D.C. Couples Ponder Changing Attitudes Toward Interracial Dating | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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D.C. Couples Ponder Changing Attitudes Toward Interracial Dating

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Author Ron Hanna reviews his latest book, "It's All in the Game."
Kate Sheehy
Author Ron Hanna reviews his latest book, "It's All in the Game."

Writer 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.

"I used my literary pen and my literary license to mix up some people that I can't imagine in real life that they'd ever come together," says Hanna.

In his novel "It's all in the Game," online dating sites allow for a black man and a white woman from very different parts of Washington to hook up.

"I got a brother from Southeast going and hittin' up a gal in Bethesda and a girl in Arlington, and he calls her the 'shark' 'cause everyone has a name online, and she comes swimming in 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're going to date someone outside your race you have to have access to 'em," he says. "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."

He says that interracial dating causes friction among African American men and women.

Lenora Robinson, a who's waiting with her son at a barbershop down the street from Hanna's house 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.

"I think Black men have the option to date outside their race and have more variety," she says. "I think a lot of men of other cultures don't want black women."

Robinson says she feels most white men wouldn't consider her as a partner.

"I've seen some white men that are gorgeous and single, but they either are not attracted to me, or don't look at me in a marriage material kind of way," says Robinson.

But she says interracial dating is becoming more common among younger people. She says it's because they haven't experienced the same type of racism and experiences that older people have.

Ashley Speights, 25, and her boyfriend, Shane O'Neill, 32, are playing with their dogs, Parker and Beans. They live in an apartment a few blocks from Dupont Circle in Northwest, D.C.

"My friends joke that my type is a white guy with brown hair and pretty eyes," she says.

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 got to go to a private school, and there were other males who were also fortunate and got a better education than 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, O'Neill, who is white, says he doesn't worry about what other people think.

"I think dating should be all about whom you can connect with, and whom you like, rather than what your race is, and it's moving towards that," he says.

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," she says. "You're more likely to be wanted by someone in your own race, at least as a black female, than you are outside of it."

Meanwhile, Hanna strolls down his street in Southeast, talking with his loyal neighborhood fans about his latest book. He says his book is a picture of what's to come, and that no matter who they end up with, the couples in his book all share one thing."

"The common thread is happiness," he says. "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.


[Music: "One" by Vitamin String Quartet from Still Strung Out on U2 Vol. 2: A String Quartet Tribute]

Photos: Interracial Dating

Slideshow: Ron Hanna Discusses Civil Rights

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