Racism and Romance: An Analysis of Interracial Relationships as a Measure of Social Progress Open Access

Emenyonu, Joy (Spring 2022)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/tm70mw58p?locale=en


The concept of a post-racial society, the idea that the Civil Rights Movement is over and now, miraculously, African Americans are viewed as equals is one that perplexed me. Racism is inbred in the culture and systems of the United States. He also acknowledges that that is not expected to change anytime soon. Interracial relationships as a means of social progress become salient here because the role of race shows how race is pervasive. Intimate, romantic relationships, where people are meant to be vulnerable and express deep emotions. These are ideal spaces of peace and compassion, and yet race shows up. Race is not only present but blatant in that it forces the relationship participants to acknowledge and engage in conversations about race. The research in this project reaffirms this. This thesis consists of three chapters; media analysis, interview analysis, and survey analysis. In the media analysis, I looked at TV shows from the late 1990s and early 200s, and their conversations about interracial relationships. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-1996), Moesha (1996-2001), Girlfriends (2000-2008)– and argues that such media depictions limited their discussion about such relationships to emphasize outsiders’ perceptions and familial responses. In the interview section, I interviewed five interracial couples. I asked 20 pre-selected questions about their respective upbringing, dating history, familial attitudes, responses, etc. This analysis made it clear that class was a key contributing factor in understanding how families form attitudes around interracial relationships. Rephrased, wealthy families were more accepting of interracial relationships than poor families. Using exchange theory to understand this, reveals that pooer families value culture and tradition, which are areas of major interpersonal differences for interracial couples. Finally, in my survey section, I surveyed 103 people, aged 18-24 many of which were black women. Here, I found that personal, lived experiences, had the biggest influence on how

respondents formed their opinions on interracial relationships. My findings indicated that we are far from a post-racial society because even 60 years after Loving vs. Virginia, interracial relationships are still a point of contention.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Current Understandings of Race Relations

2 Depictions of Interracial Relationships on TV

12 Exploration of Race Dynamics within Interacial Relationships

 29 Survey Findings: Popular Feelings about Race

42 Conclusion: Social Progress and Interracial Relationships: Where Do We Go from Here?

57 References

62 Appendix

66 Figure 1- Comfort level of survey respondents in dating outside their race

Figure 2- Reasons respondents did not want to date outside their race

Figure 3-Reasons respondents do want to date outside their race

Figure 4-Gender of Participants

Figure 5-Sexual Orientation of Participants Figure 6- Race of Respondents

Figure 7- Respondents' relationship status Figure 8-Race of Respondents Partners

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