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Interracial families react to Cheerios commercial, post family photos online

Published: Wednesday, June 26 2013 11:25 a.m. MDT

The Brown family, Horsham, Penn. (wearethe15percent.com) The Brown family, Horsham, Penn. (wearethe15percent.com)

Within the past month, several incidents online have caused the topic of racism to make headlines. Whether at a sporting event, the Supreme Court floor or from a Food Network star, the issue continues to grow. Now several families have joined together to share their stories of interracial marriage.

It was just two weeks ago that a commercial produced by the Cheerios cereal brand caused an uproar when an interracial family was featured. Many debated whether the commercial was appropriate, while Cheerios stood by its TV ad.

After seeing the commercial and hearing the debate, photographer Michael David Murphy decided to create a website titled "We Are the 15 percent," a place where other interracial families, such as his own, could post their own family photos. The title came from a 2008 census report that stated 15 percent of American families are multiracial.

The Santana family, Houston. (wearethe15percent.com) The Santana family, Houston. (wearethe15percent.com)

"When my wife and I watched the video, it felt great to (finally) see a representation of our own family," Murphy wrote on the website regarding the Cheerios commercial. "We created this site to publicly reflect the changing face of the American family."

Although the site was created a few weeks ago, it has already published several pages' worth of interracial family photos, updating the site by the hour. According to Murphy, the site is not meant to cause contention but to raise awareness.

"We're not just reacting to negativity, we're boosting representation, elevating the conversation and hopefully giving context that reaches beyond Madison Avenue. These families exist; we eat breakfast and walk our dogs and love just as hard as families in other cereal commercials," Murphy wrote in email to the Huffington Post.

Devra, Cheryl, Sofie and Keith, Syracuse, N.Y. (wearethe15percent.com) Devra, Cheryl, Sofie and Keith, Syracuse, N.Y. (wearethe15percent.com)

Murphy's hope is to end perceptions that interracial families are anything less than normal. On the site Murphy referenced an incident that took place in Virginia regarding an interracial family in which a Virginia man returned home from Walmart to find a police officer at his door.

Joseph, a white man who did not want his last name revealed, and his black wife Keana told the Washington, D.C., TV affiliate Fox5DC that they were furious to find out that the officer was accusing Joseph of kidnapping his three daughters.

"He asks us very sincerely, 'Hey, I was sent here by Walmart security. I just need to make sure that the children that you have are your own,'" Joseph said.

Christopher Colbert, the father of the interracial girl featured in the Cheerios ad, was interviewed by MSNBC earlier this month. Colbert also expressed the importance of raising awareness.

Howie and Ashley, Atlanta, Ga. (wearethe15percent.com) Howie and Ashley, Atlanta, Ga. (wearethe15percent.com)

"When we first saw the first five comments, they were good, and then it started to get negative after that point," Colbert added. "My reaction to it was very exciting because being a part of the biracial family is just a reality. We're also part of the face of America, and so America needs to see this is just a way of life and this is the way that life is today."

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company