Luke, a white seventh grader, believes his parents would not be supportive if he dated an African-American girl. “Honestly I don’t think my parents would be too happy because … if you marry a black girl, you’re connected to their family now,” he said, adding, “and who knows what her family is really like?”
Jimmy, a black seventh grader, recounted that after he had several white girlfriends, his parents seemed to interpret it as an affront to his own race. “They said, ‘Why not your own kind?’ because all my girls have been white,” he said, adding, “it’s not like they were like, ‘You need to choose a black girl,’ it’s just they were asking me why I like white girls and I was just like, ‘there’s no … specific reason.’ ”
Their stories highlight a divide not between the races, but between the generations. Both teens participated in an Anderson Cooper 360° study on children and race. Many students reported discouragement of interracial dating from their parents, or those of their friends, with reactions ranging from wariness to outright forbiddance.
The architect of the AC360° study, renowned child psychologist Dr. Melanie Killen, says parents of both white and black kids have a lot of anxiety about the prospect of interracial dating. Killen, who was hired as a consultant for the study, contends the trepidation from parents can have a profound negative effect on their children’s friendships and racial attitudes as a whole.
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