This weekend, I attended a screening of a short film, "Southern Blend: A Dating Experiment." The film was designed to explore the current state of interracial dating in the South. The camera followed men and women who had never dated outside of their race on blind dates with someone of a different race. Throughout the film, professors of history and race relations were interviewed to provide context, and married couples discussed their own experiences within an interracial relationship. The screening was followed by a panel discussion about the film and the panelists’ personal experiences with interracial dating.
First, a quick observation about Charlotte: this place has a powerful sense of community. In the past three years since I moved to Charlotte, I have been impressed with the many different community conversations around serious and important subjects: education, economic development, politics and many others. From community participation in the development of an uptown market to a community commitment to revitalize an often overlooked part of Charlotte, I find the opportunities for participation real, substantive and open to the general public. This evening was no exception. It was refreshing to see so many people come out on a Friday night to participate in this discussion about interracial relationships. It is just as special that we live in a place committed to fostering genuine community engagement and dialogue.
from "Southern Blend: A Dating Experiment"
In the film and discussion, many different questions and topics were covered. Together, we discussed children, attraction, parents, acceptance and even hair. For me personally, two questions and their answers defined the evening.
Q: What are some tools or strategies that couples can use to work through their differences?
A: For me, it was not intentional. I fell in love with my husband, and he happened to be of a different race.
As I think through these questions and answers, I am surprised by the simplicity of the responses. They reinforce the idea that love is colorblind, and it is the people who are not. They highlight the fact that the keys to success are the same in every relationship. Love and respect one another. Talk to each other. Listen with an open mind and heart. And these answers also remind us that we choose who we fall in love with as much as we choose the color of our skin.
Many people might suggest that we have progressed beyond these sorts of discussions about race relations, but I was struck by the relevance of this topic. Interracial marriage was illegal less than a generation ago. Today, although much more common, there are still challenges, stigmas and ignorance surrounding interracial relationships, romantic and otherwise. And now, across the country and in the state of North Carolina, we are confronted again with the issue of whom we will grant the right to express legally who they love. The conversation continues. And so, on this Valentine’s Day, I challenge everyone to think about their own experiences with love and evaluate our capacity as a community to embrace love, in all its forms, between all human beings. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Posted by: Amy Chiou, Lincoln Harris @ 12:00:00 am