THEY could have been just another twenty-something couple inside a trendy Chicago eatery--except that his skin was the color of bittersweet chocolate topped with a neat shock of dreadlocks and a direct contrast to his date, a porcelain-skinned redhead.
As they were seated, a young Black woman at a nearby table nudged her two girlfriends and file three women shook their heads in collective wordless objection. An older White man stared intently at the couple throughout their meal.
While interracial couples may be more prevalent, that doesn't automatically mean that these couples are either welcomed or even accepted by people around them. The acceptance factor often depends on geographic location and age. Still, many Blacks and Whites in the under-30 age group cross the color line without giving a second thought to race, and many of them haven't even heard of the Loving v. Virginia case, which legalized marriage between people of different races in every state in 1967. According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics in 2000, out of 570,919 interracial marriages, 116,000 were between White men and Black women. It's a number that continues to rise as more Black women begin to date men from other races. Black men are more likely to date, marry and cohabitate with women of a different race or culture, according to the report, at a rate more than double that of Black women and White men.
THE COLOR OF LOVE
Many people do pay special attention to interracial couples. The reasons may vary, according to Dr. Kellina Craig-Henderson, Ph.D., a social psychologist and tenured professor at Howard University and author of Black Men on Interracial Relationships: What's Love Got to Do With It? She says while there is a perception that the majority of Black men are dating and/or marrying outside of their race, that's actually not the case. "It's hard not to see those kinds of couples," she says. "There really isn't this exodus of Black men running to White women. Because we don't see a lot of Black men and Black women together as couples, it stands out in our minds when we do see Black men in interracial relationships."
Believe it or not, it can be hard on Brothers, too. Steve Crawley, 24, a mortgage broker in Milwaukee, met his girlfriend Amy, 25, while they were both attending a predominantly White high school. "She was cute," Steve recalls. "Also, I like the way that she was upfront. She had an outgoing personality. That was the initial attraction."
The couple dated for five years and took a break from each other before deciding to reunite. Steve says his friends, who have challenged his decision to date women of a different race, have confronted him. "As far as my peers, we don't share the same view," says Steve. "They tell me that I shouldn't date White women, and I've been called a grocery list of things ... I don't exclude Black women. I've dated Black women before and some have been decent relationships."
Many people involved in interracial relationships (like Steve, who grew up with a White stepfather) say they were taught not to notice color--and they don't. Matthew Stover, 25, executive director of Jackson Symphony Orchestra in Tennessee, is another one who has found it enriching to date women from different cultures. He is currently engaged to a Hispanic woman, speaks fluent Spanish, and is a capable salsa and merengue dancer.
Perhaps because observers still frequently criticize interracial couples, many prefer to reside in areas where they are more accepted, including the East and West coasts. But even in the South, some interracial couples are gradually starting to feel more at home.
Kristina Adamski, 29 & John Phillips, 32
Reside: suburban Detroit
Dating: 6 years
How They Met: The two had drinks after Kristina met John through a mutual friend who worked with him.
In the case of Kristina Adamski, 29, and John Phillips, 32, who live together in suburban Detroit, being an interracial couple has been less of a challenge because the two communicate their feelings, and they have a large supportive network of family and friends. …