Has our attitude about dating outside the race changed? We looked at interracial relationships in a recent essence.com poll to see how far love has come. The answer may surprise you
Last fall Tara, a writer in Detroit, decided to try something new: dating a White guy. The attraction? "He was Jon Stewart-ish, had a sense of humor, was liberal and smart," explains the 39-year-old. More important, he seemed like a viable option. "The older you get, the more open you become to the possibility of love," says Tara. "I would like love to come in a certain form or color. But at the same time I realize that the population of eligible Black men is getting smaller. So I'm open."
And apparently so are many other sisters. We polled more than a thousand of you. Nearly half of those surveyed on essence.com (45 percent) say you've been involved in an interracial relationship. And for those of you who haven't, it's clearly not for lack of opportunities: Seventy percent of you say you've been asked out by a White guy. "One of my friends decided that Something New, that Sanaa Lathan movie in which her character falls for a White guy, was her signal to start pursuing White men and accepting their offers," says Aisha, 20, a junior at the University of Minnesota. "Now, instead of looking for an IBM-Ideal Black Man-she says she's looking for an IWM."
Cream in Your Coffee?
Your mom may prefer you to bring home a man who looks like your dad. But these days if you don't, she'll probably just smile and ask him his name (instead of calling him one). Interracial couples are far more common than they were a few decades ago; in fact, they've increased fourfold since the sixties. The U.S. census revealed that there were 116,000 marriages between Black women and White men and about 279,000 marriages between Black men and White women in 2002. Numbers for unmarried couples are hard to come by, but sociologists agree there's been a dramatic increase since 1980.
"I have White friends who date Black women, Black friends who date White women, Asian and Latino. You name it," says Aaron, 31, a brother from Eagan, Minnesota. "It's always been a multicultural experience between Blacks and Whites. It's what I grew up with."
In fact, a whopping 81 percent of readers say they aren't fazed at all when they see a Black woman with a White man. Flip the script, though, and it's a different story. Fifty-three percent of you disapprove when you see a Black man with a White woman. "Sisters looked like they wanted to beat me down," says Richard, 47, a financial marketing specialist in Pasadena, California. "When I'm with a sister, I'm ignored. But the second I get a White woman on my arm, I get ‘the look.' " Successful brothers like Richard who make the choice to "cross over" may draw additional ire because of the perceived notion among some sisters that Black men who have "made it" tend to prefer non-Black mates. High-profile couples could also influence sisters' feelings here. Yeah, we're cool with Halle switching from marrying Black men to dating Gabriel Aubry, a White model. But Kobe, Tiger, Terrence and Taye? Hmmm.