British | Dominican
I would identify myself as being ethnically mixed White and Black Caribbean. My mum is White British and my dad, although his genetic background is from Dominica, is also British (he was born in the UK). They were both in secondary school when they met. Like my parents, I grew up in the more culturally diverse end of Oxford, before moving away for university. I had the opportunity to live in Shanghai for 5 months a few years ago, and now I’m studying for a master’s at the LSE in London - one of the most internationally diverse universities in the world.
All of my adult life I’ve been exposed to a whole mix of cultures, which has made me even more appreciative of the differences we all have that make us unique in our own way. I’m more drawn to people who have similar traits to me; such as openness, honesty, a wicked sense of humour and curiosity to try new things. My friendship group is quite varied in terms of race, and I’m really lucky to have made friends from all over the world. I find it fascinating comparing what the norm for me is to their experiences. Romantically, I don’t feel race consciously plays a part in who I choose to date, but I do think I have a ‘type’. I have had the odd encounter on nights out where guys go out of their way to tell me that they much prefer mixed girls, which is nice and all, but the idea of fetishizing is a bit strange to me.
I can’t remember the exact context in which this occurred, but as a child (around 6/7 years old) I had a friend say to me once ‘Oh, I didn’t know your dad was Black’. I think that was possibly the first time I realised that that wasn’t the case for everyone else, but it didn’t bother me in the slightest. In primary school I never felt like I was or looked much different from the rest of the kids in my class, but maybe that’s because of my complexion: I’m fairly ‘light’ for someone who is mixed-race which sometimes people readily point out, but it doesn’t bother me! When people ask me where I’m from I say ‘Oxford’ which most people accept (whether they’re too polite to ask further or don’t know I’m mixed I can’t be sure). I never take offence when people probe further and question my response, I like that they’re curious and want to know more about me.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt that being mixed has been a hindrance to me, but that might be because of my skin colour. I’m British, just with an added quirk, and I embrace that as much as I can. I think it’s really cool to have this extra aspect to my character that a lot of people don’t have the privilege of having, but at the same time I appreciate that it hasn’t always been viewed this way, and still isn’t by a lot of people. Hearing of the prejudice my parents experienced being together and having a family makes me really quite angry that they went through that, but I’m also glad that times appear to be changing for the better.
I honestly would not want to change my racial background if I was given the opportunity. I understand that I probably feel this way as I haven’t felt a great deal of animosity towards me based on being mixed race, and I’m very lucky in that sense. I’ve liked seeing more mixed-race people feature in film, tv and adverts, especially families.
I love that mixed and other Black and minority ethnic people feel more and more liberated to celebrate their unique qualities as time passes. I think people on social media has had a great influence around this, like encouraging women to have confidence in wearing their hair naturally and reinforcing that it shouldn’t matter if you don’t conform to Western beauty standards, as we all have much more to offer beyond our looks.