I would like to begin this blog by disclosing that this is a purely subjective view on race, from the perspective of a young woman whose beautifully complicated blend of ethnicities makes her almost "uncategorizable" or in other terms, "half cast."
“Where Are You From?”
It’s as though the colour of my skin changes the meaning of that question. “Where are you from?” If I were to proudly answer, “Wales,” I often face a look of deep confusion, as in “no, I meant originally,” (almost as though my first answer was incorrect.) I always hesitate at this point. Where am I from originally? I know what they’re waiting for. They’re waiting for me to justify my skin colour. They want to know where my mother’s mother came from not where I was born. In that case I am Jamaican.
The colour of my skin has left me confused at times. I spent my childhood in the bath on a Sunday, dreading the detangling touch of my mother’s hand - secretly wishing I had long golden Barbie-like hair. It, ashamedly, took me years to fully understand that I was black. But what confuses me most of all is that my skin tone seems to be a subjective topic that people feel the need to comment on (or in other cases correct me).
I am black and I am not wrong.
Throughout history we have placed society in two boxes. You are either black or white. One or the other. It’s as simple as that. But...
What if you’re neither? What if you’re a combination of ethnicities and colours? What if you’re ebony and ivory, all in one? What if you don’t fit into a box but your boxes are more like circles that meet in the middle, a badly drawn Venn diagram. That’s seems to be where I sit. In the middle.
We have divided society between two colours.
So I did some late night research. Did you know that black isn’t a colour? Did you know that white isn’t a colour? Well kind of... It all depends on who you ask. An online article says - If you ask a scientist they will respond, “black is not a colour.” If you ask an artist or a child with a crayon, they will respond, “white is not a colour.” A modern debate (although I bet not debated frequently) on whether these two singular and significant categories, two colours that we have used to divide society and to define the colour of people’s skin, are even colours at all. What does it mean to be coloured? (I think Avatar’s have a good thing going.)
In a society where we are so eager to define ourselves with one singular colour. I found myself identifying as black, although, much like being Welsh, I was told that I was wrong. According to some people I am not black. I then tried the opposite answer. “Being white myself,” I nonchalantly profess in an English debate, provokes my friends to hysterically laugh in my face. I retract my comment immediately. Again, I am wrong.
I’m half expecting some gameshow buzzer to ring whenever I answer questions about my race. BZZZ You’re out!
Something that became evident upon moving to London was the common misconceptions of what it means to be Black. It seems to me that being black is more to do with culture than your skin. It’s to do with style, food, music, dance, even down to the shoes you wear. As of 2016, I am a proud owner of black and grey Nike Air Max but I still enjoy folk music. It may seem so ridiculous to you but this was the first time I felt accepted as a black girl. I received comments about my shoes. I received praise. I was accepted.
I don’t like being defined, especially by others.
I’m also Irish, a Guinness enthusiast and a dedicated advocator of the potato. I’m making a joke but we are so stereotypical in our views of race and heritage that I feel almost trapped. I have to fit into a box. I’ve had conversations where my Irish background is questioned. “Yeah, but do you have an Irish Passport?” (In the mess of our current governmental crap - I think I should get one). Why are we so eager to put ourselves into one single box.
I am proud of being a complete blend of random quirks. I’m Irish. I’m Jamaican. I am Welsh. I am Black. I am a Woman. I am a singer. I am a devout carnivore. I am a film advocator. I am a feminist. I am a humanist. I sometimes chat shit. I am passionate. Why can’t I be all these things?