By Olivia Bousquet
Outside of the Angell College Center Tuesday night, the wind whipped and the temperatures dropped. However inside the warmth of the ACC, a rhythmic beat from a speaker spilled out of the Alumni Conference Room. Inside the room, Fuerza, the Black and Latinx union, prepared for its 7 p.m. event called “Dating outside your race.”
A panel of nine students, of different ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds, answered prepared questions from Fuerza Event Coordinator Ivonne Diaz and Fuerza On Campus PR Albert Tejada. The panelists were Kenneth Baez, Lorenzo Johnson, Bianca Nieves, Arianna Santiago, Samuel Marmol, Grisbel Peña, Elizabeth Baez, Isabella Perez and Moustapha Diop.
“I feel it definitely just adds to just making sure that everyone is open minded and seeing that it’s life,” Fuerza President Charlin Peguero said on the importance of these discussions. “You have to experience things sometimes, and it’s not always as black and white as people see.”
The event started with the panelists introducing themselves and identifying their ethnicity, race and religion. Some panelists ethnically identified as Dominican, Puerto Rican, Jamaican and African. Racially, most panelists identified as either Black or white, and religiously, some were Catholic, non-religious, spiritual or Muslim.
The panel then discussed many stereotypes that occur when dating outside of their race. Many said that old generations in their family were more likely to be racist to someone with darker skin.
Fuerza Social Media PR and panelist Kenneth Baez said it’s important to “educate yourself” to overcome stereotypes of dating other races. He shared it can be hard with family when his grandparent said, “Don’t bring someone darker than you home.” However, Santiago said her family did not care about who she dated “as long as I’m happy.” The panel all had different experiences to share.
Panelists also discussed if they had ever dated outside of their race. Some hadn’t because they were more comfortable dating people that understood their culture and language, but those that had dated outside their race said the experience exposed them to a lot of new things. The audience also spoke up with their own experiences about dating outside of their race. An Indian audience member said her relationship with her Dominican boyfriend had language barriers, but his family tried connecting with her as much as possible by teaching her new words.
“I feel it was really beneficial to our community,” Attendee Alexa Santos said. “We really discussed a lot of topics that people don’t really talk about or that people are not comfortable sharing because, I feel like in today’s society, people are very sensitive. People are always scared to upset someone or hurt someone’s feelings, so I feel like that was not really on the table today.”
The audience and panelists engaged with each other by asking questions or adding insight to their personal experiences with dating. There was debate on certain deal-breakers to relationships that involved a lot of discussion from everyone in the room. With more than 20 students in attendance, conversations continuously flowed for the hour-long event.
“I definitely was [happy with the turnout,]” Peguero said. “People were more open than I thought they would be, especially with a topic like this — no one was giving political answers. I felt it was very much like everyone was just being raw, and that was the intention of the meeting as well.”
Fuerza held a series of events for Black History Week to celebrate Black History Month. The club ended the week with its sixth Annual Cardinal Love event Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Warren Ballroom.