North America’s attitude toward interracial relationships has been changing remarkably with every new generation. Although only 5% of the marriages in the United States are interracial, today’s college students have an entirely different perspective of what constitutes acceptable relationships. Currently, almost half of all college students would be willing to become involved in an interracial relationship, while one quarter of college students have already been involved in an interracial relationship.
Since 1967, when the United States’ Supreme Court legalized interracial marriages, minority enrollment in North American colleges and the tolerance for multiculturalism have increased, leading to a more positive environment for interracial relationships. The black population, although a minority, are twice as likely as whites to be willing to become involved in an interracial relationship. This acceptance may be attributed to a larger proportion of whites available to a minority number of blacks, more exposure and thus an increased comfort with white culture, as well as a greater ease for blacks to fit into the white culture, than visa versa.
College and university provide unique social microclimates for students. The proportions of minority groups in post secondary institutions tend to be higher than in mainstream society, and thus increase student exposure to different cultures. Cohabitation for students is also non normative, in comparison to mainstream society and may increase the willingness for students to form different kinds of relationships that may not normally occur outside of these institutions. Therefore, college life provides an increase in the daily exposure and interaction between diverse cultural groups and may cause for a greater likelihood of interracial relationships.
The willingness to become involved in an interracial relationship had no doubt increased over time, but the acceptance of these relationships remains somewhat taboo in society. Movies such as “Jungle Fever” and “Guess Who?” demonstrate that interracial dating persists as an issue in mainstream society and continues to make people uncomfortable.
Although almost half of college students are willing to become involved in interracial relationships, parents continue to have a great deal of influence over their children’s decisions. With only 5% of marriages in the United States being interracial, it is unlikely that their offspring will be encouraged to pursue interracial relationships. Only time will tell what lays ahead for North Americas multicultural student bodies.