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The Northerner

Social interracial dating experiment pairs diverse students

Brittany Wren, Contributing writer

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What do you get when you mix open discussions about sex, relationships and diverse cultural backgrounds? You get a social experiment focusing on the perceptions and struggles associated with interracial dating.

Latino co-ed fraternity Alpha Psi Lambda National Inc. and the African American fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. hosted the event entitled Colors of Love on Feb. 12, which incorporated activities such as speed dating, cross the line and open forums led by guest speaker Alpha Psi Lambda alumni Irelynne Estevez-Waller.

Both organizations hoped the event would open minds to the idea of interracial dating on NKU’s campus. Gabriela Santiago, Alpha Psi Lambda president and senior athletic training major, hosted the event along with Prince Jibunor, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.

The idea for Colors of Love came about as an addition to Alpha Psi Lambda’s National Founders Week, which is currently taking place.

“Collaborating with the Alphas appealed to me because they’re known for hosting open forums that get people thinking about issues,” said Gabriela Santiago, referring to the idea for the collaboration.

A few weeks before the event took place, both organizations surveyed 100 NKU students about their knowledge and feelings regarding interracial dating on campus.

“I was surprised by the responses we received and I felt many were afraid to truly answer the question; their answers sounded too textbook,” said Terrance McCraney, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. president and senior theatre major.

As a tool to get participants looking past the idea of ethnicity during typical date conversation, Colors of Love introduced a speed dating exercise where participants sat back-to-back while not looking at their partner during the process.

“It felt natural, almost like human nature,” said Elizabeth Cox, senior athletic training major.

The event also included an open forum which focused on many of the struggles interracial couples may face.

“Combining two separate cultures is difficult and to overcome this, interracial couples should pick and choose from what is valued most from both cultures to combine and create their own traditions,” suggested Santiago.

Irelynne Estevez-Waller, a Hispanic woman who married an African-American man, also shared struggles she anticipates for the future. Estevez-Waller anticipates a possible language barrier for her future children.

“When my husband found out we were expecting, he said I think I should pull out my Rosetta Stone,” she said.

Following in the footsteps of Freedom Writers, a 2007 Paramount Pictures film, the event completed an exercise called “cross the line.” Participants lined up on both sides of a line and crossed over when they agreed with a series of revealing questions.

“Stereotypes are worse for Hispanic females because of the stereotype of being overly sexual,” Santiago said, during the cross the line open discussion.

The Colors of Love event was used to promote Alpha Psi Lambda National, Inc.’s Founders Week. The organization will be hosting an information session for those interested in membership with the fraternity Feb. 13 at 8 p.m. in Student Union room 105. They will also be hosting a day of service where participants will meet outside of the Student Union circle at 9 a.m. on Feb. 15.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Social interracial dating experiment pairs diverse students