Friday, 23 October 2020

Black History Month: My Story by Maisie, aged 17

 As a person of mixed race ethnicity (my dad is black and my mum is white) I have experienced racism throughout my life; probably not what you’d expect however. Through my personal dealings with prejudice and general negativity towards the colour of my skin I’ve learned that racism isn’t straight cut, it comes in many forms and effects more than just the person with the darker skin it’s being thrown at.

The most noticeable and frequent situation I have found myself in is the negative opinion many people carry towards my mum when they see us together. I can see people staring at us with disgruntled eyes and disappointed frowns as if the fact a white woman had a child with a black man is an issue of her lack of self-respect. This is not the case, if you believe this awful preconceived idea please try your best to let it go and understand that mixed race children are not a result of a ‘tacky’ women and ‘lesser’ man letting go of morals and respect. It may sound dramatic but it’s true, because of me simply existing people hold my mum in a lower regard. Sometimes people can’t even bring themselves to believe I’m her biological daughter; assuming she adopted a disadvantaged child from a life destined for nothing very impressive.

The assumption I am not my mum’s biological child has always hurt me. At times I’ve felt as if I’m not good enough to be wanted, mostly though it just leaves me confused- no one doubts the legitimacy of my biological relation to my dad so why is it a difficulty to accept and understand when it comes to my mum?

If a person was to ask me how racially motivated negativity affects me personally I would have to say guilt. People’s stereotypes that influence the respect they have for my mum ultimately makes me feel guilty because in their eyes it’s my fault that they can’t respect her. You see racism isn’t just shouting abuse or throwing punches it can be more.

In school whenever topics of race are discussed all eyes are on me. It’s never enjoyable to be stared down for any reason and trust me this equally as horrible. I understand there is no malicious intent but it makes me feel as if my personality traits, interests and opinions are not the things that define me- my skin tone is, because no eyes are on me when my favourite film is brought up. It’s as if what makes me who I am is stripped away and gone unrecognised because the only important fact is my ethnicity. It makes me feel like just another one of many, I’m not an individual. I want to be more than the person who’s ‘allowed’ to answer the questions.

I know a lot of what I’ve spoken about has been in the past tense but that’s not the case. I experience these few of many acts of prejudice often and I don’t expect it to stop but I hope that with everything happening at the moment for the Black Lives Matter campaign the less known problems can be unsurfaced. At the end of the day everyone in and connected to the black community simply wants to live their lives with equal respect, consideration and opportunities; I included.