Is America truly a melting pot of different cultures?

Everyday, cultural diversity in the United States has been growing and will continue to grow. And so, with growing cultural diversity, the question that remains is: is the fire heating this melting pot warm enough to create a greater understanding of different cultures? Interracial couples and relationships have been on the rise, but even more indicative of changes in society, interracial relationships have become more socially acceptable. Unfortunately, when taking a deeper look into the types of interracial relationships that are forms and the dynamic in these relationships, it seems that a theme of white, male dominance continues to exist.

In fact, this phenomenon of this persisting white, male dominance is proven through increasing rate of interracial relationships. According to Kumiko Nemoto in Interracial Romance: The logic of acceptance and domination, “About 92 percent of all interracial marriages include white partners.” So when we look at this statistic, we can see that interracial marriages aren’t a sign of mixing all cultures. The only two cultures that are mixing are of the white partner’s and of the other minority partner’s. The other 8 percent of interracial marriages includes partners of Hispanics, Asians, and Blacks. Therefore, it is not so common that there is this melting pot of Hispanic and Asian cultures or Black and Hispanic cultures. Instead, we live in a society that is almost like a salad: the lettuce mixes with the other vegetables individually but the other vegetables rarely ever interact. But even more indicative of a lack of cultural diversity in interracial marriages, Nemato argues that there is another factor that plays into the race of the individuals in these relationships. He elaborates that, “The lighter the skin color, the higher the rate of intermarriage with white Americans.” It’s clear that even when there is an attempt for cultural diversity, it’s not fully achieved because people are categorized into certain labels by the color of their skin. People of lighter skin color are more likely to marry other people of lighter skin color despite race. Nemoto especially touches upon the issue of white male/Asian female relationships as he states, “There are various social factors that could explain the high rate of intermarriage between Asian American women and white men.” Nemoto does a great job of illustrating the social acceptance of white male/Asian female interracial relationships, which are of two races that are light in skin color. He provides examples and real dialogues of conversations he has had with white males and Asian females in these interracial relationships. However, a major drawback of Nemoto’s essay is that he mainly elaborates on this relationship dynamic. He hardly mentions the relationship dynamic of white males with races of darker skin color. He highlights the more common interracial relationships but only touches upon the less common interracial relationships.

In more recent news, there has been an incident involving an interracial couple: actress Daniele Watts and raw-foods chef Brian James Lucas. Earlier this week, a witness had called the LAPD police for mistaking Watts’ and Lucas’ making out for prostitution. According to pictures, the two were spotted making out in a car, with Watts on top of Lucas. In this picture, we see an African American female on top of and in control of her hook up with a white male. Because white males are seen as the superior race and gender and black females are not, this change in power was deemed as unacceptable by society. This lack of male authority triggered a misinterpretation of the actions taking place. As Watts refused to comply with the police officer, she fought against the false allegation she was being convicted of. A recording of her conversation with the police officer was posted on multiple celebrity gossip websites. She speaks about the racism she has ha to deal with because she is in an interracial relationship with a white male and refuses to give in to the police officer. After scrolling through the comments on some of these websites, it is apparent that many view Watts’ actions as overdramatic and aggressive, which are common stereotypes that have been given to black females. As Deborah L. Tolman points out in Adolescent girls’ sexuality, racial stereotypes refract sexual narratives of females and black females are viewed as hypersexual. They are stereotyped into this category of “bad girls” and because of this, not even a black actress can publicly kiss her boyfriend without it causing heads to turn.

The United States has its first black president. Oprah Winfrey, an African American talk show host, is one of the most well known female philanthropists in America. Lucy Liu has become an eminent actress in Hollywood movies, starring in Charlie’s Angels and some of Quentin Tarantino’s greatest films. Jennifer Lopez is not only an actress, but also an author, fashion designer, dancer, producer, and singer. So, doesn’t that mean that America is becoming more diverse and accepting of other cultures? Or has interracial relationships shown that there is a dominant/submissive pattern that race places in this country? Despite the trend of white male/Asian female relationship dynamics, will this trend act as a catalyst for greater social acceptance in relationships between other races and genders? Is America truly a melting pot of different cultures? Or is it a salad predominately consisting of white, male dominance?

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