Ghanaian | English/Finnish
I am half Ghanaian, half English & Finnish (Half Black, half White), Agnostic & Bisexual. My parents met at work in their office in the mid eighties. My Mum is Ghanaian (born in East London) and my Dad is half English, half Finnish by heritage but spent a fair bulk of his childhood living in South Africa.
I realised I was mixed-race when I was very young that I didn’t look like my parents. My skin and hair looked different to my Mum (who used to relax her hair) and my Dad. I always felt a little bit alien to everyone except my younger brother.
I felt like I didn’t have much of an issue when I was younger and attending a multiracial school in South London. I was the only mixed-race child in my class but there were kids who were White / Black / Eastern Asian / Southern Asian and Middle Eastern, so I didn’t feel like I stuck out like a sore thumb until I attended private school in Surrey. The other kids would constantly point out my skin colour and make negative comments about the shape of my body and hair. When I was at private school I made a huge effort to look Whiter as I felt like I needed to blend in to survive. I straightened my hair and would never let on that I liked ‘Black’ things. It sounds stupid, but I’d pretend I didn’t like things like rap music, hip-hop, watermelon, chicken and bananas because I knew I would be on the receiving end of racial comments. I would hold onto my English and Finnish heritage like a badge of honour.
We were always so lucky to be brought up eating incredible, diverse food and being very aware and tolerant of diversity from a young age. We were certainly not brought up colour-blind. Both of my parents are British by nationality, so we mostly uphold English customs but do celebrate parts of our diverse culture around Christmas time. We celebrate traditional Finnish Christmas on Christmas Eve and English Christmas on Christmas day.
I always remember times when I was younger when I was very aware I didn’t look like my parents. I would cringe a little if my Dad had to pick me up from anywhere because I knew there would be questions about why he was White. I only grew up in 1991 but mixed families weren’t prevalent in the media, so I knew some people would give my mum and I funny looks walking around town.
Beauty products were always a challenge as well. I never knew how to look after my hair so when I was 12 I decided to ask my mum if I could relax my hair. Even now, when I shop around for a trim, the salon staff often look at me like a deer in headlights. YouTube has been my ultimate friend in the last 5 years I’ve been natural. There was one occasion where a man in his 50s tried to yank my hair off at a pub because he thought I was wearing ‘a clown wig’.
Dating was often tricky for me, I felt like no one wanted to be with me because I was Vicky, they wanted to try me because I was different. I would usually have people tell me that they’d never slept with a mixed girl before. People would fetishize having mixed-race children around me. ‘I want to marry a Black man, so I can have beautiful curly haired kids. Thankfully I’m with my wonderful partner at the moment and haven’t had to experience this any longer.
Past the age of about 10, I’d been constantly surrounded by White friends, White colleagues and White partners. As my career in fitness has developed and I’ve moved my work into central London, I have met and connected with so many different incredible people from all parts of the world and it’s given me a chance to get in touch with my Black side. My work has allowed me to connect with people who I travelled to Afropunk Brooklyn with. I got very emotional seeing such large collections of people who resemble me as I’ve never really gotten to experience this even in my own home. I’m so grateful to know and to be able to connect with new people all the time. In the past when I was the only ethnic face at work, I have always been ‘the Black girl’ or ‘the mixed-race one’. I would always be treated as loud or defiant even though I was always very calm and collected. It was always a massive surprise to people in this day and age that I was well educated with a First-Class Honours Degree and that would always get on my nerves. Now I work with people from all backgrounds.
My culture affects the way I connect with food, music, fashion & my hair. I love food from Ghana, Finland and English food. As my dad grew up in South Africa, we’ve always gone to the South African markets to get treats as well. My partner is a very well travelled man as well, so we always travel around London to try new foods from all cultures as we’re both so open to new experiences. I do love my spices and seasonings though. After years of hiding my love for Hip hop because I was ashamed of being too Black. I try hard to integrate Black music into my playlists in my fitness classes. Music has become a major part of my job, so I try hard to connect it back to myself and my culture as much as possible. Dubstep and Grime both heavily influenced by people in Croydon feature on my Spotify account always! I’m a sportswear/streetwear girl! All about that comfort but I do try incorporating young African designers into my wardrobe. I feel so good when I wear something connecting back to my ethnic roots. After YEARS of heat styling and relaxing my hair, I had a moment in 2012 when I decided to stop and try to look after my own hair. I feel like I’ve truly become myself as I stopped trying to hide behind my straight hair. I have big curly hair and I’m not afraid to be seen! I’ve dyed it lots of different colours as well. Life is great when you can be confident with your natural self. Sadly, I only know English. Both of my parents never learnt their native languages, but people often assume I’m multilingual.
I feel like it’s been incredibly positive in the last few years as I’ve started to see more people that look like me on billboards and magazines. I’m so proud to be unique and love the skin I’m in.
If I had the opportunity to be reborn I would return exactly the same way because this is where I’m supposed to be!