My white friends told me I wasn't black enough when I was younger. I have whiteness in my blood. My mum is ginger and burns despite being covered with factor 50, so it's safe to assume she's white Caucasian. I'm mixed-race and was born in white working-class Portsmouth, but spent the majority of my childhood growing up in the countryside. As a single parent at the time, I was continuously asked, "How come your mums white, but you're not?"
I have lived a predominately white life, with a white mother and stepdad and - until I went to university - a three-bedroom home in a small town. I know I am culturally white but being mixed - or more specifically not being white - meant that I have experienced racism throughout my life, especially growing up as the only non-white child in my school. It can be difficult to make sense of this lived juxtaposition at times.
It wasn't until going to university in London that I felt really mixed - not white enough for white people or black enough for black people. It has been tough at times having to grapple with the difficulties of my mixedness. I acknowledged I am more privileged than black people - purely because my skin has a closer resemblance to white people. Yes, there are advantages to being mixed, but I wouldn't say the colour of my skin and experiences I've had as a direct colour of my skin correlates with "privilege".
I am privileged to have the best of both worlds, and my closer proximity to privilege than that of black people has not impacted on my lived trajectory in the same way. The major struggle of being mixed-race has been coming to terms with my identity - a feeling of being a constant state of in-between - all whilst having to prove my blackness and still experiencing racism. I have slowly learnt though that being mixed-race is a culture in itself that I love and embrace.
As I've grown older, I have also come to understand that racism isn't always violent or explicit. Racism in the UK is invisible to the naked eye, covert and toxic like carbon monoxide. The London bubble has sheltered me from explicit and outwardly hateful forms of racism, but not from the subtle and quiet nature. It is anything from jokes at my expense, to the covert structural racism.
I guess the point I'm trying to make is that as a mixed person I acknowledge I experience racism, but nothing like what black people do. I will continue to use my advantage as a mixed-race person though to educate my white peers, and work tirelessly for the freedom and justice of my ancestors and all Black people.
Written by Elliot Miller