Breaking the racial barriers of dating

Room 209 in the Multicultural Student Services Center is almost completely colorless, but a discussion on Tuesday night illuminated it as people recalled their diverse experiences with interracial dating.

Most of the about 20 people at the event said despite living in such a diverse city, they could only escape the influence and judgment of their peers during the two-hour forum organized by Remix, a student organization focused on multi-racial students on campus.

More than half of the group attested to having been in an interracial relationship, but some said they felt ignored by other races when it comes to dating.

“I was slapped in the face with race here,” said senior Temi Williams-Davis, who is half-Nigerian and half-British. “All my friends are Nigerian, and I don’t think I’ve ever been approached by a white boy.”

But other students, like sophomore Shawn Willis, said GW is no worse than other environments.

“I’ll put it out there – I like white boys,” Willis said. “I’m always that black girl who brings the white boy.” The comment triggered responses from many of the panelists.

Anthony Sola Kuyouo, a Nigerian graduate student, described his friends’ influence over his dating life and his original pursuit to date outside his race.

“There is a certain race of girls that I was interested in dating once I came to America,” Kuyouo said. “My friends keep telling me that girls of that race aren’t going to want to date boys of my race. Now it’s always in the back of my head.”

Rather than hearing similar warnings from his friends, Kuyouo found himself welcomed with encouragement from discussion members to ignore his friends and pursue the kinds of girls he wants.

“This is probably the first time he’s been able to talk to other people and have them relate to him,” said Madhuri Jha, president of Remix.

Like Kuyouo, senior Stanley Marquez has found himself warned against an interracial relationship by those closest to him.

“She was Puerto Rican-black,” he said of an old girlfriend. “I didn’t think anything of it, but my parents met her and they brought it up. It bothered me because they had never gotten in my business before.”

Remix members said stories like Marquez’s show that students can speak honestly on difficult topics in a comfortable setting. Unlike last year’s panel on a similar topic, where faculty advisors facilitated the conversation through a Q&A session, this forum was “unfiltered,” Jha said.

While the crowd included students of African, biracial, Indian, Jewish and Hispanic descent, all students sought to understand one another as they shared their thoughts.

“Discourse is a good reason for why change happens,” Jha said. “I think that once people can verbalize here, it can become more common on campus and eventually change the environment of the school.”

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