1. JosephMarch
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    JosephMarch Active Member

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    Interracial dating question

    Discussion in 'Research' started by JosephMarch, Mar 29, 2015.

    I'm looking for some insight about this topic. What year (in America) did it become 'acceptable' for blacks and whites to date openly?
    I don't mean legally marry, and I don't mean oh someone would raise an eyebrow...I mean when was it 'safe' to walk down the street as a couple and not be given a problem by someone who was bigoted.

    I know some people STILL have issues with it, but generally those are kept silent, whereas at one point in time society at large did not keep quiet about those feelings.

    The couple in my story are black/white, and it is a huge issue that affects the plot of the story. I have it set in the late 70s, but am thinking that might be too late for it to really be a big deal. I am looking for the prime year(s) that it would still be taboo for them, but as late as possible. 1970? '68?

    I realize this may be confusing and I know it varies by area and demographic. I wasn't born until later so I have no frame of reference for this.
     
  2. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    As you said, it varied by area. There are still places in the south where interracial dating is met with offensive comments or worse. Generally, I would guess that the late '70s is too late for your characters to have too much trouble in most non-southern parts of the US.
     
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  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I agree that's its highly variable, and I think @stevesh is right in his assessment of the late 70s. I live in California and I had a black girlfriend in college back in the early 90s, and while the vast majority of people were cool with it, we did get the occasional snide comment, both from blacks and whites, so even in California I expect people will still run into that kind of prejudice from time to time.

    If you really want to hit a taboo time period, while still a modern one, I'd think the late 50s and early 60s would be ideal.
     
  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would assume that attitudes toward interracial dating would roughly parallel attitudes toward interracial marriage, in which case...

    It wasn't until 1967 that interracial marriage was made legal through the entire US, and that was done via the Supreme Court, not the legislatures of the states that still had laws against it. So at the start of 1967, there were still 17 (Southern) states with laws against interracial marriage. I would assume that, considering that the laws were overturned externally, the attitudes behind the laws would still be strong a few years later. So if your story is set in the south, 1970 doesn't seem too late at all.
     
  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Reading about the reaction to the interracial kiss on Star Trek between Lieutenant Uhura and Captain Kirk in 1968 could give you a case study of attitudes.
     
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  6. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    In Mad Men (set in the 60s), a character had a black girlfriend. It was a big deal for a lot of people he worked with. One of his coworkers gave him a hard time for it.

    I'd say Martin Luther King Jr. era would be your best bet for controversy. People were super divided then.
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that if you just want harassment to be plausible, you could go into the '80s. If you want it to be likely or inevitable, you'd need to shift backward a decade or two.

    Looking to television again, on the theory that television reflects things that are in the public mind:

    - George Jefferson (constantly) mocked the interracial marriage of his neighbors in a TV comedy that ended in 1975. The viewers were supposed to dislike George, but the mockery was presented as plausible all the same.
    - In 1968 some Southern stations refused to air the Star Trek episode that I mentioned.
    - Drawing purely from memory, I think that we were well into the 1990s before the silent assumption that couples would be color-matched went away.
    - Did someone already mention the controversy over the Cheerios ad with a mixed-race family in 2013?
    - The story that I just read about that ad mentions that around the same time, "a white dad of three mixed-race African-American girls was visited by the police at his Virginia home on suspicion of kidnapping." (http://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/guest-the-fury-over-a-cheerios-ad-and-an-interracial-family/)
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2015
  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    In the early 90s, I rented to a mixed couple with one son, black dad, white mom. They were some of the nicest people you could know. The man worked for the fire department. They expected it to be great because another couple with a husband working for the same fire department lived a few doors down. I also did contract work for that fire department.

    To my shock, the white guy down the street was as bigoted as they come toward a mixed marriage. These men worked for the same fire department and were neighbors. It was disgusting.

    After a year or so the couple renting my house moved back to a black neighborhood where the white wife felt more welcomed. They're still my friends to this day though I don't see them often. Our sons are about the same age.

    This is on the liberal left coast. Who knew?

    On the other hand, I had girlfriends with black boyfriends back in the late 60s and 70s. They were accepted in our crowd just fine. But my father made an unintended awkward comment about it more than a few times and my grandmother was horrified.
     
  9. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    My older sister was in love with a black guy back in 1969 but their openly dating (vs. hanging out with the same crowd) wasn't done in our Midwestern city in those days. She got married (and divorced) twice after that, both times to white guys. In 1984 she got married to a (different) black guy, in Houston, Texas. By then (with my family) it was no big deal. Of course, at that time Houston was booming and half the people there were transplanted Northerners.

    Make what you like of that.

    Oh, yeah, and don't forget the 1967 Sidney Poitier movie, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.

    So as far as "taboo" goes (vs. random idiots making rude comments), I'd keep it earlier.
     
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  10. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wasn't around for the 60s or 70s but historically your time period sounds right. 1968-69 was when the civil rights movement was burning at it's hottest, so that gives you society where it's taboo but also where the issue of races is dominating society in a massive way.

    I'd say generally that anytime before 1970 you're looking at a situation where it would be taboo - even in the North. It's not like there was a hard, fast Mason-Dixon line with Northerners having no problem with it and Southerners having huge problems - there were (and are) huge race issues all over this country at varrying levels, and then you get different-flavored race issues in big Northern cities where, say, you have big low-income black neighborhoods springing up right next to pre-existing low-income Irish-immigrant neighborhoods in the mid 20th century. There's always been that tension too - different poor groups fighting for survival in the same crowded space rather than Southern divide between empowered whites and disempowered blacks.

    If you're writing in the South, there are ways you can write this as taboo all the way up to today. Not that the whole South is like that but you do still see pockets of it. If you're writing outside the South, I'd definitely say pre-1970 would be your best target as it became more acceptable and talked-about in the 1970s. That said, even outside the South you still hear talk about this one both sides of the race divide - ESPECIALLY in large cities where people think of the "ghetto" as an inherently black place and the rich neighborhoods are mostly white. I live in Washington DC and the race divide in this city is NUTS compared to where I grew up. It's not the classical Southern style race divide, but there's a big rich-poor divide and because our nation sadly has a racially stratified class structure, people associate blackness with the ghetto and whiteness with the upper middle class. It's not explicitly racist insomuch as those African-Americans who live in the rich neighborhoods an behave by those standards can be accepted - but I can see it being a problem if someone from the "right" side of town and the "wrong" side are dating. For instance - it might not be a problem for Dad if his daughter brings home an African-American boy named Jacob who dresses preppy and talks the queen's English. That might even be seen as a badge of honor - but if you change the social cues...say his name is DaQuan, he's wearing a blingy earring, and he's wearing an "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" t-shirt, then Mom and Dad are going to have some problems (despite the fact that, based on what I've told you, we actually know nothing about the social background of either Jacob or DaQuan and they could be brothers for all we know).
     

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