I honestly didn’t want to come into a new day dealing with the arguments of yesterday, but it seems that many have missed the motivation behind my parliament petition. So here we go.
At no point have I said that I am relying on my ‘oppressor’ to teach me what it is to be black, or to love myself and my blackness in its entirety.
So in the words of Jay Z, allow me to reintroduce myself…..
I am a first generation Black British citizen, one of five children, fourth born to skilled migrant and wind rush parents.
I was born, raised and educated in Hertfordshire on a council estate where I was a member of the ONLY Black family in the area and in the minority. A bicycle ride through town as a child was often met with by at least one member of the public giving me the finger across the throat signal.
The only times in my childhood and youth that I got to experience not being in the minority was when I was solely with my immediate family, greater family, spending summers in Dominica/ Grenada, or once a year at Notting Hill Carnival before it lost its essence and became what it is today.
I grew up the darkest member of my family, something that outsiders loved to remind me of on a daily basis. Questioning if all my siblings were 100% related to me and suggesting that perhaps I had a different mum or dad and I just wasn’t yet aware.
I went to a primary school where on the first day I was called a liar and told that I couldn’t read, write my name or tie my own shoelaces etc. Resulting in my refusal to go back.
I was one Black child in a classroom with 27 other students, all white. My first few years of education left me with a stab wound to the face for for the colour of my skin and the knowledge that my peers saw me as no better then an animal, akin to a baboon. My roots and confidence in myself are so strong that no wind can sway or pull me down.
The strength, pride and love that my parents instilled in me did not change the ignorance of the majority that I was surrounded by. Even the strongest armour returns from battle with chinks. I want black history to be taught in schools to educate those who may not get the education at home, but to also ensure that we are nipping racism at the bud. Those 27 children have grown up to be adults in society, some may very well still be holding onto the prejudices that saw me bullied by them as a child. Becoming the very adults that govern this country.
It is very easy to think solely of yourselves, but this selfish nature will not see any changes come. If my petition sees just ONE child not have to go through what I did in the education system then I can be happy with the changes I have inspired.
I moved to London aged 18 and was met with a new host of prejudice. I became aware of the tensions and aggravations amongst the black population and diaspora happening elsewhere in the UK. I was suddenly teased for being ‘too white’, not something I ever imagined I would encounter in life. I got labelled a bounty and a coconut, and had questions thrown at me like ‘How was afternoon tea with the Queen?’ This was a whole new barrier that I was forced to break without knowing what were the best tools to do so. I have been to Jamaica and other islands in the Caribbean that are not my own. I have seen the slave plantations with my own eyes and walked through them with my own feet. I have travelled to Ghana and bore witness to the slave castles and passed through the door of no return. A journey that many of my ancestors must also have taken. I ask questions whenever I do not know the answer to something and try to read up and learn whenever and wherever possible. This is for me. There is no pleasing some people and ultimately I have long realised that nothing I do will ever be enough.
Despite all of the above, one of the biggest lessons instilled in me as child, to treat everyone as equal, still stands. The experiences of my childhood and youth didn’t magically disappear once I became an adult. Remember those children grow up. They become the very adults who are your bosses, managers, supervisors and colleagues in the workplace. Mid 20s I was told by a white middle-classed manager, who disliked that I treated him no different to the gardener and the cleaning staff etc that life is not fair. He couldn’t understand why everyone from receptionists to SVPs would stop and talk to me at my desk or why I wouldn’t give him deference for his position. My response to him? “I am Black, Young (they originally dismissed me for the position because of my youth) and Female I don’t need anyone in this life to tell me that its not fair, least of all you.”
We always hear how strong black women are. And I agree, there is a strength within us that nothing can break. I look to Doreen Lawrence and Sybrina Fulton et al for not breaking when the world took their sons. But that is a further strength born by a pain that I don’t want to experience before I take action. Let me speak NOW!
So to the black people who came at me full force, this is for you. And to the people that told me I am not black enough, there are no levels to this. Your words do not make you a winner or give you a prize.
I have a voice and I have a gift, so nothing you say to me will stop me from using it. I won’t argue with any of you on this matter again. I said what I said and i’ll say it again! I don’t want to send a child of mine into the same education system that I experienced and it saddens me that some of you do.
Now I am going to go enjoy this beautiful morning, as I promised my mother she wasn’t going to wake up to any more surprises from me.