Jamaican British | Persian-Iranian
I identify myself as mixed-race, Black, Brown, British, Persian-Iranian and Jamaican. I’ve spent the majority of my life as an Artist, though three years ago I decided that I wanted to help people connect to themselves, so that they can better connect to each other in a more direct way. So that’s why I moved into diversity & inclusion.
My mother is British and of Jamaican ancestry. She was brought up in Brockley, South-East London. My great-grandad travelled from Jamaica to Birmingham just after the Windrush. He’d left my grandad in Jamaica until he was able to bring him over. My father is Persian-Iranian and came to the UK to study micro-biology in late 1978, just before the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Iran shares many borders and because of this it has many ethnicities, so we use the affix ‘Persian’ to make the distinction from Armenian, Turkish, Arab and so on. The use of ‘Persian’ also has political connotations, though that’s for another time.
They met in KFC in Catford, my dad was working there, and my mum was a regular. Mum ‘fell in love’ with my dad’s long eyelashes, so she asked him out on a date. Three dates later and I was conceived.
We moved around a lot when I was growing up, I went to 8 different schools. We lived mostly in London, Croydon & Berkshire.
Growing up our father always reinforced our Persianess. We predominantly ate Persian food, though sometimes with a Jamaican twist. The difference in cuisine (and quantity!) was always apparent when I would go around to friends’ houses for dinner. Regarding race, our dad would call me ‘caramel’ and my brother ‘fudge’. When we lived in Berkshire we used to get stared at a lot, I was convinced that people stared because they thought I was famous, at which point I’d proper ham it up and slide on my sunglasses (rain or shine) with an (attempted) super model strut for good measure. I’ve always felt more connected to my African side over the Caribbean part of me. I was recently in Zanzibar and had the pleasure of watching a local dance group named J Combat Crew. I could see so much of myself in the way they moved.
I have many cultures but first and foremost I’m British. English is my mother-tongue, and Britain is where I’ve spent the majority of my life. I have a habit of falling in love with people who aren’t English, so far there’s been Welsh, Spanish-Basque, American & Dutch. In short, no, as for me it isn’t culture that connects me. It’s values; an open mind and a heart. I care only about a persons’ values and whether they fit with mine. There are however few that can relate to the complexities of being British, Persian-Iranian & Jamaican. It’s a roller-coaster for the brave.
If there are still stereotypes towards mixed-race people then that is sure to change, as the mixed-race becomes the fastest growing race in the UK. I believe that mixing/sharing is the most effective way to dismantle prejudice.
I believe in reincarnation, so hopefully I’ll have a chance to experience them all.