By: Jocelyn Salala
Walk around any college campus, and you will very likely notice a few interracial couples. Interracial couples may easily find bonds with one another, but as outsiders, do we really know what it’s like to be in an interracial relationship? Can we easily accept the fact that a white person and a black person are in a romantic relationship with one another, or that an Asian finds a black person attractive, and vise versa?
Typically, you will get one of these varying responses to the questions above: “Seems like all the other races are taking all of our good men” or, “It’s good to see two different races together because we are equal”.
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Most people say we are equal because it’s simply the right thing to believe, whereas others may not believe we are equal because of the underlying idea of a “dominant” race. But why should all these negative connotations of race affect our individual lives? It is simple — because they surround us every day.
I went around a typical campus — Syracuse University, to be exact — and interviewed three people in interracial relationships, all from different races. I asked them about their points of view on interracial relationships, and how their families and society regard them because of their interracial relationships.
From the outside, Syracuse University would be considered a diverse environment. There is a very large international student body and with a wide range of students from different religions and ethnic backgrounds. Each person has his or her own view on relationships, and some may be influenced by religion or by the social image.
During my research, I spoke to a young lady from an Indian background. Her family is Hindu and strongly believes in tradition. In the Indian culture, it is common for arranged marriages to take place. If the bride-to-be cannot find a man that is suitable to her parent’s standards, she is set up with a man of their choice. Typically, the man is usually a family friend who comes from a similar household.
Although she is young, beautiful, and a first generation American, this particular Indian woman had a hard time finding a “suitable” man to bring home to her family. Here’s the catch; she’s attracted to black men, but unfortunately, she has to keep that to herself.
On her experiences she noted:
“Growing up in the Bronx, it was rare for me to see other Indians. I went to a school and lived in a neighborhood that had a majority of Latinos and African Americans. I found myself prone to be more attracted to those races rather than my own. Speaking up and telling my family is something I would never do. My father has strong beliefs and being shunned from my family may become a result if I ever decided to be in a serious interracial relationship. Personally, when I am out with a man of another race, I feel comfortable and color isn’t an issue, but as for society, they look at me in a completely different way. When people see me, they know I am Indian and they know about the strong tradition of arranged marriages and or same-race relations. People have come up to me saying, ‘Well, are you supposed to be talking to him as he is of a different race?’ And even though comments like that bother me, I have to accept it.”
Another student also gave me his view on this controversial issue:
“I have been dating my girlfriend for about a year now and I can honestly say we are happy together. She is a Korean woman and I am from the Dominican Republic. We first met during our freshman year at college and we lived in the same dorm. She was one of my best friends and we thought it would always stay that way. In due time, I realized that she meant more to me than just another female friend. As our relationship started to progress, she warned me that her culture typically doesn’t accept interracial relationships. That was one battle I was ready to fight. I was brought up to believe that you shouldn’t judge anyone, no matter his or her race, ethnicity or religion. Being so, telling my mother that my new girlfriend is Korean wasn’t going to be a problem for me. She was very accepting and loved her like she was her own daughter. As for my girlfriend’s family, she had a very hard time telling her mother about us. I was able to be patient because I understood that this was something different for her culture. Her mother didn’t say much once she found out, but she wasn’t very happy either. My girlfriend still hasn’t told her grandparents, but that doesn’t upset me. What upsets me is that sometimes, I feel uncomfortable when I am around Asians. I feel that they stare at me as if something is wrong; whereas when I am around other races I don’t feel the awkward tension.”
The third account on a white woman’s experience in interracial relationships reinforces the fact that there is still quite a bit of work to be done in the area of interracial relations:
“I grew up in a small town in Kentucky. Living in the south, I was able to witness the large racial gap between African Americans and Caucasians, but that never stopped my head from turning when I saw an African American man. Some people may think it was rebellion, but I don’t think so. You can help who you are attracted to. I am a 20-year-old woman and I have never dated a Caucasian man. This was something that wasn’t purposely done, but it just happened that way. Being in an interracial relationship — especially with an African American man — wasn’t easy at all. I have been called every name in the book, but that still has never stopped me. I am lucky enough to have a father who supports me and has never judged us. Once, he asked me if I only liked black men, but that isn’t the case. Living in the south, it is really hard to move forward when everyone surrounding me is pulling me backwards. White men wouldn’t dare to look at me just because my ex is black. School teachers would point me out in a group of other couples and tell my boyfriend and me that we had to leave. I think one of the most hurtful things is to see your own race turn against you. However, I am not saying other races were nice as well. Black women feel that I am stealing their men and I don’t understand why! I believe I am just a young lady who was raised by a strong man and I would love to find that man in my life whether he is black, white or purple.”
We should take note of stories like these. It is insightful to hear personal experiences: to discover how people who are involved in interracial relationships feel. People are still not accepted in society, simply for who they are, or because of the color of their skin or their background.
Today, our generation is moving fast and our parents, grandparents and ancestors before them will possibly never be able to keep up to our pace. Interracial relationships make it evident that change and possibility are alive. Through interracial relationships, we find love and happiness and more beautiful generations of children to follow. I believe that the most beautiful gift God gave earth is the diversity. I can only imagine how boring it would be if human beings were all from the same culture, creed, and race. Diversity should be a blessing, not a curse, and we must celebrate our unique differences. When it all comes down to it, we all have one thing in common, and that is the color of the blood that flows in our system: Red!
So if I am Tanzanian, let me date that half-Dominican half-Japanese man living in South Africa, and when I introduce him to you, please simply accept us!