What’s your full name?
How old are you?
Where were you born/brought up?
What do you do for a living?
I’m currently an undergraduate student, studying English Literature.
What’s your ethnicity?
I am Jamaican and English.
How did your mum and dad meet?
They both went to high school together but lost contact after leaving. They bumped into each other at a petrol station some years later and began dating from then onwards!
How old were you when you became conscious that people saw you differently? What impact did that have on you?
I’m not entirely sure what age specifically, but I feel like I became conscious of how differently other people saw me from a very young age. It was definitely frustrating having to constantly answer the “so what are you?” questions growing up.
Did you want to change your appearance when you were a child?
I wouldn’t say I wanted to change my appearance per se, but I would say that I grew to dislike the attention that I sometimes got. There is definitely a fine line between complimenting a person and fetishizing/sexualizing certain aspects of their appearance. Unfortunately, not every one knows these boundaries, and how best to avoid overstepping them.
Do you feel your parents prepared you for life as a mixed race person?
My parents prepared me for life as a black woman, not a mixed race one. I don’t disagree with their decision – I understand why they felt it necessary – but I don’t think the question of being mixed race is one that I ever thought about seriously until more recently. So from that standpoint, no, I wasn’t prepared for life as a mixed race person.
What ignorant comments have you heard about being mixed-race that really rile you?
That mixed-race people are doomed to be confused in their identity for their entire lives. It’s a patronizing assumption.
What do you wish people who aren’t mixed-race understood?
It’s not exotic. It’s not a fashion statement or trend.
Do you think mixed race people/families are well represented in the media?
I think mixed race people are becoming better represented, although I’m not certain how diverse and nuanced these stories of representation are. I also think the issue of representation is one that exists across the board for all minority groups, and we must be open to honest dialogues about who exactly makes – and survives – the screen, and who doesn’t.
Back in the late 19th century/early 20th century being mixed race held a stigma, as it was clear proof of interracial relations which was seen as an affront to society’s morals. Do you think it’s easier nowadays to be mixed race or is it more that racism has become subtler?
I think it depends what your definition of easier is, what type of ethnic mix we are talking about, and under what particular circumstances. I do believe that racism has become more sophisticated, so it’s harder to gauge or clearly ‘see’ how racism disadvantages certain individuals. That being said, I think it’s also important to remember that whilst being mixed race held a particular stigma or shame, it also came with a set of privileges not necessarily extended to other groups of people under the same system of white racism. Mixed race people do still face a lot of prejudice and stigma, but I don’t think the answer is ever that simple or straightforward.
Is being mixed race a burden or a blessing for you?
It’s slowly becoming a blessing as I reconcile my own judgements and experiences.
Have you felt a struggle with your identity? If so, how did you deal with it and if you are now at peace with who you are, how did you come to a place of self-acceptance?
Definitely. I think every one does to greater or lesser degrees. I think you naturally just reach a point in your life where you learn to let go and embrace yourself, as you choose to see yourself. That’s what I’m striving for, at least.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
No one validates you, but you.