Here at Andrews University, we are blessed by being the second most diverse college or university in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report. With this diversity comes learning about other cultures and sometimes means even falling for someone of another culture or another race. Interracial relationships at Andrews have become more and more common over time, and as with any change that comes, so do questions. The Agora isn’t here to answer all questions, but to allow students a safe place to discuss tough issues, have peaceful discourse and to encourage talking and thinking. This past weekend, the Agora, a program hosted by Andrews University graduate students asked the difficult question, “Do interracial relationships benefit the black community?”
Two presenters came to discuss both the “yes” and “no” answers to this question. Angie Powels, a graduate of Andrews University’s Masters in Clinical Psychology program argued that an interracial relationship can indeed be beneficial for the black community, while Jasmine Nwade, who studied history and sociology at University of Alabama in Huntsville, argued the counterpoint. Nwade clarified that she is not personally against interracial dating, but was arguing against interracial relationships in terms of benefiting the black community.
Facts in hand, Nwade stated that interracial relationships lessen the black population in America, making it more difficult for black people to become a prominent race, or allowing the black community to attain equal power in our current society.
Powels begged to differ, first stating that “black” comes in variations, that each person of color’s experience varies and is uniquely their own. Also, she stated that categorizing black communities as a whole is difficult, seeing how each black community is unique to its culture and experience. This being considered, it was difficult to say interracial relationships would be beneficial to the black community or not.
At Andrews, there are many students who come from multiracial and multicultural homes. Two students coming from multiracial homes, Cassandra Hales (junior, marketing) and Brianna Moore (freshman, wellness), explained that they are product of interracial relationships and believe that their parents have given back to their communities while being in interracial relationships, and have displayed respect for each other’s culture and have shown an abundance of love while doing so.
Hales said, “At the end there was an appeal to not only mixed race children like myself, but also to white communities as well as black communities, that it is our duty to support our communities as well as each other to get where we want to be—to support each other through marches, through protests, through whatever it takes. We are all a part of a community no matter what others have to say. That was an appeal to me here today, and I really appreciate it.”
Chaplain June Price, who is in an interracial relationship, also stated how she feels she is supporting and enabling the African-American community at Andrews University.
“I have to ask myself, ‘What are my responsibilities as a Christian?’ They are to love mercy, do justly, walk humbly with God, to care for the orphans and widows. That means walking along side every person, regardless of how alike they are or different to me. So, participating in conversation like this, participating in Black Lives Matter marches, participating in Muslim issues, but also doing this for myself in a counter-cultural way. I believe that the real change comes at a heart level, not stirring discomfort, but change.”