English/Irish | English/Jamaican “My parents were both born in London, my dad has an English mother and an Irish father, and my mum has an English mother and a Jamaican father. My dad was a ‘skinhead’ in the 80s, but I think he didn’t really understand what it meant, and just wanted to impress his older friends. He ended up with a dark-skinned woman, so I doubt he really cared that much about it! When my brother was born, who is a lot darker than me, some of his family made comments to my mum like ‘he’s a bit dark isn’t he?’ and things like that, which shows the kind of attitudes they hold (and some of them still hold I believe). When I was really young, and my mum would be pushing me about in my pram, she would get asked regularly ‘How long have you been looking after her?’. I am really quite pale – probably the palest in my family. But I look exactly like my mum – just a White version, and my brother looks exactly like my dad – just a Brown version!
One recent experience that sticks with me however is when my son was born (2 years ago). On the forms, the midwives wrote that he was ‘White British’ – I didn’t really think to query it at the time. But this really, really hurt my mum. I didn’t realise until that point how important it was for me to continuously show my pride for my mixed-race heritage. So now he is also down as ‘Mixed’. I wondered whether or not the ‘percentage’ or ‘ratio’ of his Jamaican heritage played a part, but then I thought why should it? He has Jamaican heritage, in the same way he has British, Maltese, and Jewish heritage. I want him to know and understand all the cultures he comes from.
If I was to be born again I would come back exactly the same, but with an earlier acceptance and appreciation of what makes me different and special.
I wonder whether the term ‘mixed-race’ will even exist in the future. I really hope that, by the time our children grow up and get into relationships themselves, that the idea of being mixed is even less of a ‘big deal’ than it is now. When do you stop saying ‘mixed-race’, how mixed does it have to be? I don’t know the answers, but I can’t wait to see what the next generation do!” #mixedracefaces