Irish | Tanzanian
I grew up in Dublin. I was adopted when I was 6 months old. My adopted parents are fully Irish, all my siblings are all mixed. My birth mum was Irish from Dublin and my birth dad was from Tanzania. He was studying in Ireland at the time and obviously back then it was very catholic, no sex before marriage or anything and I know that I was given up for adoption because of the race thing. A mixed race child or a ‘child of colour’ which is how they were known at the time would have been problematic. My birth mum never told her dad she was pregnant, only her sister and mum knew. She was probably afraid of disownment and the religious thing as well.
Growing up, I didn’t actually know I was mixed race. My parents are white Irish. Back then, no one really said anything. I knew that I was probably different but nobody really talked about it. We were never treated as though we were mixed race. My parents are so white, in Dublin there were never any black people back then unless they were famous so actually I didn’t really take heed of being mixed race or being like a different ethnicity until I was 17.
Now that I have moved to London, it’s the only time that I have been questioned about my race all the time. When I moved to Uni in Twickenham when I was 19, everytime I went out, people always asked, “so which one of your parents is black?”. And I was thinking, how do they know?! I never knew. I mean I did know of course. But I never thought about it. When I was 17, I went on my first holiday to Ayia Napa and somebody was like, “oh wow i’ve never met a black Irish person”, and I was thinking, who are they talking about? And then I realised they were talking about me! I had to ring up my mum and be like, mum, why are they calling me black? I don’t understand. She didn’t really know what to say. At uni, there were two Leannes. And I was black Leanne. And I was like, why am I being called black. I’ve never been called black before. With the royal wedding, Meghan Markle to me would be mixed race. But I know that people call her black. I’ve only learnt that from being here. I think she is clearly mixed. I am the best of both worlds.