German/Scottish | Jamaican
I identify as a dual heritage, heterosexual female. I was brought up in a house with a small Christian influence, but I would say I am more spiritual now. My Mum is from a German/Scottish background and my Father’s parents were from Jamaica, but he was born and raised in London. My parents met in London.
I recognised I was mixed-race when I was about 3 or 4 in nursery, we were learning about colour mixing. The teacher told us that when you mix black and white together you make grey. One of the other children said, ‘But Paloma is brown, not grey!’. It was the first time I realised that my parents were different colours from each other and I was a different colour from them, and that was how other people saw me.
My parents instilled us with a positive, strong sense of personal identity and confidence in who we were as individuals. I don’t know if my parents made a conscious attempt to blend their cultures or it just happened naturally. We spent time with both sides of our family growing up and always attended local community events. I never really thought about it before, but it was just second nature rather than ‘this is from mum/dad’s culture’.
A lot of the time people will tell me how they see me. They aren’t necessarily interested in how I identify. I will be told that I have a Black parent and therefore I am Black, when I point out I also have a White parent they then accuse me of trying to claim to be White. It’s not an either-or situation, I’m dual heritage. I also get the ‘where are you really from, no originally, where are your parents from ORIGINALLY’ conversations a lot, it’s tiring. If I tell you I’m from London accept that. If you can’t, ask yourself why. My main challenges though are when I’m out and about with my children. People often assume that I am the nanny/childminder rather than mum. I have been challenged by strangers for letting the children call me ‘mummy’, I have seen people’s attitudes change towards them once they realise that they have a Black grandparent. It’s difficult to see your children excluded from activities or to hear adults make racist remarks about your toddler, just because they don’t like the fact that the child they thought was White is actually from a mixed background. I need to be surrounded by people that are open to having a conversation at the very least.
I can’t really think of anything positive that has been a direct result of my ethnicity, other than the fetishization of my skin colour, and that’s not really positive or flattering.