Breaking Stigma, Who is allowed to judge others’ happiness?

Why is it that eyebrows are raised every time an interracial couple walks by?  You would think that in the 21st century interracial couples would no longer be a problem, but that is not the case.  Even with the major rise in interracial marriages since 1980, it seems that old-school traditions have been passed down the generations, to “keep it in the family.”  According to Pew Research Center, recent reports have shown that one in 12 marriages in the United States are interracial.  So what seems to be the problem?

After creating a documentary on interracial couples, I found that most of the tensions lie in the issues between whites and blacks dating.  There is a double standard when it comes to a white woman dating a black man or black woman dating a white man.  I found that many black and white men are actually jealous to see a female of the same race dating outside their race.  They seem to feel cheated and that they “lost one” to the other team.

“Men aren’t as careful in their own choses but they seem to worry more about other’s choices,” philosophy instructor, Harvey Lape said.  “Men seem more obsessed with the idea of appropriate choices whereas women are more open to the idea of marriage outside the group.”

Nonetheless, with jealousy comes animosity.  There are many issues with a white woman dating a black man because of the stereotypical world we live in where white woman seem to be perceived as delicate and innocent and should not be affiliated with the stereotyped aggressive and sexually driven black male.

“There is this built in aspect of institutional racism,” Lape said.  “That suggest everyone must want to be with the idealized: lower 20s, blonde, thin, white woman.”

Black women have also noticed black men dating more and more white women and disregarding black women.

“Black men may be sick of the stereotypical black female who is loud and arrogant,” political science and philosophy major Leithie Faison said, “so they want to date a white girl.”

But black men and white women are not the only ones dating outside their race.  More and more black women have been dating white men.

“Black women seem to be tired of the typical lazy black male,” Faison said.  “White men seem to satisfy our needs more.”

At the end of the day, it seems no matter whom you date you are going to be judged.  A white woman is ‘tainted’ if she dates a black man and black women are ‘lost’ if they date a white man.

Much of this has to do with social conditioning.  “We live in a society, which is structured largely on competition,” Lape said.  “Americans are very conscious of their social standing.”

Professor Lape also explains how racism is a learned behavior and that we inherit this lesson that whites have to be with whites and blacks have to be with blacks.

Imagine if we could only unlearn these conditions and let people date whom they want to date.  No matter who you are or what your race is you are going to be judged.  It is up to you to decide if what other people think really matters.  So the next time a couple walks past you, think twice before you raise your eyebrows.  What makes you so great to judge others’ happiness?

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