How to Handle Family Issues With Interracial Dating

by Contributor

There has been tremendous progress in America's race relations. Interracial relationships in the 1950s may have been life-threatening, but by the 1980s they were increasingly common. Elected officials sometimes make the claim that racism is just about dead in the U.S., and as far as the civic life of the country is concerned, there are few remaining manifestations of the slave era or even of segregation. However, there are still plenty of prejudiced people around, so it is still important for people to realize that they may have family issues due to interracial dating.

Evaluate the kind of people in your family as soon as you contemplate interracial dating. You may encounter objections whether you are male or female and regardless of your particular ethnic group. There are bigots of every color, so do not assume that one group will be any more of a problem than another.

Keep communication open with your date as well as with both families. Try to understand where the objections are really coming from and handle them appropriately. There are certain character attributes that racist thinkers believe go along with certain skin colors, so instead of fighting the battle against what color you and your date are, emphasize character and individuality.

Enlist the help of mutual friends, other family members, coworkers and church members if the communication channels get clogged. It is important to keep the communication going, even if it's not directly from you or your date.

Seek out help for others if they won't seek it themselves. This goes for your date, your family, your date's family and any friends who are involved. Suggest discussion groups, Internet blogs like ScienceBlog.com, recent magazine articles and anything else dealing with interracial dating or related community issues (see Resources below).

Stay focused, as your challenge is not to change everyone's mind about everything. Remain committed to showing who you and your date really are, and don't take on the entire civil-rights struggle all over again.

Be confident, as this is only one of many interpersonal issues you will likely have to handle in your life, although it may be somewhat more complex than others. Do not be scared off. It is important to handle these sorts of issues directly, and stand up for what you believe.

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Tip

  • Be the peacemaker by refraining from calling family members racists or bigots, as such names may lead to hurt feelings and cause the discussions to get out of hand.