Tell us about yourself? What is your heritage/race?
I am a 22-year-old, from Derby, England. I am a PE & School Sport Undergraduate who is currently training to become a PE teacher. I live at home with my mother, stepfather, and sister and I am of mixed background– White/Black Caribbean.
What are you most proud of about your heritage?
The achievements. Whether it be in sports, media, history a lot of black and mixed-race people have achieved great things that will be remembered forever. Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, Josephine Baker, Meghan Markle, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela and a lot more have proved that it is ok to be of ‘colour’, it is ok to stand up for your country and fight for the right to be seen and heard in different ways.
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?
I grew up in a family where my grandparents felt strongly about their upbringing within the black community. They reminded me about Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and Rosa Parks and they explained to me how blacks didn’t always get treated like everyone else. Growing up they encouraged me to watch films about how blacks were used as slaves and help me develop an insight into how the world was before I was around.
Tell us a bit about your childhood. What was your school/university experience like? How was it overall?
My school life was the hardest for me; especially primary school. I was the ‘weird black girl’. Everyone used to fall out with me because I wasn’t as ‘brown as any normal mixed-race person’ and I was backwards because my mum was black, and my dad was white whereas everyone else had a black dad and a white mum. I wasn’t like everyone else and they made it known to me. University was the best experience for me; everyone accepted me for me. I have not been racially discriminated for ‘being different’ like I had before. I was given many opportunities to excel and I felt accepted into a community that wasn’t always perfect.
Do you feel like your race and culture was a topic covered in school?
I don’t feel my race/culture was visited as much as I thought in school. In secondary school, the KKK was spoken about briefly in a History lesson but it quickly turned back to everything to do with the war and how all the whites of different backgrounds were being treated. If it wasn’t for my upbringing, I wouldn’t have an insight into how my heritage has changed over the years.
Have you ever encountered any difficulties in your working career?
Luckily, I have always felt comfortable within work. All the jobs I have had, have provided me with opportunities that have allowed me to excel and I have worked alongside many different ethnicities and backgrounds which is nice to see. Employers I have come across haven’t discriminated you for your race and now everyone has an equal opportunity in most of the UK which has allowed me to pursue careers and gain relevant experiences.
When it comes to relationships, do you find there any challenges that you face?
I think there are challenges with any relationship. Your family plays a big part in who they would like you to be with and then there is pressure from your partner's side too. In the media, you see controversy about who should be with who and it's wrong. You love someone for who they are; they could be purple with yellow hair but if they have a good heart you will accept them and expect your family to support your journey too.
My own experiences have shown me that some of my family do not accept others because my mother, who is black, is married to a white man, and some of my family to this day frown upon that causing a divide. People create this image that only your own race should be together; mixed ethnicities are still not accepted to this day. Dealing with the ignorance within my family isn’t easy but we accept the fact that you cannot please everyone; you’ve got to do what makes you happy.
Do you feel you have been denied any opportunities in your life?
I do not remember any opportunities I have been denied.
Have you ever experienced a time where you felt someone of a different race has stood up for you and actively shown solidarity?
Not that I can remember. A lot of people my age will not stand up for themselves let alone people around them. They don’t want the aggravation that comes with it and they want to live a peaceful life without creating tension amongst different ethnicities. Sometimes people just feel that silence is best because it leads to a happier more peaceful life but that is not the case. As a girl from a mixed background, if someone around me was being discriminated against for their race, I would stand up and challenge as to why it is not ok. Why it is so necessary to pick on someone just because they are not the same as you?
What do you think is the most difficult part about living in Britain for yourself?
Being judged for the colour of my skin. People see groups of blacks and instantly see red. People have a quick judgment on what they think is going to happen when they either walk past or are near to people of black backgrounds. We get judged because of what is seen in the media and that we are going to instantly cause harm to those in the streets and it is not true. As a female of white and black origin, I still get funny looks when out and about because people know you for the colour of your skin, not what is on the inside.
How do you think we can better educate ourselves in the UK about race and equality?
Simply taking the time to read up on what is happening in your community. Even if it’s the significant difference in deaths in your area, gang, and drug statistic ratios between black and whites, and also looking into facts about how black people have helped to change the world. It is not all about how they have hindered and how they cause danger, violence, etc. Everyone is their own person and they choose their own lifestyle.
Looking into heroes and heroines of different races and how they have helped impact things such as sports development, communities, and charities.
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.
DO NOT BE AFRAID! Just because you may be the only black person in a friendship group (like me) and people label you from the offset without speaking a word, keep your cool you will not be hurt. You may be on holiday with your white dad and his white partner (like me) and get looks of disgust because it doesn’t seem right, let them judge. Let the outsiders look in and think what they want to think. Being part of the black community makes me proud. You can achieve amazing things no matter what colour your skin is; So keep dreaming, believing, and achieving and prove to those who look down on you, those who create a bad name for you, and prove that you are who you are!
You’re not the same as anyone else, just be you…