Henrique Pereira

Tell us about yourself? What is your heritage/race?

My name is Henrique, born in Angola and raised in Portugal. My ethnicity is mainly Portuguese and Angolan (Black and White), although my DNA results suggest a wider mix within the African continent.

What are you most proud of about your heritage?

Definitely being able to experience more than one culture, and knowing that they are all part of who I am, makes it very Interesting. I wouldn't say that I have something that I am most proud of. I do love everything in me, but I would say that Portuguese food is one of the best things ever.

Let’s talk a bit about your family. Have they been the ones to teach you about your histories? Are you comfortable talking about any hardships they have faced over the years?

Finding out about my own family's history is particularly hard because not only both of my parents are mixed, but neither of them grew up with their fathers, so there was always this massive untold story about my own background that they could not tell me because they didn't know.

Tell us a bit about your childhood. What was your school/university experience like? How was it overall?

My school was pretty intense, not because of my skin colour - as it was very diverse - but because of my sexuality. I would always get teased for my mannerisms. They would always tell me that I was too feminine, and I struggled to understand how I was being "feminine".

African culture doesn't help either, it's still very entrenched in their many African parent's minds that being gay is wrong. So I would not only get teased at school but then I would have to behave in front of my father. I didn't want to get any weird looks or possibly beaten up. I remember having weird conversations with them about my sexuality when I was still not out. It was awful.

But when I turned 16, I moved to the UK on my own, so I could be free from everyone and everything, and learn to be myself. The rest is history.

Do you feel like your race and culture was a topic covered in school?

Not really, no. We did very briefly at school, and I was even shown as an example of how colonialists' children looked like when mating with black women.

It is the lack of these discussions that made it even harder for me, to understand who I really was. People would call me black, but I wasn't able to fully be black because of my skin colour. Nevermind trying to connect more with my white side, my parents couldn't tell me a thing because they didn't know themselves. So I really had to go out of my way to learn more about what being mixed meant.

Have you ever encountered any difficulties in your working career?

I'm still very young, so I still have to go through a lot in this aspect. What I can say is that according to statistics I wouldn't have as many issues as most black people, because I have white-sounding names and people think I come from a middle or upper-middle-class family from the way I speak, which I crazy.

When it comes to relationships, do you find there any challenges that you face?

I'm terrible with relationships, for starters. I wouldn't be able to make any substantial comments about this, although I know black and mixed people who do say that their relationships didn't go further as their partners' parents wouldn't accept that relationship.

Do you feel you have been denied any opportunities in your life?

I have been denied a lot of opportunities. The reason, however, is more to do with family issues.

Have you ever experienced a time where you felt someone of a different race has stood up for you and actively shown solidarity?

Where I grew up was very diverse, so it was very common to see my friends calling out on racism. I would have my best friend, when I was younger, always arguing with his racist neighbour whenever I went to his apartment.

What do you think is the most difficult part about living in Britain for yourself?

Being single!

Jokes aside I will be honest, my life in the UK hasn't been made harder in the UK because of my ethnicity.

How do you think we can better educate ourselves in the UK about race and equality?

Most certainly. I don't think we are taught enough at school. This creates a lack of awareness particularly needed for children of colour. It all starts with the school system, that needs to tell people how we got here, and teach them how to respect each other.

Anything else that you want to address? This is all about you and your story. We want you to feel free and safe to tell us what you feel is necessary.

Thank you for inviting me to share my amazing life. Not. I really appreciate the invitation, and I hope that I made any sense.

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