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Black & Brown Relationships Are About More Than Sex

Updated: Aug 17, 2021

When Priya Gopaldas selected Teddy Soares as one of her dates on Love Island, it felt eerily reminiscent of when Bukayo Saka became the third Black English footballer to miss his penalty kick against Italy. It was only a matter of time before the racist trolls came crawling from under the woodwork and started commenting on social media. Although various publications have spent the last few weeks discussing how racism presents itself on the British dating show and in real life, none have spoken in the context of Black x Brown relationships. So, here goes.

Following the episode in which Priya and Teddy went on their date, @BritAsiaTV's Instagram moderator must've fallen asleep as numerous comments referring to Priya as "Kanjari" and Teddy as "Kala" filled their timeline. It wasn't hard to read between the lines. First, how dare Priya (a South Asian woman) select Teddy (a British-Nigerian) as one of her dates? Then, the elephant in the room — was Priya going to shame her family and community further by sleeping with Teddy on national TV? In the eyes of those hurling the vitriolic abuse (primarily South Asian males), it was inevitable that Priya couldn't control herself and that Teddy was only good for one thing.

Maintaining the idea that Black x Brown relationships are only about sex upholds the beliefs of these unions being taboo and shameful. As I re-watched the episode of Priya and Teddy's date, I sat and waited for the moment that would've incited the trolls. Then, I waited some more, and the moment never arrived. Unless, of course, the trolls were incensed by Priya and Teddy sharing a continental French bisous. But, even this feels desperate at best. Instead, the pair shared a mature date before Teddy admitted to already having a love interest, and the two parted ways. By automatically associating Priya and Teddy's relationship as one based on sex, the trolls painted a picture of a woman incapable of making her own decisions, and a Black man looked at as merely a sex object.

Maintaining that Black x Brown relationships are only about sex erases the fact that similarities exist between our cultures/communities. For example, in HoT MiNute #001, we shared how white people used blackface and minstrelsy to portray Black people as the "other." Yet another archaic way of telling people, "stay within your own culture and community," is by implying that only people within your own culture can relate to you. By making others seem foreign or assuming a relationship is purely based on sex, people remove the possibilities of the relationship being anything of substance.

I've said this many times before but will repeat it for the people in the back. Black x Brown relationships are inevitable and feature wherever our communities co-exist (e.g., South Africa, Caribbean, etc.). Only once those against our relationships break free from believing our unions are only about sex will we be able to reconcile, acknowledge our similarities and unite against our common enemy.

Jonah Batambuze is a Ugandan-American, multidisciplinary artist, speaker, activist, and founder of the #BlindianProject. He was born in Chicago and raised in the cornfields of Central Illinois.

While studying International Business abroad at University College Dublin, Batambuze met a South Indian princess who later became his wife.

After utilizing his leadership skills to manage several of Europe's largest technology transformations across the financial services sector, Batambuze combined his professional experience with his love of storytelling and social media to found the #BlindianProject.

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