What’s your full name?
Jaixia Blue Ellis-Crook.
How old are you?
Where were you born/brought up?
What do you do for a living?
Textiles & Business Student / Singer-Songwriter.
What’s your ethnicity?
English and Jamaican.
How did your mum and dad meet?
How old were you when you became conscious that people saw you differently? What impact did that have on you?
I remember getting ready for PE when I was around 12/13. Another girl noticed me fixing my hair and asked quizzically, ‘wait… you’re mixed race?’ ‘I thought you were just a white girl with a tan’ that really confused me because it made me question my appearance and how I came across to others... I thought everyone knew I was mixed race. It made me wonder whether people saw me as more white than black, which had never occurred to me before… I’d never really focused too much on the colour of my skin.
Describe your most memorable moments when you were made aware of being mixed race.
I think I’ve always been aware and comfortable with being mixed race. I remember my 10th birthday party when Michael Jackson’s ‘Black or White’ came on. I instinctively added ‘or Mixed Race!’ at the end of every; ‘it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white’ and I remember all my friends shouting with me. I guess I didn’t feel like I fit into either one of those categories.
Do you feel your parents prepared you for life as a mixed race person?
My mum never focused too much on colour and has always surrounded herself with people from all different backgrounds. I think she has done a good job of making me feel confident in my own skin.
What ignorant comments have you heard about being mixed-race that really rile you?
That mixed race people are more desirable for being light skinned. And that all curly girls look the same.
What do you wish people who aren’t mixed-race understood?
That mixed race people have their own unique struggles. We are as much one thing as we are another and there shouldn’t be any pressure to choose a side or dismiss one part of ourselves.
Do you think mixed race people/families are well represented in the media?
I think in the last couple of years there’s been a lot more representation of mixed race people in the media, which I think is a great thing and a step in the right direction. It’s been really heartwarming to see mixed raced leads and increased diversity in films such as ‘Reality High’ and ‘To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ on Netflix. I hope we can move toward more representation of darker skinned men and women as lead roles so that women like my mum can feel like the heroine of their own story. I also hope that casts, in general, can become more diverse and representative of today's society, which I think the industry is moving toward… It's sad to watch things with just one or two ‘ethnically ambiguous’ girls thrown in for good measure.
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 believe things are much better nowadays. It isn’t taboo to see a mixed-race person in the media or even just in general, like it was before. I think we are now in this ‘melting pot’ era....in a matter of time we’ll all become one big mixed race.
Is being mixed race a burden or a blessing for you?
A blessing. I love belonging to different cultures and having 'the best of both worlds’ as my mum would say.
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’ve always felt okay with being mixed race and accepted my heritage. Although, there have been times when I've felt slightly pressured to choose a side, even when it comes to silly things like types of music or choosing a shade of emoji… (now I just stick with yellow because it seems neutral) I’m lucky to have close family members who are both black and white and I know that they accept me for who I am. I think the most important thing, is to accept yourself for who you are, and that means not focusing too much on labels and categories.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t worry about what others think of you… or allow them to dim your light. Please stop straightening and texturizing your hair in order to fit in, accept your curls! Equally maybe avoid what I now refer to as the frizzy ‘Tracy Beaker phase’.
Is there anything more you would like to say?
I don’t think I’ve ever considered my identity in as much depth as I have in this interview. Even though it feels sort of vulnerable, more so I feel empowered and supported by the exciting community at HaluHalo. I love that a platform like this which exists where younger girls and boys can better navigate their mixed-race experience and understand that they’re not alone in their confusion. Being mixed race is beautiful. Being Black is beautiful. Being White is beautiful. Being Asian is beautiful. Being Brown is beautiful… You are beautiful.