Saturday, June 2, 2007

What a difference a generation makes

The above table is from a recent Pew Research Center poll. Needless to say, those stats are quite refreshing - especially in an age when the most virulent racists have been spewing their bile more vocally than ever. From the available data it appears that the Gen Y folks pretty much take interracial dating as a given and have no problem with it. We see quite a jump in favorable attitudes from the late 1980s to the present year among the Gen X-ers (I'm among the older of the Gen X crowd) and the Boomers. The real surprise is the folks who would make up my parents' generation, of whom barely a third would have approved interracial dating two decades ago; these days it's more like a two thirds approval rate.

I recall my high school days (back in the early 1980s) when even the more open-minded of my white friends would have voiced disapproval at seeing a white girl and a black guy holding hands as they walked across the quad or down the hallways. Of course even by early 1980s standards I ended up living in locales where open racism was still acceptable, so in retrospect I suppose I shouldn't be all that surprised. These days I get the impression that except among a few skinheads or MinuteKlan wannabes, you're just not going to find much objection.

Of course, decades of efforts to integrate schools and workplaces (kudos affirmative action!), along with the increased visibility of interracial couples in various forms of mass media have helped.

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