Crossing the Line: Interracial Couples in the South

Crossing the Line: Interracial Couples in the South

Crossing the Line: Interracial Couples in the South

Crossing the Line: Interracial Couples in the South

Synopsis

Despite the increased number of interracial marriages in recent years, Black/White couples still experience a host of problems in American society, particularly in the South. Drawing on extensive interviews with 28 Black/White couples living in the South, this ethnographic study describes the issues and obstacles these couples have to face and documents their overwhelming sense of social isolation. The problems include hostility, encountered while the couple is in public, ranging from stares to outright attacks, as well as a lack of support and ostracization by their families. After discussing the nature of Black/White relationships and the historical implications of interracial couples--beginning with slavery--the authors adopt a life history approach, which allows them to probe deeply into the meaning of the interviewees' responses.

Excerpt

In many ways, interracial couples represent one of the most fundamental features of American society: diversity. At the same time, however, they serve as symbols of one of the most unappealing American characteristics: racism. To be fair, our attitudes about interracial couples are changing in that we have become less concerned about people from different races marrying each other. However, this cannot be said of all regions of the country. The South, particularly South Carolina, with its long legacy of slavery and memories of an era when life was rather different from its present form, generally holds strong sentiments against changes in traditional family patterns.

The present study attempts to understand how one type of interracial relationship, Black/White married couples, living in the upstate region of South Carolina, cope with these negative attitudes. This is true both from the public and from members of the couples' respective families. What we have discovered tells us a number of deeply seated fears remain about people who marry someone from a different race, and this fear translates into a significant amount of social isolation for the couples.

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