14 -- The Michigan Daily - Friday, November 1, 1996
. .. ...
1. " .1 .
1 1 r
Interracial dating sometimes
difficult, but still rewarding
By Alice Robinson U Daily Staff Reporter
ichael Jones' grandmother had an unusual
reaction to his new girlfriend Kandice.
"As soon as she found out about it she got really quiet
and stomped off for a while," Jones said.
Adriana Rendon was living with her grandparents
when they found out about her current flame.
"They threatened to kick me out of the house,"
Kristin Lehman's parents chose a more subtle
"They didn't want to directly come out and say it,"
Lehman said. "I could tell my mom didn't want to say,
'Kristin, you can't date this person."'
Their parents and grandparents were miffed because
these students chose to date some-
one of a different race.
Jones said his grandmother It'sb
eventually stopped pouting. The
Engineering senior is white and lust pe
his girlfriend is black. He said A
there are "no on-going problems if you Cli
with either family right now "
Lehman. an Engineering anot er
senor, said her relationship
ended, even though she disagreed theirski
with her parents.
I don't want to do anything to could be
directly piss them off," she said.
Although navigating the dating
terrain is not always easy, stu-
dents who have been involved
with someone of a different eth-
nicity said the ride can sometimes be extra bumpy.
Along with enhancing knowledge of each others'
backgrounds, different ethnicities often cause unique
issues to arise during relationships, students said. Many
said they have found themselves defending their choice
to relatives and friends.
Even today, prejudice persists against those who stray
from their own racial group in search of romance.
"You have to to deal with ... how other people see
you," said LSA senior Alejandra Montes. "Their first
question js like, 'Oh - you're dating someone that's
not Mexican,"' she said of the times she has dated non-
LSA senior Evan Austin, who is black, said he once
encountered a different situation in a relationship.
"She was Hispanic and white, and I think her family
didn't ... like having a lot of diversity in their environ-
ment," he said. "She told me that I couldn't go home
with her over Thanksgiving because of certain things."
It was due "just (to) the fact that her father didn't real-
ly approve of interracial dating - something to that
effect," Austin said.
Rendon, an Engineering junior, said that in her fam-
ily, her more distant relatives v oiced the most objection
when she began seeing her boyfriend, Greg Burris of
Ypsilanti. Rendon is Mexican American and Burnis is
"My mom was OK with it because I've dated black
guys before," Rendon said. "The main prejudice I had
is from my older grandparents and uncles who feel that
I should stay with my race."
"(My) grandfather, he's kind of back in the days,"
Rendon said. "My (black) girlfriends ... he welcomed
them in the home. When I was dating a black guy, that
iiade a difference to him."
Rendon said that although her father "displayed
resentment" toward her when she and Burris first began
dating, he has since had a change of heart.
,He doesn't really say much about it (now) ... he just
accepts it," she said. "He didn't want to lose out on
communication with me just because of that."
Burris' family was more accepting of the couple.
"My family loves her to death, actually," he said. "My
side of the family has accepted her very well."
Many parents said they remember the negative treat-
ment interracial couples received from society when
they were growing up.
"My mother at first was a little shocked," Jones said.
"But she was more concerned with how the people
around us would act."
Jones said his mother witnessed the harassment of
interracial couples in the small town where she grew
up, which contributed to her concern.
'Not good enoigh'
Socially, interracial couples said they have had few
problems being accepted by peers when dating across
"As far as being accepted you know, it's been tine,"
Burris said. "It's not been a problem. I don't think we
encountered any problems that I can think of. Nothing
where people are going,' Hey, why are you with her'
sonatity . ..
In 1994, the topic of interra-
cial dating made national head-
lines when Alabama high
school principal Hulond
Humphries attempted to
exclude interracial couples
from the school's prom.
Revonda Brown, then a high
school junior, sued the school
board and Humphries. She
said Humphries referred to her
as a "mistake" after she com-
plained about the ban on inter-
racial couples. Brown's moth-
er is black and her father is
Engineering junior Joaquin
Garcia, who has been dating his
knowledge you can gain
from other races," said
Bunton, who is black.
One student said having
an interracial relationship
helped her to open her eyes
to future partners after it
"Last year for the first
time, I dated someone who
wasn't Caucasian." said -
Education junior Jennifer
Idema. "Since then I've been
more attracted to other races,
However, some students
said the issue of race is
I think "subliminally I Engineering junior Adrian
hold people in my own race sition from some of Rend
more as potential girlfriends
than other people," said LSA
first-year student Chris Walton, who is white. "Once in
a while I'll be attracted to someone of a different race
... but usually it's sort of a subliminal thing."
Another student also said he feels more comfortable
dating people who share his ethnic background.
"I probably prefer to date my own race," said LSA
sophomore Randy Damura, who is white. "I would
never do it ... I'm just not really attracted to other races.
I don't know if it's narrow-mindedness - that's just
kind of how I feel about it." he said.
Other students said their dating patterns are reflec-
tive of their social group.
"It's mostly like an environmental thing." Austin
said. "Like I associate mostly with black people. so it's
just natural that you end up dating black people."
Status sookers or trze love?
Many students said there is often a negative stigma
placed on black males, particularly celebrities such as
O.J. Simpson and those of high status. who date or
marry white women.
In Ann Arbor, iany black female stu-
na Rendon and her boyfriend, Greg Burris of Ypsilanti, initially encountered oppo-
don's family when they began dating, but things have grown better with time.
Irish American girlfriend for more than two years, said
his first year at the University was the only time he
faced criticism from people around him. People would
say things like, "Why are you with the white girl ...
she's not good enough for you," he said. "I ran into that
a lot my first year."
Garcia, whose mother is Irish and father is Mexican.
said the comments were "all coming from other Latinos
One black student who did not wish to be named said
women being painted as an ideal of beauty and wom-
"One theory is that white women are not only a sym-
bol of beauty but also of social status," Hunter said.
"People have found that many black men who marry
interracially are higher-status men."
Some black men said they are also upset when they
see a black woman dating someone from another race.
"I think it's kind of like you take it personally," LSA
and Music senior Andrew Quinn said of black women
dating white men. "If I see a
black woman with a white man Interracial N
.. I think, 'Well how come
she's not with someone like Couples in t
me.' he said. (numbers in thousands
Many black women said .*::
they had no problem with
black men dating outside their
race as long as it was for the
"If you set out to -o find
someone. I don't think (race)
should be the main factor"
said LSA first-year student<
"I think that a lot of black people feel like when a
(successful) black man dates a white woman ... he's
selling out," said LSA junior Melissa McKenzie. who
said she does not share that view. "That's the feeling I
get from talking to my family and friends," she said.
Some black males on campus said the decision to
date outside their race can often require a great deal of
"At Michigan, if you date a woman that's not black
and black women find out about it ... they won't want
to date you." Quinn said. "It's kind of like you get writ-
ten off' among people you know, he said. "That's the
a different kind
ents when they
"It was kind
of difficult for
them to accept
me being an
American," he said
"It's the first t
I've ever had an
who's black look
because I'm b
because I'm som
It really didn't b(
but it's the firstt
I've ever ran into
that type of stere
dents said t
ber of elig
cat me not 5
[one else. cial
other me, Tcan
hey see a crisis in the num-
gible black men - making
more frustrating when the
hoose to date white women.
here are a lot of black
amen who cannot find good
ack men," said LSA senior
Tiffany Coty. "If black
women see a black man
with a white woman,
black women feel like
it's a slap in the face."
Coty said the insult is
greater if black men date
white women for superfi-
l reasons rather than actual
"A lot of it is because
Source: U.S, Census
Most students said race.:
is not a big factor when it
comes to romance.
"It's basically just personal-:
ity ... if you click with another
person, their skin color could be
green," said LSA senior Ron Pacis
who is Filipino.
"It really isn't something that you look for in some-
one else as far as whether you're going to get along or
not," said LSA senior Amit Bhatt, who is Indian.
LSA first-year student Adrienne Bunton said she first
notices whether a prospective date is attractive, no mat-
ter what ethnicity they are.
"Limiting who you date by race limits what kind of
(black men) have inse-
curities about them-
:} "selves," Coty said.
"Having a white
s girl is like a
:;}. higher status."
said black men
black women as
having a poor
J . }: attitude toward
them or looking
DAN HACKER/Daly for only a "cer-
tain type of man."
"There is a generalization about black women - that
they're bossy," said LSA first-year student Krystal
Andrea Hunter, assistant professor of psychology
and women's studies, said it has been suggested that
black women's resentment could stem from white
Austin said he personally
does not see anything wrong
with black men dating outside
their race when they are doing
it because they are attracted to
the person. "I do have a prob-
lem with ... that when you go
out and date a certaii race,
exclusively, he said.
Students disagreed on how
tolerant the University com-
munity is toward color-blind
"I don't think it's all that
Percentage of people who say they
would either date or marry another race.
Black men 81% 67%
White men 57% 54%
Black women 51% 50%
White women 42% 46%
Sou~rce: Washing tor Post survey
common," said LSA senior Anita Valanju. "I think
there's a lot of people who are stuck on staying in their
own race," she said.
"I think because it's a liberal campus people are more
open-minded here," Idema said.
Perhaps Burris summed it up best. "The bottom line
is that ... I love her, she loves me."
-- Daily Staff Reporter Ann Stewart
contributed to this report.
Biracial students have dual opportunities, cultures
By Ann Stewart
Daily Staff Reporter a
At a time when young people are forming
their identities, biracial students have diverse
options to look to.
"As you get older, you realize how to accept
people for their substance instead of for their
race," said Engineering senior Marcus Ash.
"You look past superficial things."
Julian Vasquez Heilig, an LSA senior, said he
feels forunate ti have rnwn un with two dif-
with one race rather than both.
"It's really when you are coming to grips with
who you are," Vasquez Heilig said. "People
want to have a sense of security and belonging
somewhere and people want you to belong to
something with them."
But Vasquez Heilig said lie would not limit his
experiences to those of only one ethnic group.
"People want you to fit into their categories but
that would be alienating one part of yourself,"
Vasquez Heiliu said.
Ash said. "You have to choose if you want to
have a social life, if you want to be successful.
America wants to know what you are."
Ash said most of his friends are black and
think of him as black, though he escapes some
effects of racism because of his appearance.
"I don't know what it's like to be discriminat-
ed against because of my skin color," Ash said.
"If I just walked into a room and didn't say any-
thing, I'd be fine."
But Ash said he was
part of'who I am," Gray said.
Gray said that as a biracial child in grade
school, teachers treated her as a second-rate stu-
dent or punished her unreasonably. She said t
idea of a child of two races may have created an
ignorant response by adults of their generation.
"They're from the old school of thinking,"
Gray said. "It makes them feel uncomfortable."
Now Gray said she has friends who "are com-
fortable (with) who I am."
LSA senior Cammie Kim Puidokas is a leader
[ x - Xl 1