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

Amanda Anastasia Paniagua

Katie Leyton, a global public health major, and Emmanuel Kalala, a business management major, are both sophomores at Kent State who have been dating for a year. I asked them if, during the course of their relationship, they have faced any opposition.

 “The only opposition I’ve personally experienced is when I am with Emmanuel and other girls will give me looks — usually black girls on campus,” Leyton said. “I feel like they get mad when they see a white girl dating a black male.”

Emmanuel added, “Being a part of an African culture like mine, 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.”

In a post-segregated society, the idea of opposing an interracial relationship is thought, by most, to be rooted in racism in the sense that white supremacy historically forbade the mixing of races.

However, it would seem that the perceived opposition today, at least from Leyton and Kalala’s experience, is coming from the community that was historically closed off from the possibility of such relationships to begin with.

While one may be tempted to make a false equivalency and say a black person opposing, or at the very least, having a less than positive opinion of, an interracial relationship is reverse-racism, I want to caution my readers from making such a quick conclusion.

Even if an African-American did oppose or have an unfavorable opinion of an interracial relationship I have not seen, to the best of my knowledge, an example in U.S. history in which a black society enacted and enforced a large-scale system that banned such relationships like we saw during slavery, Jim Crow and the segregation era.

For example, when I spoke to Ashlyne Wilson, a senior magazine journalism major, she offered me the historical context for her own thoughts on interracial dating.

“For so long, we couldn’t be with them, or we were taken by white men,” Wilson said. “And now it’s a time where we can be loved by our black men, and they don’t want us anymore. The interracial thing is, it is, almost a slap in the face to black women.”

Even though I’m Latina, I “pass” for white, which means that unless someone gets to know me and my ethnic background, they will assume I am white. So, when my boyfriend and I move in and out of public spaces, to the casual observer it would appear as though a black man is with a white woman.

Being in this kind of relationship myself, I too, am familiar with those stares that Leyton referred to earlier, and I notice them from both white and black people.

However, in my own experiences identifying as part of a marginalized community and actively combating racism, I have come to understand that the reason a black person stares may be for a fundamentally different reason, given the racial dynamics of American history, than a white person’s reason.

Those distinctions are very important to keep in mind before we decide why a person stares. After all, short of walking up and asking someone why they are staring at you, any reason you assign them is speculative at best and problematic at worst.

I thought Kalala’s candid observation said it best: “It is saddening to know that many other couples still face this, and this is still going on in modern society. If two individuals choose to be with one another, it should not be based on what color or cultural background they come from; it should be about how they are as individuals.”

Contact Amanda Anastasia Paniagua at [email protected].