By Kayla Frazier
For Stony Brook student Shage Price, being the daughter of parents of different races led her to have questions about her looks early on.
“I would always ask my mother why she married daddy and not someone with better hair so my hair would be nice,” Price said.
Price, 21, grew up in Middletown, New York, a predominantly white town on the edge of the Catskill Mountains. Though she had plenty of friends and experienced little or no harassment because of her multiracial background, she said she felt “too black to be white and too white to be black.”
At college, that racial ambivalence has become more of a cultural question. Back home, she said, her high school friends see her as “too artsy to be hood” while on campus, where she is switching her major from linguistics to a multidisciplinary blend including theater and music. She sometimes feels “too hood to be artsy.”
It is no secret that America has continuous lingering issues dealing with race. As millennials come of age, coloring outside the lines, so to speak, is a path waiting to be explored.
Many decades ago, the idea of interracial marriages and relationships was taboo and so out of the question that some states had miscegenation laws that forbade marriage and sex between people of different races. On June 12, 1967 , the Supreme Court ruling in Loving v. Virginia caused miscegenation laws to be removed in states that continued to follow these laws. Since then, interracial marriage has been on the rise. According to Pew Research Center, as of 2013, 12 percent of newlyweds in the United States had married outside of their race.
Movies such as “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” “Guess Who” and “Our Family Wedding” show the dynamics of interracial relationships as well as the issues that can occur when a family brings someone of a different race home. By the end of the movie, the cultural differences are usually resolved, and everyone lives happily-ever-after.
For Bronx resident Jarrett Johnson, an African-American man who recently married a white woman, the reactions the couple got when they were dating were much like what happened in the movies.
“We have not had any negative experiences,” he said. “I have seen people stare or even glare at us while we have been together, but nothing else has happened. We have had a lot of support from family and friends, and honestly, that is all that matters.” Johnson said.The couple is already thinking about how to raise a child of mixed race.
Like Johnson’s, many mixed-race relationships will result in a child that is half of a race that America glorifies and half of the race that America loves to hate. According to Pew Research Center, 55 percent of multiracial adults have been subjected to racial slurs or jokes and 61 percent of multiracial persons identify as only one race.
“When asked why they don’t identify as multiracial, about half, 47 percent, say it is because they look like one race,” the Pew report said. “An identical proportion say they were raised as one race, while about four-in-ten, 39 percent, say they closely identify with a single race. And about a third, 34 percent, say they never knew the family member or ancestor who was a different race.”
With the taboo against mixed-race marriage crumbling, if not yet irrelevant, today’s college students are more open to the idea. Stony Brook student Dwayne Moore, who is African-American, said that although his preference would be to marry an African-American woman, if the opportunity presented itself he would be open to an interracial relationship.
Petra Dormand, a student at the historically black Morgan State University, said the opportunity to date people outside the African-American community is less likely than at Stony Brook. Nevertheless, she has no objection to the idea.
“I would be open to an interracial relationship,” Dormand said. “Because the race of the person should not interfere with one liking them as a person. As long as you and that person can have a connection and vibe well together, everything should be fine.”
If she were to marry someone of a different race and have a baby, “I would tell my child that society is going to try and poison their mind with the poison that having lighter skin is better than having darker skin,But I would teach them to love themselves from the inside out to prevent that ideology, because in reality, everyone has African blood flowing through their veins.”
Price, the Middletown native, said that an appreciation for the mixed cultures that make up her family comes easy. “My parents taught me to love all of my roots equally,” she said. On holidays, for example, there’s food as well as music from both the Caribbean side of her family, and the American side as well.
“Despite the fact that society favors lighter-skinned people, I’m still happy to be born in the skin that I’m in,” she said, “and that pride comes from my parents.”