MS. REBECCA SHEIR
Deciding whom to date and whom to marry can be a major way we declare our independence. And a recent study by the Pew Research Center shows inter-marriage among people of different races in the U.S. has more than doubled since the 1980s, especially among black men who are more than twice as likely as black women to marry outside their race.
MS. REBECCA SHEIR
An author from southeast Washington recently tackled the topic in a brand new novel, one that explores the connections between online dating and interracial dating in Washington, D.C. Kate Sheehy spoke with author Ron Hanna and others in the District about the local dating scene and whether old attitudes about interracial dating are going by the wayside.
MS. KATE SHEEHY
Ron Hanna lives in the same house he grew up in with his grandmother on Savannah Place in Southeast, D.C. He says, in this predominately African American area, people tend to stick to their own.
MR. RON HANNA
So I used my literary pen and used my literary license to mix with some people that I can't imagine in real life that they'd ever come together.
Hanna is a writer. And in his novel "It's all in the Game," online dating sites allow for an African-American man and a white woman from very different parts of Washington to hook up.
I got a brother from Southeast going and hitting up a gal in Bethesda. He calls her the shark because everybody in there has a name of a fish. And the shark is coming to swim into the dark waters of the Southeast.
Hanna says economic conditions continue to keep many African-Americans isolated in D.C.
Without considering racism at all, if you are going to date someone outside your race, you have to have access to them, you understand what I'm saying? I'm not going to a party in Georgetown if I'm unemployed and don't have the economic means to be in that social sphere.
And he says that interracial dating causes friction among African-American men and women.
If you are clean, got a job, single, disease-free and all these black women out here don't have a man and you choose a white woman, black women don't look at that too kindly, and a lot of black men don't either.
Lenora Robinson is waiting with her son at Classic Cuts Barbershop down the street from Hanna's house. She says she prefers to be with an African-American man, but is open to dating someone from another race. Still, she says that's not likely to happen.
MS. LEONORA ROBINSON
I think black men have the option to date outside their race and have more variety. I think a lot of men of other cultures don't want black women.
Robinson says she feels like most white men wouldn't consider her as a partner.
I've seen some white men that are absolutely gorgeous and single, but they either are not attracted to me or don't look at me in a marriage material kind of way.
But she says interracial dating is becoming more common among younger people.
Because they haven't experienced the same type of experiences that the older generations have and the repercussions of being in a mixed relationship.
Twenty-five-year-old Ashley Speights and her boyfriend, 32-year-old Shane O'Neill are playing with their dogs, Parker and Beans. They live in an apartment a few blocks from DuPont Circle in Northwest, D.C.
MS. ASHLEY SPEIGHTS
My friends joke that my type is, like, a white guy with brown hair and pretty eyes, you know.
Speights, an African-American, is from the affluent Chevy Chase neighborhood of the District. She says race has never really been an issue for her, but she has felt pressure when it comes to dating.
Especially growing up in an environment where I've been very fortunate and, you know, I got to go to a private school in D.C., and there were other males in the same situation who have been very fortunate and, you know, an education that's different than the most in D.C. And I can tell that sometimes there was an expectation that you guys should be together. You match and you're the exception to the rule.
For his part, Shane O'Neill says he doesn't worry about what other people think.
MR. SHANE O'NEILL
I think that dating should be all about who you can connect with, and who you like, rather than what your background or what your race is, and it's moving towards that.
Still, Speights says she has girlfriends who say they don't feel comfortable dating a white man.
Some of it might even be self-confidence, everyone wants to feel wanted, you know. And you're more likely to be wanted by someone of your own race, at least as a black female, than you are outside of it.
Hey, I got a new book out.
Ron Hanna strolls down his street in Southeast, talking with his loyal neighborhood fans about his latest book. Hanna says it's a picture of what's to come. He says no matter who they end up with, the couples in his book all share one thing.
The common thread is happiness. You know, if you enjoy somebody, then enjoy them.
He says it's a matter of personal choice, which he predicts, more and more people will continue to embrace with time. I'm Kate Sheehy.
Do you think attitudes toward interracial dating and marriage are changing? You can send us an email, our address is firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us, our handle is @wamumetro.
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