Modern social values include celebrating and promoting diversity and the peaceful co-existence of individuals with dissimilar and even incompatible views and characteristics. In this context, mixed-race couples should be treated just like same-race couples and face no discrimination, prejudice, or misunderstanding related to their personal choices. However, interracial couples have to deal with a variety of issues, including disapproval from families, race-based stereotypes, and people’s tendency to overestimate interracial differences.
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Mixed-race couples are generally accepted, but those entering such relationships do not always find support from their families. For instance, I know two Black-White couples that have faced this issue and noticed certain signs of discontent when introducing their romantic partners to the family. At first sight, the reactions of family members seemed to stem from the lack of personal sympathy. For instance, the families of interracial couples may do their best to avoid the discussions of race and interracial tensions and express their perspectives concerning money inequality between the partners. However, as per my acquaintances’ experiences, their relatives did not make similar comments about interpersonal incompatibility or belonging to different social groups concerning their previous same-race relationships. Current research confirms the aforementioned tendency; according to sociology studies, between 16% and 37% of White Americans would disapprove of their relatives’ romances with African Americans (Skinner and Hudac 68). Thus, despite the popularity of anti-racist views, some parents tend to accept their children’s mixed-race relationships as a poor choice but find other explanations for their position to avoid being accused of racism.
Another form of prejudice against interracial romantic relationships involves receiving comments that are based on stereotypes. Mixed-race dating and marriages are sometimes perceived through the prism of offensive stereotypes that reduce the complexity of interpersonal relationships to racial fetishism or the desire to benefit from these relationships. Such stereotypes often refer to racial minority women and are used to “explain” the reason why their partners have decided to start such romances. For instance, White partners of Asian women sometimes receive approving comments based on stereotypical perceptions of these women as subservient wives that place men’s wishes first. Regarding relationships between Black women and non-Black men, such couples may receive rather offensive comments about Black women’s body type as the reason why men of other races would want to date them. Based on conversations with my acquaintances that are or have been in mixed-race relationships, such opinions and jokes are not uncommon. Therefore, stereotypes influence people’s perceptions of mixed-race partners and their reasons for entering such relationships.
Interracial couples may be viewed negatively because of the implied belief that cultural differences between races are substantial enough to prevent mutual understanding. According to the experiences of my friends and relatives who have had interracial romances, mixed-race couples tend to be asked too many questions about cultural characteristics and the frequency of conflicts that are based on culture-specific worldviews. Notably, such questions and discussions take place even when it comes to partners that originate from the same country and do not have any language barriers.
To sum up, despite the general acceptance of mixed-race relationships and the absence of legal barriers to marriages involving spouses that belong to different races, such couples still face prejudice. Aside from disapproval and criticism from their own families, their relationships can be perceived and explained using stereotypes, including objectification. Beliefs about the existence of irreconcilable differences between races also support ongoing prejudice.
Skinner, Allison L., and Caitlin M. Hudac. “‘Yuck, you disgust me!’ Affective Bias against Interracial Couples.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 68, 2017, pp. 68-77.