My Racist Roots

My parents continue to tell me they’re not racist…

Growing up in my family; everyone who was not white was black. Unless they were Chinese. They were yellow. Chinkies with funny squinty eyes. Or Japs. Their unfortunate eyes fell in the opposite direction. The blacks were dirty people. They were pakis and Indians and Arabs alike . Africans and south Americans. Australian aborigines too. “Terrible people.” The African continent never got much of a mention in my house. Neither did most continents or country names. The people from there were either stereotypically cool, or dangerous, and their women were terrifying, agressive creatures. “Monkeys and apes”, I heard a lot. I was told that black people didn’t need a bed. They stuck themselves to the windows at night with their lips. Arabs were the worst. “Terrible, self indulgent people with a horrific religion set to destroy the world”. “Ugly and hairy and stubborn, unforgiving people”! “Nuke the lot of them”! My real father was testimony to all their wicked ways! But I was told to love myself. I was beautiful so it was all ok… But what was I?

I was told if I ever brought a black boyfriend home he would be strung up on the garden tree and my mother’s cigarettes would be stubbed into him. They were laughing. There was humour there but I didn’t get it. I still don’t get it. I’ve always been slow.

They told me if I ever had a ‘coloured’ baby my mum would not walk down the street with the pram. It would be too embarrassing for her. I wondered how she managed to wheel my pram around when I was a baby…

Equiped with a deep self loathing, a few good steriotypes and a skewed view of the world, I left home as early as I could and started my own journey.

I found love…

Abuse does not present itself in truths. An abusive relationship will be to the victim, the best relationship they have ever been in. A misunderstood love.

#racism #family #dysfunctional #stereotypes #hate ##selfhate #selfidentity #ignorance #mixed #abuse

Photograpy: Najma Abukar

An Imaginary Father

I am Nadia. My mother is Scottish and father is Arab. I don’t speak Arabic. I am not familiar with the cultures, traditions or history of my father’s country for I don’t know his origins. I have never met my father.

My mother tells too many lies. Sometimes I don’t know who I am. Over the years I have asked my mother many questions about my father. She almost always gave me answers. The answers to repeated questions however, were not always the same. Thus progressing into a spiderweb of entangled, innacurate information. I began to learn early on that my mother, restricted by her painful past, was not a reliable source. Unfortunately, she was my only source.

My father was always real to me. Intangible but vivid and palpable. His physical appearance, his personality, his habits and attributes all existed in my imagination. Inconsistent and somewhat flamboyant, his image as my father has been ever changing over the years.

He was once the dirty, hairy, deserting Arab. Ugly, selfish and cold, but wondrously intelligent and intriguingly different.

He has also existed in my imagination, as the hero father. The tall dark stranger who was just like me. The father who would one day appear unannounced and shower me with love and understanding. With a similar texture of hair to me and a similar skin colour. He would tell me he liked his coffee the same way I did and I would then know that he could see the world through my eyes. He was strong and confident. He was wise, worldly and wonderfully different. He was my real dad. Of course, this dream was never realised.

My mother told me “curiosity killed the cat”.

My father still exists in my imagination. He is no longer flamboyant but he has become somewhat consistent. He his still tall and dark. The racist misconceptions have gone and left behind a more real, human image. A quiet, solitary image of a man, who for reasons still unknown to me, never got to know his own daughter.

My father is a stranger.

#father #daddy #parents #lost #findyourself #selfimage #selfesteem #self #racism #arab #ethnicity #race #mixed

A Mother’s Love

The sun was splitting the trees, as my Scottish mother would say. It was a rare beautiful day in the small Scottish town. Warm and bright with a cloudless stretch of blue skies reaching farther than the eye could see. All the kids were out playing in the street

The recent summer days had transformed me into a darker shade of brown. The shimmering sun placed a dark glow upon my skin. Radiant and exotic. Dark and foreign. My long dark curls were accentuated by my new summer glow and my large dark almond shaped eyes sparkled against this new backdrop of golden brown skin. Skin the colour of faeces they called it. Jobbies was the word they used. Some of the less innocent children preferred the word shite. I remember my younger half brother’s sing song voice in the school playground, taunting and mocking me. “You’re a brownie” he squealed innocently, laughed. And ran away with his friends.

I knew what I was. I was that dirty word they talked about. An Arab. Mother told me to lie. “Tell everyone your father has some Italian in him and you just take a right good tan”. God forbid I admit to anyone my true self. Half Scottish and half Arab. One of them!

I understand that it’s a mother’s responsibility, if not innate need, to protect her child. Which is exactly what my mother thought she was doing. She loved me. More than anything else in the world. I was her daughter. Her ‘wee burnt scone’, she called me, her ‘Gollywog’. Terms of endearment to a child ears. Confirmation that my mother loved me…

My son is 13 months old. He has afro hair and brown skin. He is the most amazing person I have ever known! The most beautiful too. His father is from Angola. A hard pill for my mother to swallow. My step father and brothers too. Although they insist otherwise. I see it in their mannerisms and apprehensions. Hear it in their tone. It’s evident in their every day micro aggressions. “cut the child’s hair, it’s horrible”. “I hope he doesn’t get his dad’s hair, it’s like wool”. “You can’t call the poor child Malachai, it’s not normal!”.

My tolerance has disintegrated. ‘Not knowing any better’, is no longer an excuse in this hyper techno-globalised world. Not for the privileged. I hear the words “burnt scone” and “gollywog” in my mind and my stomach turns. Clarity crashed down on me in the form of motherhood. I understand that it’s a mother’s responsibility, if not innate need, to protect her child. I love my son. He is one of us and one of them. He is a child of the world in his own right!

#mother #motherslove #mummy #race #racism #mixed #family #son #love #angola #scotland #arab