Travis Sky Ingersoll, PH.D., MSW, M.ED. - Social Work & Sexual Health Education/Consulting/Research
My Blog

Racial Preferences in Dating? Part 1

At the university where I work, I am the lead instructor for a course titled "Race Relations."  I've been teaching the course for over 7 years, and it's one of the most impactful classes I teach (both personally and for many of my students). One of the lesson plans I created on was an introspective activity titled "Racial Preferences in Dating?"  With trial-and-error experiences, this activity, using a PowerPoint presentation as a guide and small discussion groups to process, was found best to be introduced beyond the half-way point in any semester. Not only does the later-in-the-semester timing of this activity ensure that the students have had ample time to get to know one another better, it also gives adequate class time to develop a safe learning environment, and to teach students about the various racial identity development models and theories that may help to explain the phenomenon being examined by the activity.

At the time that I introduce my students to this activity, they've already learned about the biological/genetic (un)reality of race, intersectionality, cultural competency versus cultural humility, the multiple dimensions of privilege, critical race theory, Helm's White Racial Identity Model, Chestang's Character Development, Poston's Biracial Identity Development Model, Root's Multiracial/Ethnic Identity Model, and much more. The "Racial Preferences" activity I introduce focuses on one stage of what's been titled the "Majority Identity Development Model." I love to use this model because it's applicable everywhere in the world where there exists any form of ethnic "majority" and "minority" identification status among its people. There are four stages in this model: (1) pre-exposure stage - where little thought has been given to multicultural issues or to one's own role as a majority group member in a racist and oppressive society; (2) exposure stage - where the individual is confronted with the realities of racism and prejudice and is forced to examine their own role as a majority group member; (3) zealot/defensive stage - where people dealing with the cognitive dissonance of the exposure stage tend to initially retreat to one of two extreme reactions: become defensive or become a zealot; and (4) integration stage - where the overly reactive feelings of the zealot/defensive stage subside, making room for a more balanced view to take its place.


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