British | Malaysian-Chinese

Frances Woodman.jpg

My parents met in Croydon. That is where I’m from. For a mixed race person or any person from an ethnic minority, I think that it is a great place to grow up. I wasn’t really aware of my race and culture until I was about 10. When I went to high school, it was brilliant because all my friends were from different backgrounds. It really helped me embrace my culture and learn a bit more about myself. It is really powerful to have all those people around you who are really positive about their identity. It was never a bad thing. I never felt left out. It wasn’t till later that I realised that everywhere wasn’t like this. In terms of race and identity, it was really positive and made you proud of where you were from. It's good because you can have open conversations and people don’t feel uncomfortable talking about quite deep subjects, politics especially. When it comes to race and identity, people feel more open I think when they can relate to each other.

It hasn’t been all positive, I’ve still experienced racism though. From being told to, “go back to your own country” to other more subtle insults that are almost more scarier. Even so, I don’t experience it every day. Other races have this battle every day. I can usually grind through it.

When I was younger I took it for granted that I always had laksa and chicken curry at home. It wasn’t until I was older that I realised that not everyone has that! Even language, I always regret not speaking the same language as my mother. She speaks a few languages. I then took it upon myself to start learning Chinese. Things like that. Talking to my mum more about what she went through, talking to my grandmother more. Trying to understand what they have come from and the struggles that they have had to go through to be here. It has been quite liberating to own that side of me. To be like, this is me. It has not always been like that. I still sometimes feel like I am simultaneously part of a culture and not part of a culture, that is both on my British and Malaysian-Chinese side.

I am fiercely proud of my heritage. I’m really lucky and really happy that my mum clung onto her Chinese culture.