BOS Program Explores Inter-Racial Relationships

Katy Hillbo

What is love? It is an impossible question. Love is something different for each person, and yet, it is the thread that binds all of us together and makes sense of our messy lives. Love can reveal the best and bring out the worst in each of us. It can make us feel like we are the luckiest people in the world or like we are being torn into pieces.
The mystery of love is that it doesn’t play by the rules. Love cannot be quantified. It cannot be controlled, defined or planned; it can only be felt.
Thursday, Apr. 3, the Black Organization of Students held a program called “The Color of Love.” The goal of the program was to explore relationships that challenge the racial boundaries that are still so prevalent in society.
The program began with a showing of “Guess Who?,” the 2005 remake of the classic 1967 film “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” The film gives an updated version of the story of a supposedly liberal couple who get a surprise when their daughter reveals that she is in an inter-racial relationship by bringing her boyfriend home to meet them. The movie gives a comedic, but relatable account of the discrimination that many inter-racial couples face, even from family members.
After the showing, a panel answered questions that BOS members had prepared as well as questions from the audience. The panel represented people with a wide range of perspectives on inter-racial relationships, including: an inter-racial couple from the Appleton community, an inter-racial couple from Lawrence, the daughter of an inter-racial couple and an inter-racial homosexual couple.
The panel members and members of the audience told accounts of their experiences as members of inter-racial relationships. Some were humorous, some heart-wrenching.
“.People thought that he was a Packer and I was his agent,” said Director of Admissions and Lawrence alumnus Chuck Erickson ’02 about an experience he and his boyfriend had when they were at a restaurant.
Lawrentians Ben Glover ’08 and Megan Hendrickson ’08 recalled the looks that they received from people when they walked into church together during a visit to Hendrickson’s small and non-diverse hometown of Antigo, Wisconsin.
“Everybody turned around to look at us,” said Hendrickson.
A member of the audience also shared a story: “Once, my husband and I went out to dinner with another couple [who were both of the same ethnicity]. When the waitress brought our leftovers back, she put theirs together. She gave us separate bags,” she said. This woman married her husband in 1973, the same year Mississippi repealed its miscegenation law. It was the last state in the U.S. to do so.
“The Color of Love” was an important program and is hopefully a sign of a trend toward an increase in education about inter-racial relationships and race issues. After all, as one audience member commented, “A lot of the things happening here happen not out of prejudice, but out of ignorance.