French | Mauritian
I describe myself as a French Mauritian, mixed-race Londoner, I am straight. My Mum is from a small town in France called Perpignan and my Dad is from Port Louis the capital of Mauritius. They met in London. It’s funny I actually only started using the term mixed--race for myself recently. I always knew I was half and half but just didn’t identify as ‘mixed-race’. I think growing up I associated mixed-race as half Black and half White as the people who I knew that were mixed-race were exactly that. Now I call myself mixed-race whenever someone asks.
Growing up in East Dulwich, I was close to the Afro / Asian culture of Camberwell and Peckham so I can only say it was a positive effect. I loved going down on the weekends to Peckham when I was a child, it was so vibrant with different people, different cultures and I cannot tell you how the butchers stayed in business because there was probably 50 on the high street. I used to help my Mum and my Aunty cook a lot when it came to family gatherings, so we always got what we needed from Peckham to cook up a feast for the whole family. Peckham has changed a lot and personally, not sure if it’s for the better but I am still glad to see that most of its culture is still intact.
I think it was important for my parents to ensure that both languages were spoken to me at a young age. I learnt English at school so everything I knew of was in a foreign language! I think it helped that my Mum was full immersed in the Mauritian culture, she always cooked Mauritian food and spoke creole too. However, I did spend every Christmas and Summer at my Grand-parent’s house in France throughout my childhood so my French roots never felt lost. When it comes to Asians, family is everything, so I was super close to my Mauritian side of the family.
I think one challenge that I can think of, is only one that I came to realise not so long ago. Looking back to when I was in sixth form, I wanted to fit in with the others. Bearing in mind I went to posh private school with VERY little diversity so me wanting to fit in consisted of being like all the other girls. I think that the challenge for me was that my parents are first generation residents here in UK. My Dad is market trade in East Street Market and my Mum was a childminder. All my peers, their parents, were highflying professionals, and at the time I was a little embarrassed to say what my parents did as a living. I thought this was very challenging at the time to keep up with an image that wasn’t really who I was.
Back when I was 17, yes environment played a massive part. But now, that I am a little wiser and self-aware, I like to think, the environment that I live in promotes diversity in every way. I am a big believer in what you put out there to universe, it will give back to you. So the fact that I am confident in who I am as a person, I find that my surroundings have adapted to that and I meet people who are like minded, like Ogilvy Roots. In terms partners, I now know what I want in a guy. I definitely want to be with someone who isn’t English (or White, sorry not trying to be racist, I have a reason!) my reasoning behind that is because I grew up mixed-race, with Asian Muslim upbringing. Every millennial Asian or anyone from a different background will know the struggles and joys of growing up like that. I want my children to have a similar upbringing in terms of big family, speaking different languages, eating and cooking different foods and being with someone from another / mixed culture, I feel, will understand and appreciate that.
My love of food came from a young age. Both sides of the family love to cook and are great cooks. So I was used to a range of foods growing up which in turn has led me to become more curious to try other foods. I think my environment is more to play in this. I love my grime music and being in South London, that’s where it’s all at. However, once again I grew up with sega music (Mauritian music) and I still listen to it and dance around in my living room occasionally. My love of rhythm stems from sega music, dancing from a young age at family get togethers. That’s in turn, led me to want to try other dance with rhythm like salsa! Being trilingual, languages has always been easy for me however it has affected in terms of me wanting to learn a new language. I am wired to speak French and Creole however it annoys me that I can’t speak Spanish fluently because I haven’t had to learn the other two languages, so I don’t put as much effort into trying to learn a new language even though I would love to. When I was younger I wasn’t allowed to wear anything too revealing. Having an Asian Dad who will constantly have a beady eye on how you leave the house certainly has an effect. Now I think I always have his words behind my head which has slowly engrained in me!
I LOVE being mixed-race. I am so proud of my roots, people seem to always be interested about where I’m from considering I don’t look Mauritian or French. It’s quite fun, people play and lose the guessing game all the time. I think a positive experience is that now I am able to do something with it. I am working on projects with Ogilvy Roots and weirdly even though we are all different we have one thing in common, we’re mixed-race / people of colour and that feels so inclusive and I feel a part of something.
If I had the opportunity to be reborn there is nothing I would change. Probably everyone says this, but I am now forever more grateful, proud and honoured to be Mauritian / French mixed-race.