Panel Discusses Interracial Dating

Student panelists discussed the nuances and complications of dating outside one’s race last night in an event hosted by the Harvard Foundation.

While participants established a consensus early on that younger generations—themselves included—were more open to the idea of interracial dating, they soon began to explore problems that arise surrounding the issue, including why, in some circumstances, it can be easier for a specific gender to date outside their race.

“Hispanic men can date other ethnicities, but when a Hispanic woman dates outside, there is this reaction of ‘you belong to us,’” said panelist Stephanie Delgado ’10, referring to what she described as the perception that it is acceptable for Hispanic men to date women of other ethnicities, but because of the idea of ‘machisimo’—an exaggerated sense of masculinity and general male domination—Hispanic women who try to date outside their race are scorned.

Delgado said she decided to participate in the discussion to show that interracial dating isn’t binary—between just Caucasians and Blacks—but includes relationships like hers, between a Mexican-American and a Filipino.

In other ethnicities though, the idea of a woman dating outside her race is acceptable, she said.

“It may be more acceptable for Asian women to date white men,” Delgado said.

Yet for Daniel C. Suo ’10, an Asian-American, it is hard to approach any woman outside his race because he is aware that his Asian background may be an issue.

James A. Fish ’10, one of the panelists said while people may be accepting of a match, they may still question the motivation behind it.

Fish said he finds problematic that others will “put a justification for it that can turn to ‘maybe there’s a fetish going on there,’” instead of assuming the relationship is simply about love.

The discussion also touched on why there might be a stigma surrounding interracial dating.

“It’s because people are scared. People are just afraid the America they’re used to seeing will be gone,” said panelist Kimberly N. Foster ’11. She attributed this worry to concerns about cultural preservation.

Audience member Olivia M. Shopshear ’12 said that discussion was the best way to make progress on this issue.

“There is a line between overemphasis and discussion,” she cautioned. “Too much emphasis on dating someone of a different race will make it a major problem.”

—Staff writer Beverly E. Pozuelos can be reached at pozuelos@fas.harvard.edu.

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