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Consider these statistics from the Pew Research Center Report, “Marrying Out”: The rates of interracial marriages among newlyweds more than doubled between 1980 (6.7%) and 2008 (14.6%) in the United States. 9% of whites, 16% of blacks, 26% of Hispanics and 31% of Asians married someone of a different race or ethnicity. Intermarriages comprised 11% of newlywed couples in North Carolina compared to 22% in California, and 18% in Texas.

I grew up in Kalamazoo, MI (home of Derek Jeter, who happens to be biracial) and graduated from high school in Greenville, NC. It was common for teenagers to date across racial lines in Kalamazoo, so when I moved to Eastern North Carolina I found it strange that it was only appropriate for me to date African-American females.

While all of my serious relationships have been with black women, during those extended periods of singlehood I resented the unnecessary racial barriers that restricted my dating options. As Carolina’s urban center, Charlotte has come a long way since I started as a Freshman at UNC-Charlotte in 1993. But, interracial dating is still relatively taboo for a city that has some very progressive initiatives when it comes to race-relations.

The election of our second Democratic African-American Mayor and the winning campaign to host the Democratic National Convention is evidence of a strong liberal streak in the Queen City. The number of cross-racial relationships, however, is the ultimate litmus test of our racial progress. I am currently producing a reality-style documentary film to shine a spotlight on that very issue.

Southern Blend: A Dating Experiment will explore what happens when people date outside their racial or ethnic tribe for the first time. If we can become a place where color is not a factor in who we choose to love, than maybe it will become easier to create a public school system that provides a quality education for all of our children and an economy that generates prosperity for all of our citizens, regardless of race. At least that’s my hope.

Rod Garvin writes about politics, culture, faith and entrepreneurship. He is currently producing a reality-style documentary called Southern Blend: A Dating Experiment. You can follow him on Twitter @rodgarvin.