You are driving back home when the red traffic light stops you at a junction. Crossing the road, hand in hand, is a jovial interracial couple sharing jokes and from the look of things, they seem to be madly in love. The only glaring factor is their obvious difference in race. The man is white and his pretty girlfriend is black. How do you react?
Most if not all would claim to have no reaction but nothing could be far from the truth. Recently, researchers conducted a survey on students at the University of Nebraska and recorded their brain activity which was monitored by an electroencephalogram (EEG) while they were presented with pictures of hundreds of couples. The researchers were clever to conduct on students who are young and did not grow up during the years when racism was rampant. Just like you, the students first attested to the fact that they had no problem with couples of different races dating or even getting married. However, when the students were presented with photos of interracial couples, the side of the brain that registers disgust, the insula, was triggered. A completely different outcome when the students were shown couples of the same race. In deed, bias towards mixed couples is a real and present thing. With time, people have learnt to accept interracial relationships going by the latest research conducted by Pew Research Center that recorded a 24% increase in the number of Americans that were in favor of interracial relationships. Encouraging news but still…
The internet has helped us to see the bias people have towards interracial couples. Many internet users are bigots who may not be vocal racist but spew hatred by grossly generalizing a race for having certain attributes. Here are some insulting and outright ignorant questions people pose to couples of mixed races:
– “Are you the nanny?” Matt and Lisa are married for years and one day some ignorant chap had to ask Lisa if she was the nanny. How insulting is that?
-“Is the sex different?” Mike recalls the days he used to date a black girl back in college when friends would more often ask if the sex was more ‘rhythmic’.
-“What do your parents think?” Dana got married to an Asian guy and she couldn’t bare the agony of being asked how her parents thought about her marriage.
These are just but a few samples of how people react to interracial couples. One US photographer, Donna Pinckley runs a series called Sticks and Stones which pairs interracial couples with the direct or indirect abuses they have received because of their interracial relationships. Some scathing comments interracial couples have had to endure include; “They are disgusting”, “White men have taken everything, including our women”, “If she can’t use your comb, don’t bring her home” and “Bitches like that are the reason we can’t get a good black man”
Indeed, it is very unfortunate when quite a large population react negatively towards interracial couples. However, with the introduction of interracial dating sites where individuals can find their interracial match, we can hope that this negative vibe towards mixed race dating can meet its end because it will draw more supporters.