I am not too sure where or how to start as I have so many things to say. But here goes.
By way of introduction, I am a mixed-race woman (White mother & Black Carribean father) who some would say was brought up in a ‘white’ world. My Carribean heritage was hardly ever discussed when I was growing up, the language (patois) not taught to us by my father for fear that we would get singled out at school if we started mixing one language with the other and be made cruelly fun of, and the culture not much spoken about either let alone immersed in me. It wasn’t until I was 12 years of age that I got acquainted with my other culture, meeting for the 1st time my Black aunties, uncles and cousins. I felt instantly home, in my second ‘home’ – joy!
As a mixed-race person, you do get subjected to forms of abuse, unbeknownst to many, where you hear on one side with a certain disdain that you’re not ‘white’ enough and on the other that you’re not ‘black’ enough, in other words that you do not belong - this is rejection. In parallel and to confuse things further, whilst it makes no such distinction, the US is still clinging on to the ‘one-drop rule’ (assigning minority status to mixed-race individuals), very much prevalent other there: one drop & one hate!
But what essentially matters is how you feel inside and dare I say that I have always felt more Black than anything else. This cannot be explained so no need to try I also tell my sisters who feel the complete opposite, which is fine as let’s be clear, it does not mean they are rejecting their Black heritage. We just respect each other’s feelings.
Feelings are what counts and make a difference, as much as respect.
I (always) feel deeply cut when I hear about racism, witness acts of violence towards Black people be it fictional (movies) or real (news/tv) and manage to watch with great difficulty movies about slavery (takes me several goes, always!) as I become defensive and reactive. In passing, one of my favourite actors turned directors, Spike Lee whom I had the immense privilege of meeting in person a few years back for a book signing preceded by a question-answer session, overtly depicts racism in America in a way that no one else does. He is one who keeps the conversation truly alive!
I know loads of other races do too and most importantly feel, it is just more profound in Black people themselves.
This piece wouldn’t be complete without unmasking racial micro-aggressions I still experience to this day such as ‘but you’re not Black!’, ‘you’re Black-ish’, ‘you’re quite pale’, ‘you’re light-skinned’, ‘I see you as White’, ‘you don’t tan’ etc.. But my Black side is very much present and 100% alive and again that’s that. I’ve also openly and shamelessly been told: ‘I couldn’t date a Black person but you, you’re OK’!! Deeply offended I was as that is turning a gigantic blind eye to my other race. How dare you as it is there, very much part of me and who I am, like it or not!
Actively feeling, actively respecting, actively listening and actively seeing past a ‘colour’ is what we all need to forge an Ally-ance for a better world for all of us and our children, right here, right now. Let’s keep the conversation Ally-ve!