Thursday, March 20, 2008

'Interracial Relationships': A Discussion at U of M Dearborn

Dearborn, Mich. -- How would other people perceive black men dating white women? How would other people perceive interracial relationship? Those are the first of several questions that were thought of at a panel discussion inside the Kochoff Hall at the University Center (UC) at University of Michigan-Dearborn on Friday. “Conservation of Race” continues on campus with “Interracial Relationships”.

The students’ thoughts and opinions on this sensitive issue before the discussion was that interracial relationships “should be treated no less than relationships of the same race”. But some stated that information about interracial relationship isn’t “very informed” and people should know more about it, while others agreed that dating someone of a different race is “difficult” due to the reactions of both society and family.

According to research, interracial marriages have gone from less than 1% of U.S. marriages in 1970 to nearly 6% in the 2000 U.S. Census Bureau, which also stated that almost seven million – 2.4% -- of Americans describe themselves as multiracial. Interface magazine stated that Washington, D.C. and Denver, CO are two of the top five cities in America that interracial couples can live in.
UM-Dearborn students received the opportunity to participate in the panel discussion in asking several people such as their fellow classmates, alumni, and professors such as Marie Waung on their experiences being bi-racial. For instance, Terry, who’s from Ohio, has a white mother who dated a black man that hated all white people – despite the fact Terry is both black and white.
In between the panel was a seven-minute film from You Tube produced and directed by Jerry A. Henry and Andrea J. Chia. The film, Something Other Than Other, is about their own trials with discrimination when growing up. For example, when the couple was applying for Social Security, there was one box: what was their color? Were they black, white, both, or other? In the end, they define themselves as multi-racial, like their newborn son Quinn, whom they don’t want to see being suffered like they’ve suffered due to racism. When Quinn grows up, Andrea states, hopefully he’ll be strong, confident, beautiful, and not worried about racial identity.

Unlike maybe little Quinn, five-year-old son Benjamin Dewberry is probably thinking about his own racial identity. Like his father, Ben thinks of himself of black, his mother Rebecca said. Whenever we see black people, the UM-D 2000 graduate continues, Ben said that “black people are cool”. A devout Baptist Christian, she was raised by the belief that interracial relationships were a sin, but there was nothing in The Bible that supports it – though there have been interracial marriages of biblical characters that went on for centuries.

The UM-D students’ perspectives on interracial relationships includes that though they’re “challenging”, stereotypes needs to be broken down, and the world must resolve “the racial side and concentrate on the relationships, family, and children”. People who are multicultural, according to Prof. Waung, tend to adept very quickly. There are two questions that ponder those that are bi-racial: why did my parents have to be from two different worlds? Why did I have to be born this way?

Facing oppositions when it comes to interracial relationships involves three things, according to Terry, and they are self-esteem, confidence, and support from parents. “To understand racism”, said the Eastern Michigan University student, “it meets with people like us.”

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