The Pan-Afrikan Student Union hosted an interracial and intercultural dating and marriage panel on Thursday February 23 to discuss the barriers students face dating outside of their races.
Aubrianna Weatherspoon and Evan Decker, Sol Ras Asanti and Jessie Annabelle, Zebosha Tursunova and Fego Vences-Garcia, Rose Nguyen and James Reed introduced themselves as couples and told the audience where they met and how long each couple had been together.
Panel facilitator Hani Wahab asked the panel guests a few questions before the audience members were able to question the panel. When asked what situations that they had been in that illuminated the fact that they were in an interracial relationship, panel guests discussed obstacles and barriers.
Asanti said she hasn’t had any confrontations, but she has had experience with others thinking she is hypocritical. “Everyone who knows me knows that I am pro-black.” Asanti went further to explain that there was a period in her life where she was fully committed to only dating black people: “I wasn’t going to even sit next to a white person so nobody would think there is anything going on.”
When she met her partner, Annabelle, she realized that they had the same views. “Jess understands privilege and we can have those conversations about privilege and understanding,” said Asanti.
Annabelle said she has the same political views as her partner “Fewer white people in positions of power in business and politics would be really healthy for this country.”
Turnosova and Vences-Garcia said the barrier in their relationship was religion and language. Vences-Garcia said his mother only speaks Spanish and it is difficult for Turnosnova to communicate with his mother. Tursunova, who practices Islam, said her mother wanted her to date a Muslim man.
Another barrier Vences-Garcia saw was culinary. “Muslims don’t eat pork, but Mexicans love pork.” Tursunova said she would try to eat the food, but expressed to her mother the trouble she was having. “When I told my mother about this she said, these people made this food for you out of love. Why would you turn it away?”
Ngyuen said she and her partner, Reed, face stereotypes, especially about African-Americans and especially from strangers. “I can remember being in the mall and getting mean looks from women when I am with him.”
Ngyuen said she has an advantage by being in an interracial relationship: “Interracial couples have the privilege of not seeing race. I don’t see race. I see him as an individual and as a person.”
Weatherspoon said she always found herself in an interracial relationship, and expressed that the difficulty of being in an interracial relationship is seeing race and being aware of it. “I have to be aware because of the mistreatment and the looks. Evan has to be aware of his white privilege, otherwise it will be hard for us to be together and he gets it.”
Asanti said that people assume her and Annabelle are just friends because they don’t resemble the “typical” homosexual couple. “People think that [we are] home girls because we are both feminine,” said Asanti. “It doesn’t look like a homosexual couple because it is not portraying a heterosexual couple.”