"My mother’s parents are from Barbados, they came to the UK on a ship a long time ago, and my father is half English, half Italian. Home for me is London, but my grandparents would say home is Barbados, and now I live in Brussels which kind of counts as a home as well so it’s a bit difficult for me to pick just one.
Home is where the people I love are, a place that I’m familiar with. Barbados is where my family comes from, and my roots are there. London is where I grew up and it’s the place I go back to the most, so I miss the familiarity of that place, and I miss being able to walk down the road and bump into friends that I’ve known for years. But beyond that, it’s nice to get to be in different places and to experience different cultures. My job is in Brussels now, and home is so many different things that can’t be narrowed down into one solid concept.
My earliest experience of racism was when I was about 13 years old, I was getting off the tube and a man turned around and used some explicit language to exclaim that there were black people everywhere. My initial response at that time was anger. And then I think to a similar incident from only a few years ago when I was in Spain, and I was walking down the street with my partner. Someone shouted at us because they weren’t happy about the mixed-race relationship that they were seeing, but I was able to shrug it off that time.
At work day to day I experience it in the way people talk to me, and the things they expect from me, especially as a black woman. I want to say that it happens irregularly, but still often enough to be a bit irritating. But you learn, you grow and you try to help educate people to see that their ignorance isn’t beneficial to anyone. Bringing people together and fostering understanding can lead to a huge breakdown of xenophobia and prejudice.
photo crefit: iom/thomas Marchal