Caribbean | Chinese

I identify as young British woman who is mixed-race. I am proud to say I am Caribbean and Chinese. To hear that I am Caribbean, or Black is usually a shock to some people and they often think I am Filipino or another mix. People rarely ever guess that I am Black.

My mom was born in Hong Kong. She was adopted from an orphanage by my Caucasian grandparents at 2 months old and grew up in Yorkshire, England. So culturally she is not Chinese at all. People are often surprised when they find out she doesn’t speak Mandarin and has a Northern accent.

My Dad was born in Birmingham. His parents moved over to England during the early 60’s from Dominica, his dad was a native of the island – Carib Indian. As a family we are definitely more culturally Caribbean as we are very close to my Dad’s side of the family. When we were younger we were always visiting our Nannie on the weekends for rice & peas, chicken, curried goat, fried dumplings etc. My parents met in a nightclub in Wolverhampton in the 1980’s

I grew up in Telford, Shropshire. It was a predominantly White area. My sister who is 13 years older than me was the first non-White pupil at our primary school. My siblings and I never suffered from any severe racial abuse growing up. I was often used for the photos in the school prospectus though, I just thought it was because I was a good student but now I see it was most likely to show how ‘diverse’ the school was and that they welcomed everyone. When in reality there was actually only me and a handful of other ethnic students in the whole school.

I have always known that I am different. I was always fully aware that I didn’t look like the other girls in school or the people on TV, my parents were great at making me and my siblings know that we were different and that it was something to be proud and confident about, it’s who we are. There was nothing we could do about the way we looked. They made us proud to be different. Being different was a great thing! It makes us unique. Who would want to be the same as everyone else anyway?

I remember for one of my birthdays it might have been my 13th, I had asked my mom for straighteners, my hair was doing crazy things during puberty and couldn’t decide if it wanted to be straight, a frizzy thick mess or curly. I had pleaded for these straighteners for months and then as soon my mom got them for me, I had already decided to embrace my wild hair and didn’t want to try and tame the curls anymore.

I do however remember having to fill out a form for a school trip and when it came to the ethnicity section and having to tick a box, I had no idea what to do. There was no box for me. I was many of the boxes. I remember asking my teacher and they didn’t even know what to say. I remember seeing the ‘Other’ box and I didn’t want to tick that. I am not other, like I am some sort of an outsider or alien. The idea of having to be put into a box is so demeaning to me. I still to this day despise filling out those forms.

I would say I have a very mixed group of friends. I guess it’s because I have been living in London for the past 3 years, so the diversity of my friendships has expanded. Maybe if I was still living in Telford this would be a different story, but I would like to think I am a very open-minded person and I have no right to be ignorant or prejudice when it comes to socializing with people. I was brought up better than that.

Some of the traits I look for in a partner are ambition, good sense of humour and confidence. What religion or race that comes with doesn’t really matter, but from past history, all of my partners have been varying shades of Brown.

For some reason mixed-race people have been put onto some sort of pedestal over recent years and are looked at to be the epitome of good looks, best of both worlds etc., like we are some hot trend or fad that will soon go out of style, but at the end of the day we are just ‘Human Beings’ like everyone else. Not better or worse.

More often than you would believe, I am stopped in the street by a random person and asked, ‘What are you?’, ‘Where are you from?’, ‘Do you speak Chinese’. There is usually one of these questions before a polite introduction or hello. It is incredibly rude. A few years ago, this used to infuriate me and even on a bad day now it still does, I am not something to be ogled and poked at. I understand that I look different and can be intriguing to people, but I think people should be more conscious of the way they approach these questions, as it can sometimes be annoying and uncomfortable for the person on the other end.

There has definitely been more positive than negative when it comes my race. I have had a very fortunate life so far. I work within the performance industry as an actor and I am incredibly grateful it puts me in a position where I can represent people of multiple races. At the end of a course I facilitated last year, a girl of oriental heritage came up to me with tears in her eyes telling me how she was so thankful that I was her course assistant, at first I didn’t quite get it but then she said ‘No. I am grateful YOU were my course assistant because you look like me and are doing so well within this industry’. That’s when it hit me, and it made me really emotional. I had never really realised before what I was representing but now that is definitely something that drives me in my career. To be a face, for those who are so under represented. To be a Brown face on TV for the youth of today that I never had.

If I was to be reincarnated I would probably like to be a species of cat, they just look so chill. Life seems fun being a cool cat.

Majority of humankind will be mixed-race, it’s kind of inevitable. I think that would be a very beautiful thing. I hope it will be a future full of open minded, kind and compassionate people but I think that is incredible wishful thinking.