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Support for interracial couples has increased over 40 percent between now and the mid-90s, according to a 2013 Gallup poll.

Credit: Freda Zhao

Outside the normal pressures of relationships, students in interracial couples perceive additional challenges.

Between now and the mid-90s, support for interracial couples has increased over 40 percent according to a 2013 Gallup poll. At Penn, some interracial couples say that others seem not to notice their mixed relationships.

“I think people are generally understanding of my relationship,” College sophomore Sydney Morris said. “I’m seeing more and more interracial couples at Penn. It’s pretty normal now.”

Even so, Wharton junior Taylor Brown feels she still gets judged from time to time for being a Latina and black woman dating an Asian and white man.

“I think there is less of a stigma now than there was some years ago, but you still get those stares on the street,” Brown said.

Morris, who is black and whose boyfriend is white, feels societal pressure to date others within her own race, but has not felt this pressure from those close to her.

Students in interracial relationships interviewed said that much of the pressure comes from within their relationships themselves.

“Sometimes things about race do come up,” Morris said. “It’s not like we don’t talk about it, and sometimes I get frustrated.” Due to their differing experiences, she said, her boyfriend can’t always understand the issues she has faced as a black woman, though he tries.

This can be true for non-heterosexual relationships as well.

One black freshman, who preferred to remain anonymous as she has not made her sexuality public, found that sometimes race could be a frustrating issue in her relationship with her girlfriend who is Middle Eastern and light-skinned.

“I think it bothered me sometimes that she didn’t have to deal with race if she didn’t want to,” she said.

But like Morris’ boyfriend, this couple tries to understand each other’s backgrounds.

“She wanted to understand, and there was always that knowledge that it was a choice for her to be an ally,” the freshman added.

Both she and Morris feel that their partners’ attempts to understand what they go through are important to making the relationships work.

For the most part, these students wish there was even less focus on the race of the person they are with.

“I’m not dating this guy to make a point. I don’t get why there has to be approval from people,” Brown said.

“I date him because he’s him,” Morris said.

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