Interracial Couples & Restaurant Dining

A recent study by Pew Research Center shows that marriage between people of different races is on the rise.

According to the report, new marriages between spouses of a different race or ethnicity increased to 15.1 % in 2010, and current marriages that are either interracial or interethnic is 8.4%. Compare those figures back to 1980, when 3% of all marriages and less than 7% of all new marriages were across racial or ethnic lines.

But when you look at the numbers, it actually shows that most people still tend to marry within their own race or ethnicity.  I haven't read the full report, but I'm assuming there are also differences in the numbers depending upon age, education, and where people live.

There was also an interesting take on interracial couples eating in a restaurant on an episode of What Would You Do? They had interracial couples go out to eat, then had people harass them about it. The couple and the people harassing them were all actors who work for the show. The point of the show is to see the reaction of other people  who don't know that this is a staged situation. To find out what will they do or in many cases not do or just plain ignore.

Also, most of us are pretty familiar with the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950's and 1960's. The big change that resulted from this movement was the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which provided legal remedies for acts of discrimination. So that, for example, if someone feels that they have been discriminated against based on their race in a public accommodation, like a restaurant, they can sue that restaurant. After all, the lunch counter sit-ins were a huge part of the Movement.

So why am I bringing up these different issues? Because I was shocked to hear that a restaurant in a certain southern state has a special "interracial section" where interracial couples can be seated.

I don't know enough about all the details to say much more and I don't want to identify the person who relayed this information to me. What shocked me even more than hearing about this special seating arrangement was that the person who told me liked it. He is part of an interracial couple and my understanding of what was said was that at least this way they would not be gawked at and they were with their own kind. Oh goodness.

My reaction is that this is racial segregation all over again with a new twist. Now I'm not sure if this is the policy of the restaurant, just one person's random decision, whether the situation where all the interracial couples who did not know each other were suddenly seated together by coincidence or what.

In no way does any of this seem right to me and I think what the restaurant is doing is illegal. Am I missing something? What do you think?

If you are part of an interracial couple, have you ever experienced anything like this? Have any of you seen anything like this?

Help me out people. What would you do if you saw this situation?

*Updated 4/25/2012* Sadly, I just found a related article. A new study finds that “tableside racism” persists in restaurants.

*Updated 6/22/12* The Downtown Sports Bar and Grill in Raleigh, N.C. appears to have some problems of its own.

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coco cooks said…
If I knew what was going on, I couldn't even dine there or support the establishment. That's crazy but yet I'm not surprised.
Here is another interesting article on racism in the food service industry. It actually got picked up by the Huff Post.
A special section just for interracial couples? REALLY? Why? Also why would anyone want to sit there? I have to admit that I didn't make it all the way through the video in part because I just found it totally unrealistic or maybe I'm sheltered? I am in an interracial marriage. I've gotten some stares as well as some things muttered under a person's breath (by Black men mostly), but no one has ever come up to me and actually required me to have a conversation about my relationship.

I also recognize that we live in an area where it's not totally rare to see Black female/white male couples, so perhaps that may play into my experiences. Plus, many interactions with others are not always negative. Once a group of Black male teens have also said to my husband, "Go white dude! She's pretty!" (paraphrasing heavily) My husband got a kick out of that one.
Nance said…
I suppose that, given all the backward steps this country seems to be making in cultural/gender arenas lately, I should stop being surprised or disappointed. But you got me on this one. And I have to echo a previous commenter when I say, "Why would anyone sit there?" As far as someone saying, "At least it stops us from being gawked at," I respectfully disagree. I think it just exacerbates the issue, making almost a Zoo Mentality: rounding up all of one group and putting them in an enclosure for people to see. The whole thing is so terribly off-putting and dehumanizing to me. And therein lies the crux of it: humanity. It seems as if, in this year alone, America has lost its Humanity. I could not be more saddened.
Chris said…
We would leave the restaurant. Being put in a separate section because I'm with someone of a different race? WTF? They're segregating integrated couples???

We've been in places where we've been stared at pretty hard (by white and black) but nobody has ever done anything more than gape. And that may just be because we're a cute couple :) But the rubbernecking it their problem, not ours.
This is so disgusting. I feel sick to my stomach every time I'm reminded that everyone's minds are not as open as I'd like them to be. Ugh. I also just read that link Coco Cooks posted, and I am shaken up with frustration and discomfort. I'll continue to keep my mind open and have an open disregard for the decisions people make in THEIR lives to make them happy. No one is better than or less than due to race, creed, age, sexual orientation, economic level, etc. Live your life the way you want to that makes you and those around you feel good. Haters will hate and bigots will be bigots.
Lisa Johnson said…
coco cooks - Just read that post. So revolting and scary. I hate to think what they/she did to people's food. What a hateful bunch of people.

terri - I don't understand wanting to sit there either. I think the restaurant should be boycotted. Nice that you hear some positive comments!

nance - Like you said, it really does come down to humanity and treating people with respect, which this place does not dole out equally. I keep thinking that I can't be shocked by anything anymore, but I continue to be shocked as well.

chris - You are a cute couple, so I like to think that's the reason for most of the staring. : )

any + everywhere - That link was horrifying. I guess people like that are out there, but they usually don't show themselves like that. They are so ignorant and don't even know it. I like to believe that people like that are in the minority. And maybe something will happen to them to make them reconsider their beliefs and change their hearts.
SharleneT said…
I can't even imagine a restaurant doing something, like that! Are you sure this isn't a hoax? Although, small minds continue to breed and there's always going to be jerks that can only feel better by attacking anyone who doesn't fit their idea of what's right. (I'm sure the owners have a LONG list of prejudices.) The fight was long and hard and I hope hasn't been lost on the young. Nothing can be taken for granted, else, it's lost. I'm still too dumbfounded by this post to think, clearly.
Lisa Johnson said…
sharlene - Unfortunately it's true. It's someone that I know and I asked if it was for real. The discrimination is disturbing in itself. But what's even worse was that people are not understanding how they are being discriminated against, which allows it to take place in slightly different forms. But not even that different!

This is how we take one step forward and then two steps back. I'm hoping that by at least bringing up the discussion, maybe people will think about what they've experienced and question it. Like you said, I think that the fight is being lost on some. I'm not even sure that age has anything to do with it. The person who this happened to is old enough to know better.

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