Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
From one hand to the next, a small, stuffed tiger was passed around the room, empowering the holder to speak while calling for everyone’s attention. In this intimate setting, a conversation was fostered regarding the subject of interracial dating in society today. Stories were shared, questions asked, and perspectives exchanged.
This conversation was held on Monday, February 13th at 7pm in the Black Cultural Center (BCC) as a part of Black History Month and Healthy Sex and Relationship Week. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner: A Dinner and Discussion About Interracial Dating and Relationships was organized to “create the opportunity to talk more deeply,” said Nina Harris, the Violence Prevention Educator and Survivor Advocate at Swarthmore.
Harris emphasized a focus on “building our skills as a community to have more complex dialogues” on the topic of interracial dating. By hosting the event, we were helping to “set the stage for continued conversation,” Harris said.
Having this dinner discussion enabled people to acquire a deeper and more empathetic understanding of interracial relationships and interactions in everyday life and in a broader context. By exchanging ideas and informing each other of the many perspectives and understandings that exist on the subject of interracial relationships and dating, we can “deepen our knowledge of one another and ourselves,” Harris said.
“I really wanted people to tell me, first hand, what they’ve experienced,” David Pipkin ‘18 said. Endeavoring to gain a more in-depth understanding of interracial relationships, he attended the event, and commented on the effects race differences can have on relationships. “This can weigh on relationships […] it could make a relationship that was strong and healthy break apart,” Pipkin said.
“I do believe love conquers all, but I believe this makes it do more work,” Pipkin added, referring to the complexities that can arise within an interracial context.
Ibrahim M. Tamale ‘20 said that there are “a lot of questions for me to answer and for me to reflect upon as I traverse as a foreign student living and studying in the USA, and who may end up working here and may want to build a life here.” He also questioned what role interracial dating plays in the process of interracial socialization and interaction.
After concluding the larger discussion group for the night, the attendees conversed and mingled. “There are so many experiences,” said AynNichelle Slappy ‘20, reflecting on the overall discussion. Even after the closing of the conversation, Slappy commented: “there’s no right answer.”