Interracial relationships are a lightning rod, a touchstone eliciting strong reactions from people from all walks of life and personal history, including psychologists, couple and family therapists, social workers, and counselors. Yes, even helping professionals who espouse a strong commitment to sociopolitical change sometimes demonstrate surprisingly negative views when the topic turns to interracial couples. Being married to a person of a different race, culture, or faith, and moving through public space with that person, is a status that carries social and political implications for both partners. My hope is that through continuing training and education, we can increase the probability that couples will receive quality services from helping professionals, should they choose to enter therapy or counselling.
In a sense, interracial couples live on racial borderlines; their narratives as individuals, and as a couple, with friends, family and the larger communities of which they are a part, speak to the status of race relations and how society reacts and responds to interracial relationships. Through in-depth interviews, my research provides an indication of the degree to which interracial couples are viewed by their communities and society as viable and acceptable, and also the degree to which partners in interracial relationships view and treat one another. By examining couples’ narratives, we are afforded an opportunity to see not only how partners perceive their lives together, but how these relationships undergo processes of racialization, that is, how interracial relationships are given meaning within the context of U.S. society (Sexton 2002). So, while the significant increase in interracial relationships in the past 10 years does not mean we have entered a post-racial era, we can get a general sense of how we are doing in regards to race relations by having open conversations with partners about familial and public reactions to their couplehood, and the arrival of their multiracial children.