So for our very first blog, we thought it was only fitting to answer the question of why we started this in the first place.
Back in January, I uploaded a video on my personal Instagram to introduce the idea and announce the official launch in Feburary.
But the responses to the video not only reassured me, but also confirmed why we did need something like this.
- "I love how you've taken a negative and turned it into a positive! Very inspiring and look forward to seeing where it takes you as well as listening to other people's stories"
- "Growing up in Asia, I exactly know the racial stereotypes and bias that exists. I remembered the disapproval from my parents when I was dating with a black man while studying aboard :("
- "My partner is half Chinese, half Mexican and my family is British. ... I absolutely love learning and submerging myself in all 3 of his cultures and I can't wait to raise diverse badass babies with him!! Thank you for this project/movement and for all you're doing!!!"
The fact is...
Despite changing demographics in the UK, multicultural couples still experience prejudice (Rosenthal 2019).
I experienced this prejudice firsthand - unfortunately very close to home.
My mother reacted negatively when I told her about my partner Mycal, a Black man born and raised in the UK. Even if I already knew there would be some pushback - it still hurt. She told me "your life will be difficult" if I was to commit to him, along with other hurtful things.
I'm pleased to say that since that heated conversation, things have slowly been improving with between us. But it drew me to face a troubling question:
Why is this an issue we are still facing in 2021?
This question led me on the journey to research who else was facing the same situation online. I discovered a Huge community of others sharing experiences on Youtube, Reddit, Instagram, - There are even some couples saying they had to hide their relationship for over 3 years.
My mother's reaction, along with wider currents events such as the resurgence of Black Lives Matter and COVID-related Asian hate crime, meant that Mycal and I were forced to speak about race more seriously with each other.
It was reassuring to see others out there facing the same harsh reality. But we also realised there wasn't any one bringing all of this together in a meaningful way to do more for our community. And we didn't see our specific voices and experiences represented by an organisation in the same way as the many brands did for various ethnic groups, LGBTQ+, and even mixed heritage communities.
This gap really bothered us. Especially when our firsthand experiences made us realise the effect of these struggles on mental health.
And as we dug deeper, we noticed many other struggles that people in multicultural relationships can face.
- One of these being Fetishisation. Whether that's fetishisation of race, which plays out in online dating, or the fetishisation of mixed babies, to even the fetishisation of interracial couples themselves with new interracial 'influencers', landing modelling gigs and magazine interviews, along with interracial fan pages on Instagram.
- There’s also people getting accused of “selling out” for dating outside of their race. For example, I recently interviewed a Black woman dating a White man who gets criticised by other Black men and has to battle the 'gold-digger' stereotype.
- These couples are also trying to figure out how to raise mixed children, and support them to feel proud of their mixed identity.
So yes, there’s lots to unpack for multicultural couples but we don't explore them enough outside of private conversations with friends.
With Represent Love, we aim to open up more safe spaces to explore multicultural relationships today, and celebrate diversity in love - in new and exciting ways that we may not have seen before.
- For example one of our projects is a streetwear collection. Why streetwear? Well we recognise streetwear as a great way to spread our message offline, but we also want to give a subtle nod to the influence of hip hop culture in bridging the divides across different ethnic communities around the world.
- We also started interviewing couples and publishing their stories - hoping to inspire others to speak up about their experiences and share the joy of their cultural exchange.
Since our official launch in the beginning of Feb, we've been slowly growing our community and mapping out our projects for the year.
On this blog, we'll be sharing information about these projects as we roll them out, as well as more insights gathered through our work.
While it's been difficult to run this brand as a duo next to our day jobs, we know the social purpose behind this is worth it, and we hope each couple we connect with feels inspired by this purpose and recognise their voice matters to build a more accepting future.