“January 18, 2016. For most people today is a free day off from work or from school. Martin Luther King Jr. Day does not hold a true meaning to many Americans. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a husband, father, minister, activist, and – more importantly – a leader in the African American Civil Rights Movement. Dr. King practiced nonviolent civil disobedience and served as a voice of hope for people of color from 1955 to the day he was assassinated in 1968. Dr. King delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963 at the March on Washington in Birmingham, Alabama. This speech has gone on to represent the hope African Americans had and still have that one day the world will not be classified by the color of one’s skin, but by their actions and their character.
Fifty-three years after his death, his “dreams” are gradually becoming more and more noticeable in everyday life. In the work place, a person cannot be turned away from work due to the color of their skin. Schools consist of students pertaining to almost every race possible. Everyone is granted access to the same bathrooms and water fountains. The race issue is finally over isn’t it? No, racism and segregation are still very prevelent in today’s society and are still just as hurtful.
I was given the opportunity to sit down and talk to an interracial couple who are beginning to make the climb into the social media spotlight. Joshua Henderson,20, and Kayla Catalano,18, have recently made their two-year relationship more public to their followers on various platforms such as Phhhoto. The two take their followers on adventures with them and create a situation where the followers are left wondering “what’s next?” Between the two of them, they have accumulated 5336 followers and over 80k likes in just thirty weeks, however most of the content is featured on Kayla’s constantly growing account.
I took my seat in the self proclaimed “hipster coffee shop” across from the couple. Their body language confirming the idea they were crazy about each other. Joshua complimented Kayla and she grinned. Their playful flirting continued as we waited for our coffee to brew. I found myself wondering how someone could look at the two of them and not see two people sharing innocent love, but black and white- not even humans- just colors. Immediately my mind was thinking of more and more questions to pick their brains on and I could not wait for the interview to begin.
Five minutes later our coffee arrived and it was go time. I wanted to see what it was like having a relationship be something people looked up to but at the same time looked down upon, and once I started asking questions I couldn’t stop.”
What was the initial response when you told your families you were dating a person of a different race?
“My parents didn’t really care. In my family there are a bunch of interracial couples already. My uncle’s wife is white, my aunt’s boyfriend is white, and I have a bunch of mixed cousins. They really didn’t care. It was normal.”
“My parents were like ‘What?'” *chuckle* “Yeah, they weren’t really thrilled because they didn’t know him. It was also my first boyfriend too so that didn’t help. It was like ‘Boyfriend! What? Black! What?’ They love him though, they hang out without me. It was just shocking at first.”
Do you believe racism still exists?
How does the public on social media generally take seeing an interracial couple?
“Yeah, interracial couples have become such a, not a trend, but, a big thing now and you know its more smiled upon than frowned upon and people love it.”
“They are happy for us and excited and ‘Yay, Interracial!’
How does the general public usually take seeing an interracial couple walking down the street?
“It’s a lot of looks from older people just from a different time. Younger people usually just judge our outfits.”
“We get a lot of weird looks, A LOT. Like double takes. It’s mostly from older folk… older white folk. I’ve even gotten some looks from older black people. It’s really just older folk in general, you know, the older times. They’re usually like ‘what?’ Younger people are okay with it because they know that it’s okay now and older people are like ‘back in my day..'”
How do you guys feel when people consider you as playing into the stereotype of the “Black guy dating the white girl”?
“It’s about to get pretty serious. I feel like today everyone wants to go with the whole ‘Black guys only want the white girls and white girls loving the black guys’ type of thing, but for me I was attracted to her personality before anything else and hopefully she was attracted to my personality before anything. I think we were both raised to see color, but for it to not be a big factor or anything like that. So, when people are ‘Oh, you’re doing the whole stereotypical- you only like white girls’ No, I think every one is beautiful in their own way. I only like Kayla, but it’s just like that. I don’t know, people are weird.”
“I feel like it’s super messed up because they don’t have the right to judge us, they don’t know us, they don’t know the type of people we are and how respectful our relationship is.”
What advice do you have for other interracial couples or for people who are thinking about getting in an interracial relationship, but are scared of what other people might think?
“Just do it. You love who you love and screw what other people think. Make sure you tell your loved ones and don’t keep it a secret because that’s just adding to racism.”
“Do what your heart is telling you. The heart knows what it wants.”
How do you guys keep your relationship strong?
“The main thing is to always be honest and trustworthy. We go out and make it exciting. We make sure that spending time together never dies, never gets dull, and never gets boring.”
“Oh wow, well, honestly it took a lot of time to become strong- almost two years. We had to really learn about each other and what we both want from each other and how to respect one another. But, honestly the keys are to just be honest with your partner and yourself and to have trust. We just love each other and have fun.”
To view the whole interview, visit Jenn’s blog here: http://jenayalauren.wix.com/jennuinethoughts
All credit for this article goes to Jennuine Thoughts©
On January 15th 2016, my best friend, boyfriend and I sat down in a coffee shop and let our minds wander. With journals, pens and cameras in hand, we spent hours undergoing the creative process.
29 degrees this morning in Jacksonville, Florida. There’s just something so serene about the cool colors of winter that make it necessary to be photographed.
We started as best friends. We were inseparable- only through texting of course. I knew his favorite color: forrest green, and he knew mine. If that’s not friendship then I don’t know what is. We remained best friends from my freshmen year all the way until my junior year. I was there for him while he vented to me about his girl problems. If only he knew I had the biggest crush on him, I would think. However, I bit my tongue and accepted the role as ‘The Best Friend’. In November of my junior year my family and I took a week long cruise. Joshua and I realized that our texting streak would soon come to a halt. It was during this period of separation that we realized our true feelings for one another. On January 6th, 2014 he sat me down and asked me to be his girlfriend. Two years ago I didn’t understand how much of an impact the word “yes” would have. I didn’t know about the beautiful memories that we would soon make together. But I also didn’t know how difficult relationships could be. The first year together was filled with many ups and downs. Not only was the transition from best friends to a couple difficult, but awkward as well. We quickly had to learn how to deal with one another on a much more intimate level. We both experienced very personal emotions and feelings together. He learned things like how cranky I get when I’m hungry, while I discovered how often he forgets his wallet at home. Being together for two years taught us to ensure I’m always fed, along with a reminder to bring his wallet- all done with smiles on our faces. Ultimately we’re growing and learning together. The more experiences and hardships we go through, the stronger we become as a team. I couldn’t be in a happier place with him, though. With the love and care he provides me, every day is a happy one.
The year 2015 blessed me with so many experiences and opportunities. I was able to travel to new places, try new things and even graduated from high school. Around the time of graduation I was fighting a constant battle of trying to find happiness and purpose; I found myself drowning in negativity. That summer I made myself my #1 priority. I didn’t really talk to anyone or make plans. I just stayed up late drawing, reading books and thinking about life. It felt good. For once I wasn’t being told who did what last weekend or how awful that one girl is. This newfound sense of optimism is what guided me along the journey of finding myself. Throughout the next few months I made many advancements in my photography career, gained a fan-base and grasped the feeling of being genuinely happy. To end the year on the best note possible, I spent New Year’s unplugged on a cruise ship with my loving parents and boyfriend. I cannot express how grateful I am for my family, friends and followers. The support is endearing and pushes me to strive harder every day. As I close the book on 2015 I realize this: Hard work and a positive mindset can take you anywhere. I look forward to where 2016 will take me.