Echoing Shang and Haigh’s sentiment, Coates and Aladesanmi believe that their specific gender combination as a white woman and a black man, a historically contentious pairing, makes a difference in the reception of their relationship on campus.
In sum, Coates and Aladesanmi say, they feel tolerated at Harvard—but not accepted.
“I remember feeling so little and very embarrassed and awkward and out of place when she avoided eye contact with me, looked at her feet, and mumbled about how yeah, it was a threat,” Coates recalls.
Coates suggests that disapproval of their relationship takes on an academic tone within Harvard’s black community.
Several other couples that represent many other ethnicities were also invited to participate but declined to do so. Carroll ’17, a Kirkland resident who is white, and Stephen S.
Yen ’17, a Pforzheimer resident who is Asian, being part of a romance that stretches from the river to the Quad can be more problematic than being part of an interracial couple.
While the two Asian and white couples interviewed for this article say that they have not confronted any discrimination due to their mixed-race relationship, the white and black couple interviewed said they have encountered a substantial amount of prejudice on campus.