interracial tolerance among the young

My organization is cited in this story in USA Today: Sharon Jayson, “New generation doesn’t blink at interracial relationships”:

Ryan Knapick and Josh Baker have been best friends since fifth grade. Colette Gregory entered the picture in high school. She and Josh are dating now. Knapick is white, Gregory is black and Baker is half-Hispanic. To them, race doesn’t matter. …

He and his friends are among an estimated 46.3 million Americans ages 14 to 24 ? the older segment of the most diverse generation in American society. (Most demographers say this “Millennial” generation began in the early 1980s, after Generation X.) These young people have friends of different races and also may date someone of another race.

This age group is more tolerant and open-minded than previous generations, according to an analysis of studies released last year by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, part of the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. The center focuses on ages 15 to 25.

While the youngest generation is the most tolerant on record–and that’s a fact worth celebrating–our research showed a gap between attitudes and behaviors. For example, only 4% of young Americans (age 18-25) say that they favor segregated neighborhoods. That’s down from about 25% in the 1970s and it’s lower than the rate among people over age 25. This change is almost entirely attributable to the arrival of new generations: individuals do not seem to change much over their lifetimes. (Source: General Social Survey.)

Nevertheless, more than half of young churchgoers say that their congregations have members of only one race–the same rate as among older people, and not much different since 1975 (GSS). In the Social Capital Benchmark Survey (2002), 66% of young White people who belonged to participatory groups said that all the other members were also White. This rate was not much different for older Whites. In the same survey, just 20% of young people claimed that they had invited a friend of another race to their house–better than the 6% rate among adults over age 56, but still not so common.

Will tolerant answers to survey questions translate into real social change if people remain quite segregated in their daily lives?

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  • Aubrie

    I think that for most college students this is true. I am a black female and I am currently dating a while male. Even though we are different races, we grew up in a culturally similar environment. All of our friends are very tolerant to interracial dating, and have no problem with it. Luckily, both our families are accepting and have no problem with it. Even though we had a little difficulty with me parents accepting our relationship at first, now that my parents have gotten to know him better they are happy we are in a relationship together.