A Look Into Asian American Writing at Princeton and Its Focus on Interracial Dating: Racial Preferences of Campus Couples in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s (Part 2)

By Christina Cho ’24

This is a continuation of a two-part series that broadly explores how discussions of “Asian American” identity and interracial dating overlap in student publications found in the University Archives. In Part 1, I examined a magazine called The Seedling and attempted to contextualize its underlying motive and somewhat ambiguous language. Here, I continue my discussion of Asian-white relationships using various examples of student writing from the 1980s through the early 2000s. I then examine an article from The Daily Princetonian that features an Asian-Black couple. The article shows that we need to consider other identities alongside race when discussing interracial dating.

Additional University Archives Sources on Interracial Dating

The student writing I found on Asian interracial dating from the 1980s generally focused more on the ambiguous acceptance of interracial dating on campus, rather than on specific racial pairings. The following are the earliest articles on interracial dating I found in The Daily Princetonian:

  • “Qualms, myths, tensions stymie interracial dating” (November 19, 1982): “Interracial couples just aren’t that common at Princeton.” In the article, a student notes that although students of different races can “‘be friendly with each other and eat together,’” they “‘don’t go to the same parties’” and “‘don’t date the same people.’” The article contextualizes this comment, asking students the reasons why interracial dating is uncommon. The article presents Princeton as a “fragmented community,” citing, for instance, how “for many whites, social life revolves around the [eating] clubs, while for blacks, the Third World Center and Princeton Inn dances are the main sites of social activity.”
  • “Interracial dating: Students meet mixed response to relationships” (December 4, 1986): This article points to a similar tension between students’ descriptions of how accepting Princeton is of interracial relationships. The article includes interviews with Asian students, such as “Kelly,” who discusses her experiences dating both Asian and non-Asian men, concluding: “I encountered the same boy-girl relationships in both situations […] all guys are the same.”

Photo from Princeton: Our Perspective, 1981. Historical Subject Files (AC109), Box 294, Folder 7.

Continue reading

A Look Into Asian American Writing at Princeton and Its Focus on Interracial Dating: The Seedling (Part I)

By Christina Cho ’24

This is a two-part series that broadly explores how discussions of “Asian American” identity and interracial dating overlap in student publications found in the University Archives. In Part 1, I examine a magazine called The Seedling and attempt to contextualize its underlying motive and somewhat ambiguous language.

Finding The Seedling

After reading “A Brief History of Asian and Asian American Students at Princeton,” I wanted to learn more about the Asian American students who attended Princeton before me. During my search for Asian American perspectives in the archives, a magazine called The Seedling particularly caught my attention. As I’ll discuss in this post, The Seedling approaches the subject of “Asian American identity” from an angle I was not expecting. 

The Seedling, February 1985. Davis International Center Records (AC344), Box 1.

Arthur Yee ’84 founded The Seedling in 1981 as a newsletter for the Asian American Students Association (AASA). In the 1980s, AASA was making a conscious effort to address its political inactivity, which had followed a period of intense activism in the 1970s after changes in AASA’s leadership. In 1981, AASA held an emergency meeting to discuss its many “organizational problems” and the “prevalent apathetic attitude of Asians and other students on this campus.” The Seedling demonstrates a way in which AASA renewed its commitment to community-building among Asian American students.  Continue reading