War of worlds
The amount of diversity on OU’s campus creates opportunities for students to engage in interracial relationships. One student on campus has a particular reason for his choice to date a woman of another race.
“I find non-Caucasion women are more attractive,” says Arthur Dixon, a freshman from Ardmore. “You grow up with some women in your life - your mom and maybe a sister - and romantically you want something different from them.”
Despite minor problems, interracial relationships have become more widely accepted. Due to increased numbers of multiracial residents in the U.S., the U.S. Census Bureau modified its form so that multiracial people, like Kelsey Brown, Dixon’s girlfriend, can fill in more than one race and be counted accurately with the rest of the public.
“Times have changed a lot. So many people couldn’t tolerate change, and now people just accept it,” says Teresa Hopp, Brown’s mother.
Brown, who is both Caucasian and African American. So far, they have yet to experience any problems from other people because they are an interracial couple.
“My parents and friends support my relationship as long as I’m happy,” says Brown, a freshman from Ardmore. The acceptance the freshman couple experiences relieves Brown’s parents, who experienced an incredibly different reaction from others.
Twenty years ago, Brown’s parents, Teresa Hopp and Rodney Brown, met while working in Oklahoma City.
“We had a lot in common, and the more time we spent together, the more attracted we were to each other,” Hopp says. The one crucial thing they didn’t have in common was their race.
“My father absolutely couldn’t stand anyone who wasn’t white. My mother was the same but not quite as bad,” Hopp says.
Because Rodney is of African American descent, Hopp kept their relationship a secret.
“I was living in Oklahoma City by myself, so I decided not to tell my family . . . They didn’t have to know,” Hopp says.
For a few years, Hopp was able to keep her secret, only disclosing it to three of her sisters who came to visit her. Although they kept the secret, its disclosure was threatened when she became pregnant.
“My dad passed away before my first daughter was born, so he never knew about Rodney,” Hopp says. “. . . My mother came to visit myself and the baby in the hospital, but even then I didn’t tell her about Rodney. I was scared she would reject us.”
Because Hopp’s first born, Erin, didn’t look different from any other Caucasian infant, Hopp planned to let her mother grow close to Erin before exposing her to the truth of the baby’s father.
After Hopp’s second child was born, her mother finally met Rodney.
“. . . The first time she saw him was when Rodney pulled up in a U-Haul. She didn’t — and still hasn’t — said anything to me about it, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t complain to others,” Hopp says.
Like Hopp’s relationship, one student couple on campus experiences challenges from people judging them.
“We get weird looks sometimes,” says Sarah Van Deventer, geology sophomore. Van Deventer is Caucasian and her boyfriend, Jesse Vera, is Mexican American.
“One time in a small town in Texas, we stopped at a gas station, and we were both [outside] together, and this lady was giving us a disgusted look,” says Vera, instrumental music education sophomore. This is not Vera’s first brush with trouble in an interracial relationship.
In a previous relationship, Vera experienced intense problems with his ex-girlfriend’s family.
“Her parents were constantly telling her we weren’t going to work out because I was Mexican and I’d end up beating her or something crazy like that,” Vera says. “Those problems aren’t in this relationship. Our parents support us and our happiness.”