By Melanie Johnson
Dan Baroja, Div. 045, is Filipino and is currently in a relationship with an African-American girl. Although he loves his girlfriend, he is often confronted by racist comments about his relationship by both his friends and parents.
“Personally, I don’t care about race, but my parents do. My parents stereotype everyone based on color. For example, they think that anyone who is black is extremely violent. Even though I love my girlfriend, my mom hates her because she is just racist! Sometimes me and my parents get into arguments about it because I just get so fed up with their racist attitudes,” said Baroja.
Baroja says that he is attracted to black girls the most. However, this preference is often mocked by his friends.
“My friends think I’m desperate for dating a black girl,” he said.
Vanessa Rivera, Div. 368, says her father lives in a small town in Mexico and, because he was raised around only one race, would have a problem with her dating someone that was not Mexican.
“My mom would accept it because, even though she was born in Mexico, she lives in Chicago and understands diversity,” said Rivera. “Because my dad has never seen diversity, he continues to struggle with interracial dating.”
Jack Presa, Div. 031, is Mexican and said dating within his culture or ethnicity is not really mandatory in his family, but religion does matter.
“My family wouldn’t even care if I brought a girl home from a different race. We have choices in America; if we were in Mexico, we wouldn’t have a choice,” said Presa. “As long as the girl is Catholic, my family is cool. Race doesn’t even play a factor.”
Hira Rehman, Div. 023, a Pakistani-Muslim, is limited in her dating for reasons of both race and religion. She believes that dating outside her race is fine even though she is unable to do so.
“It’s good to have differences in a relationship because that way you can grow and learn more with your significant other,” she said. “[Islamic Women] are not even allowed to date. There are just so many restrictions.”
Rehman said that if she did like a guy, she could not approach him. She would have to tell her parents and then they would conduct an arranged marriage. However, the guy she likes must be of the Islamic faith.
“I can marry a Pakistani-Muslim and maybe even an Indian-Muslim, but I could never date or marry a Hindu. If I did, I don’t even think my father would look at me,” said Rehman.
Rehman has a friend, who is a Pakistani-Muslim and is dating a guy who is an Indian-Hindu. Because of this, she wants to remain anonymous.
“I hide my relationship from my parents because if my father were to ever find out he would kill me,” said the anonymous source. “That’s how big of a deal it is. Muslim people criticize my relationship mainly because of old, built-up feelings from the war between India and Pakistan almost 50 years ago. I can never marry an Indian guy, especially if he’s Hindu.”
“Many of our friends criticize her because Islamic women are not allowed to date…because it is against our religion,” said Rehman. “But they are just hypocrites because they do it too. It’s just that dating a Hindu is considered way worse.”
Joey Peculos, Div. 279, is Caucasian and is currently dating a Hispanic girl.
“My family raised me to be open-minded and to never make race an issue,” said Peculos. “People who have a problem with interracial dating need to stop living in the past and accept it because it is all around us. Being more open-minded is key.”
Stancuta Ivan, Div. 052, agrees with Peculos. However, Ivan’s Romanian parents think differently.
“I don’t think race matters as long as you don’t allow customs and traditions to come between your relationship. You have to learn from each other’s heritage and ignore people’s negative comments. My parents are extremely conservative and would rather me date somebody that is the same race as me. I think they are just old fashioned and haven’t gotten a chance to accommodate in the states,” said Ivan.
Jewel Wakefield, Div. 047, is African-American and has never dated outside her race.
“I mean, there’s nothing wrong with dating outside your race,” she said. “But it’s easier to relate to someone of the same race because both of you have similar views on things. It took a while for my conservative grandmother, who was raised traditionally in the South, to open up and accept my aunt’s [decision to marry] a Caucasian man.”
David Hurley, Div. 034, is African-American as well and has dated outside his race. He believes people’s fear of dating outside of their race is not natural, but cultural.
“I just love females. I feel you can’t control who you are attracted to, so why discriminate? The fact that America is still racist and segregated is the reason why people prefer to stay with their own kind,” he said.
America has long been known as the melting pot of culture and race. Nevertheless, religious and traditional values held by immigrants and older generations still influence many teenagers’ decisions about cro