"My mother is from Mauritius and my father is half Brazilian, half American but I'm originally from the UK. I now live in Belgium, and I’m planning to stay. When I’m away from the UK I sometimes miss the people, the food and the ease of navigating a familiar place. I definitely don’t miss the weather, but it’s more or less the same here in Brussels!
The biggest challenge that I faced when I moved to Belgium was learning the language, but now I’m fluent in French and Dutch. Other than that I think it boils down to the same things I face everywhere: being female and being black, having such big hair – you can see me from a mile away! I think people naturally want to challenge something that they don’t see every day.
I don’t face racism constantly, but I am aware of it – I’m aware that it’s ever present and that people are going to judge me. Hopefully one day it’ll all be behind us, and we can look back on this period and realize we were being dumb. But until that day, the fight goes on.
To combat prejudice at a personal level, it’s often a question of exposure early on to different people and cultures. We have to make sure to promote the narrative that diversity is a good thing. At the level of the European Parliament, what happens here is just a reflection of what is happening at the national level. Here in Brussels the workforce is very white and very male-dominated, there are issues of accessibility for women, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities looking to enter the political sphere.
My advice to migrants coming to Europe is to be open, and don’t become bitter even though things can be hard. Integrate yourself as quickly as possible: volunteer, take language courses, be active in society, stay busy!"
photo credit: iom/Thomas Marchal