British | Ugandan
I am a Christian mixed Black African and White British female. My Mum is British, and my Dad is Ugandan. They met in Uganda. I have always known that I was mixed-race, I don’t remember having a defining moment when I recognised it. I grew up in Uganda, so I often describe myself as Ugandan since that is where I have spent most of my life and had most of my experiences, but I still recognise and relate to my British heritage. I feel like I am still also British even though I haven’t lived here for as long as I lived in Uganda.
Living in Uganda my Mum had to learn and embrace the Ugandan culture and adapt to that. I was raised with quite a mix of both cultures, for example we often had two different dishes for each meal, one typical Ugandan meal like beans with posho and the other much more British like lasagne! While living in Uganda I would always be described as White because I was lighter skinned than most of my friends, but since moving to the UK I have been described as black, so I guess it can be challenging when people around you try and determine what you should see yourself as.
I don’t think environment really has much impact on how I chose friends. In my time living in the UK I have found that I make friends with many of the other Ugandans I meet, probably because they can relate more if they have lived there, but then again, I have friends of many different cultures and nationalities. I love having my curly hair, there is so much choice for what to do with it. I have never felt pressured to style it in any particular way which I could credit to growing up with a mix of cultures, so I would never be expected to try and fit the trends of only one culture.
Being mixed-race means I have been able to connect with two completely different cultures and have been brought up with different traditions intermingled. I get to identify as both Ugandan and British so can relate to both cultures giving me quite a unique upbringing.
I thought Oxford would be a very White space. When I came for my interview I don’t remember seeing any other mixed or Black people here, although that was only over 2 days. However, I didn’t think that my heritage should determine whether I apply, I do have British heritage as well as Ugandan so didn’t think I would feel particularly out of place being here, despite my skin colour being different to most other people. I don’t think there has really been any casual racism directed towards me at Oxford. I find Oxford a welcoming place. I think that there is a place for everyone here regardless of background, yes there may not be many people that look like you or have had your life experiences but that is part of what it is to be mixed. I don’t think my Oxford experience has changed how I view myself as a mixed person. I don’t feel I have been treated differently due to my mixed heritage.
Oxford Mixed Heritage Society is a great initiative because it creates a space for mixed voices to be heard and allows for specific discussion of what it is to be mixed. I’ve also been able to connect to other mixed people at Oxford with completely different backgrounds and races that I probably never would have otherwise.
In the context of the University of Oxford, we hope our names; faces and stories will emphasise that there is a place for everyone at Oxford. According to last year’s admissions data, 700 Oxford undergraduates identify as mixed. In 2016, BAME students accounted for 15.9% of the undergraduate intake. Oxford is diversifying, albeit slowly. We hope to empower mixed heritage students at Oxford and foster a community where they can safely share their own opinions, experiences and stories.