British | Egyptian/Jamaican
I identify as Black biracial, Atheist & Bisexual. My Mum is British, and my Dad is a quarter Egyptian and Jamaican. They were both born in London, so I think they lived in the same area. I have always known I was mixed-race and always been in touch with it.
I grew up in South East London, and I think growing up I felt conflicted with the extent to which I could claim ‘Blackness’, as I grew up with a White family and went to a predominately Black school and felt culturally quite out of the loop. I think growing up around so many Black girls enriched in culture helped me a lot with my identity and feeling a part of the community. I grew up with just my mum’s family, so I didn’t really experience both growing up.
I found it awkward in terms of feeling like I belong somewhere or having the right to speak on Black politics. Often when I would speak on Black activism, I would hear that I’m ‘not even Black’ so I shouldn’t speak on it, or that I was ‘anti-White people’, despite growing up with a White parent. I find these two arguments really hard to deal with as there had been many times when they had been proposed in the same breath. I would revise the extent to which I would say I’ve struggled as black biracial person, as my skin is fair, and the largest issue I have is being excluded from a group I felt I belonged to.
I grew up going to school with Black and other people of colour, so generally most of my friends would be Black and POC, as I feel I can trust and relate to them much more in terms of social situations and politics.
My culture affects the way I connect with food, music & my hair. I prefer Caribbean food, but ultimately, I think it’s down to preference as I can’t actually cook, myself. I mainly listen to Black musicians, as I feel often there is an element to their lyricism or production that I can culturally relate and connect to and it helps in feeling grounded and connected to a community. I normally shave my head once a year and grow it back, as it is easier and quicker to deal with, but I have been growing my hair out, so I often put it in protective styling or just leave it out as an afro. In terms of language, growing up with a British family, I could only speak one language, however being from two other countries I decided to take on Latin languages as I felt ignorant for only being able to speak one. In my degree, I am taking Arabic, so I can learn a language that I am culturally connected with. In terms of what I wear, I normally wear whatever I like but sometimes, especially in summer I’ll wear Jamaican string vests, etc. My BME heritage doesn’t affect my clothing very much.
Being fair skinned I benefit from colourist structures placing mixed race and lighter skinned Black women above darker skinned women, which is incredibly upsetting and problematic. I think at the moment, ‘Blackness’ is quite fashionable and often non-Black people appropriate our culture, but as it is culturally significant to me I can indulge in it. Often, I am perceived as aggressive/angry and am treated oddly because of it, however I think this is relative to my Blackness rather than being biracial.
If I had the opportunity to be reborn I would want to return as Beyoncé, because what else?