Scottish | Sierra Leonean
I would describe myself as a mixed-race man of Black & White decent. I consider myself more spiritual as opposed to religious but generally try to avoid fitting into labels. My Dad is from Sierra Leone in West Africa and my Mum is from Scotland. My Dad moved here when he was around 30 years old and met my Mum. He was a taxi driver at the time and carried my Mum as a passenger. I grew up in South London, Brixton.
I realized I was mixed-race I was around 7 or 8, I was at primary school waiting to be picked up by my Dad. All my White friends were running to their parents and when I saw my Dad (a beautiful dark skinned, Black man) I realized that I was ‘different’. Generally, I grew up with a mix of White and Black culture and there wasn’t really a clash for me at home. Although saying that, I’ve generally felt more ‘connected’ with the Black side of my family as they’ve made more of an effort to be in my life and I think culturally, I feel more connected to that side. Being brought up in Brixton as certainly played a part in that.
The biggest struggle I had growing up was identifying and fitting in. I’m racially ambiguous and have had an internal struggle of fitting in as well as an external one, were people would tell me who or what I am. I was never quite white enough to be considered White. But not Black enough to be considered Black. This is something that affected me for a long time. In fact, it’s only recently that I’ve finally learnt that it doesn’t matter what race or culture people think I am or should belong to. I don’t even waste my time trying to fit in anymore. I am just me and that’s enough. Once I understood this, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. I’d encourage everyone to live by this.
I think our social environment does affect us in choices we make, perhaps subconsciously. I tend to be drawn to people that are more open minded about other cultures as well as their own. I’m all about inclusion. I think being mixed-race has positively impacted my life. I’m able to get into deep conversations about identity with others and share experiences. This allows me to better connect with people.
I really wish my Dad spoke creole to me when I was growing up so I better understood the language. I feel that would have made me feel even more connected to that side of my heritage. I connect with the African side of my culture more than the Scottish. I think this is because of where I was brought up as well as the relationship I have with that side of my family. In addition to that, I cannot help but see the injustice that my Black brothers and sisters face daily, and this has made me want to learn even more about that side of my heritage and speak up about the problems we face.
When I’m asked where I’m from I usually say London. That question is very vague and is often followed up with another question. I was born and raised here. However, I’m very aware that the blood running through my veins is not from here.
I feel that being mixed-race has forced me to better understand others and be more openminded. Things are not as binary as we are led to believe. I believe mixed-race people often face a struggle of fitting in, being labeled by society or being encouraged to pick sides, but I also feel that there are a lot of privileges that come along with being mixed and I think it’s important we are aware of that.