Edith Lalwan

What’s your full name?

Edith Katherine Lalwan

How old are you?

23

Where were you born/brought up?

West Kensington, London

What do you do for a living?

I’m on the operations team at a start up called Borrow My Doggy, a part time radio plugger for indie/alternative music and a PR manager for a creative music hub called Young Music Boss. I like to keep busy to say the least haha.

What’s your ethnicity?

My mother is Colombian and my father is half Welsh and half Indian.

How did your mum and dad meet?

My mother was in London for a year and my dad was her English teacher. They had a coffee date at the café in Holland Park and the rest is history.

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How old were you when you became conscious that people saw you differently? What impact did that have on you?

I don’t feel like I’ve ever been seen ‘differently’. I’m always put in the Hispanic box though, and I get that because people automatically assume I’m Latina because of the way I look.

 

 

Did you want to change your appearance when you were a child?

I don’t remember ever consciously thinking about my appearance like that until I was a teenager.

Describe your most memorable moments when you were made aware of being mixed race.

I remember looking back on family photographs as a child and seeing my Welsh cousins who are blonde hair and blue eyes and then there was me, chubby little dark haired girl. It was never a stigma for me but it was a contrast I definitely noticed.

Do you feel your parents prepared you for life as a mixed race person?

My mother has taught me to be incredibly proud of my Colombian heritage, which I’m so grateful for. Sometimes I struggle to differentiate between my cultures because the Colombian one is so prominent in my life.

What ignorant comments have you heard about being mixed-race that really rile you?

The definition of mixed race. When many think of the term ‘mixed race’ many automatically relate it to a person from a white and black background. So many people nowadays are ambiguously ethnic but people are so quick to assume based on the visual, which goes hand in hand with the stereotypes your automatically assigned.

What do you wish people who aren’t mixed-race understood?

It's human nature to stereotype and put perceptions into a box to make sense of things but just understanding that not everyone is the same is important.

Do you think mixed race people/families are well represented in the media?

Yes and no. You’ll see bank adverts nowadays with a group of friends, and each is of a different race. Meanwhile I appreciate the efforts, it almost looks a bit staged to me.

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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?

Racism very much still exists, what’s different is that its all done within a societal bias. For example making jokes about race or colour. In my experience people are very quick to pull out the Colombian drug joke – they assume because I’m Colombian then I MUST be related to Pablo Escobar. Ignorance is voluntary misfortune and personally, I always intercept it in a humorous manner. But the deep underlining issue is that many people were affected by that whole situation and it’s not always something that should be joked about.

 

Is being mixed race a burden or a blessing for you?

Definitely 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?

All the time. I’m more in touch with my Colombian side purely because its all I’ve ever known. My friends are Colombian and my household is predominantly Colombian. I’ve always wanted to know more about where my dad's side comes from. Its sparked the urge to ask my parents about my family tree and even go as far as doing a DNA Ancestry test. I have so many questions, more so about my Indian side. 

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Listen to your gut feeling. Only now do I trust my intuition more and more.

Is there anything more you would like to say?

I feel like this project has come at the right time, as I’ve been so intrigued about my culture recently. This is definitely a project I’m proud to be apart of.

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