English | Guyanese

MRF-Jessica Mala.jpg

My dad was born in Croydon and my mum was born in Guyana on the East bank. My mum came to the UK when she was 8 years old with her large family, there were in total 10 siblings. My grandad came over as a tailor and worked in London, my grandma came later with 1 suitcase and 8 children. The youngest was a baby and the rest were a year apart. They then moved to Brixton where they had another 2 children.
My mum is Indian Guyanese, they originated from an area once called Madras in India and then moved over to Guyana to work on the plantations, similar to slave trading. The Guyana people gave the Indians more responsibility and an acre of land per family, that’s why the majority of people in Guyana are mixed Indian. My mum loves her Indian heritage, from the music she listens to and food she eats.

I hadn’t really thought about my heritage as my friends were mixed race until I was about 8 years old. I had a few friends who were also mixed heritage and we all realised we were mixed at the same time. Only recently I have begun to want to embrace my culture and really learn more about both sides of my heritage. I recently visited Guyana and was able to experience the relaxed culture.
The only time I ever experience negativity is during Carnival, people question why I’m holding a Guyana flag and some have actually been angry enough to not want to sell me one. I think it is strange and ignorance about the country’s history.
I like to keep people guessing my heritage, there’s only ever one person who has ever guessed my mixed heritage. I think it’s a niche, not many people know where Guyana is. When I meet someone from Guyana I feel like there is an instant connection.
In terms of social groups, I have never really picked based on race. Most of my friends are white, I wish I had more Caribbean friends as I would like to experience more of that side of my culture. My ex-boyfriend is mixed Syrian, Iraqi and Kurdish. We would joke if we ever had kids how we would have to pull out a map to explain their heritage.