This article ran in the print edition of the Atlanta Journal Constitution on Sunday October 18, 2009, but it didn't run online at ajc.com, or I'd post the link for you. I'm posting the text of the article below with the writer's blessing. Discuss!
Eager hearts, open minds
Service links those who accept diversity in the search for love.
Racial barriers falling, but not easily for most.
Mauricio Solano has distinct tastes when it comes to the women he dates.
You could even call him picky. His dream girl is outdoorsy, cares about
her appearance, but isn't "too skinny."
He won't date smokers, and cussing is a big turnoff.
But when it comes race, often a barrier in romance, he said his mind is
"Doesn't matter, " the 44-year-old Colombian native said in a
matter-of-fact tone, revealing a very slight accent.
Recently, Solano joined Color Blind International, an Atlanta-based dating
service built on the premise that racial diversity should be embraced and
never get in the way of true love.
Solano --- a well-educated, divorced civil engineer --- said during a
screening interview that he dated women from various ethnic backgrounds
while in college.
With clipboard in hand, Color Blind co-founder Mingnon "Ming" Gregory, cut
to the chase and asked him: Are you interested in white women or all
"All races, " he said.
While many online dating services match people of different races, Color
Blind International appears to be Atlanta's first dating service (outside
of online dating) aimed at interracial dating.
Gregory, an African-American woman with model-good looks, said the idea
for the business stems from her own experience. For a couple of years, her
quest for Mr. Right was going nowhere, even after joining dating sites and
a dating service.
Then one day, Gregory, an image consultant, had an epiphany and confided
in her friend John Evans, whom she later joined forces with to start the
"I remember telling John one day, 'I might open myself up to other races,
' " she said. "And he said, 'Good idea.' ... I remember thinking, there
are a lot of good guys out there; why am I limiting myself?"
More than 60 members pay from $1,700 to $3,000 for the dating service,
which includes matchmaking, background checks and image consulting. It
also provides life coaches who give members tips on how to handle their
relatives' reactions to their interracial romance.
Dating interracially has long been sensitive, even taboo. It was just 42
years ago that the Supreme Court, in a landmark ruling, legalized
interracial marriages. And, for many years, black men were subjected to
violence for simply looking at a white woman the "wrong way."
Attitudes have changed over time. And there may be signs that a growing
number of singles are crossing racial lines for love.
Match.com, one of the biggest online dating sites with more than 9 million
members, said more than 90 percent of current members say (in their
profiles) they are open to dating outside their race. In Atlanta, the
percentage is 91 percent, up 9 percent from 2006.
Tony Brown, sociology professor at Vanderbilt University, said online
dating patterns are not likely representative of the general population.
He said singles online are usually younger, live in urban settings and are
more educated --- all of which makes them more likely to date someone of
another race. He also thinks many singles may revel in the idea of an
interracial romance, but have no intention of marrying outside their race.
Even for singles who fall in love and want to marry someone of another
race, it's not always an easy proposition, Brown said.
"Oftentimes, these relationships get shot down when one person brings that
special person home to family. There's like this 'relationship bubble' and
that gets burst at Thanksgiving dinner, " said Brown.
Census figures show just 5 percent of marriages in Atlanta and nationwide
are interracial unions. Interestingly, the percentage of unmarried
interracial couples living in Atlanta is 10 percent, according to the
Census Bureau's 2007 American Community Survey.
Still, as singles marry at an older age and have more experience with
people of different races, there's more opportunity for people to date
outside their race.
And for some, it's a numbers game. Some African-American professional
women, for example, say it's difficult to find a black man with their same
level of education. It plays out at college campuses, where an average of
65 percent of black students enrolled in college are women, according to
the U.S. Department of Education. At some colleges, Brown said, women
represent 75 percent of the black students.
All in all, Brown said, the vast majority of Americans don't explore
romances with people of different races.
"We live very homogenous lives. We surround ourselves with people who look
like us, think like us, believe what we believe. And when it comes to
romance, it's very unusual for us to deviate from that pattern."
But Michael Rosenfeld, a Stanford University sociology professor who
studies interracial marriage trends, sees many more opportunities for
interracial dating, particularly in the online dating world, which brings
together singles of various ethnic backgrounds.
Rosenfeld believes race continues to be a major fault line in America but
thinks it's becoming less relevant.
"It's much less of an issue than it used to be, " he said. "Old racial
divisions are slowly dying away."
'Shut Up and Love'
Ivy Le, a 26-year-old Vietnamese American, explores her intercultural
relationship with her German-born boyfriend in her blog, called "Shut Up
She talks openly in her blog about cultural differences. Le said she and
her boyfriend have argued for more than a year about moving in together.
In Germany, it's common for people to live under the same roof before
marriage. But in her culture, that's not the case. Couples don't live
together until they are married. In fact, single adults often live with
their parents until the wedding. In the end, Le and her boyfriend
compromised: They decided to live together after they get engaged.
"Of course, it's easier if I came home with a good Vietnamese, Buddhist
boy. If I brought a boy like that home, we would be on easy street to
marriage, " said Le who lives in Athens. "But love, while wonderful and it
does have all of these promises, easy is not one of them."
Keeping options open
Pretty and personable, Jeanette Phillips has a good job in finance. She
seems to have it all. But lately, the 46-year-old African-American has
been grumbling to her girlfriends about how impossible it seems to find
Mr. Right in this town. As she has gotten older, she said, she has become
more open to dating men of other races.
She stopped by Color Blind International's posh 15th floor suite in
Buckhead recently to talk about her recent dates.
"I like that that element has already been removed and you can be relaxed
in that regard, " she said. So far, she has gone on three dates. Three
different white men. They've been nice, but she likely will continue to
keep her options open.
Meanwhile, Hazel Brito, a 32-year-old Hispanic woman, has gone on three
dates, all with the same guy, who is white. She said she found instant
chemistry over bites of tiramisu at Intermezzo and steaks at The Strip.
"He makes me laugh. His family is important to him, " she said.
So what would her parents say about her dating someone of a different
"My parents would be totally fine with it. My parents just want me to be
happy, " said Brito, who works for a pharmaceutical company.
And happy in love is what she wants, too.
"The tall, handsome guy is always nice --- in whatever race that happens
to fall into it, " she said.
Saying 'I do' to diversity
Chance that a person in the Atlanta five-county metro area will marry
someone of a different race:
White men: 1 in 25 (4 pct.)
White women: 1 in 50 (2 pct.)
Black men: 1 in 20 (5 pct.)
Black women: 1 in 25 (4 pct.)
Asian men: 3 in 50 (6 pct.)
Asian women: 4 in 25 (16 pct.)
Source: AJC analysis of marriage statistics, based on U.S. Census Bureau's
American Community Survey
Database reporter John Perry contributed to this article.