I’ve had this topic title floating around in my head since 7th September 2015. I know this because Notes told me so. I’m not sure why I chose now to actually write about this, but I feel better for writing it. I actually brainstormed before doing this, which is not something I usually do, but I wanted to be sure I included everything that has been floating around my head.
Where do I start?
Who am I? Hmm… maybe that is too existential? Let it be noted that is not a topic I’ve ever written about before, and so I’m not really sure where to start? If I think about it, it’s kind of hard to get the words on paper on what it means to be mixed race. This is coming from someone who can write probably 1000 words about food, or travel, or television at the drop of a hat. I guess when it’s a topic super close to my heart, what makes me me essentially, it does become sort of difficult trying to explain how it makes you feel, why you feel that way, etc.
I am of Jamaican and Filipino ethnicity.
My whole life I’ve been told that I am so lucky and that you have such an exotic mix. I can’t lie, it made me feel good when people would say those things because let’s face it; everybody has a little narcissism in them. However, I’ve never really known how to identify myself. For example, do I identify more with one race over the other? Throughout periods of my life I have always felt that I do identify with one race more than the other. This was not something that I actively sought to do, but I guess it happens to everyone even if it’s liking a particular genre of music or only watching certain films.
If we’re getting into stereotypes, I don’t even think I fit into any of them… I hear all around me of black people being told that they “speak good for a black person” or how Asians are always smart, and yet I’ve never encountered any of these. I find it really difficult to relate sometimes with people of my own races because when people see me they’re usually confused and then excited and then that’s it really. There would be times where people would speak about black people’s issues and stuff and I just couldn’t relate, and I had nothing to say, and I felt bad. But it was also felt like people would forget that I’m black as well. Kind of dismissed.
This is not to say that they are dismissing me in a bad way, but more like they can’t figure out who I am. Much like myself.
I have always struggled when it comes to someone, more specifically guys, asking me where do I come from? I understand that it’s cool to find out about someone’s race, culture, etc., but for me this is the question that I get asked the majority of the time when I meet new people and it gets tiring, you know? I usually come back with a quip like, “London” because I mean that IS where I was born. It’s not until they press that I reveal my mix and then wait for them to be all like, “Omg, I knew that!” or “I wouldn’t have guessed the black side but I can see the Filipino side” or “Wow, what an exotic mix”. For some reason, it makes me uncomfortable nowadays because I’m not really sure how to respond.
To some, this is not a big deal and in the grand scheme of things, it’s really not a big deal. However, I don’t know… like I said, it’s hard to get words down on how to describe it.
I’ll move on.
Representation. It matters. I am so full of joy and pride when I see PoC and WoC progressing so much in the field of their choice. Especially when it comes to film and TV, which is something I am invested in A LOT. I’ve rarely seen someone I can actually relate to from his or her skin colour. I’ve seen plenty I can relate to on a personal level, but not really people I can see and be like, “Omg, somebody who looks like me.” This is what causes me turmoil, somewhat. I don’t want to sound like a little whiny bitch, but maybe I am sounding like a little whiny bitch. Yet people are allowed to feel how they feel, and I’m kind of glad I have writing as an outlet because I can create characters that are like me and I can identify with.
I remember looking back on works I had written previously and thinking, “Wow… you can tell how much I’ve been influenced by what I’ve seen on film or TV” because of the way I describe my characters. Pale, brown or blue eyes, slim, dark or brown hair. It could fit the description of a light skinned person, but if I’m being real then I know that it’s a white person I’m writing about. I’ve gotten to a stage in my life where I am pretty comfortable with writing about someone without having to describe him or her or describing him or her in the way I want to, but looking back it makes me kind of sad.
There’s a part of me that will always be conflicted, I think. I am so fucking supportive of everyone, but I always felt that there used to be a hesitation on my side. That I HAD to choose one race over the other, and I know now that this is NOT the case and that both sides are what make me who I am, but still. The thoughts were there. I’m not saying it’s easier for other people to go out and advocate for what they stand for, but I thought that if I went around talking about “Black Girl Magic” someone would come for me and be like, “But you’re not even black” just based on looking at me. I’m still coming to terms with the fact that it does not matter what other people think or say and that what I think and say for myself is the bottom line.
Of course, I need to work on myself. Everything I do is in my own hands and I am the master of my own destiny. Sure… I don’t know who I am, I don’t know who I identify with, but I’m sure this is going to be an exciting journey. At the end of the day, I don’t think anyone really knows who they are and that’s okay because life is what you make it. Fuck the stereotypes, fuck what people say, just do your own thing.
I’d like to end this post with a note about the #egochallenge I discovered on Instagram the other night. Started by Jane, she rapped/sang about her insecurities to Beyonce’s “Ego” instrumental and honestly, it was so uplifting for me. I had just gotten in from a shit day at work and I was just tired of life/everything/so down. I slipped into bed and was scrolling through Instagram and found Danielle Brook’s video of the challenge and I just had this big fat smile on my face. It led me to find the original video by Jane and after scrolling through many videos of people doing the same thing; I honestly went to sleep so soundly and peacefully.
Self-love is so important. So, so important.