Young people are still more liberal than the generations before them, but Gen Z has shown through activism, consumer choices and voting that they are unusually progressive. These “Zoomers” champion issues such as environmental protection and LGBTQ+ rights, while overwhelmingly rejecting the reactionary politics of figures like Donald Trump.
Although the Zoomers have demonstrated a commitment to left-wing dogma, they are more conservative than many realize in several respects. Gay rights may not be controversial, but sadly issues like transgender rights can still divide young voters.
Gen Z allegedly preaches tolerance and tries to destigmatize sexuality, drug use and mental illness. But through conversations with other students, I have shockingly discovered that the stigma of cross-cultural (and by extension, interracial) relationships is still very much alive.
I’ve been in two long-term cross-cultural relationships. I have been outnumbered in class discussions where the majority argue that these relationships prevent the transmission of culture. I participated in a panel discussion with others in cross-cultural or interracial relationships that detail the judgment they faced from their peers. I’ve had many conversations with my own peers who set rigid ethnic or cultural requirements for their own love lives.
Many of these objections stem from a few main feelings: Dating outside of “their own” would disappoint their family, they believe it hinders the passage of culture, and of course establishes prejudice against certain groups.
It is valid to argue that people are more likely to feel a connection with those who share the same past. A preference is one thing, but a requirement is another. When his “type” includes an ethnic necessity, it is problematic.
If you have children with a person from another culture, the passage of your own culture is perhaps not entirely automatic, but that does not prevent it. It may take a little work, but less if her partner embraces the other culture. The child would grow up in a multicultural space, which grants its own developmental advantages.
Some criticize dating white people out of skepticism based on historical Western atrocities, but others have restricted their dating pool to only white people or their own culture.
Some conversations I’ve come across have revealed that some students are willing to date someone outside of their own identity, but draw a line somewhere and claim their family would never accept if they date someone. one of a particular identity. It’s hard to turn. It is to show complicity in the fanaticism of his family.
The problem is that Gen Z exudes a closed-mindedness about multicultural and interracial relationships, which then turns into judgmentalism about others. The line is hazy, but some of those conversations clearly crossed into darker territory.
While much of this bias is well-veiled in jokes, like when young people comment “not the colonizer” on a TikTok with a white and non-white couple, some come out in uglier ways. People who step out of their culture are often referred to as “self-loathing.”
I have personally been accused of “fetishizing people of color” for dating non-white women. The fetishization of people of color is a real and shameful phenomenon, but it is a serious and unwarranted allegation to impose on an interracial couple.
Some communities, like many black cohorts in America, have a strong sense of togetherness and community derived from a shared history. When a member of this community goes outside of this community, it may look like betrayal and is therefore discouraged. But this feeling is erroneous and flirts with prejudice.
This prejudice is somewhat married to the jealousy linked to his “in-group”. A white man bothered by a white woman who chooses to date a black man is clearly bigotry. This same principle can be applied to similar beliefs that Zoomers have about someone who frequents another culture.
Gen Z may claim to be “woke” and progressive, but they need to recognize and fight this awful stigma that still exists even in the most progressive spaces. Gen Z is incredibly aware of identity politics, but it becomes toxic once it judges people for transcending their own identity in their love life. The sooner the problem is recognized, the sooner society can counter it. It’s time to end this “forbidden love” trope.
Andrew is an LAS senior.