Forum explores interracial dating

By Ashley Yeaman

In a survey administered by the Baylor chapter of the NAACP to 406 Baylor students earlier this semester, 82 percent stated they are in an interracial relationship or would consider dating someone of another race.

The complete survey results were revealed on Wednesday,in Kayser Auditorium at Colors of Love, a forum discussing motivations behind choosing whether or not to pursue a relationship with a person of another race.

Killeen senior Brittany Walker, president of Baylor NAACP, said the purpose behind the survey and the event was to educate Baylor students about opinions and experiences involving interracial dating and relationships on campus.

“I’m sure all of us interact with students of other races frequently, [but] how do Baylor students feel about [interracial] interaction on a more personal and intimate level?” Walker said.

Survey results revealed several motivations behind individuals not pursuing interracial relationships.

Among female students, the highest reason against interracial relationships was raising children. Male students cited judgment from others as their No. 1 reason.

A group of forum speakers discussed various reasons behind the approval or disapproval of interracial relationships.

Dr. Kevin Dougherty, associate professor of sociology, said America’s religious landscape remains “deeply divided when it comes to race,” which in turn influences social groups and potential dating pools.

“American congregational life has been color coded for decades, and remains so today,” Dougherty said.

Churches remain segregated, a voluntary phenomenon that cannot be regulated by the government, unlike schools and the workplace, Dougherty said.

Religion influences family, these and these two social remain the “most segregated.”

Dr. Karlen Moore, a staff psychologist at Baylor, said changing personal and social views on ethnicity are another factor that influences interracial dating.

“Since the Civil Rights Movement in the mid to late 1960s, there has been a 500 percent increase in interracial dating in America,” Moore said.

Today however, “lots of myths about interracial dating [exist].”

Sheldon Lewis, program coordinator for leadership development and civic engagement, sites socialization, the process by which an individual is embedded with his beliefs and cultural factors, as another important factor influencing an individual’s opinion on interracial relationships.

“Individuals’ personal opinions are shaped by the messages that they were receiving from their family [growing up],” Lewis said.

While interracial relationships are more accepted today in general, Lewis said, reservations may exist because of generational gaps.

“The experiences with other races of older generations are very different than they are today,” Lewis said.

Walter Abercrombie, associate athletic director of the B Association and Baylor alumnus, said his personal experience as an African-American dating a Caucasian woman, whom he is married to today, shaped his ideas about interracial relationships.

“I grew up in a black community in Waco. I attended integrated black schools, black churches, and was only around black women until college,” Abercrombie said.

When he began to date interracially, Abercrombie said he learned the struggles interracial couples can face, particularly with family, which dispelled many of the stereotypes he grew up believing about his race and other races.

“I learned to accept myself when I became comfortable in my skin and confident in the word of God, and then I made decisions without referring to stereotypes,” Abercrombie said.

Today, Abercrombie said he and his wife raise their children to appreciate both sides of their ethnic heritage and also not judge others based on race.

“There are good people and bad people in all cultures and ethnicities. It’s not about race. It’s about who you are,” Abercrombie said.

Mark Smith, assistant director of promotions and events at the Mayborn Museum, said location can also often fuel stereotypes.

“Imagine if God took away your sight, and a person came to take care of you, and you eventually fall in love with them,” Smith said. “Then God gives you your sight back, and the person may not have been the color your thought they were. Is anything going to change?”