College Students Perceptions of Interracial Relationships: I approve as long as I don’t have to participate

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Rebecca Overmyer-Velázquez


The following is a mixed method study conducted at a small liberal Arts College in Southern California. Using a sample of 100 College students, I distributed an online anonymous survey with questions pertaining to College Students Perceptions of Interracial Relationships. The survey established habitus as it relates to Bonilla Silva’s “White Habitus” in his book, Racism Without Racists. This is also related to his concept of “color-blind” racism, or the idea that following the civil rights movement racial discussion became taboo. Bonilla Silva’s study was conducted in the Midwestern US 20-30 years ago. I thought it would be interesting to conduct similar research in southern California in 21st century. It is perhaps the most diverse place in the US and should therefore be a very progressive-thinking population. After studying and combining research previously done on Perceptions of Interracial Relationships, I determined that college students were a relevant group to understand the opinions of due to their experience growing up in a post-civil rights era and therefore their experience with this color-blind racism. After reading literature on race-relations I saw approval of the mixing of races romantically as a good measure of perceived equality between races. Students were asked to agree or disagree with strong statements regarding race on a scale. In addition, the students were shown images of affection followed by aggression of both a black-and-white interracial couple and a white-and-white same-race couple. I established how much experience each student had with interracial relationships in their lifetime in order to see how their habitus related to their perceptions. Initial results established that even self-proclaimed “accepting” college students still exhibited racial bias related to their own desire to participate in an interracial relationship. This supports Bonilla-Silva’s assertion that by pretending we do not notice racial differences we are in fact perpetuating racial biases. In other words, if we believe we are post-racial we are perpetuating racism.


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