Healing Our Wounds

Name: Aira Gucilatar
Age: 28
Ethnicity: Filipino
Nationality: British

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Story (transcript of audio):

I started dating my Caribbean boyfriend back in September 2015, and growing up in a Filipino household, I knew that it was going to be a problem. It was almost like an unspoken rule but common practice for Filipino parents to constantly remind their daughters to steer clear of black guys, so ‘don’t date a black boy’ was something I frequently heard from both my parents and other Asian parents with their daughters too. It wasn’t always said with real seriousness, sometimes it could’ve been said in jest, but the negative perception of getting romantically involved with black guys was loudly and openly communicated among the Asian community.

So as you can imagine, when my mum found out about me dating a black guy it was a hugely upsetting and scandalous shock for her. I remember her being in hysterics and inconsolable. My brother had to call my dad from the garden into the house to help comfort her because she couldn’t control her bawling. To this moment the sound of her cries that day haunts me. It might actually be the most difficult thing I’ve had to go through in my life so far.

We’ve made it so far since then, with my family coming to warmly accept and love my boyfriend. My boyfriend even goes to pick up my mum from work sometimes and my parents expect him at all the family gatherings and holidays. However, it’s definitely been a transformative journey that I didn’t expect to find myself in. I don't think I was equipped to be part of an interracial relationship. It’s sad to even say that you need to be ‘equipped’ to be part of an interracial relationship, but unfortunately, the reality is that it comes with a lot of hardships. Expect to be ridiculed, judged and questioned regularly whether it's from Filipino aunties pointing out that my boyfriend is black, or other black girls expressing their disapproval of us. Before my relationship and as naive as it sounds, I must admit that I was under the impression that racism didn’t exist anymore. But it was so easy to say racism doesn’t exist if you weren’t on the receiving end. If there is anything I’ve realised in the last 6 years it is that racism is very much a real present-day problem. It may not always be overt or blatant, because some of the discriminatory beliefs and behaviours we hold are so deeply rooted in our culture and society today.

My relationship has certainly highlighted the severe problem we have with racism and I’ve come to embrace the importance and need for us to constantly learn about other cultures, educate each other in the right way and learn to show love and patience to others. Seeing it firsthand, I believe a desire and effort to better understand each other and different cultures is the doorway to opening up real acceptance that will help eradicate racism