In 2011, its safe to say that people take civil liberties for granted. But it's worth reflecting on, especially around Thanksgiving, since the lingering effects of old racism are not as far off as everyone thinks.
After the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, it was finally legal for blacks and whites to eat in the same restaurants, use the same restrooms, and intermarry with each other.
Before that time, black women and white men who wished to date or marry were often arrested and imprisoned for their actions. And while the new laws of the '60s opened up the way for a more tolerant attitude toward interracial relationships, attitudes changed ever so slowly.
As recently as 1991, only 48% of the population approved of black and white marriages. But that number has increased to 86% today. And among people ages 19-37, it's at 97%. This is promising, as it seems to indicate the only closed-minded folks are the ones who grew up in more racist times.
But it's still been a slow process. As recently as 2000, Bob Jones University had an unbelievable ban on interracial dating. Seriously. This is in the modern age, the age of the internet and smartphones. And they literally forbid people of different races from dating.
The ban was lifted several years ago, and the college did apologize. But it reflects our culture's incredible stubbornness around this issue. What's so nuts is that Bob Jones is supposed to be a religious institution...so where is the tolerance?
Whatever the polls say, black and white couples are still looked at strangely in our culture. One black woman married to a white man runs a blog called yesweretogether.com. This is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the frequent disbelief she has encountered from people regarding her marriage to a white man.
It's a strange kind of subconscious, childish assumption many people seem to have, to expect people to marry people who have the same color skin. At its core, this is still a very superficial way to look at people, but it's indicative of a very superficial and shallow culture.
According to new studies, interracial marriage is on the rise and has been for quite a few years. But it appears that even though this is a new social trend, it will take time for it to be truly accepted, much like the freedoms won after the Civil Rights movement. I wonder what the poll numbers will look like in another 10 years.