English | Jamaican
I am a forty-six-year-old dual heritage mother of two sons. My mum is English, and dad is Jamaican. They met in Hackney, unfortunately I don’t know how they met as they were not together when I was younger. I grew up with my mum and step-dad who was also Jamaican.
One of my earliest memories was going to Ridley road market in Hackney on a Saturday and my mum being verbally abused. There were also times that people spat in her face. I think it was hard for her, not solely because I was mixed race but because she had already been disowned by her family due to her having black boyfriends and then on top of this having mixed race children.
Because Hackney at the time was predominantly black I felt like it was home, when I was a child I didn’t feel any different than anyone else around me. It was only when I was growing up and beginning to get more involved in ‘black things’ that comments around my mixed heritage would come up, being ‘half white and not ‘black enough’. It made me feel quite angry, I’m not sure if it was because I was mixed race but when I was about 12 or 13 I felt my mum was so far removed from me because she wasn’t black. I was growing into being a black woman who was being harassed by white men on the street. She had never experienced that, so I couldn’t speak to her about it. I felt I was very far away from her, in a way it made me resent her and we became quite distant for 4 or 5 years. I wouldn’t walk down the street with her. I feel it’s a trend that I am seeing in mixed race people I am meeting. Now I am quite close with my mum, I think it was mainly an issue when I was growing up and searching for my identity and what being black meant. It also helped me to understand how to relate to my mum as she is doesn’t think racism exists to the degree it does.
When I studied at University in Plymouth, within 3 days I encountered my first form of harassment. I was walking to someone’s house and was questioned by the police about where I was going. It made me think about what young black men experience every day.