British | Ghanaian
I identify as mixed-race; White British & Black African (Ghanaian). I am Christian (Catholic) & heterosexual. My Mum is from Ghana (Accra) and my Dad from the UK (Hull). They met though a friend who had gone to London and put my Dad in touch with my Mum and they wrote letters to each other. I was born and raised in Birmingham.
Nearly as long as I could remember I knew I was mixed-race. There weren’t many Black children at my school, a lot of White and Asian but it was only me & my brothers at the first primary school I went to who were ‘Black’. I remember being quite culturally aware of the differences between me and other children even though my Mum had been living in the UK for at least 10 years by the point I had gone to school. She made me aware of where she came from and how I was slightly different, which I have always been proud of.
From what I can remember I feel like my mum assimilated slightly to the western culture, she has however kept her love for dancing, African cooking skilling and fond memories of Ghana.
White people label me as ‘Black’, Black people label me as ‘White’. I stopped calling myself ‘Black’ and started saying mixed-race probably about 3 years ago when I started Uni and became more culturally aware. I did this for the main reason that I was tired of people telling me my race. At the same time I do not want to distance myself from the Black struggle. I have few Black friends and would generally say that I am about 30% Black /70% White culturally (instead of being the ‘perfect’ 50/50.) This is because I swim, I have done since I was 8 and have been to many different swimming clubs and programs which have all been about 95% White in total. I genuinely think that if I did not swim I would be more 50/50 because at school I was leaning towards a ‘Black group’ of friends before I moved to another school gaining a scholarship for swimming which had about 3 Black people in it.
As non-Whites don’t really swim in Britain there was always a few stares on poolside, especially when I first started out as it definitely wasn’t common. I’ve received a racial comment from a coach (not said directly to me but to another swimmer), I’ve had a few jokey comments like ‘it’s the White half of you which can swim fast’, I never really took any of these to heart it’s just the backwash of stereotypes still existing in the predominantly White sport. Due to swimming being so White I do think it has made me more White, not that this is a good or bad thing it’s just what has occurred. Both serious relationships I have been in have been/are with a White man and I generally lean that way when getting to know someone on a romantic level.
Friendships I would say are varied my close friends are a mix of about 50-60% White and the rest as POC which I like as you do see the various cultural backgrounds showing though. I am currently a student, but I am fortunate not to have received any kind of racism at Uni or any kind of bigotry as far as I can remember. I feel it has affected my swimming career potentially making me stand out much more than others.
I definitely think there are bias attitudes towards mixed-race people, it comes from both sides of my background. I have received dirty looks from Black women who saw I was with a White man and I have received racist comments from White men. The issue with mixed-race people is they’re seen as a result of a fetish and never fully accepted into either social group, (I will always be a Black person in the wider society, but I do not feel I will ever be a Black person to Black people). I have seen things on twitter from Black people and likes about mixed-race people being an annoyance or the result of a White woman’s fetish. This reduces a huge group of people down to a tiny, disgusting stereotype.
I am unable to speak my mother’s native language. I know my middle name means ‘Queen’ but that’s all I know, I do not think it has affected me due to the fact that I haven’t had much cultural connection to Ghana. I connect the most to my British culture, I have never been to Ghana sadly, so I cannot claim that that is a culture I connect to.
When anyone asks where I’m from I will always say I’m from Birmingham or that I’m British. It rarely occurs to me that they may be asking about my heritage. If so, they should ask it in a more sensible manner because you can tell I’m British from the way I speak.
A negative experience I had was when a group of Black women gave me a dirty look for being with my White boyfriend. It wouldn’t have happened if I was White. A positive is the general feeling of liking my race, makes me unique and I’m proud of my dual heritage. Being mixed-race in today’s society is ever growing in acceptability. I see so many mixed-race people around of all types of wonderful mixes. I feel like it’s trendy to be mixed-race or in an inter-racial relationship, especially with nearly every TV advert having a mixed-race family. I just hope this doesn’t grow into a fetish or a designer babies thing.
If I had the opportunity to be reborn I couldn’t imagine being a different me in a different place, I’d return as I am because I like my race and its mixes.