English | Jamaican
I identify myself as Brown to myself, and as mixed race to the world, I am comfortable with being referred to as mixed race. My mum is North Eastern English (from Middlesbrough) and my dad is Jamaican. I was born in South West London and they met on the Kings Road at a gig. I grew up in Sutton, Surrey. My dad was based in Tooting, but we migrated to ‘suburbs’ as my dad saw that as aspirational back in those days. I first understood my cultural backgrounds when I was around 8 years old. My friends are from everywhere, however I went to school and university in heavily white populated areas so at some points in my life my friendship group could become more white- depending on where I work and how diverse it is there also. My core group is pretty mixed. I chose to live in a heavily culturally diverse part of London and avoid homogenous groups. I have dated just about every cultural background by now!!
I work in a team where we speak openly about race, these are some of the most culturally conscious professionals I have come across, and I still discover blind spots about the experience of mixed race. This isn’t because of their openness, there just doesn’t seem to be a focus on this. Race is a complicated issue, and I think if you throw in, a white and black mix, it can blow people’s minds and leave much to assumptions if not explored delicately and with interest! A profound experience in my life was my first crush which rejected me on the basis of my race. I feel that being mixed in and of itself is a profound experience. I think it requires confidence and a safe community to start to voice some of the feelings and experiences that has been a part of my identity.
My background has had a profound effect on my personal relationships, yes absolutely!!!!! From potential discomfort from an ex traditional white mother in law, to being defined as “black” one day by a black boyfriend, to then being described “as not that black” by a another! With my family relationships I have been super lucky as we are all so mixed, accepting and open minded, I love my family dearly, although there has been times in my growing up that I felt lonely and couldn’t explore my experience with adults who loved me, but in no way reflected my experience as a mixed race woman. Maybe it will be easier these days as more brown and mixed race individuals may increasingly have a voice in the media, I hope so! If I were to be born again, the idealistic answer would be, it shouldn’t matter. I would never choose to be anything other than what I am, I would like to be born in a time as I am, but where we have come much further as a society as far as conversations around culture and acceptance. I still do not see a huge amount of movement with regards to celebrating mixed race lives, we are a kind of a silent crowd, I would like us to be seen as a unique voice on diversity issues, and not lumped into one category, I would like to see the voices of mixed race people help to expand people’s awareness of culture and life!