The Weber State University Diversity Committee organized a panel discussion to inform students about interracial relationships on Tuesday in the Wildcat Theater.

“The purpose of this panel discussion is to bring awareness about the fact that people still have issues about interracial relationships,” said Adrienne Gillespie, the coordinator of the Center for Diversity and Unity.

The title of the discussion, “Taboo Talks: Interracial Relationships,” brings up many questions. Some of the various question topics discussed included interracial tensions, cultural identity, racism and racial stereotypes.

“It’s a topic that’s timely and that should be addressed,” Gillespie said.

To introduce the discussion topic, the event started with a video clip that addressed a problem an interracial couple faced in March 2010. It was about a Caucasian man who had been beaten because he had been walking his African-American girlfriend home.

“It addressed that tensions still surround the interracial relationship topic,” said Lonald Wishom, the current vice president of the Diversity Committee.

Small video clips were shown periodically throughout the discussion to show audience members that interracial relationships are still an issue in today’s society.

“People fear what they don’t know and think that the differences that are visible are far greater than the similarities that you don’t know and that are on the inside,” Gillespie said.

The discussion was set up to include a mixture of audience questions and comments, as well as preselected questions Wishom brought together.

“My role as Center of Diversity vice president is to try to spread the ‘Purple Plague’ through issues of diversity, and I think that people get lost in why diversity is important,” Wishom said. “To me, the main purpose of this discussion is to cultivate cultural consideration across WSU.”

‘Spreading the Purple Plague’ is the theme for this year at WSU created by the student government. Its purpose is to show people that attending WSU is something to be proud of.

Gillespie, a panel member for the discussion, was selected because she is currently in an interracial relationship.

“I identify myself as black, and my boyfriend of two years identifies himself as Caucasian,” Gillespie said. “He had never dated interracially before me and he never thought that it would have been a big deal. So, dating interracially before, I was very upfront about how some people might not like it, people might stare and say things, and he couldn’t believe it until it actually happened.”

The panel incorporated WSU professors and students from across campus, including Amy Pittman, a Chinese member of the Diversity Center team; Devin Pugh, a political science major and WSU football player; Melinda Russel-Stamp, a psychology professor at WSU; Laura Munoz, a junior majoring in health administration, and David Jacoby, a senior majoring in physical education.

“I think that if you really like that person, just be with them and don’t feel like, just because some people will judge you, you can’t be with them,” Munoz said. “Of course you’re going to get looks, but just walk tall.”

Jacoby and Munoz, an interracial couple, both agreed that they chose each other because they had a connection not based on race.

“In the words of my mother, ‘color is only skin-deep, and we all bleed red,’” Jacoby said.

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