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In Search Of Great Questions About Cross-Cultural Romance

A pair of hands of different skin colors. Basically the default choice for a stock photo on a post about interracial romance.

Consider this your invitation to join us for a month of exploring interracial and cross-cultural romance. This Wednesday through Feb. 13, the Code Switch team will be holding Twitter chats, conducting Q&As and writing posts about many different ways love and attraction intersect with race, ethnicity and culture.

On Jan. 15 at 2 p.m. EST, you can join us on Twitter for a chat about these matters by following and tweeting to the hashtag #xculturelove. During our monthlong exploration, stay tuned to that hashtag for information on future Twitter chats and other opportunities to join the conversation. (And don't hesitate to tweet interesting tidbits about that hashtag anytime you'd like.) We want to hear your stories, insights, leads on great people to talk with, and most of all, we want your best, most probing questions about the topic.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of McLaughlin v. Florida, the Supreme Court decision that overturned a Florida law prohibiting interracial cohabitation (this was three years before Loving v. Virginia, in which the court overturned state laws prohibiting interracial marriage). That case was triggered when Dora Goodnick, the landlady of a white woman named Connie Hoffman, called the police to report that a black fellow was spending a lot of time in her tenant's apartment. Hoffman and her Honduran-born boyfriend, Dewey McLaughlin, were tried for violating Florida law and sentenced to 30 days of hard labor. With the help of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, they fought the conviction.

A lot's changed in 50 years. According to the LA Times, 9 percent of unmarried couples living together in 2012 came from different races. And the number of married and unmarried interracial couples has more than doubled since 2000, the Times reports. So what's the status of interracial and cross-cultural romance today?

We've explored these topics before, of course. For a start, see Tell Me More's archive of stories on the topic, related coverage from Weekend All Things Considered, and Kat Chow's post on the documentary Seeking Asian Female. There's also been terrific coverage elsewhere, including a series of roundtables on the subject hosted by the stellar race and culture site Racialicious. Last year, the New York Times op-ed page asked whether interracial marriage was still a big deal. February won't mark the end of the discussion, but this period of focused coverage will inform our future coverage of the issue.

A few sets of questions to get your ideas flowing:

  • What factors contribute to forming racial and cultural romantic preferences? How do we distinguish between "preferences" and "fetishes"? And how do these things change over our lifetimes? Can we change them?
  • What are the demographics of cross-cultural romance today? Who's dating whom, and how is this different for different generations of people or in different cities? How do wealth and income affect this picture?
  • How do pop-culture depictions of cross-cultural romance relate to reality? In what ways do they match relationships in the real world, and in what ways do they differ? How have they affected our perceptions of cross-cultural romances?
  • What else are you curious about? What stories or insights do you have to share? Join us at 2 p.m. EST to kick off our discussion on #xculturelove, and feel free to share your thoughts below.

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