What It’s Like Not Being White

mixed race all the places people think I'm from what it's like not being white
tindereditedI received the above opening line on Tinder last week. I quickly posted it to Facebook with the comment “Just so we are all clear, “you don’t strike me as English” is not an acceptable chat-up line”. My initial reaction was shock and disbelief along with a weary resignation. Amongst the 60-odd likes on were a number of comments which were largely jokey. I can play along to a degree, but the thing is: I wasn’t joking. It’s not an acceptable line.

I’m mixed race. I was born in London. I have a non-Caucasian name. I have brown skin and thick dark brown hair. My name and my colouring, two aspects of myself which I have no control over and were mere circumstances at birth, have far too often become the sole distinguishing features that people latch on to. These features single me out as not being white. Though 13% of the UK and 40.2% of London are not white, being not white still means I am different.

I am reminded daily in the way people talk about me or to me and by the assumptions implicit in conversations. I’ve long been resigned to how things are, but the anger I feel about this is growing. I am made to feel strange and unusual; I am made to feel “other”. I am literally forced to identify myself as “other”, because I am “Mixed Other” on the drop down menu of racial backgrounds on HR forms and the national census.

I take the piss out of this a lot. I jokingly describe myself as being “foreign” or “ethnic” because the alternate option is to wait for that label to come from somewhere else, probably somewhere with fewer laughs. I take the piss, because otherwise I would be too angry to do anything. mixed race all the places people think I'm from what it's like not being white 4The older I get, the more exhausting it is to laugh this stuff off; casual racism, instant stereotypes, pre-assigned tropes. I am in disbelief that things don’t seem to change despite more people calling it out. I call it out every time whether it’s a friend, a colleague or somebody I’ve just met. The more I call it out, the more aware I become of the fact that these race-based assumptions are deeply ingrained into our society, so much so that people often aren’t aware they hold these assumptions. People deny that their remarks were meant to cause offence; I’m sure they weren’t, but it doesn’t change what’s been said and assumed. Nobody wants to think of themselves as racist.

The more I call it out, the more I’m told I’m making a big deal out of nothing. I’m tired of being told that if I want to take something intended innocently as a racist remark, then that is my issue to deal with and that the problem lies with me. It’s never the problem of the person who made the remark: they didn’t intend any offence and so do not accept offence caused. I’m fed up with being told that I’m trying to draw attention to myself, that I take things too seriously, that I should have picked a less visible career instead of placing myself on stages. I’m fed up with trying to patiently explain to everybody why their words might hurt. I’m tired of hearing that people’s other non-white friends have never called them out, so what’s my problem?

I’m not an angry person, and I tend to see humour in all situations, but not being white feels more and more like a daily slog I can’t turn off. I’m writing this post so that you see why it might get frustrating. You’re probably thinking, what kind of incidents is she referring to? What comments does she call out? How bad can it really be in 2015? Well, let me try to paint a picture.

mixed race all the places people think I'm frm what it's link not being white 23When participating on the panel at a Q and A session I noticed my name had been spelt as Lola on my name badge. Lola is not my name. On informing the event assistant she replied “Well it’s close, isn’t it? We’ll leave it at that as people know how to pronounce THAT name – we don’t want any embarrassing situations”.

At least 50% of the time after people find out I’m a musician they ask immediately if I play Indian music.

I have my teaching details listed on different websites. My profiles are exactly the same, except I created one using my mother’s anglican maiden name and one with my actual surname. The maiden name profile received 75% more interest in the first couple of months. The profile using my fathers surname received 5 separate requests asking if English is my first language and if I can speak enough English to teach, despite the fact the profile was written in English.

Being asked if my vocabulary is sufficient enough to teach Music at GCSE Level in 3 separate job interviews, despite my CV explaining that I am a British national, English is the only language I teach in and that I possess a Masters in Music from a UK institution.

Being described as “beautiful” or “pretty” is always followed by “in an exotic way” or “you look so tropical” or even “for/despite being brown”. Only twice has a person called me beautiful and just left it at that.

Related “compliments” include, “you could be an Arabian princess”, “do you ever wear one of those scarves? I think they’re sexy”, “can you do a belly dance?”, “you’re like a harem girl”.

Walking past a man wearing a UKIP rosette who shouted “we’ll be getting rid of you soon, love!” and spat on the pavement after me.

The recruitment agency who advised using a picture of me where I looked “brighter” as schools want to employ “a friendly face” – it was a black and white photo (making me look lighter-skinned) rather than the colour one I had provided. Everybody else on the books was white and had a colour photo.

Another man on a bus telling me to “fuck off back where you came from before you blow the bloody place up” before shouting at a fellow passenger “there’s a fucking terrorist on this bus!”. I was holding my bassoon.

Being turned down for a job interview at a school, phoning up to ask for feedback and then being greeted with laughter and “oh! we assumed you didn’t speak English very well” and then more laughter, as though this was hilarious.

About 3 days after our latest election result, two men on the street talking, first said “Cameron’ll send all that gross Asian scum home now” to which the second one replied “Yeah, except them, I like something tropical every now and then” whilst nodding at me.

After listing my role models as Kate Bush and Lindsay Cooper in an interview I was asked “do you have any role models like you? You know…” and then, whilst gesturing to my face “we wanted to play that whole thing up a bit more, you know, it’s an interesting angle.” I’m so happy I provided you with a ready-made interesting angle! God forbid you’d have to find the interest elsewhere, for example my career or business!

On arguing against peoples nationalities being listed after tragedies and fatalities abroad I was rebuffed with “You wouldn’t understand because you’re not a proper nationality.”

School nicknames including Osama, The Terrorist, Paki, Gorilla, Monkey Man, Suicide Bomber, Ahmed, Bollywood, Curry House and Saddam.

Being told by a gross man in a bar that “girls like me” make more money as lapdancers/pole dancers because we look less pasty under bright lights and (again) also look more “exotic”.

Aged 6, local press – “Can we have the little brown girl to sit near the front? It looks better.”

Aged 14, school press – “It needs to look more diverse – Laila, can you come and stand in the front?”, worth pointing out I was the only non-white girl in my year.

Using maps on my phone in Brighton to find a cafe, a guy came up and said “are you looking for the language school?”. I said no and asked if he knew where the cafe was, and he said “Oh! I didn’t realise you spoke English. I thought you were looking for the language school. You know, because of..” and then gestured at my face whilst laughing, as though this was a hilarious mix-up.  mixed race all the places people think I'm frm what it's like not being white2 THINGS I HEAR ALL THE TIME:

“So where are you really from?”

“So where are your parents from?”

“You’re obviously not English”

“When did you come to this country?”

“Do you feel part of British society then?”

“I just think brown girls are more interesting.” – most recently heard from somebody 5 months into a relationship

“So you don’t really have a race? What kind of a person are you?”

“Do you still consider yourself a person even though you don’t have a country?”

“Well, obviously you don’t count because you’re brown/ethnic/mixed” etc or “You wouldn’t understand because you’re brown/ethnic/mixed” etc

“Are you vegetarian for religious reasons?” – a question never asked of my vegetarian white friends when we eat together

“You wouldn’t say that if you had a country of your own.”

“You’re so dark and mysterious, it’s like you’re a stranger from another land.”

“I’ve always liked exotic girls” – again most recently heard from somebody 6 months into a relationship

It’s like, when you go out with somebody from another country it makes your whole life feel more tropical, you get that tropical holiday feeling. You’re basically like going on a holiday.” mixed race all the places people think I'm frm what it's link not being white

One or two of these incidents could be brushed off as an unfortunate confusion, but when it happens week in and week out I become jaded. I can’t comment for everybody that’s not white, and much of the above is coupled with being a girl or being mixed race, two things which I could post about separately. I do seem to get more comments than a lot of my non-white friends, so maybe I just come across like a particularly antagonistic member of society who needs taking down a peg. But from my perspective it just seems like there is a huge amount of racism that I have to navigate on a daily basis, and at no juncture do I have the luxury of going about my life without my heritage challenged and called into question.

A lot of the assumptions can easily be avoided by re-wording questions. “How long have you lived in this area?” will get the same information as “When did you come to this country?” without implying that I’ve moved here from somewhere else. “What kind of musician are you?” lets me explain myself as opposed to guessing with “Oh, Indian music? Like in Bollywood?”, and if you’re genuinely interested, why not put “Why don’t you eat meat?” to everybody in the group rather than singling me out and assuming I’m religious? It’s simple wording and phrasing, but it’s wording a lot of people have probably never had to think about, because they have never been on the receiving end of it of that particular line of questioning.

From now on I’m going to broadcast every time I encounter a racist comment or scenario – call it out with me if you like on twitter (@tapeparade) or facebook (www.facebook.com/tapeparade101 and www.facebook.com/lailawoozeer). I hope people are aware of it, and I hope at some point, people will call themselves out on what they say, and do, and eventually they’ll have to start calling themselves out before they say or do anything but when they even think that way. But until then I’ll keep calling it out.

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764 thoughts on “What It’s Like Not Being White

  1. Bas says:

    I couldn’t even read until the end because I got so worked up. I’m angry and ashamed and sorry that you had these experiences. I’m truly, truly shocked. I met you and all I thought was that you were sooo British (And pretty, and pretty awesome). No one should have to deal with this kind of stuff. Lots of love your way xxx Bas:)

    Liked by 11 people

      • sonworshiper says:

        British is a race now? And it’s a “completely racist” comment? I suppose you can address the issue of stereotypes. But saying someone fits in with a certain culture or matches common perception about a particular society is different than making assumptions based on skin and hair color. We make choices about the cultures we associate with and the mannerisms we adopt. We don’t choose genetics.
        There’s enough actual offense to go around without making everything and anything “racist.”
        Sorry if I’ve missed your point and am ranting at something you didn’t intend.

        Like

      • logicscience1 says:

        You are semantically correct about race but i don’t think it is a useful correction. My point is not to categorise people at all and it works both ways. A different discussion entirely but in my experience too much nationalism and obsession over cultural identity is a non progressive mentality.

        Like

  2. richmonl says:

    You’re beautiful. (Now the count can go up to 3.) ;D In all seriousness though this was a really fascinating read. It’s good that you call out friends and foe alike because it needs to be done. Racism is so ingrained that some people don’t even realise and would be mortified to realise that they’re contributing to a systemic societal wide problem. Thanks for writing about it!

    Liked by 3 people

    • lolly says:

      Hey! This was SUCH an interesting read. And it’s awful that you still feel so persecuted.

      I write this as you’ve covered very clear, derogatory hatred – but you’ve also covered conversation starters, compliments, or genuine interest – and I would really like clarity on what we *should* be doing. So I hope you can help me out :)

      1 – My name is also routinely spelt wrong – or totally incorrect. My name is Lauren. It’s an American name. Yet i get called LOREN, LAWRON, LARAN, and god forbid, LAURA(!!). So I wouldn’t say that’s only because you have a name that’s not conventionally British. And I get how much you hate it. i feel like murdering people sometimes (Laura especially gets me red..)

      2 – I myself, if I met you, would be genuinely interested in where you come from. What makes you, well, you. Where are your parents from? Can you speak other languages? What is your families culture like? I would ask these questions not because I am racist, or because that’s ingrained in me. But because you are different (and i don’t mean that in a bad way at all!) but more often then not, girls and boys with names and looks like yours have a story to tell about their history and I *always* find it fascinating. My friend and skilled hairdresser has an english name, but she’s Sikh. Is a vegetarian. Has certain ways of doing things etc, and i would never know all that about her if i didn’t ask. I myself am half german, a bit Scottish, a bit British, and the tiniest bit American. It’s an all-white mix, admittedly – but if anyone teases me about the german bit (which happens a lot) then i am not surprised. I’m honest, and I educate. It’s hard to maintain patience, I agree!

      3 – some of the examples you hear regularly can genuinely be seen as compliments – “Arabian princess” – well, yes. I see it. If you were dressing up, you’d make a way better Jasmine than Cinderella. Just like I would make a better Sleeping Beauty than the Little Mermaid (I have blonde hair, not red hair).

      Anyway – I’ll stop listing specifics here – but my question is – how do you *want* people to talk to you?

      I know I know – no derogatory comments. UKIP a-holes can go suck a bag of nuts! But I mean, nice, well meaning people – how do you want us to talk to you?

      How would you like us to enquire about your life? To get to know you?

      Is it so wrong to be gorgeous and exotic?

      Hope you can help me, and others like me, to also navigate this racist minefield you’ve talked about :) xxxxxxxx

      Like

      • tapeparade says:

        1 – I think the problem with my name is not just the spelling and mispronunciations but that it often implies, to other people, that I am different. Lauren is an American name and a fairly popular one (or at least one I have encountered numerous times). People are unlikely to hear that you are called Lauren and immediately wonder if you are Muslim/able to speak English or whatever as they may with mine.

        2 – Of course it is interesting to learn about where other people come from. I’m not at all denying that. I’m saying that I don’t think you should use the word “different”, because I’m not different really, I’m just your average Londoner. If we discuss our heritage and families as part of a larger conversation then that’s totally fine. I don’t think it’s appropriate to instantly ask the non-white contingent where they’re from or personal questions about their history. As part of a larger, reciprocated conversation: fine.

        3 – I don’t think I can take that as a compliment because it’s been too many times of people only coming up with those kinds of “compliments” with nothing else to support any aspects of me that are aren’t my skin colour. Why could I not make a great Cinderella? Is it that hard to think outside of the box?

        I did try in my original post to list some ways that people commonly ask questions, and some nicer ways to ask questions. I feel it’s important to state that I am just one person, and these are just the preferences as I see them. I’m not a spokesperson for the non-white community at large – but a lot of people do seem to agree. Perhaps there’s a longer post waiting to be written further about the subtleties of speech?

        I hope that’s helpful in some way. X

        Like

  3. A Million Gingerisms says:

    I can’t believe how people can be so outright and say these things to people of colour without knowing a thing about them. So wrong. I agree in naming and shaming, these stereotypes need to stop, but unfortunately humans are naturally judgemental in behaviour because of the media we are brought up with and what’s deemed as ‘normal’.

    Gem x

    Liked by 4 people

  4. jessthetics says:

    This is a great post – it’s terrible what has been said to you and I had no idea these things actually happened. I feel like my confused male friends when they’re like “but sexual harassment doesn’t go on anmore, it’s 2015”. I’m so sorry you have to put up with this. Your experience in applying for jobs is horrific and definitely illegal – if you had the energy or the time you could defintely report them! Caling out is a great idea, and hopefully people will get the message! Looking forward to seeing you soon :) xxx

    Liked by 4 people

    • insearchofmornings says:

      Report them? It’s not as simple as that. It’s not a criminal offence, it’s a civil one, which means that you need to take it to court, and even then it’s hard to prove anything. People facing discrimination on this level don’t want a court case, they just want to get on with their lives and not be discriminated against in whatever it was they were trying to do.

      I haven’t experienced racism, being white and with ancestors who changed their surname to something British when they immigrated, but I have experienced a fair bit of ableism, and speaking from my experience of that, most of the time there’s nothing you can do. Try to book a restaurant, ask if they have wheelchair access, the phone goes dead, same thing with the next restaurant you ring, just keep ringing round, because you’re trying to celebrate your anniversary rather than to have a court case. Keep getting turned down for lodgings as soon as you say you’re disabled, reflect that you wouldn’t want an ableist landlord anyway, get increasingly desperate because time is running out and you need a place to stay – this is no time for a court case over something you can’t even prove. We called the police once, when someone tried to run us over and yelled “I’ll put YOU in a wheelchair!” at my partner, but there wasn’t a thing they could do as there was no evidence.

      I’ve experienced a lot more, but this isn’t about me, and I know all of this would be so, so much worse if I weren’t white. For starters, the police treated us with respect, which will probably be because we’re both white, with British-sounding names and middle class accents. They didn’t ask my ethnicity; pretty much no one ever does, unless I’m talking to someone on the phone and they are filling out one of those box-ticking forms. When I needed homeless accommodation, I got one of the nice places. If you are someone who gets discriminated against, that’s going to keep happening in the police and legal systems, and from what I hear, for people of colour most of all. There’s a reason why people of colour are the ones leading the discussions aboutintersectionality.

      Kicking up a fuss is difficult, exhausting, may be dangerous (think of the people who take to social networking and are inundated with death and rape threats – Laila, I hope you’re not getting that over this article), and tends to need lawyers, which means that you need to be rich enough to do that and to keep pushing. No one’s in a position to do that when they are looking for a job.

      Great article, Laila, and I am sorry that racism is so bloody rampant and socially acceptable, that we white people are so shitty about this. Every time I think I have a reasonable idea of what it’s like for POC, I read or hear more, and realise just how much worse it is. And again, and again. By the way, the photos are very powerful, you look lovely and have awesome hair, and it’s nice to hear the name Laila, I’ve always been fond of it. Best of luck with the online dating, it can be a right pain in the arse when you’re a woman, even before you add other factors. If it’s any help, OkCupid were great when I reported harassment to them, and I hope Tindr are as well. I did eventually meet my wonderful partner through online dating, it can work!

      Liked by 3 people

      • tapeparade says:

        Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply – how awful to read about the discrimination you have had, although I can’t say I am that surprised. I completely agree kicking up a fuss is difficult. I think what I’m intending to do by calling it out is just, if I can, slowly make the people around me think about what they’re doing. And I don’t know, maybe eventually that will disseminate into everybody’s thoughts. Just the fact that a lot of people are reading and sharing this article is great.

        Liked by 4 people

      • seedoconquer says:

        I think you’re beautiful, too, and agree that it’s disgusting such comments would be made. One thing I feel needs to be brought up is the fact that we’re all human and we all have prejudices and that includes you. Anyone who denies that is a liar. We may not mean to think, say or do something offensive, but we’re all guilty of it at some point. I believe often times we use the words racism and prejudice interchangeably. Racism is pure hatred for no other reason than you are who you are. You’re black. You’re white. You’re Muslim. Prejudice implies pre-judgement, can cover a range of things and could be hateful or I would argue ignorant. Just because someone has prejudices doesn’t make them a full blown racist. It’s harsh to put the man who spit at you in the street in the same bucket as the ignorant schmuck who asked if you’re vegetarian for religious reasons in front of a group of other vegetarians. Insensitive, yes. The other thing I think is important is accountability. We have a wave of very tense black and white relations in the states right now. How do you think it feels for all white people to be lumped together? How do you think it feels for a white person to feel like they have to watch everything they say, how they say it or who they say it to and then when an innocent discussion turns violent they are automatically a racist… In trying to create an extremely PC society, there’s no discussion anymore because there’s such fear. Fear of being misunderstood or labeled. The media and society are very quick to point the finger at an entire group of people and call them racist, yet when a minority group does something it’s often pushed under the rug for fear of raising tensions. No matter what way you slice it, it’s wrong. What was done and is done to you is wrong. But it’s wrong when it’s done to anyone. I just hope there’s personal accountability for the times you pass a judgement, too.

        Like

      • tapeparade says:

        Thanks for your comments. Just to reply to some of your points:

        It may seem harsh but it stems from the same place. I deliberately didn’t use the phrase “institutionalised racism” in my post, but I think that term works. You can call it insensitive or prejudice but it stems from the same idea, the very simple idea that somebody from a different race is different. And that’s the dictionary definition of racism, hence my choice of words in the post.

        I can’t believe you’re asking me how it feels to be lumped in with other people when the majority of my post is about that. I don’t know the plight of white people in the US, because I’m neither white or in the US. I think there should be a discussion; I’ve inadvertently started one right here. Not saying anything due to fear of being misunderstood is pretty silly, if you’re clear in your head and able to articulate yourself you shouldn’t be biting your tongue in situations where you might be able to help. I don’t really know what situations you’re talking about.

        In my experience society is not quick to point the finger at a group and call them racist – if anything we have the opposite problem here in the UK where we have prominent journalists, celebrities and even politicians making clearly racist comments that are hardly challenged. So you’ll forgive me if I find your comment a little hard to interpret as it’s very far from my experiences here in London.

        Personally, I try very hard not to pass judgement on people until I get to know them. I think for most people reading this blog and commenting, that appears to be the way we all operate and how I would hope society as a whole might one day operate (in some utopian version of the future). But I’m aware there are a lot of prejudices and harmful stereotyping flying around in societies across the world, and not just race-based. I didn’t write about any of those things because I don’t feel I can adequately comment on a global state of affairs. But I wholeheartedly agree that people should be accountable for their actions and their words. That’s why, as I say in my article, I constantly call people out on their wording and explain why it can sound offensive or ignorant, and what I would have rather they had said. I think people are often unaware, and unwilling to hold themselves accountable for certain things which is where problems arise.

        Like

      • seedoconquer says:

        My point about being lumped together is not to imply you don’t understand. It was rhetorical because I know that you really do understand. My message was meant to communicate that people of all backgrounds, even what others consider to be privileged, experience similar situations. Like you said about the States, I don’t know how things are in London but there is a huge wave of liberalism and political correctness. It’s not just about what you meant to say or even how well you articulated those points, it’s how it’s interpreted so yes, even though I’m moderately articulate, I have been in situations of intelligent discussion about difficult topics and simply disagreeing on fundamental principles was enough to have me labeled. I don’t consider that silly. You raise some excellent discussion points, your writing is lovely and engaging and I agree with you wholeheartedly – we all want a better tomorrow, a better future, a more inclusive and understand society. Like you, I pray for a day that you never have to go through what you’ve explained ever again. Likewise, I hope I never receive the terrible comments I’ve received for being despised just because I’m white and what that person feels my skin represents, for being a Christian and saying hateful things to me because of my beliefs or what they perceive I believe just because I’m Christian, getting corned because I’m in the wrong neighborhood and I’m the wrong skin color to be there, etc. The undercurrent of hate runs far and deep all over the world and across all backgrounds. I look forward to reading more of your posts. I enjoyed your perspective and your writing style.

        Like

      • Jackie says:

        I have a habit of putting my foot in my mouth so hopefully this all comes out ok but your post really resonated with me. I’m not in a wheelchair but I do have muscular dystrophy and a very clear limp (and fall all the time) so I’ve definitely experienced a lot of the ableism you have. There are really no words to adequately describe how horrible it is or feels to face such discrimination. No one should be treated the way you have been. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s really powerful and you elucidated it so incredibly eloquently. On a much lighter note, good to know about OkC and Tinder. I’ve tried both and haven’t had a lot of success because of my disability but maybe I’ll give it a go again sometime soon. Xx

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Christina says:

    i am shocked reading this. It’s beyond crazy that you have experience so many rude comments and ridiculous situations in school and just day to day! Wtf!? Well done for sharing and highlighting this issue. It’s all too common for people to make insensitive remarks and to assume it’s okay!! Love to you cxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Saskia (@girlinbrogues) says:

    I’m a mixed girl (Asian and White) just like you, but because I have an English name and my genetics lean slightly more to the Caucasian, I don’t get the same reception as you from most people. I do get a lot of Spanish men hitting on me in, but most people don’t really ascertain the fact I’m part-Asian.

    I do have to say I have struggled in the past with Asians instead. I grew up in Asia, I have a stronger connection with my Asian family so I do tend to relate more with my “Asian side”. But I have found it difficult getting accepted by some Asian groups. I get asked a lot of questions about my religion (as I come from a Muslim family) – “do you eat pork?” “you’re like a fake Muslim” etc., I get asked a lot about whether I can handle my spice (yes I can, in fact, a lot better than my Asian friends) and I have actually, and I still find this hard to believe, been discriminated before by Asian parents who find it difficult to believe that ‘this white girl’ is getting better grades than their Asian children.

    I think being part-White in a society as a minority is rare to come by, but all societies have their own prejudices and unfortunately I’ve grown up having to just live with it. This was a really really interesting post to read from another mixed person’s perspective. Thanks!

    Saskia / girlinbrogues.com

    Liked by 8 people

    • tapeparade says:

      It’s true that societies all have their own prejudices- the reason that I’m fixating on the not being white side is because I live in a predominantly white area and I actually think the white bias is really strong in the UK- even stuff like not being adequately represented on the census is ridiculous. My parents have been together for 40 years and to see no change as to how they’re presented and seen is crazy. I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with those situations. I think there will always be racism and prejudices in all communities and against all other communities- it just depends what the dominant force is. We live in a world where white people are hugely over represented in the media, in government, even in fiction and fantasy. Like I said, I can’t speak for everyone and I’m so glad to have your perspective on this post and these issues which other people will read in the comments.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Saskia says:

        Yeh, it’s sad that society is still like this, especially since the UK is meant to be one of the most open minded. I see how my Asian mum is treated, but she says in some ways it has improved. But that’s not an excuse. I’m glad you’re fighting against it!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Ewa says:

        “We live in a world where white people are hugely over represented in the media, in government, even in fiction and fantasy. ” when I used to live in Japan Asian people were hugely over represented in the media, in government, even in fiction and fantasy! During my stays in Egypt there were Arabs everywhere, can you imagine it? Government,TV, magazine, simply everywhere! I get your problem, but notice that you are living in Europe, an orginal place of White people, so it’s like completly normal that White people are everywhere! Europe is for White people this what is Africa for Blacks and Asia for Asians – origin of being, place where those people are at home. Europe is not Americas, we are not immigrants from other countries who took over a plce of origin of native Americans, don’t treat Europe as a multi cultural continent, because it isnt. Look at London, as you wrote, London is 42% not White. Can you imagine writing something like that about any Afrian capital, that it’s in 42% not Black, or about some Asian capital, that it’s in 42% not Asian? Impossible! And yet, it’s White people who are considered as a not welcome to forgeiners.
        If you were living in Africa would you complain for seeing Blacks everywhere – tv, books,government, ect? If person of other race or mixed is living in some country this person sometimes will unfortuantely have diffrent treatement, that ugly side of life. It’s not White people thing, it’s every people thing! Maybe take this in consideration?

        Like

      • tapeparade says:

        Whatever skin colour initially prevailed in a certain place has absolutely no bearing on how we should treat each other today, and also has no bearing on modern-day issues of representation, as discussed in my post. I’m not talking historically, I’m talking about right now. In what way is Europe NOT a multicultural continent? How many countries in Europe consist 100% of a single race? None. Europe is multicultural.

        Let’s make this clear – I am NOT a foreigner. I am not talking about a blanket generalisation, and I am not talking about “us v them” mentality of white people having to welcome in those pesky foreigners. That’s not the situation at all. I’m British. I’m talking about the problems I have, in Britain, at the hands of other British people, purely based on the colour of my skin. I’m not talking about where I’m from or what the case was thousands and thousands of years ago when the continents were created, because that’s completely beside the point.

        I’m not sure I understand your comments about Europe not being America’s? Perhaps you could explain further.

        I’m not talking about expats or people who have moved to another, completely different country. I’m talking about people like myself in the place they call home. You ought to take that into consideration. I’d suggest maybe re-reading the first couple of paragraphs where this is explained. I hope that answers your questions.

        Like

      • Ewa says:

        Europe is not multicultural. If you would consider it multicultural just because none country is 100% White then Africa and Asia are multicurtural continents as well, because none of their countries is 100% homogenous. Europe isn’t equal with UK, Germany or France. My country is 97.9% White, similar situation with Hungary, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine or Albania, and many many more. Europe was and is a White majority continent.

        Here you can read some studies about that subject
        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2013/05/16/a-revealing-map-of-the-worlds-most-and-least-ethnically-diverse-countries/

        “I’m not sure I understand your comments about Europe not being America’s? Perhaps you could explain further.” – We, White people living in Europe are in our own place, on our own continent. We didn’t come here from somewhere and killed it’s original populations, we have been here forever, we are aborigenal inhibitants of this place. Americas were colonised by Whites who replaced original population of it by killing inhibitants or mixing with them, so Whites are strangers to Americas – but here, in Europe we are in our home and everyone else is stranger here. I have nothing against immigrants, but remember that we have every right of the world to be hugely over represented in the media, in government, even in fiction and fantasy – just like Blacks have every right to be over represented in the African media, government, ect and Asians – in Asian media, ect. If person of color is “tired” of this then can migrate to the continent where their race is majority, and not try to change our continent.

        Yes, Europe and UK is your home, because you were born here, but racialy and ethnicaly you don’t belong here. It’s sad but true. I used to live in Japan, so it was my home but racialy and ethnicaly I was stranger, didn’t belong there. I understand why were Japanese people “hugly over represented” in Japan, even if I and other forgeiners were living there – it’s because Japan is an Asian country, an orgin place of Asians, just like Europe is an origin place of White people. We don’t have anywhere to go from here, if we don’t like it, we are in our home already and in every other place we will be strangers.

        Like

  7. Mandy H says:

    This made me angry, but I also found it horrifically relatable (I have shared very similar experiences with the BNP/UKIP – including such classics as “Go home, you Paki!” and “fucking terrorist”) and a very large national broadcaster gave me a job on their “diversity clause” (which I was very angry about) because it was assumed I was mixed race. The weird this is I am actually Irish. Like fully Irish. Was born in the States, have lived in the UK all but two years of my life. However, I have jet black hair (which I have dyed in recent years), dark eyes, Mediterranean skin (from I think 3 generations back in our family on my mums side?) Israeli like facial features and no body asks me what I am. It is assumed I am Spanish, Italian, Cuban, Romania, Indianian, Brazilian, Mexican, Egyptian, Greek, Bangladeshi etc. To date, one person has correctly identified me English 1st – 25 years here, and another got close by calling me ‘Black Irish’. And to clarify, I did check if my dad was my dad after years of people telling me he couldn’t be because I look so mixed – I am annoyed I let other people dictate who I am to that point.

    I have very similar school experiences of school photos to you, I got asked about how fasting went, (I was raised Catholic, but identify with no religion as an adult). Up until I had my nose altered, the most asked question I got every day on all my social media by strangers was if I was Jewish. I have been told several times for on screen roles for my job I was not “Hollywood pretty” for the roles as I looked too ethic – which I am still extremely angry is even a thing someone said to me. I am always ‘randomly’ checked at the airports when flying to the states/uk. Banks tell me to put my correct ethnicity in when filling in forms, rude. Honestly, I get your “things I hear all the time” section because, yeah, totally hear that.

    My ‘friends’ (not anymore) used to tell people I was Jewish “because it was funny” where I saw it as an insult to other cultures. And if I even expressed “angry” as an emotion, they would follow it up with “Oy vey”. I have heard “I’ve always liked exotic girls” from almost every partner I had, and I have never been flattered.

    People have placed their expectations of what they think I am on me and I have learnt nobody knows really who anyone is. All this has taught me over my life is you can never, ever, ever judge anyone by how they look nor should you place your ‘values’ and expectations of what you think they are on them. People are people, dammit.

    To be clear: This isn’t a ‘white people have problems too’ post, because they really, really, do not. I know I am a unique case and my best friend has seen how we are treated differently. He’s witnessed things happen to me and is always surprised by how someone else behaves. We are treated differently. I have been told “how can I identify white, when I am clearly not?!”. I was regularly called a ‘mutt’ at school, which is a term even I took on saying, because it hurts more when other people say it. Truth is, I tend to identify more with my mixed race friends and partner (Lebanese & German), because we share very similar experiences, and I have been made to feel like I am not who I am.

    I actually used to look really similar to you even three years ago, but now I dye my hair lighter, have changed my actual face (mostly because my nose didn’t actually work as a nose, but while I am there figured why not) I seem to get the comments less times in a week as opposed to daily. And it’s sad that that is a thing that actually happened.

    I am sorry people put you through that. I am genuinely angry, but also fantastic post speaking up about it.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Angela @Little Apple Tree says:

    I’m mixed race and I do get a lot of, “So where are you from?” Type of questions, but usually people say they’re asking about my accent which is in truth a strange mush-mash of Scottish, Irish and American. I haven’t encountered racism like you have for years and years, and I’m suddenly struck by how lucky I am! I cannot believe that people I this day and age see a foreign-looking name–incidentally our WI secretary is very white British and is called Lailah–and assume a language barrier. It does, I suppose, pre-screen companies that you wouldn’t want to work for due to this not-so-casual racism.

    I had so hoped that we were beyond this in 2015 Britain.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Denise says:

    I honestly never saw you as brown or white, but as Laila. I never look at people as brown, white or black, they are people – like me, like anyone else, or so we should all be. I am very very sorry for all you went through and still do, and the UKIP member is tettible! With the “we’ll be getting rid of you soon, love” – OK, so a non-European member from, say, just as an example, a white Uruguayan or Mexican is welcome, but not a mixed race national? Wow. Well, then it’s a society not worth living in. I don’t mean in the Uk, but a society in general. I never ever thought of you and an Indian/Bollywood musician, and not a Peruvian, not anything but an incredible girl! I always say you are beautiful, and what is that, despite of being brown? Look, they are brainless people, really. So now my turn to tell some things, though you may not believe me. I think I don’t share some things on the blogosphere and I admire you for sharing. I have no control of that, as you said, being white. But there are stupid people in the world, who don’t know we will all die the same way, we have two eyes, two hands, and need to eat to be alive. They don’t know that we ALL, I said ALL, came from Tanzania and Ethiopia. ALL of us, I repeat. So, yes, I am white and I have a ha-ha, friend, who thinks she is whiter and tells me all the time – I am whiter than you. She is not (and even if, what would the problem be? I am not competing on color, this is soooooooo – I could add 10 thousand Os to so – ridiculous), but wants to think she is whiter than anybody else and loves saying that and love spointing that out to white people. She really loves it. I found it so racist. Cause if she, being white, competes with white people measuring the degree of “whiteness”, imagine what she would do to non-white. I started getting distance from such a person, because I know she has other similar racist opinions about everything. Laila, do believe me I would have loads of stories to share with you. I am white, but due to some things I am seen as exotic by some people, believe it or not, and also had to endure some strange comments – as I said, facts that you don’t know, so skin is not the only thing for people. It’s a matter of sheer ignorance and unfortunately we have to live among these people. If you ever want to know some things, we can talk. You will see it happens not only to brown or mixed race people. I simply can’t understand why people are so nasty. It’s a long comment, I am sorry, but I am shocked at all the things you went through. By the way, white people also dance belly dance – I do. And I love Bollywood. True people are shocked when I say that. But I don’t care – as I said, we all have to eat to be alive, I don’t know why people still think on “differences”. We are not different!
    DenisesPlanet.com

    Liked by 4 people

    • americangritty says:

      This was the absolute best discussion I’ve read on the topic of race and racism I’ve read in years. Let me state a few facts. So many people in the UK are just plain rude. They make issue of things that lack substance. The English are notorious for their arrogance. So many so called white elitists have been conditioned to believe that being English makes you better than everyone else by some divine right. That’s the first tier of their delusions of Grandure. The next discriminatory tier is being part of an aristocratic pedigree, made up of white bred snobs who live off the old money from their ancestral tree. This class system then considers a persons wealth or celebrity influence. Then at the lowest consideration is based on a persons political or religious affiliations. Your delima is that you live in a country whose identity is based on beliefs which are outdated. The English celebrate their own mediocrity while trying to discredit those who don’t share the same lineage. The Germans and the Japanese also practiced this exceptional ism…and if you know your history then you know what happened to those who weren’t of white pedigree or similarly how the Japanese also murdered others seeking to elevate their status via genecide. If all of the non-Whites left the UK on their own accord… As did the pilgrims, and took their talent, money and resources with them… The UK elitist a would no longer be

      Liked by 2 people

      • americangritty says:

        Elitists would no longer be able to feed off of the spoils of others. My advice is to leave and go where you are celebrated. Life is too short to waste it on a government which lacks progression. I look white on the outside but I have brown blood on the inside. I am by racial distinction mixed. But because I look white, I am treated white. I have experienced reversed racism. I grew up in a mostly dark skinned city in the US where people tried to make me feel bad for being white… When I too have suffered from the consequences of racism. My grandmother was a Cherokee woman.she was sold to my German Gransfather for 10 dollars in 1919 at age 13. He died before my mixed grandfather was 1 year old. She had to work as a prostitue at age 15 to feed her baby, because no one would hire a brown woman. Her rapists… Wealthy white men. Stole what little dignitity she had left. After 7 years of this she was able to break free of this slavery and escaped to Miami where she raised my grandfather in a home which lacked love respect or admiration. she was angry and he grew up looking like those who abused her… She struggled cleaning homes of wealthy Jewish families and later joined the Jewish faith because she could reinvent herself, escaping the stigma of her Native American desent and instead found a community where she was excepted. I learned about her plight when I began to do my own geneology. I honestly thought I had Jewish ancestry… I felt sad for her, but also learned that she was rose above her circumsyances. She couldn’t change being brown, but she could change her envirnment. She spent her later years feeling disenfranchised, yet at peace no longer having to live in a place where society treated her like a lessor human. Today, when asked to state my race I list causation/ Native American … Although I don’t get a check from the Cherokees now wealthy tribe, nor am I invited to belong to their distinct culture, I still must live feeling like a person without distinction. Hated by some who hate white people and yet not accepted as a white eletist either. My resolve is on Christ, a Jew rejected by his people of origin, adopted by those who saw his true nature and loved him… I am an adopted child of Isreal, but a true child of God. I love the idealogy that I am judged by my deeds not my pedigree and that I too can become a person of distinction based on what I do, not because I look a certain way. The world is changing and we must keep our reason. We must not give into the propaganda or toxic lies people will tell you about you. You and only you get to decide what value to give the deeds of others. You can remember a well known truth… Most of the greatest people that ever walked this planet had dark skin. The lie … Is a white lie… You must avoid becoming just like those fearful haters. Do not demonize light skinned people either… Another accepted truth…the first humans…. The story of all of us…is that they were brown… We all came out of Africa. You are a forward thinking beautiful woman and I would love to look like you…but still be me…You are not your circumstances. Circumstances are temporary. The world is your playground. Travel… Expand your mind…and you will learn that some will love you and some will fear you…stay hungry and passionate by continuing to serve your fellow mankind regardless of their ethnicity or skin color and go where you are loved and valued. Then One day

        Liked by 2 people

  10. anne-marie says:

    have a friend half French / Arabic, but a country in the middle east,
    he told me the things that shocked me.
    example: if it is of Arab origin, including the Maghreb
    so it is a Muslim, then he is a Christian
    Once again, he lost his French passport, he went to the police station to make a statement of loss, with this statement, it was in the town hall (in France, it is the town hall, for passports and ID cards) to redo his passport.
    He gave the papers and an employee (a woman) said, “here is for French passports !!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Polly says:

    This is all really awful and I’m sorry that you have to deal with this. I completely agree with you on the asking different questions-I think a lot of it is well intentioned curiosity, but something like “so where are you from really?” is so offensive, and it really wouldn’t take much for people to think a little bit more about what they’re saying. Or to actually let you speak first so they don’t need to ask the questions.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. mychinesebf says:

    I really loved this post as much as it made me angry. >:)

    These are situations not everyone can understand and get brushed off like nothing. Some people out there can be really nasty. As a Latin@ living in the United States I’ve always struggled trying to conform to what an “American” or “Mexican” should be. I’m part Native American so I guess my facial structure confuses people. I hate being asked “What are you?” or “Where are you from? No, really what country?”.

    I remember in school if we spoke Spanish they would send us to time out, I’ve been told to go back to my country, get on the bus so you can be deported, I’m pretty for an exotic girl, called barbarian, assumed I work in restaurants/stores/cleaning, older men trying to pick me up because I don’t “speak” English, and much more.

    These days I correct people when they butcher my name and call others out when they something culturally insensitive. Being in an interracial/intercultural relationship has opened me up more to rude remarks. Even though we live in a modern era we still need to educate others. No matter what diverse background we are still human and deserve the same respect no matter the color of your skin.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. jennie says:

    It sucks with a capital S that you have to deal with this rubbish! My boyfriend is mixed race and this post prompted me to ask him whether he’d ever experienced anything similar. I’d never really thought to ask before, I suppose because I don’t see him as being different in any way. He says people never really ask and it’s only when he tells them they say ‘oh, I see it now’. Whether that’s because he looks more white than anything else, because he has a fairly traditional British surname, a combination of the two, or something else I’m not sure. But I’ve never thought of you as anything other than Laila – an inspiring young woman pursuing her creative dreams and living life. And I hope that you don’t have to deal with these comments forever, because you shouldn’t have to! Lots of love xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  14. lilydelahaye says:

    This a great piece of writing, Laila. Casual racism and sexism is so ingrained into our society that, sadly it take does take brave people to call it out. I intend to be one of them with you. Oh, and for the record – you ARE beautiful. Full stop. xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Jane says:

    As an Asian Australian I can unfortunately relate to what you’ve wrote here, and have heard a lot of the same (but I’m not mixed and I’m sure that brings a whole other set of racism as well). I think people here still think that racism is only about full-on shouting racial slurs at people, where in reality it’s all the “small stuff”/microaggressions that add up and take a toll. I will 100% get angry about it nowadays (although I am an angry sort of person to begin with). I used to laugh about things and even make jokes about being Asian myself but I’ve since realised that this is the result of years of ingrained internalised racism, and also a survival mechanism, where no one can make fun of you if you make fun of yourself first, if that makes sense.

    Liked by 2 people

    • tapeparade says:

      Yes exactly- like I said, I would rather make that joke first and identify myself as the “ethnic” before it comes from somewhere else. This whole malarkey with the Tinder guy and the comments my friends made on Facebook made me wonder if people think it’s genuinely funny being brown as I have been taking the piss for so long, rather than realising there are still some real issues. And it’s the ingrained racism that is most damaging.

      Liked by 3 people

      • americangritty says:

        Halle Barry is causation and black.,, she is so beautiful and talented and a superstar… But could not escape the questions of her ethnicity … She finally stated that she was black and never told the press that her mother is white… President Obama also stated the same and both later admitted that because they were never treated as white peoples…they were forced to identify with black culture, thereby quoting the rule of law…. One drop of black blood makes them black…

        Liked by 2 people

  16. Natty Mancini says:

    Holy mother how are we still this awful in 2015. White folks be so quick to yell #AllLivesMatter or ‘personally I’m blind to race’ only because we’re not the ones being shat on from the huge institutional podium designed to keep inequality winning gold. I’m so sorry you have to get the jokes in before they get you (I get shat on like this too but for something different so I ain’t gonna clog up your comments), I’m sorry. People are only blind to this shit when they don’t *have* to see it all day every damn day.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. MargevonMarge says:

    I totally hear you. I get the “Where are you REALLY from?” a lot. Also people shouting at me in “Chinese” or “Japanese” and expecting a positive response just based on my appearance.

    I don’t get the “terrorist” thing, but I *do* get people making snide xenophobic and anti-immigrant remarks to me and then going “Oh we don’t mean YOU, we mean THOSE people” despite me actually being an immigrant…. So I also get to witness the reality of racism, and it’s subjectivity.

    I was recently asked by a complete stranger if I was one of them mail-order brides too.

    I’ve also had a weird *age* thing where people were surpised that due to being called “Margret” I wasn’t actually a middle-aged white biddy!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. cristiancantoro says:

    Hi Laila, I found your post really interesting, and I have to say that I am horrified by some of the episodes you experienced. I have a question, and sorry if they are personal. I was surprised by the fact that you heard things like “I’ve always liked exotic girls” from people with whom you were in a relationship, my surprise is twofold: on one hand, I can understand why you don’t like this kind of remarks, if they get used against you all the time and I understand you are fed up with this kind of reasoning. On the other hand I would assume that this was meant as a compliment. So my question is: how did you react to that?

    Liked by 2 people

    • tapeparade says:

      Well, as I say in the post I know a lot of the time people aren’t trying to be racist, but immediately calling me exotic feels like a comment on my skin colour and happens so often it’s impossible to interpret differently. I always call people out and ask them to clarify what they mean, and say that I appreciate that they’re trying to be nice but can’t they find something else to compliment me on. Every single time.

      Liked by 2 people

      • americangritty says:

        Irony is in Dave Chappels skit called the black white supremacist. Freaking funny… Basically a blind black kid who is raised in a special orphanage for blind kids. He grows up thinking he’s white… And becomes the leader of a secret white supremisist group so secret that their faces are hidden by masks… A great way to discuss how stupid racism is… Yet when whayever a child learns… Becomes ingrained. Again the key is to raise your child in a loving diversified community

        Liked by 2 people

  19. uwaisa says:

    Hi Laila, I’m angry as I read it but not shocked unfortunately. My mum is Mauritian, dad is Indian. Ive only ever spoken English and when people ask me what I am, I say “British” then the immediate response is “no but like where are you REALLY from” It gets boring after a while. Ignorance is an ugly quality and no real excuse. Its the unfortunate truth that things haven’t really changed since the 80s. We are so fortunate to be surrounded by so much culture but its sad that instead of embracing them we segregate on the basis of them.

    Liked by 4 people

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