More than 30 students gathered last night in Ticknor Lounge for a lively discursion on the difficulties of withstanding societal and family pressures in interracial relationships.
At the forum, moderated by Niti Seth, a staff psychologist at the Bureau of Study Counsel, students shared the views as well as hypothetical scenarios and personal experiences of acist or disapproving attitudes toward interracial relationships.
"When this [multi-cultural] investment happens across boundaries, there seen to be some assumptions that then'll be repercussions for it," said Seth "There's sense of letting down others, of compromising."
The discussion was directed by Assistant Dean for Race Relations and Minority Affairs Hilda Hernandez-Gravelle and organized by the student group Actively Working Against Racism and Ethnocentrism (AWARE).
Participants agreed that learning about a partner's heritage is essential but often difficult in attempting to maintain healthy interracial relationships.
"I saw this explaining [my African-American heritage] as adding to the daily psychic warfare that being a Black woman in America already is," said Tamara D. Duckworth '92-'93.
"It's a sort of childish learning process that we have to go through in interracial relationships," said Nicholas C. Weinstock '92, an AWARE coordinator.
Students disagreed, however, on whether entering a multi-cultural relationship contributes to or detracts from one's ethnic identity.
"I really felt like I was losing my ethnic identity," said Stephen C. Chang '94, an AWARE member who works in Hernandez-Gravelle's office.
"My sense of racial identity was heightened," said Duckworth. "It's worth the compromise."
Other students questioned the motives of those who enter interracial relationships, and complained of being labeled "exotic" or of serving as an "ethnic experience" for partners of a different race.
"I detect a 'forbidden fruit' type syndrome that can be, obviously, insulting," said Rebecca L. Foster '92.
However, citing the increase in interracial relationships worldwide, Seth said she thinks such relationships can contribute to diversity.
"Ethnicity is a revolving thing," she said. "It's not frozen in time."