We came across an interesting article a couple of weeks ago in a local Brooklyn Newspaper, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. It was a write up of a panel discussion that took place at Stuyvesant High School “about the complications that arise when members of different ethnic or religious groups begin a romantic relationship.”
Sponsored by the group Not Just Blacks and Jews in Conversation, whose goal is to promote “peace and understanding among different racial, ethnic, and cultural groups,” the discussion was meant to bring to the forefront issues surrounding interfaith and interracial relationships that many find difficult to talk about. And the dialogue, as printed in the article, seemed remarkably candid. For instance, some admitted that when people intermarry, “your culture can become a little watered down.” But on the other hand, others said that’s not a definite conclusion – it’s up to individuals to “learn about their own heritage and roots, and embrace that part of their identity.”
What really seemed to stand out about this forum was the honesty with which the topics were discussed. The presenters created a space for students to ask whatever was on their mind, and they didn’t hold back with their answers. It’s refreshing to read about a group that doesn’t talk down to high school students about tough issues that many people in North America will inevitably face. Instead, they prefer to be as open as possible to generate interest and debate.
Interracial or interfaith relationships have become the norm, and it’s likely that some of the students who attended the discussion will one day find themselves dating or married to someone from another religious or ethnic background. Getting young people to talk about these issues early on will hopefully better prepare them as they navigate the challenges, whether from family or friends, brought on through these relationships.