In the days leading up to Valentine’s Day, the Binghamton Association of Mixed Students (BAMS) and Powerful United Ladies Striving to Elevate (PULSE) collaborated to host a discussion on the cultural differences and expectations many interracial couples face.
On Monday, the two student groups held their second annual “Interracial Dating Discussion,” which consisted of conversations on a series of topics, including racial fetishes and handling cultural differences between families.
Taylor Duval, events coordinator for BAMS and a sophomore majoring in biomedical engineering, said she thought the event was a good way to confront issues that usually aren’t discussed.
“We thought it would be an amazing opportunity to discuss different cultures and how interracial dating plays out in real life,” Duval said. “We wanted to see how people have different perspectives and if they’ve gone through something they would like to share.”
Jennifer Tiburcio, president of PULSE and a junior majoring in political science, said the event was meant to help students create a meaningful discussion.
“Everyone has different experiences and we covered most of what we wanted,” Tiburcio said. “We made this as much as an open space as possible and I think the audience really opened up.”
The discussion mainly dealt with the cultural tensions interracial couples might face in their dating lives, such as when a partner says something racist or offensive. The conversation also touched on racial fetishes and how to introduce partners to different-race relatives.
Jerry Mathew, social liaison for BAMS and a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering, said he believed the discussion about racial fetishes was especially important.
“We have to define the difference between a physical attraction and a fetish ourselves,” Mathew said. “It’s okay to have a preference, because I believe two components to love are the mental and physical attractions. To truly love someone, you have to be physically attracted to them but also love their personality. So you can’t love someone solely for their race.”
Andrew Young, a sophomore majoring in systems science and industrial engineering, said he was interested to hear from members of PULSE about their experiences, which differed from his own because of the societal pressures placed on women.
“It was interesting to see how girls had different accounts of dating than me and other guys,” Young said. “They feel different pressures and it’s important to understand that.”
Participants also offered personal stories from their dating lives. One attendee said her parents were an interracial couple but still had reservations about her dating someone outside her race. Another said that she feels that all her relationships are interracial because she is mixed and it’s hard to find someone with the same ethnicity and identity.
“I feel like PULSE co-hosting this event with us gave us a new perspective,” Mathews said. “Luckily a lot of them had stories of dating people outside of their race that really contributed to the event.”