JULIAN WYLLIE | Columnist
Society has been fighting racism for some time. Personally, I believe that people can have the most profound impact on eliminating racism.
The beautiful thing about the two of Butler University’s interracial couples (Callie Dennison and Trae Heeter and Akeira Jennings and Erik Thatcher) is that they are not trying to be the symbols of integration. They simply are.
“We weren’t trying to change anything. We got to the point where race wasn’t anything to consider,” Jennings said. “You just love someone for who they are.”
In my opinion, it does matter where we come from in terms of ethnicity.
I dream of a society that acknowledges what makes us different and celebrates it. What better way to take the power back?
William Shakespeare offers wise advice.
“If love be blind, love cannot hit the mark,” Mercutio said in Romeo and Juliet.
We need love to see, understand and grow.
As a society, I feel that we tend to focus on the negative. Let us take a moment to observe how far we have progressed.
“Americans’ attitudes about interracial marriage have changed dramatically over the past 55 years, moving from the point in the late 1950s when disapproval was well over 90 percent, to the point today when approval is approaching 90 percent,” according to a Gallup poll in July 2013.
There are more positives to be highlighted.
“The number of interracial couples in the United States has reached an all-time high, with one in every 10 American opposite-sex married couples saying they’re of mixed race. In 2000, that figure was about 7 percent,” according to a CNN report in 2012.
The CNN report also said 18 percent of opposite-sex, unmarried couples and 21 percent of same-sex, unmarried partners identify themselves as interracial.
Maybe the statistics are surprising to you. There are more interracial couples now than ever before. The phenomenon simply needs more exposure.
“I’m just glad that Butler and The Collegian are doing a story like this,” Heeter said. “Shine a light out there and let everyone know that it is okay and couples are happy in interracial relationships.
While the numbers say the perception is changing, it still takes people time to become accepting of interracial relationships.
“My grandpa wasn’t the happiest, but everyone else in my family really likes Erik,” Jennings said. “It wasn’t a huge issue, but my grandpa is from a different time period. He had to learn to trust Erik and see that Erik is a genuine person.”
Her grandfather was worried that Thatcher’s family wouldn’t accept her. But his immediate family was fond of Jennings from the beginning, Thatcher said.
As for Dennison and Heeter, their families were generally accepting as well.
Dennison is a child of an interracial couple.
“In my family, it has never been an issue. My dad married an Asian woman and my uncle married a Hispanic, so his side was totally fine with it,” Dennison said. “On my mom’s side, my grandfather is Chinese and my grandmother is German and Dutch so they didn’t have an issue with it at all.”
Heeter also has a supportive family.
“Once my family met her, they were all for it,” said Heeter.
Both couples added that the Butler community is supportive of their relationships.
This is a step in the right direction.
If these couples can be happy in an interracial relationship, anyone else can. Nothing should be stopping them.
“My point of view is that whoever makes you happy is who you should be with,” Heeter said. “People put their lives on the line to make sure that these types of relationships could happen.”
I too have been in an interracial relationship.
While none of my friends or family were against us, I could not ignore the magnitude of the situation.
Interracial relationships are taboo to some and encouraged by others.
Those who remain opposed to the idea are due for a change of heart.
I wonder why people feel a black man should not be in a relationship with a white woman. Why do they feel that a white man should not marry a black woman?
In the end, there are no valid arguments, in my opinion, to be against interracial relationships.
While I cannot change everyone’s mind, I would encourage those who don’t agree with me to try to be more open-minded about this issue. We are in a new era of relationships.
“Some people are going to read this and agree or disagree with the entire article,” Dennison said. “But I think it’s one of those things that needs to be said.”
Racism has yet to be completely removed from the world. A pessimist would say that “race is the wound that will never heal.”
But we have certainly begun to heal. Like my predecessors, I will continue to dream.