What’s your full name?
How old are you?
Where were you born/brought up?
Born: Finchley, London: brought up: in Brighton for about 12 years.
What do you do for a living?
I just graduated, have no rigid set career and am going exploring, but currently working in an after school club and focusing on my poetry. I'm trying to pluck up the courage to showcase my singing too.....!!
What’s your ethnicity?
British-Nigerian-Armenian / my dad is Nigerian-British, and my mum Armenian-British, there's Scandinavian in there too!
How did your mum and dad meet?
Mum and dad met at Maxwell's in Covent Garden at a mutual friends birthday. Think she had just had her wisdom teeth out and he was only drinking milk.
How old were you when you became conscious that people saw you differently? What impact did that have on you?
I think in secondary school when everyone gets more aware of physicality, since then it's just increased more because people become more aware of difference. I began to notice when people ask "where are you from" or back handed compliments like "you're so exotic", "your hair is amazing, I love curly hair" but then they hate it when their hair isn't straight...
Did you want to change your appearance when you were a child?
Clothing wise no, I didn't really follow mainstream fashion choices, I wasn't that "cool"! But when I was 13 I developed anorexia which I had till I was 20: I've thought about it a lot and in part it started because I wanted to be slim with slim thighs, I was surrounded by skinny girls. My body is naturally curvy, and at the time it felt like what beauty was was just not who I was. It was damaging having such a narrow, Caucasian standard of beauty bombarded at me from TV, magazines etc. That's why I'm so inspired by women like Rihanna, she's so gloriously "thick" and embraces not being a size 0, I love it! Obviously not eating was a symptom of other reasons about control and punishment which developed too.
Describe your most memorable moments when you were made aware of being mixed race.
At primary school, I'd just moved from London when I was about 6 and went to primary school in an all white village. A kid saw my dad drop me off (my dad is black) and asked me "are you adopted?"
Do you feel your parents prepared you for life as a mixed race person?
I don't know... It just wasn't a "thing" to me, I was brought up pretty racially neutrally, told that how I looked or what my blood was shouldn't hold me back. As I've gotten older I've become very aware and proud of it, so my family and I discuss race and civil rights etc very openly and vocally.
What ignorant comments have you heard about being mixed-race that really rile you?
"No way, are you?!": having to prove that I'm mixed raced - when they don't believe me I've had to show people pictures of family members! I don't get why I would lie about it haha AND when people have seen my dad they say "he's so cool" "why?" "Because he's black"..!!!!!!! It really shocked me.
What do you wish people who aren’t mixed-race understood?
It's hard - I think everyone (all races) should try not to speak with absolute certainty when it comes to conversations about race but put across comments as their interpretation or opinion. Like you can't really say what a black person should or shouldn't find offensive if you have not experienced the oppressions or othering yourself coming from a privileged class... Understand that there are things that you just won't get, there are things I don't still get!
Do you think mixed race people/families are well represented in the media?
Hmm not really... It's getting better but more representation of all ethnic minorities needs to improve. Othering won't be a thing if the others are the norms. We are a multicultural world so let's see it, and hear the stories of minorities from minorities!!
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 there's a danger with saying "but racism has gotten so much better" because it undermines soft/causal racism which will linger on for longer if we don't see them as wrong. In some parts of the world there is less fear/ violence directed towards people of colour and mixed raced but I don't know if you can make a rule that it's "easy" for people - everyone's experiences are different but still significant.
Is being mixed race a burden or a blessing for you?
WITHOUT A DOUBT A BLESSING.
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?
I think I've wanted to shout my mixed raced-ness from the rooftops, I'm so proud and want people to know but I have basically white skin so people don't really see it. And when I'm in circles with People Of Colour or white people I think they have treated me a tiny bit differently to how they do when they find out I'm mixed raced (in friendlier and less friendly ways). I'm too white for black and don't quite fit the white model so I'm in limbo, aware that I'm not a full member of either group
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Well done, firstly, because navigating teen years in an all white area in hindsight was weird. Love yourself and let go because that's when you are most calm, and when others are most calm around you. I would tell some kids younger than me right now: care less about how you look, nourish your soul because that's what people really see.