love more than skin deep graphic

DOD and EHHS’s graphic advertising the Love is More Than Skin Deep panel discussion which took place in the evening on Wednesday, Oct. 28. Courtesy of DOD and EHHS.

On Oct. 28, couples joined together for a virtual panel discussion to talk about what it is like to be in an interracial relationship.

Alex Silverio, Kent State alumni who is currently earning her master’s in student affairs at the university, hosted the event “Love is More Than Skin Deep: A panel discussion on interracial relationships” in partnership with Education, Health and Human Services (EHHS) and the Office of Diversity Outreach and Development (DOD) via Microsoft Teams.

“I was thinking about things going on in my life and wondering if it would be interesting for other people to learn about interracial relationships,” Silverio, who is involved in a part of an interracial relationship, said. “I wanted to see what people’s perceptions of this were and what their experiences were individually.”

Having open conversations about race with your significant other and discussing the strains of society on the relationship were key topics throughout the panel. 

“Growing up a white male, you may take things for granted,” Mark Kretovics, a panelist who has been married to his wife of Japanese descent for 34 years, Deb Saito, said.

Recognizing privilege in a relationship and educating yourself to understand how to be an advocate for your significant other is also crucial.

“I am comfortable in my relationship. He [a significant other] is taking an effort to educate himself on these things without having me spoon feed him,” panelist Eunice Reyes, a Filipino identifying person who is in a relationship with a white-identifying person, said. “These conversations come up organically. They strengthen our relationship, if anything.”

When it comes to children, interracial couples often find the need to have conversations with them about their own race.

“Have your children be aware, and be comfortable to ask them questions yourself,” Saito said. “You have to have those conversations and have them realize they are not alone.”

Race in the media was another focus of the panel. The under representation of interracial couples in TV shows and movies is something that many would like to see change.

“I feel like a lot of what I watch and see is a plot point of being an interracial couple. I want the plot point to be something else. We can’t be normal,” panelist Najelle Gilmore said. “It’s like, ‘Oh yes, let’s go watch the show with an interracial couple.’”

Gilmore said that even shows likeBlack-ish” andMixed-ish,” which seem to normalize interracial relationships, are created just for “commentary.”

Racial conversations often happen within the home first. However, it is important to extend these discussions outside of your household. Keeping this conversation moving allows society to further normalize interracial relationships.

“I feel like I am a part of a community now,” Gilmore said in regard to talking on the panel. “This feels good and I feel validated in my relationship.”

Creating an open platform for members to come together and share their experiences about being in an interracial relationship creates an environment where people feel heard.

“I like having this conversation and I am happy that it happened,” Silverio said. “The whole reason I wanted to do something like this is because of my relationship with my partner.”

The Office of Diversity Outreach and Development hosts events every Wednesday night from 4 p.m. until 5 p.m.

Zach Zdanowicz is a reporter. Contact him at zzdanowi@kent.edu.

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Hi, I’m Lauren Sasala, a senior journalism student from Toledo. I’m also the editor in chief of The Kent Stater and KentWired this semester. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important news about Kent State and the Kent community. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate.

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