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Photo Website Highlights Local Interracial Families

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WeAreThe15Percent
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The rate of interracial marriages is on the rise in the United States, but despite the growing numbers, racially blended families are often unrepresented on television and in magazines.Several families in Jacksonville have been featured on a popular website that highlights interracial families.

Described as, "a crowd-sourced collection of portraits of American interracial families and marriages," WeAreThe15Percent.com was started by an interracial couple in Atlanta in response to the online backlash a Cheerios commercial received a few months ago.

The commercial featured a black man, a white woman and their biracial child.   Watch the Cheerios commercial below:

Cheerios received such an adverse response, that they reportedly disabled the comment section for the commercial on Youtube.

“We thought this is an opportunity to do to something a little differently with the conversation about race,” said Alyson West. “The website is based on the latest census data that says 15 percent of new marriages in America are interracial.”

West and her husband Michel David Murphy started the website in response the racist comments the Cheerios commercial received.  

West is black and Murphy is white. They have a one-year-old daughter and live in Atlanta.  

The website features a collection of pictures of interracial families. The couple launched the site in June using pictures of families they knew personally. Since then, they have received thousands of pictures from families all across the United States.   

There are even a few families from Jacksonville featured on the site. Kimberly Kim’s family is one of them.  Kim is black and her husband is Asian. They have been married for seven years and have a five-year-old daughter. Kim learned about the website from a friend.

“I’ve always talked to my husband about just the growth of mixed children and interracial relationships, and I always thought it was so interesting,” Kim said.  

Kim didn’t receive any negative reactions from her family about marrying outside of her race, but her family was curious about who their daughter would resemble.  

It’s not only the curiosity about how their children might look that brings interracial couples to the website. The website is a place where blended families see other versions of themselves.  

“For people who don’t have families like this in their own community, it’s a validating thing, to see faces that look like your own,” West said. “There’s something to seeing a family like your own or a face like your own represented in our culture.”

According to the 2010 census, less than three percent of people in Jacksonville consider themselves to be biracial. Despite that small number, Kim said Jacksonville is still a good place to raise a biracial child, especially compared to other cities.

“We have had some pretty interesting comments outside of the city, but Jacksonville, nobody has been blatantly disrespectful towards us,” Kim said. “We have gone to other places. Smaller cities tend to be a little more prejudice.”

As for their daughter, the couple wanted to make sure their daughter was proud of being biracial, especially because she started kindergarten this year.  

“We certainly talked to her about the difference in the culture, and made sure she was aware, that there could be some backlash,” Kim said. Her daughter thinks it’s “cool” to be biracial and said it’s fun answering people’s questions.

Even though WeAreThe15Percent.com has received national attention, West wants a time to come when a website highlighting interracial families is simply not necessary in American culture. 

She hopes the “site just becomes a collection of photographs, that at one point was significant to people, and now doesn’t have to be.”

You can follow WJCT on Twitter @WJCTJax.