Dr. Marcella Myers
Associate Professor of Political Science
Interviewed by Rachel Arner
How long have you been teaching here at Andrews University?
This is year nine.
What did you study in college?
When I came to Andrews University I was a music major, but I didn’t finish my degree here. When I went back to school I did a BA in History and then graduate and postgraduate degrees in Political Science.
What has been your experience of being in an interracial relationship during your time here at Andrews and in the area?
Honestly, it didn’t occur to me when I started dating my husband that it was a big deal. My husband is Jamaican and Surinamese (his mom was from Suriname). But then I had friends say to me, “You know he is black, right?” My answer was, “Yes, I see that.” I had multiple people tell me that. But he is super smart, funny and just a great guy, so I didn’t really care. People never really said anything to my face, but friends would say things like, “You know what they (other people) are saying about you right?” It was the standard stuff you hear about Caucasian girls dating brown men—the implication was that I was easy (sexually speaking). It is typical of how we as Americans view race.
When you realized people were talking about you, did this bother you? Do you wish people wouldn’t talk about couples like that?
Yes, it bothered me. People shouldn’t talk about other people or couples like that. The reasons why people choose to date and marry are really no one else’s concern. What draws people to each other is very personal and not up for public speculation.
When you were both still dating (before you were married) how was your relationship strengthened because of those experiences?
I think it made us closer as a couple. Seeing other people’s negative reactions to interracial dating created a feeling that we were in it together. Not to be too dramatic, but it was a bit of an us-against-the-world sort of thing. When we started dating there were not as many interracial couples on or off campus, so we drew attention when we were together. I don’t think the attention is as intense or common as it was 30 years ago.
How has your relationship while being married been strengthened because of those experiences as well?
As with the dating thing, it has made us tight as a couple. We are very close; he is my best friend. It has been good for me as a person. I see the way people of color are treated daily and that has really influenced how I think about racism.
What can others do when witnessing people being treated unfairly because of their skin color?
Sometimes there is not a lot you can do—it depends on the circumstance. It is important to ask the victim of unfair treatment if it is OK with them that you intervene. If it is OK, then ask the perpetrator why they are treating that person unfairly. At the moment, when someone is victimized by racism, that victim may feel alone and helpless. Show solidarity with the victim; let them know they are not alone. I think that is true for people who are victims of racism, prejudice, discrimination, the vulnerable—let them know they are not alone.
Where do you see the current racial climate on campus right now?
I think it is better than it was when I was a student. There is more conversation about race and gender and that is a good thing. I also think the administration is more open and willing to engage in the conversation than it was when I was a student.
If you could encourage couples who are in an interracial relationship who are not being treated by others fairly, what would you say to them?
You should live your life, not someone else’s. If the person you are with is right for you, if you are happy together, it doesn’t matter what other people think or say. Is it hard? Yes, but if you value the relationship, don’t let someone else destroy it. You should know though that the ugly looks and sometimes unkind words will never stop completely. But you will also find kindness and acceptance in unanticipated places from unexpected people.
What is your favorite part of being in a relationship?
I love being with someone who really understands me and is so supportive. I love it that my husband accepts who I am as I am. He is fun, funny, smart and deeply spiritual, so we always enjoy each other’s company and our conversations are really thought-provoking for me. I tend to be a bit of a couch potato, and he wants to be out doing things, so he is really good for me.
So, would you say opposites attract?
I don’t know if that is true for everyone, but in our case, I suppose so!