Justice

Teen's Father Goes on Racist Text Message Tirade After She Goes to Prom With Black Guy

Ideally, the prom offers a chance for teenagers to let loose and celebrate the end of their high school year.

But for some, the tradition functions as a dramatic event where your choice of partner can reveal a generational divide.

Arkansas high schooler Anna Hayes learned this over the weekend after she was the subject of a racist text rampage from her father.

According to BuzzFeed News, Hayes went to prom her friend Phillip Freeman, who is black. The two had a great time and posted photos of their prom night to Facebook.

When Hayes’ father saw the photos, he proceeded to go on a racist tirade aimed at his daughter, effectively disowning her for associating a person of color.

A text message conversation between Anna Hayes and her father, who expressed racism toward her prom date.

"This just hurt more because I cannot believe how anyone can hate someone they don't even know because of their skin color," Hayes explained to Buzzfeed News. Hayes also noted that this matter was further complicated by the fact that her half sister is biracial.

Hayes noted that her father had expressed racist views before, but it took this incident for her to realize how awful his thoughts on race really were.

Hayes’ experience illustrates the struggles that interracial couples have historically faced.

Currently, interracial marriages are at an all time high, accounting for 12% of newlywed couples according to Pew Research Center. These findings also reflect that that young people—particularly those under thirty—have more positive views of interracial relationships.

Comparing time periods clearly illustrates the difference: in 1958, only 4% of Americans approved of marriage between persons who were black and white. In 2013, this number had reached 87%.

Of course, this doesn't mean that racial bias is totally disappearing, 

While these findings are heartening, especially when juxtaposed with the virulent racism of Hayes' father, it doesn't mean that these prejudices have disappeared completely. Even from people who say they support interracial relationships. 

In 2016, researchers from the University of Washington published a study published in the “Journal of Experimental Social Psychology” that found that some young people who said they supported interracial relationships in a survey actually registered feelings of disgust when shown images of mixed-race couples. Two studies conducted previously by the same researchers also found similar results.

Such studies explain why the racial divide—from wages to education to treatment by the police—persists despite changing attitudes towards interracial relationships. So while Hayes' prom experience may thankfully become a rarity as views on interracial couples continue to evolve, the lingering biases revealed in the University of Washington study illuminates how much work still remains.