English | Jamaican
I identify myself as a black woman. I went to a school in Brixton which was 99.9% black. I knew I was mixed race, but no one treated me any different, I was seen as another black girl. Only when I left secondary school and went to my 6th form in Dulwich and a predominately white I began to feel a bit different.
I guess it happened the most when I went to Manchester, I didn’t see anyone else who looked like me in the 3 years I was at my Art school. This included students, teachers and anyone who was invited to do talks at the college; I was the token black girl. People couldn’t distinguish between being mixed race and black and I think I was treated differently because of that. I don’t think anyone I had met were racist, they had just not met many people of colour. You don’t expect this from a city like Manchester, which is meant to be racially diverse. I think part of this stems from the segregation, the African / Caribbean Asian & White communities were very segregated even though they are only 10 minutes away from each other. I think there was always a fear of upsetting me so they walked on eggshells.
There was a photography piece that I completed; it was all about the hyper sexualisation of the black body and the lack of relationship within the British landscape. I went to the Head of Photography in Manchester about this piece for his opinion. The first thing he said was “it’s really interesting when you choose to look at the black body”. He whispered black and looked around to see if anyone heard, he looked uncomfortable saying it. He then said I should add text to educate my audience, as there will be people that do not understand what I am trying to achieve. I then asked if he was referring to the non-black audience and he replied, yes.
If I had the opportunity to be reincarnated I would like to come back as some form of power or presence to educate white people, there are many things I would love to do but I feel like this is where it begins. Starting with sitting people down and really explaining the implications of words and actions.