A look at interracial dating: Part two of a two-part series

Amanda Anastasia Paniagua

Criticism of interracial relationships can and does come from both black and white opposition, as well as every shade in between.

While colorism upholds the standard of fair/lighter skin as more desirable than darker skin, the actual race of one’s skin color can be found more appealing than another, as well.

Whether we want to admit it or not, these color complexes can infiltrate our way of thinking about potential partners and cause opposition.

Katie Leyton, a global public health major, and Emmanuel Kalala, a business management major, are both sophomores who have been in an interracial relationship together for more than a year.

“Being a part of an African culture like mine,” Kalala said, “interracial dating has always come with some sort of opposition, whether that be from other individuals in the culture or the family to which it pertains.”

The couple said they have faced opposition to their relationship, especially in its early stages.

“I feel the hardest obstacle we’ve had to overcome as a couple is proving ourselves to people,” Leyton said. “A lot of people did not take us seriously as a couple and that was hard. I heard people saying that I was just dating him to rebel or date him for attention. That hurt more than any looks or snickers I received because I could never imagine dating someone for those reasons.”

Kalala and Leyton agreed that it is saddening to think that interracial couples face opposition in modern society and that we should choose our partners based on individual compatibility and not the shade of their skin.

“Most other interracial relationships get opposition because of ‘old school’ ways of thinking that each race should date or marry within their own race and that anything other than doing so is immoral,” Kalala said.

The couple said that the love and support toward their relationship from their friends and family makes them lucky to have been welcomed into each other’s homes with open arms.

“If two individuals choose to be with one another, it should not be based on what color or cultural background they come from,” Kalala said. “It should be about how they are as individuals.”

Alternatively, Ashlyne Wilson, a senior news major, explained how her father’s preference for white women has affected her own outlook on dating.

“He used to lie and tell people he was mixed,” she said. “All of his children, except me, are biracial, and he treats me the worst because I am the darkest, I am ‘the black one.’”

“Colorism is something that is taught,” said Jazmine Woods, a senior communication studies major.

When asked if she thought the media had any influence on how colorism/racism affects our lives, without hesitation, Woods responded, “I think media is, literally, the driving factor.”

Both Woods and Wilson agreed that when the media does feature black women, it is often one of lighter complexion.

“So with the media, a lot of girls feel self-conscious because they don’t see themselves on TV,” Wilson said. “You see Halle Berry, Beyonce and Rihanna…You don’t see yourself.”

The two agreed that the rise of dark-featured celebrities like Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong’o are a refreshing change but fear that the affinity for these women will fade or be a fad in Hollywood.

The opposition to interracial dating can be rooted in any number of equally complex issues like racism or colorism, but this does not mean that we should not talk about them or try to understand perspectives as best as possible.

In the age of millennial openness, this may be the last great battle in eradicating racial bias in all of our relationships — romantic or otherwise.

Let’s fight together.

Contact Amanda Anastasia Paniagua at [email protected].