“I'm gaining plenty of happiness through my photography work.”
In 2016, London based photographer Susan Dale launched an online platform called HaluHalo (literally translated from Tagalog as ‘mix-mix’) to address the lack of public discourse on mixed-race identity and broaden perceptions of what it means to be mixed in modern society.
1. What is HaluHalo and why did you start it?
HaluHalo is an online platform I created to elevate the stories and experiences of mixed race people. I was frustrated that I was 30 odd years old and had gone through life never seeing or hearing my experiences in the media or arts. I've grown up with images of what I was supposed to look like (cute delicate European features, light eyes, perfectly curled hair...) which were narrow, damaging stereotypes. I grew up without having a mixed race role model because many mixed race celebrities never talked about their identity (and that's still pretty much the same now) and that silence can be deafening and propagate feelings that such a mixed identity is something to be shameful of. I grew up with my identity being fetishized and bombarded by monoracial people telling me what their unsubstantiated opinions were on the mixed identity (from the naïve 'You get the best of both worlds' to the triggering 'half-caste').
I was driven to create a space that I had needed so badly when I was younger. Through the portraits I take (which celebrates the diversity of our community) and stories shared I hope that other mixed race people find validation of their experiences and feelings and a sense of belonging.
2. What are your main sources of inspiration?
Travel, Travel, Travel! Nothing excites me more than visiting new places and experiencing new cultures. It's confrontational, it questions what you know and I always feel more engaged with my surroundings when I travel - you have no choice but to when in unfamiliar places. I always aim to travel to three new countries every year to feed my curiosity.
3. Favourite read over the last year?
Without a doubt Becoming by Michele Obama. Her candidness on speaking on imposter syndrome, juggling her wants with her husband's ambition and family's needs, thriving and succeeding but still looking around for fulfilment when you reach the top...loved it all and she's such an inspiring woman, it was fantastic getting to know her story more and hearing about her and Obama's relationship because they are serious #couplegoals.
4. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
Tracee Ellis Ross - she's a phenomenal woman who is living life on her terms. Watch her speech at Glamour's 2017 Women of the Year Award and get fired up!
5. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
To truly not give a fuck. I'm a Pisces and a mixed race one on top of that so my sensitivity levels are pretty high!
6. For what in your life do you feel most grateful for?
The struggles. Without them I would probably have grown up misplacing my values for superficial and conformist ideals. Without the struggles I wouldn't know what I am capable of. The struggles humble me. They make me truly appreciative when everything aligns and I'm riding high 'coz I know what it took to get there and I know it won't always last. The struggles show me who I can count on for support and remind me that these are the relationships that deserve my energy.
Read more from Susan in the Mixed Identity Roundtable featured in POSTSCRIPT’s Issue 2.