Is it OK to have a racial preference in dating? Email us or comment below with your thoughts. Trish, a year-old marketing consultant, has never dated non-white men. Or is it racist to have a racial preference in dating? In , 39 percent of Americans polled said interracial marriage is good for society, 9 percent said it was bad and 52 percent said it made no difference at all.
And yet, five years later, in , just one-fifth of all couples in the U. When two people connect at work, through friends or via the Internet, the explanation for why sparks fly is sometimes, frankly, unexplainable. Love is blind, according to conventional wisdom and Shakespeare. Source Photo courtesy of Max Moore.
Max Moore, 39, grew up in the South with a white mom and a Black dad. Or is it just because I like what I like? But what about the opposite approach? Source Photo courtesy of David Monaghan. David Monaghan readily admits to having a dating bias: Not acceptance, but as examples of surviving in enemy territory. Consciously or not, Monaghan dated Black women because he felt shunned by his own white culture and therefore drawn to other cultures he believed possessed a wisdom gained from years of struggle and abuse.
So should we call foul on people who never choose mates who look like them? This study contributes to the existing research on Black skin color by first identifying how a group of college aged Black women gave meaning to their own skin color through the development of symbolic social meanings.
The Importance of Skin Color in Choosing Who We Date
Finally, we discuss the implications of this phenomenon for therapists and clinicians working with college aged Black women. Labels such as high yellow or red bone near white skin to blue black very dark skin highlight the institutionalization of differential skin color messaging within some Black communities in the United States. For these reasons, Black feminist thought BFT has been identified as an appropriate framework to integrate with dating scripting theory to explore these phenomenon. It rejects the notion of universal laws of behavior, favoring idiosyncratic approaches by focusing on individual functioning, goals, and meaning within Black female realities.
They analyze the meanings, social rules, values, and motives that govern action in a specific context Comstock, Human action and interpretations are considered historical by-products of collective experience. As a field of inquiry that emerged from both feminist and critical race theories, BFT validates the experiences of Black women in the creation of knowledge. Dating script theory serves as the foundation for illustrating the application of BFT.
As frameworks of dating role expectations, scripts create norms regarding appropriate behavior that are expressed and maintained through their usage in social contexts. This reciprocal process of knowing takes place because people develop a sense of meanings through social interactions and exposure to messaging within continually changing cultural and social contexts Longmore, When specifically considering dating preferences and scripting processes, it is important to identify cues for shaping understandings and beliefs about appropriate behaviors.
Visual cues are particularly powerful as they bring to mind past knowledge or previous experience. Research has shown that when individuals meet people they immediately draw upon visual cues to place that person into certain symbolic categories of understanding Longmore, However, few studies specifically address the role of skin color in shaping beliefs about dating scripts. Black women gain knowledge of skin color values early in life via observational learning.
Black psychologists rated lighter-skinned Black clients as more attractive and held more positive feelings toward them, while white psychologists endorsed more severe mental disorders for the Black clients with darker skin. In addition, lighter-skinned women are more likely to marry men with higher social i.
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Clearly, there is a need to understand specific skin color values, and how these values shape behavior scripts a through reciprocal messaging between Black women and potential partners. To address this, our BFT approach recognizes that men and women have the potential active agents in the rec construction of their skin color belief processes and personal lives. Embracing a feminist tenant that realities are socially constructed through individual or collective definition of the situation, we chose to use a qualitative approach.
This method of data collection allows for a rich and detailed examination of the processes by which individuals and groups construct meaning, as well as a description of what those meanings are. As psychology students, they each earned extra course credit for participating in research studies. Criteria for registering for this study included self-identifying as Black, heterosexual and between the ages of 18 and We choose to interview Black college women because individuals at this stage of the lifespan often seek intimate partnerships, and students have access to a large pool of potential mates Nelson et al.
Two qualitative data collection techniques were used: These sources of data were collected in order to compare the data and to confirm emergent themes and inconsistencies in the data. In addition, participants completed a demographic questionnaire so they could self-identify their race, ethnicity, nationality, and place of birth; these were placed in a sealed envelope opened by the data analysis team. A questioning route provided a framework for developing and sequencing a series of semi-structured, yet flexible questions.
One research assistant, self-identifying as Black, conducted the interviews in a university conference room at a time selected by the participant. After reading the Institutional Review Board approved letter of consent and completing the demographic questionnaire, the women providing a pseudonym to use during interview and for identification in the transcriptions The interview began with focused questions about skin color values in the context of dating.
What does it mean to have your skin color in terms of being physically attractive and dating? Would your relationship options or partner availability options change if you were three shades lighter or three shades darker? Interviews were audio taped, and had durations of 15 to 65 minutes. Designed so that women can choose liquid or powder foundations that match their skin color, the shades on these charts include different coloring types such as warm and cool versions of a single skin color.
Each chart contained eight, two- inch circular color samples. While the lightest colors were primarily on the first chart and darkest colors primarily on the third chart, ranges of color were integrated across all charts; this ensured that all skin color charts shared six of the same skin color options. Participants first selected a color they thought most closely resembled their skin color. Then, they held their wrist to the chart and selected the color they felt matched their skin color; both selections were noted by the interviewer.
The interviewers also recorded in their notes the skin color chart number they felt most closely matched the participant; this was done for comparison purposes with the participants own choice of color. Participants were asked to explain and reflect on their skin color chart choices as part of the interview process.
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Throughout this process, the interviewers made notes about participant-researcher interactions and salient issues that emerged through the interviews. Finally, the interview transcriptions were read three times by researchers who did not conduct the interviews; they made notes identifying and highlighting key themes and points that were raised.
Pseudonyms selected by the participants were used to identify their voices. Four stages of the constant-comparative method guided the data analysis process in this study: The coding process, which served to categorize the qualitative data and describe the implications and details of these categories, involved the study investigator DS and four undergraduate research assistants RAs , two of whom conducted interviews.
DS and two RAs who had not conducted the interviews began with open coding, also known as generative coding. Individually, they developed categories of concepts, and themes that emerged from the data. Broad categories identified at this stage include skin color beliefs, physical attractiveness, and dating preferences. DS and the two RAs began the identification of coding cues by writing in the left margins of their own copies of the transcripts directly across from the relevant statements.
This ensured an exploration of the data takes place without prior assumptions shaping about what might be discovered. Through this line-by-line process, key thoughts of the participants and voids or inconsistency in statements are highlighted. After completing the open coding process, DS and all four RAs moved into selective coding to systematically codes with respect to the core concept of skin color beliefs. Together, we condensed and recategorized those thematic classifications identified in the open coding by reflecting on the connections within categories.
By examining between categories and subcategories, we were able to deepen the theoretical framework underpinning our analysis. DS and four RAs reflected on the hypotheses generated through discussions noting the similarities and differences in these analyses. This type of triangulation serves as an important part of the validity claim in qualitative studies Creswell, Codes and the relationships between these codes identified by DS and the RAs allowed for the moving of analysis from the descriptive stage to a more theoretical one Glaser, Present findings provide descriptions of skin color, dating and physical attractiveness beliefs shared by a heterogeneous group of Black college women in the southeastern United States.
Qualitative analysis of the data suggests the following three major themes about skin color: From this, three significant themes that emerged from the data analysis are presented here: The study participants came from diverse Black subgroups. Although their sexual and dating experience varied, all had some level of dating experience.
The women reported an average of three non- sexual dating partners in a lifetime and an average of two sexual partners in a lifetime. At the time of data collection, nine reported having been dating someone for six months or longer, six had been dating someone for less than six months, two were dating two or more men at the time, and eleven were dating not dating anyone exclusively.
All the women and interviewers selected skin color shades from the dark to midrange skin color charts. None of the women perceived themselves as being on the skin color appearing to have fair or pale options. Across all women, there was consistency in their perceptions of their own skin color values.
Although six familial countries of origin were reported all the participants choose to frame their skin color experiences within the context of the United States. I know we would compare our arms growing up- my sisters and my cousins. We would compare to see who was lightest, who was darkest. It was little things said all the time. Not that I have had an issue with [my skin color] but, ok, when I was little, my sisters used to tell me I was adopted as a joke because I was the lighter one. I have got a lot of time people have told me that I have nice skin.
When looking at the skin chart reports, all the women selected colors from the two pages appearing to be the darkest. When asked if they would prefer to be three shades lighter or three shades darker than their current skin color, 21 of the women stated they would prefer to be three shades lighter. I would probably prefer if I were three shades lighter, not darker.
I would be prettier- to other people- I guess, if I were lighter. I guess- like a caramel kind of tone…. So I get treated okay. Skin color was also found to influence the ways in which women perceived they were treated by other people. When asked if they had experienced differential treatment in settings they interacted in regularly over the in the past 12 months e. In my lab- the teacher always mixes me up with the other [dark skin] girl, Julia. And there are only three of us Black girls in the class!
I stood out as different but not seen as different from Julia. And we look nothing alike. Specifically, lighter and darker skin colors were associated with specific scripts for sexual behaviors used to predict dating interactions. According to 26 participants, dark skin had negative connotations for Black women in dating contexts.
Ok, because a lot of [people] have said and they really believe that black skinned women are offensive and act stuck up. And they think they are all that. Well, expectations as in like why you are on TV, why you all ways have an attitude. Like the darker you are the meaner you are. I mean when it comes to dating [darker-skinned women] are perceived as being crazy. Well, in my opinion you know they view us as being freaks. Yeah, not yellow even with our skin.
The Influence of Skin Color on Heterosexual Black College Women’s Dating Beliefs
In contrast, 17 participants reported that women with lighter- skin were more likely to be stereotyped as having more socially acceptable personalities and achievements. The descriptors of their perceived personalities were more positive, engaging, and attractive. You see you automatically think that [lighter-skinned women] are sweeter and nicer, which is kind of crazy because I know- and there is no difference.
But you sort of believe the stereotype and think [lighter-skinned women] are just nicer. For example, sexually immoral and lascivious terms- including freaky, wild, and sexy- were used to describe beliefs about scripts associated with darker- skin. The question you should ask is: Remember, cultural differences can be a big deal. It is a struggle to find a balance between time with the person you love and the other important people in your life. Remember love is not selfish or demanding. That being said, here are some questions you may want to ask yourself about this issue.
Have you included him in some of these other relationships? Or do you want to keep him separate from your interactions with other friends and family? Try inviting him along with you when you spend time with your family and friends. He deserves to know at least that much.