Shane says his mother simply
“overreacted” to what she thought other people would think.
“They thought people would look down on it (interracial
marriage),” admits Shane of his parent’s reaction. “They
were trying to protect me.”
Although Shane’s parents eventually accepted the union,
their reaction to it is still common among many people when in
comes to interracial relationships, says Dr. Larry E. Davis, a
professor of social work and psychology in the George Warren Brown
School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, Miss.
and author of Black and Single: Meeting and Choosing A Partner
Who’s Right For You.
“There is a softening of attitudes as it relates to
interracial relationships, but we really are, perhaps more so than
any other minority group, in a direct on-going struggle with the
white race,” says Davis. “For example, racial profiling
largely affects black people. This continuous struggle hurts
amicable relationships ñ the level and intensity of black and
“Attitudes have changed toward interracial relationships
and marriage,” Shane says. “Many people who choose to date
outside their race, a lot of it depends on their individual
character, morals and beliefs. If they’re the type of person who
can deal with it and don’t care what other people think ñ then
the relationship, interracial or not, will be just fine. If they
are self-conscious about what people think ñ then don’t even do
Romantic relationships among blacks and whites continue to
come under fire. Despite lifted barriers more than 30 years ago by
the Supreme Court ruling in Loving v. Virginia, that said laws
forbidding’interracial’ marriage were unconstitutional, some
people still can’t seem to see love because they’re looking at
“It really doesn’t make any sense to me of all this
talk about interracial relationships,” says Davis. “Black
people are already a multiracial people, so almost any
relationship for us is interracial. The sad thing about it is some
people (blacks) marry someone white for the sake of it, and then
there are others just marrying white people to get away from black
people all together. That doesn’t make a lot of room to explore
good, healthy relationships with others.”
Statistics show there are now more than 1.5 million
interracial couples in the United States compared to 150,000 in
1960. From 1970 to 1991, the number of mixed-race married couples
increased from 310,000 to 994,000. This trend is taking place
among all racial and ethnic groups.
Dwann and Shane, who dated four years before getting
married, understands such statistics show attitudes are changing
even though the negative attitudes toward interracial
relationships still exist.
“We really haven’t experience a lot of negativity,”
says Dwann, owner of D&C Productions and Urban Flavor
Publications. “We’ve lived in Nebraska, Alabama and now
Tennessee, and it’s been fairly positive.”
“What I’ve noticed is that black people tend to say
more, while white people tend to stare more,” says Shane.
Dwann agrees adding, “White people ask questions to find
out your background. For the most part, black people either are
shocked or don’t care.”
In his book, Davis points out that interracial
relationships are often blown out of perspective. He explains
while interracial dating and marriages are on the rise, the number
of blacks dating non-blacks is small and there is an extremely low
rate of interracial marriages (about 2 percent for black women and
5 percent for black men). Hispanic Americans have an interracial
marriage rate of approximately 40 percent, for Asian Americans it
is estimated to be as high as 60 percent and more than half of
Native Americans are believed to marry interracially.
Those blacks, who interracially date non-whites, are even
viewed more favorably than those blacks who date whites. However,
three-quarters of interracial marriage among blacks still occur
between black and whites, according to Davis.
“While there is certainly more discussion of black males
dating white females, I think white men are beginning to recognize
the attributes of black women more,” Davis says.
Davis adds that black women are faced with limited romantic
possibilities. His book references the age bracket from 18 to 40,
explaining there are only between seven and eight black men for
every 10 black women. He also says more heterosexual black men are
lost to prison, drugs and death than are “lost” to white
partners. He further explains that these odds, including increases
in education among black women, makes a significant gap in the
number of professional black men to professional black women.
“There are a quarter of a million black men in jail and
more than that unemployed,” says Davis. “There are so few
black men for black women, I don’t get upset about black women
dating outside of their race at all.
“Also white men are marrying more professional black
women and black men are more likely to marry non-professional
white women; historically, because African-Americans have had to
bring more to the table. White males are from a higher racial cast
and black males are from a lower racial cast, therefore, they
require less from the relationship.”
In an effort to better understand the differences in their
racial and ethnic backgrounds, Dwann and Shane continue to work on
compromises to not only allow themselves to become more
appreciative of one another, but to expose their three-year-old
daughter, Autumn, to her unique and diverse heritage.
One such compromise is that Shane attends a predominately
black Baptist church with his wife. They have attended black
churches since they’ve been a couple.
Shane admits that attending a predominately black church is
certainly different from what he was used to, but he says it gives
him an opportunity to be the minority and it’s good for his
“I’m very comfortable with it,” he says of attending
the church. “But I’m no sure most Caucasians would be. It’s
a big church, but they have embraced me. Dwann and Autumn are
already exposed to the white side daily through work and school.
When we go to church, I see that as her time to connect to the
African-American community. I look at it as my turn to be a
minority and see what she goes through.”
With the 21st Century in full gear, it is expected that
interracial dating and marriages will become commonplace. The
Olsens’ advice is simply ‘don’t knock it,’til you try
“Don’t be afraid to date outside your race,” Shane
says. “You may not know what you’re missing.”