A look at interracial dating: Part one of a two-part series

Amanda Anastasia Paniagua

Research shows that our generation is the most tolerant and open to change. While this is definitely a positive attribute, there are also unresolved issues our generation must be willing to discuss. One of those issues is racism.

While the practice of racism has transformed in our post-segregation era, there are still moments in which very obvious mindsets of the past rear their ugly heads.

For example, the 2013 Cheerios advertisement that featured an interracial couple caused a controversy for some online.

As recent as last December, a blog post titled, “I’m not dating a racial slur,” went viral online. In the post, a young white woman from Kansas explained how after being accosted while waitressing and rebuffing a group of young men she pulled out her phone to show them her boyfriend in the hopes that they would stop hitting on her. According to her post, when confronted with the image of her and her black boyfriend, one of the young men replied, “Awh girl, why are you dating a n*gger? They ain’t gone treat you right.”

This is 2015, and that comment is abhorrent.

Such ignorance stems from unresolved racial bias and associating negative attributes to the tone of one’s skin color. Instances such as these shed light on racial politics that play out while being in an interracial relationship as well as expose the ugliness of other people’s thoughts and feelings when they are confronted with an interracial couple.

It was less than 50 years ago that interracial marriage was legalized in the U.S. To completely disregard the possibility of dating outside your own race or ethnicity is to harken back to an antiquated social order.

However, given the complex nature of historical and contemporary racial dynamics in the U.S., it is also vital that both white and non-white people understand how the politics surrounding preference for light/fairer skin continues to uphold antiquated ideas, as well.

This brings me to an intersection: colorism and pigmentocracy. Generally speaking, colorism/pigmentocracy is a hierarchy that considers fair and light(er) skin to be more desirable/acceptable while dark(er) skin is denigrated.

Historically, in the U.S., this hierarchy was a psychological tool used to divide and conquer enslaved Africans. Today, people of color are all too familiar with this global phenomenon that values a lighter complexion.

Author of “(1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race” Dr. Yaba Blay says, in a recent online discussion via For Harriet, that “colorism and racism are kissing cousins because colorism is a manifestation of racism; it is an outgrowth of racism.”

While colorism is often thought of to be an intraracial phenomenon, the fact is its roots are deeply steeped in white supremacy which makes it an interracial issue that must be recognized by both white and non-white folks alike. In the day and age of millennial openness, colorism may be the last great battle in eradicating racial bias in all of our relationships – romantic or otherwise.

Be sure to check out the next issue of KSUBuzz where I conclude this two-part series.

Contact Amanda Anastasia Paniagua at [email protected].