I, myself am mixed race (Jamaican and British) and coming from a single parent family where I have never met my ‘black side’ of the family in some deep psychological way I feel has affected me but also, I don’t feel like there is a certain set of characteristics that you need to claim to be ‘black’. I’ve grown up in a small southern village, I’ve experienced racism more than once in more than one way, I’ve been bullied (but who hasn’t) and I’m still somehow an okay person.

Growing up most of my memories are of my mum praising my skin and hair and saying how beautiful I was. Whilst in my head I grew a strong dislike for everything that made me, me. I thought my skin set me apart from everyone else, not only my friends but my family too, by not being white and having lovely blonde straight hair I was therefore different and different just wouldn’t do.

I tried to ruin my hair by chemically relaxing it to have it straight like all my friends which, in the long run, has done nothing but ruin my hair. I was told at 12 that because of my skin that the only boyfriend I could have was the only other black boy in the class. And at the age of 9, I was told I was adopted because a brown baby can’t possibly have a white mother.

Without dwelling on all the bad memories from the age of around 16, when I moved from small village life to a big city, I finally started to accept and cherish my ethnicity and through research and education, I learnt to be empowered by my skin and rich history. Despite growing tired of having people ask to touch my hair or ask whereabouts I originate from I have faith that society is slowly making progress.

Looking to the media for idols and icons growing up was hard as I didn’t want to be an oversexualized ‘angry black women’ and the only kids shows that I could watch with black main characters didn’t surface on Disney until I was around 6 maybe 7 with shows such as That’s So Raven (2003-2007) and The Proud Family (2001-2004).

 
Don’t get me wrong I’m sure there was representation elsewhere but for a 7-year-old mixed race girl that’s watching all the fair-skinned Disney princesses find their “happily ever after’s” it didn’t help. Whilst all my friends could dress up as Cinderella and their favorite characters I could only pull off the ‘black version’ of anything, and through my years I’ve managed to ‘black up’ a lot of roles from Dorothy to Tracy Beaker.

I feel that that months such as Black History Month need more mainstream attention and exposure, so that no other 7-year-old mixed race little girls have to sit and dwell on why they have to look so different to their friends; and so that generations of ethnic people can be educated and empowered not just by their pigmentation but their rich history of their determined and strong-willed ancestors.

 

Posted by Chardae Green

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