Topics: U.S. Attitudes Toward Interracial Dating Are Liberalizing
(June 2005) As the United States population becomes ever more diverse, are more people dating across race lines? The question isn't simply a matter of whom you'll be going out with on Saturday night. Since interracial dating (or "interdating") and interracial marriage were outlawed or ostracized for so long in U.S. history, many sociologists see the incidence of these relationships as a key indicator of the state of U.S. race relations.
Indeed, despite its increasing depiction in the media, interracial romance is still America's "last taboo," according to Tom Smith, director of the General Social Survey at the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. "Many people who are honestly accepting of equal treatment across a wide range of social interaction would finally draw the line when it came to [a romantic relationship] between the race groups," says Smith.
But that taboo might be slowly fading. The percentage of all U.S. married couples that are interracial nearly doubled from 2.9 percent to 5.4 percent between 1990 and 2000, to a total of more than 3 million. 1 And recent surveys reveal that American attitudes toward intermarriage have also steadily improved: While 70 percent of adults in 1986 said they approved of interracial marriage, that figure had climbed to 83 percent by 2003, according to a Roper Reports study. 2 "We are seeing declining levels of objection to interracial marriage," says Smith.