What’s your full name?
Tarik Peter Frimpong
How old are you?
Where were you born/brought up?
What do you do for a living?
Performing Artist: Actor, Dancer, Singer.
What’s your ethnicity?
I am mixed race. I am half Australian and half Ghanian (West African)
How did your mum and dad meet?
Both my parents were professional dancers, and I believe they met somewhere in Japan working as performers/ dancers.
How old were you when you became conscious that people saw you differently? What impact did that have on you?
I was probably around 6 or 7. I think I first noticed that I was different than most of the people around me growing up/ at school. Especially growing up in Australia, most of the other kids had white skin and straight hair, whereas as I had brown skin, as a huge afro. It was after realising that I was different myself, that I started to become conscious of others seeing me differently. At the time I actually think it had positive influence on me, it made me feel “special”, the attention was something I enjoyed. It was something that boosted my confidence.
Did you want to change your appearance when you were a child?
No I can't say I ever wanted to change my appearance when I was a child.
Describe your most memorable moments when you were made aware of being mixed race.
Growing up I always knew that my mum was Australian and my dad was Ghanian, so I always knew I was mixed race. And therefore there was never really a big shock realisation moment where it suddenly hit me, that I was mixed race.
However one moment, I can vaguely remember during high school where I was made aware that I was mixed race was being called “a half-caste” by another child.
Another moment would be, again in high school, just realising that I was darker skinned than the “white” kids but lighter skinned than the “black” kids. I was this different kind of in between..
Do you feel your parents prepared you for life as a mixed race person?
Yes, I do feel my parents prepared me. They brought me up with love, love for myself and love for others. Whilst I knew I was different, I also knew that we, as people and as humans are all still the same, regardless of our race or skin colour, or religion or sexual orientation for that matter.
What ignorant comments have you heard about being mixed-race that really rile you?
When people refer to mixed-race people as “half caste” or “Mulatto” I personally find that offensive.
What do you wish people who aren’t mixed-race understood?
Do you think mixed race people/families are well represented in the media?
I think with each passing day, the representation of mixed race people/ families in media improves, but there is still improvement to be done.
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?
Its definitely easier now than it was in the 19th Century to be mixed race. However, I would have to agree that racism does still exist, and it is a lot more subtle now.
Is being mixed race a burden or a blessing for you?
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 do feel as though I am at peace with being mixed race, and therefore in part who I am. In terms of my racial identity, moving to London a little over a year ago was something that helped. I think being surrounded my so much more diversity in terms of race and ethnicity, led me to think more in depth about my own racial identity, and the fact that I am mixed race. I’ve often discussed with my friends, that whilst growing up in Australia for the first 20 odd years of my life, I had never really heard the term “mixed race”. I know it sounds crazy. But I don’t consciously remember ever having heard the term, or I don’t ever remember being referred to as mixed race. It wasn’t until I moved to London, that I first heard people use the term “mixed race” to refer to people like me. And as I heard the term more often, I began to relate with it and it felt more natural to refer to myself as mixed race. This definitely helped me to form a stronger sense of identity. I no longer felt as though “I was in the middle” or “in between” white and black. I felt as though I was my own thing, I was and I am mixed race.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t give up and don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve your wildest
dreams. Your points of difference are your greatest strength.