Maltese/Irish/Scottish | Jamaican
I identify myself as a mixed-race person of colour. I was born in the UK, yet I have lived here for a minority of my life. I have moved around pretty consistently my whole life. I studied English Literature at Goldsmiths University and work in the arts. I have recently moved back to London after 10 months in Glasgow and Berlin. My mother was born in Malta and has Maltese blood, yet she was raised in England to Irish/Maltese and Scottish parents. My dad was born in England to Jamaican parents. They met at a dance when they were 16 in London. I grew up in Amsterdam, Florida, Boston, Dubai, Singapore and London. I moved around consistently (every 2 years) since birth.
I feel that I have always been aware of my mixed-race background. I was brought up by two white parents (my Dutch step-father and my mother). It was always made pretty obvious that I was different by other people. Both my biological father and my mother were very insistent that myself and my brothers were aware that we were of mixed heritage, I think this was important to me being confident in who I was.
I can honestly say that I haven’t met many (if any) people of similar cultural backgrounds. I would say that the majority of my friends, due to my education, were of single culture backgrounds or at least single race backgrounds. As I got older I was drawn to people who were of mixed backgrounds however as I often felt alienated.
I wouldn’t say that cultural background matters all that much although I do find myself being more attracted to mixed background people.
I would say that colourism is a massive thing for both the Black and the White communities. The classic too White for the Black folk and too black for the White folk cliché certainly exists. I often find it is important that myself and other mixed-race friends (or people in general) are aware of the privilege of having lighter skin. I’ve often had to check my privilege when fighting for social causes I feel are valid to me. I am fortunate to be a ‘lighter complexion’ and I am aware of this. I am also aware there are plenty folk, both Black and White, that don’t like the colour of my skin.
I have had many negative experiences being mixed race (racism etc) but I feel the select positive experiences have been more profound. As cliché as it sounds (and in hindsight perhaps not much to celebrate) but the inauguration of Barack Obama as president was immensely profound experience in my life. I was in a frustratingly dangerous time of my life as a 17-year-old. My step-father had just gone to jail for the third time and I had just said goodbye to him for what turned out to be the last time. I had moved again, on my own this time, to stay with my aunty and uncle. I was confused, angry and self-destructive. I knew neither who I was nor what I was doing. For some reason, seeing Obama being inaugurated instilled an amazing drive and pride in being firstly a PoC and secondly mixed race. I remember finishing his book Letters to My Father and feeling incredibly motivated to succeed (for the first time) academically. I enrolled in a local college, with the lots of help and love from my aunt and uncle and I was determined to like Obama go to University. I was in an all-White school apart from 2 other PoC and instead of feeling alienated and embarrassed of my colour I for the first time felt it to be armour and strength. This experience impacted me immensely. I will forever have the image of a black man on the steps of The White House in my mind as some form of motivation.
I don’t think my mixed-race background has had an effect on my relationships with others.
I mean in terms of economic, social and points of advantage I think being reborn White would be better, but I wouldn’t want to be any different. I do wonder what I would say if the question were directed at having children though.
I think the future is a tough and uphill battle but not fully pessimistic. I think the divisions in race right now are so apparent and often an encouraged division that mixed race people sit on a very uncomfortable fence. We essentially must choose a side in many occasions. What if Trump (or his views) stay(s) in power what do Mexican/Americans do? Which side do they pick? The same for any British- European mix for that matter. If they do not pick a side that choice will be made for us/them by well-meaning liberals or bigots. In this gradually more divided and fractious world, mixed-race folk will have to sacrifice part of themselves to join the society they feel most at peace with. Single race folk and Black/White appearing folk won’t have to make this decision. I think mixed race folk are a key component to the discussions on integration and the idea of unity, we are a symbol not only visually of mixing and diversity but often times in areas where mixed-race folk are common you can see many positive examples of this diversity and the symbiosis of cultures is often the adhesive that binds these communities.