Greek Cypriot | Jamaican
I identify as mixed-race, Greek Orthodox (non-practicing) & straight. My Mum is Greek Cypriot and Dad is Jamaican, they were both born in London and met in London. I grew up in London.
During my childhood being mixed-race felt like the norm for me because I was surrounded by so many mixed-race people. There were a few mixed-race people in my class, my best friend at school was half Greek, half Dominican and my friends outside of school were also mixed-race. Because most people around me were mixed-race and shared similar physiological features to me I did not feel as though I stood out, and so I am not sure that I really recognized that I was any different. As I grew up and started secondary school, I realized that I was different from most people. This was due to people continuously asking me where I was from in terms of heritage and commenting on my appearance. I was brought up with both cultures and spent time with both sides of my family. I am not sure whether either side of my family saw me as being any different, but neither made me feel any different to them.
I can’t say that I have ever experienced challenges, only that I can often feel uncomfortable when I am in an environment that does not have a mixture of people. I try to surround myself only with people who are open minded.
My family speaks to me in Greek, but I always reply in English out of habit. I never feel left out because I understand my family when they are speaking in Greek. I do however sometimes feel embarrassed by the fact that I can speak Spanish much better than I can speak Greek, due to studying, living in Spain and having a Spanish partner. When I have children, I want to ensure that they feel comfortable speaking both Greek and Spanish. Do you consider yourself more Greek or more Jamaican? The question makes me feel as though I am being asked to choose one side over the other, and to do so would make me feel as though I am rejecting part of myself and one of my parent’s heritage. I feel an equal connection to both parts of my culture. People find it strange when I say this, but I feel like I have my own unique culture, Greek/Jamaican both fused into one.
When asked ‘where are you from?’ I answer with confusion and awkwardness. Where was I born or where are my parents from? People then proceed to tell me that I don’t look very Greek or I don’t look very Jamaican and tell me where they initially thought I was from. Another frequent response I get is ‘how exotic’.
Being mixed-race allows me to able to identify with more than one culture.