analyze my own life experiences. But not the fact that I am currently dating someone of a different race or that my best friend is restricted to solely marrying another Asian or be deemed a shame to her family. Of course, I cannot ignore these influential pieces of my life, but in order to fully grasp interracial relationships, I want to have an objective eye. How do we all perceive others when we are vulnerable? How many times have you went out to a restaurant or shopping center and your eyes were drawn to the couple with the Black woman alongside a blonde partner? Do you take notice that the majority of leading couples on TV series or films on Netflix are of the same race, or are we just so prone to those standards? Our notions have become contradictory as we are oblivious to these daily struggles. It is evident in popular culture with the way we perceive celebrity relations vs the normal couple. Many young people idolize Kim Kardashian and Kanye West as a glorified interracial couple, and yet they would not necessarily want a family member to pursue a person of color. The reason we don't like to think deeply about these small experiences is because it may lead to some depth that borders uncomfortable waters. I would love to believe that I am almost immune to this kind of quandary, but it affects me just the same. One thing that we know is true is the influx of interracial couples in the U.S. in recent years.
In a study by the Pew Research Center, the numbers speak for themselves. "About 15% of all new marriages in the United States in 2010 were between spouses of a different race or ethnicity from one another, more than double the share in 1980 (6.7%)." So what has changed since the 80s that paved a gateway for acceptable interracial relationships? Well of course you have the progression of tolerance and demise of blatant segregation. Social media has grown intensely, allowing new ways to communicate with people across the globe and the business world is flooded with a diverse work force, forming interconnected relationships outside of one's own identity. And what do all of these progressive acts point to? It all comes down to perception. It is acceptable to interact with a diverse crowd because it is inevitable in our personal and professional lives whereas before, there was a distinct line of separation that was intended to prolong segregation.
Perception is the solution and it is also the problem at the same time. Clearly there has been such an increase since the inception of socially acceptable cross cultural relationships, but perhaps the lack of full adaptability is also due to perception. We accept it, but we still notice it. The interracial couple in the public sphere still attracts wandering eyes and a cast with two leading love interests of opposing skin color somehow still ignites controversial headlines. Let's look at popular culture for example to understand what still hinders the full flourishing of interracial dating. The film Focus was released just last year, starring the infamous Will Smith and Hollywood's newest bombshell Margot Robbie. Before this film, Smith had never shared a steamy onscreen moment with a White woman. Well, when the beloved leading actor did in the 2015 drama, people were uncomfortable with it. In Hollywood, nothing says success like previous success. So when films get a good return based on love interests of the same race, it will continue a cycle.
In an article by Inquister, someone shared a dramatic comment, articulating their complaints about the interracial cast.
Some might say this guy is just an ignorant racist (and he is), but these are the kinds of comments that circulated around the film's release. People thought that it was somehow an attempt to undermine White relationships and "force" the idea of mixing upon us as a whole. Let's go back to perception. I am sure this man has seen a majority of movies that have White leading actors having standard relationships. This was a new concept to him and the unfamiliarity frightened him. It is hard for others to evolve and pursue interracial relationships when others perceive them as "out of the norm" or alienated by society. Although it may not affect us directly, our perception can be relayed to others in a way that intimidates them and mandates that the relationship is, in fact, different.