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Several other couples that represent many other ethnicities were also invited to participate but declined to do so. Carroll ’17, a Kirkland resident who is white, and Stephen S.
This article does not and cannot canvass the experiences of all interracial couples who have dated at Harvard.
Rather, it presents the views of three couples who agreed to discuss their stories and to add to the conversation.
Echoing Shang and Haigh’s sentiment, Coates and Aladesanmi believe that their specific gender combination as a white woman and a black man, a historically contentious pairing, makes a difference in the reception of their relationship on campus.
In sum, Coates and Aladesanmi say, they feel tolerated at Harvard—but not accepted.
“Dami has had some situations where he felt flak from both black women and black men, because it’s the whole concept of, African Americans have this obligation to rebuild the African American family, and how’s that going to happen if they’re not marrying each other? They have also noticed that students in the black community who do support them are uncomfortable expressing their approval of interracial dating around other black students.
In public conversations about mixed relationships, “people get really tense and awkward and quiet, but then afterward in privacy, they’ll be like, ‘Hey Dami, I actually really agree with what you were saying,’” Coates explains.Coates, who previously dated two South Asian students at Harvard, notes that she did not experience comparable discrimination in her other interracial relationships, and that she had felt accepted by Harvard’s South Asian community.She has noticed that her friends who are in Hispanic and white relationships or white and Asian relationships have not suffered the intolerance that she and Aladesanmi have endured while dating.“Whereas on the black side I feel tension and hostility, like irritation with me for ‘stealing’ someone, on the white side, I usually don’t get anger.In the Harvard context, I usually get micro-aggressions that are actually coming from a good place, that are meant to be silly and harmless, but they’re actually kind of hurtful,” says Coates.(Coates published an op-ed in The Crimson about her experience being in an interracial relationship after this interview was conducted.) Before Coates and Aladesanmi launch into their negative experiences, however, they are quick to point out that they have many friends on campus who support them and their relationship.