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interraciallife.com article

Interracial Dating

Post date: 2007-01-19

When viewed under a contemporary microscope, very rarely, a social commentary does not appear dated. In 1967, "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner" was the first Hollywood film to portray an interracial romance and bring to the forefront the issues surrounding an interracial couple. Decades later - in the fabled American melting pot and its most conspicuous manifestation - the college campus - interracial dating and marriage is still a subject that stirs up debate.

Even as the number of interracial couples continues to rise across the country - especially in college campuses like University of Connecticut (Uconn) - it is not quite commonplace.

"I think interracial dating is great and there should be more of it," said Preston Oliver, a 7th-semester graphic design major.

Preston, who has dated interracially for about a year, says that dating somebody who is not from your race gives you a great opportunity to learn about other cultures and to break the mold.

It was breaking the mold when Kim Kamay, a recent graduate of UConn, started dating somebody who was not from her own ethnic and racial background. Even in the midst of fervent disapproval from her parents, she chose to pursue the relationship.

"My parents," she said, "think that the society looks at interracial couples differently." and regrets the fact her parents are not more accepting of her boyfriend. "They don't like him only because he looks different." She also thinks being part of a diverse community at UConn has given her a completely new perspective on the issue.

"I never thought of it either way before coming to UConn," Kamay said. Nicole Kimball a 7th-semester nursing major and New Hampshire native, is one of many UConn students who are encountering diversity like never before in the dynamic social environment of a college town.

"Where I come from, you can hardly see any interracial couples. It is definitely something you see more of on the campus," Kimball said. She is one of the many students who have never dated interracially, but is not averse to the idea. However, she also thinks being in a mixed relationship might draw more attention than being in a regular relationship.

"When I see interracial couples I see nothing different, however, some people around you will always look at you differently, and that can cause some strain in your day to day life," Kimball said.

While dating somebody of different ethnicity or race might draw some attention, nothing brings more attention than being in an interracial marriage.

"I think I am willing to date somebody from a different race, but I am not sure if I would marry somebody from a different race," said Rohini Sen, a graduate student in statistics. "I think people who marry interracially have lots of guts."

Outside influences like friends and family might also make race an issue. In the same way as we inherit our family religion, and our family politics - sometimes we inevitably find ourselves feeling and talking like our parents and those around us.

"My personal choice is heavily influenced by my family," Rohini said. A need to please one's family makes the decision of interracial dating a tough one. "For many, family is their ultimate support system and they don't want to jeopardize it in any way," said Sourish Das, a graduate student in statistics. Moreover, one of the most important outcomes of these marriages is bi-racial children. There are several issues surrounding children of interracial marriages. One of them is the crisis of their own racial or ethnic identity - the problem of how they are perceived by the general population in schools and elsewhere. However, this very problem makes parents of biracial children even more proactive in emphasizing the importance of diversity to their children.

"One should make their children proud of being who they are, and tell them that being different and unique is a good thing," said Adrianna Sanchez, a UConn graduate, who has been part of an interracial marriage for over four years and has two children.

According to a new Gallup poll, a vast majority of 95 percent of Americans approve of interracial dating. However, some remain skeptical.

"Few people will express their opposition to interracial dating," said Hassan Ahmad, a graduate of UConn, "They think by doing so, they will be perceived as racists."

It might also be about personal choice and compatibility - a predisposition of attraction toward certain kinds of people.

"I am very much attracted to biracial people," said Schnel Binns, a 7th-semester molecular and cell biology major. "I think having only one culture is pretty bland."

"Lots of people don't want to say they disapprove of it, but it might be that they are just not attracted to somebody outside their own race or ethnicity," Kamay said.

Interracial romance is America's last taboo. However, it might slowly be fading. The percentage of all interracially married couples in the United States nearly doubled from 2.9 percent to 5.4 percent between 1990 and 2000, to more than 3 million.