Sex Edition: Interracial couples gaining acceptance, still face adversity

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By Cristina Holtzer / Staff Writer

When Danielle Allbritain and Jordon Carstarphen indulged in a dinner-and-a-movie date, they didn’t expect fellow diners to leave in outrage at their presence.

Allbritain, who’s a white senior majoring in biology at Pitt, was out with her boyfriend, Carstarphen, a black member of the U.S. Army, when he kissed her across the table in the restaurant. An elderly white couple nearby, Carstarphen said, did not approve of their liplock.

“They just kept getting more and more disgusted,” Carstarphen said. “And they left.”

Though it’s the 21st century, couples at Pitt have experienced a similar situation, facing tough reactions about race from family, friends or strangers. While Allbritain and Carstarphen said they don’t often experience negativity, both agreed that couples who are of the same race are treated better by most of society. 

Allbritain said her family dished out some tough opinions about her relationship at first.

“The first time he met my parents, it was very awkward because he knew my parents weren’t for it,” she said. “I dated someone of color before him and my parents didn’t like that, either.”

Allbritain and Carstarphen have dated people of the same and different races from themselves, but both saw resistance from their families.

A member of Carstarphen’s extended family disapproved of his relationship with Allbritain.

“Her exact words were ‘If she can’t use a comb, don’t bring her home,’” Carstarphen said.

According to a Pew Research Center report, slightly more than 15 percent of new marriages in 2010 in the United States were between spouses of different races.

U.S. Census data shows that interracial marriages started increasing after the 1967 Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia, which made racial discrimination in marriage illegal. The couple involved in the case, Mildred and Richard Loving, a black woman and white man, went to jail for one year after getting married. The day the Supreme Court decision was announced, June 12, is celebrated each year as “Loving Day.”

Interracial marriages have been a rising annual trend according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, and a recent Cheerios advertisement featuring an interracial couple broadcast during this year’s Super Bowl reflected the increased commonality.

“It’s a white woman preparing breakfast and a black husband and a mixed kid,” Allbritain said. “And it’s just like a family together. It’s good for your heart. I love that commercial. I literally had a tear come down my face.”

White Americans are the least likely to marry outside of their race, and Native Americans are the most likely to marry outside of their race, according to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau study.

Clare Zupan, a Native American junior majoring in psychology at Chatham University, is dating a white woman, and said most people don’t seem to notice their different races.

“My family will joke with me that I’m dating a white girl,” Zupan said of her girlfriend, Liz, who asked to withhold her last name. “But it’s a big joke, nothing negative. Also, the gay thing is more distracting than the interracial thing, you know?” 

Zupan said she never felt afraid of her parents’ reactions to whom she might date and plans to raise her own kids with the same open-mindedness. 

Zupan and Liz, who have been together for nearly two-and-a-half years, said they’ve agreed that if they ever have children together, they’d like to use a sperm donor with a similar racial makeup to Zupan if Liz is the biological mother. 

Allbritain noted the power of the media to cultivate a more widespread acceptance of different families in this country by presenting more diverse families.

“We had so many fights, but my parents are fine now,” Allbritain said. “There’s so many more families that are becoming mixed.”