English/Welsh | Bajan
I identify as mixed-race and Christian. My Mum is English/Welsh and my Dad is from Barbados. They met via friends in London in the 1960s. I grew up mostly in West London.
I recognised I was mixed-race when I was about 10 years old. My initial realisation of being mixed-race was as a child. Having my hair washed and plaited my hair I knew my texture was different and looked different, I would get upset as children laughed after going swimming because my curly hair didn't dry the same. Instead it became a big frizzy Afro and I had to brush it back in a bun.
The only difference I really noticed as a child culture-wise was my dad’s mum always having very flavoured and colourful food. She also took us to a very lively church on Sundays, whereas my mum was very traditional English and relaxed on Sundays. The food and her beliefs were quite different. I grew up culturally enriched with mixtures of music from reggae to Chas & Dave. I was introduced to the Notting Hill Carnival by my dad’s family.
I experienced racism as a child at school and in my street. In the 1970s early 80s I lived in a predominantly White area so people were curious, not always in a good way. I found that I didn’t fit in with most races but was always assumed to be Black.
Growing up I encountered resistance in my social environment and from my grandparents on both sides, they were not keen on my parent’s choice of partner. In the 1970s and 1980s being in mixed relationships was frowned upon. As their parents were of the older generation they did not change their opinion on this until my cousins had partners of different races too. For me living in London compared to back then is a lot more diverse and accepting of cultural mixes, although there are still comments here and there. But these experiences enabled positive creative process within my music as a songwriter being blessed with west Indian, British and welsh influence growing up. I merge this into songs when creating them.
My social environment can be a challenge when it comes to choosing partners/friends, but I deal with it. My mixed-race heritage has had an effect on my life mainly based on old school thinking. I have occasionally been asked about why I don’t embrace the Black side more. Society sees me as Black not mixed, I am proud of my White heritage also. I have a small circle of friends I identify with. It took me years to accept understanding of my mixed heritage but now I feel strongly about representing it in a positive way.
I am not able to speak my native languages, I only speak English. I connect with my Bajan culture based on my love of old school reggae and soca music from the West Indian side. I connect with my English/Welsh side when I eat traditional English food and listen to Chas & Dave. I really embrace learning about the history of both cultures it has impacted my character in a way too. When asked where I’m from I will say South West London, I always get a look of confusion. A positive for me is having the privilege of being the best of both.
Being mixed in today’s society is challenging, however I am able to adapt from experience now that others may see, think and feel differently and some are more accepting of difference and that’s ok.
If I had the opportunity to be reborn I would want to return as me again, why not?
My latest song is about supporting others whatever the situation. Written by me, featuring vocalist Alix Robson. Released February 1st.