Are Interracial Relationships Still Considered Taboo?

Interracial relationships have a complex history in the South Asian diaspora. But due to progressive attitudes, does this taboo still exist?

Are Interracial Relationships Still Considered Taboo

"Our Indian values and traditions are dying out"

Interracial relationships have been a topic of constant debate and controversy in the South Asian community, affecting many generations.

However, in certain communities, these relationships are frowned upon.

They’re with extreme consequences like being ostracised from the community or disowned completely.

For instance, some individuals in the South Asian community still regard these relationships as extremely taboo. But why and has this view changed over time?

DESIblitz speaks to individuals in the South Asian community and finds out whether they still consider interracial relationships to be taboo.

Historical Perception

Are Interracial Relationships Still Considered Taboo

Interracial relationships have been a debated and controversial topic throughout history.

The issue has been involved across political and social discussions as governments have criminalised these unions with harsh laws in the past and communities have shunned individuals.

There have been various levels of acceptance and rejection in different spheres of society regarding these relationships.

In ancient times, interracial relationships were often viewed as a way to create political alliances and expand empires through conquest.

In many cases, these relationships were even celebrated and glorified in art and literature, such as in the ancient Greek myth of Zeus and Leda and in romanticised stories of the Mongol Empire.

However, this ancient viewpoint had taken a much darker path when it came to interracial relationships following European colonisation.

Many interracial relationships were then seen as a threat to the purity of the white race.

In places like the USA, there were racist laws that prevented and outlawed these relationships, especially during the slavery and Civil War eras.

For example, anti-miscegenation laws were put into place around the late 1600s which enforced racial segregation at marital and intimate levels between different races.

This essentially meant it was against the law to marry or enter an intimate or romantic relationship with individuals outside of your race.

Despite the harsh laws many interracial relationships continued in secret and in defiance of the laws, showing that love could prevail over racism.

Thus, with an already wrought political standpoint on interracial relationships, its no doubt that the social viewpoint would be clouded in controversy.

And, the South Asian diaspora is no stranger to this dispute.

Taboo in the South Asian Community

Are Interracial Relationships Still Considered Taboo

In the South Asian community, despite the vast number of individuals and cultures, there still exists a stigma towards the concept of dating outside one’s race or background.

Much of this stigma is rooted in an emphasis to uphold traditions and values.

Many of the elder members of the South Asian community believe it is important to maintain culture and reputation in the community.

For instance, 45-year-old, financial advisor, Samir Patel* explains why he wants his daughters to marry into a traditional Indian family:

“I believe that our Indian values and traditions are dying out, that’s why I think it’s important that my daughters marry into a family that still upholds these values in order to preserve our culture.”

Whilst people like Samir hold strong beliefs that same-race relationships are a way to preserve heritage, not every member of the South Asian community shares the same opinion.

Speaking to 23-year-old Priya Kaur*, who has dated individuals outside of her race, she says:

“I’m tired of the backward notion that I should only date within my own race.”

“I think it’s an old-fashioned mentality that only exists as a way for members of the community to justify their own prejudices towards different races and communities.”

The sentiment expressed by Priya is one felt by many other young members of the South Asian community.

Although, not everyone is afforded the same freedoms Priya might have when it comes to dating outside of the community.

22-year-old university student Shanti Lad* expresses:

“As someone from a very traditional Indian family who has very old-fashioned values, dating someone outside my race would not be something that would go down well even if it’s something I want.”

It’s clear that there are young South Asians like Priya who agree that the taboo of interracial dating in the South Asian community is a backward notion.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the same freedom to break the confines of this stigma, especially where tradition is involved.

The intersection between taboo and tradition makes it impossible for some individuals to break toxic cycles within the South Asian community.

Many people will never get to experience freely loving or dating someone outside their own race due to the strict rules some families placed upon their children.

Where does this Taboo Come From?

Are Interracial Relationships Still Considered Taboo

It’s known that interracial dating is taboo in the South Asian community. But, members inside and outside of the community may not fully understand where this taboo comes from.

Thus, it is important to understand where, why and how these misconceptions and restrictions have developed.

Reasons that may contribute to the taboo in the South Asian community include historical contexts like cultural differences, stereotypes and prejudices towards other races and communities.

There has especially been a long-standing prejudice in the South Asian community towards black communities.

This has created anti-black stereotypes that lead to negative attitudes surrounding relations between South Asians and black individuals.

38-year-old Mansi Patel*, who has been married to her Nigerian husband for 5 years, said:

“When I first got married, me and my husband received a lot of backlashes.”

“There were a lot of comments from friends and family that were really racist towards my husband made me see how deep the anti-blackness in the South Asian community was.

“People have definitely accepted our marriage now and I should hope so.

“But I definitely think the stigma towards colourism and black people in the community needs to change and that love shouldn’t be limited to race.”

Ultimately, whilst these stereotypes exist, a lot more South Asians growing up are venturing out to other races.

In a progressive society, certain narratives are changing around being with someone outside your race.

Cultural Indifferences

Are Interracial Relationships Still Considered Taboo

There is also a common fear that interracial dating may lead to a culture clash in the South Asian community.

Some people are afraid that parties will misunderstand each other and in turn cause these individuals to break away from their culture or dilute it.

However, this is a widely propagated misconception and does not necessarily occur in all interracial relationships.

If anything, most individuals have experienced interracial relationships as a merging of two cultures and an exchange of knowledge from these cultures.

Speaking to 25-year-old Samiya Lad* who has been in a relationship for three years and is now planning on getting married to her partner she said:

“The past three years have been nothing less than a loving and informative experience.

“Each day I get to learn new things about my partner’s Vietnamese culture whilst they get to learn more about my Indian culture.

“If anything, we have enriched and immersed ourselves in each other’s cultures rather than dilute them!”

Despite the taboo in the South Asian community, it is clear that many individuals believe that this taboo against interracial relationships shouldn’t stand in the way of love.

The stigma against interracial relationships is clearly deeply rooted in untrue stereotypes, misconceptions, and an emphasis on preserving culture.

Individuals should be free to love each other regardless of race, caste, or cultural background.

Whilst the taboos clearly still exist, there is also a consensus of defiance against them.

There are increasingly progressive attitudes amongst younger generations and levels of acceptance across pockets of the South Asian community.

The move towards increased progressive attitudes lends hope that the taboo surrounding interracial relationships in the South Asian community will cease to exist.

Tiyanna is an English Language and Literature student with a passion for travel and literature. Her motto is ‘My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive;’ by Maya Angelou.

Images courtesy of Instagram & Freepik.

*Names have been changed for anonymity.

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