Omari Daniel

What’s your full name?

Omari Joshua Daniel

How old are you?

23

Where were you born/brought up?

Ealing.

What do you do for a living?

Cover Teaching/ Just finished Masters + Poet.

What’s your ethnicity?

Black/Carribean. My father is Jamaican and my mother is 1/2 Bajan, 1/4 Dutch and 1/4 English.

How did your mum and dad meet?

Chance encounter at Mum's work.

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

As early as primary school I think, probably before… people would touch my hair or exclude me from games, groups would form along racial lines quite quickly. I think it was a weight to carry, even before I knew what it was I was holding.

 

 

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

In my teens definitely at times, growing up around mainly white kids didn’t do my confidence any favours.

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

Secondary school, being called ‘nigger’ occasionally, but ‘half caste’ was more frequent.

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

No, they were never really together and my Grandma/Mum raised me. My Grandma is amazing but she is white and with the age difference there wasn’t much she could likely understand about my experiences .. I kept them largely to myself .

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

Saying that we aren’t black.. or Black enough.. This is a topical issue, even public “pro black” figures like Umar Johnson have said terribly ignorant and regressive things about mixed race black people. It's certainly an issue.

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

That you can’t decide where the boundaries of  “blackness” begins and ends as it suits you.

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

Not well enough, but regrettably, we are far better represented than people with darker skin and this racially motivated imbalance needs to be interrogated with more scrutiny, there has been progress but we have a long way to go.

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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?

I don’t think its ever been easy to be black in a world dominated by Eurocentric opinion. Racial inequality has been normalized and that issue is ever-present.

 

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

Being black is a blessing, being labeled as ‘mixed’ as a separate entity is damaging to people's own experiences and creates isolation.

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 certainly have, it’s been an eternal journey towards knowledge of self, of history and of understanding. I doubt I'm completely at peace but I’ve definitely found myself happier and more comfortable in my skin as I've grown older, wiser and actively sought out answers to my questions.  

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Struggle, you’re meant to, but never stop believing in yourself, keep asking questions, don’t ever give up. Let yourself fail until you succeed.

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