ISSUE 1 VOL 1
RASHEEDA RASJID ON BEING A TRANSGENDER SEX WORKER KAMANZA AMIHYIA’S TOP HAIR PRODUCTS
INTERVIEW WITH ‘MIXED UP’ COLUMNIST NATALIE MORRIS Tia-Ama Amihyia ©
CONTENTS SPRING EDITION/MAY 2019
5 INGEDIENTS FOR HEALTHY HAIR / 4
RASHEEDA RASJID / 14-15
KAMANZA AMIHYIA / 5
NATALIE MORRIS / 16
WHY DO WE HATE OUR HAIR? / 6-7
ROYAL BABY ARE WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A MIXED-RACE MIXED-RACE WOMAN / CHILDREN BEING 8-10 FETISHIZED? / 19 WHAT NOT TO SAY TO BLACK WOMEN / 11
BLACKFISHNG / 20
HER SKIN AND MINE / 12 INCLUSIVE HIGHSTREETS / 21 IS THE TERM ‘MIXEDRACE’ INCLUSIVE? / 13
elcome to MIXED, a magazine written for mixedrace women, by mixed-race women.The first issue of MIXED explores the fundamentals of what it means to be a mixed-race woman in our culture and society. ith the rise of fourth wave feminism, I have seen a tremendous shift in attitude towards women’s rights and the way in which women of colour are represented. Being part of a movement that continues to fight for the voices of women everywhere is an aspect of my life that feels very central to who I am as an individual. I care deeply about all women and I believe we all deserve the opportunity to choose how we present ourselves to the rest of the world. Women - particularly women of colour, have been silenced relentlessly throughout history, but the level of resilience we display and our persistent determination to fight back is an incredible force to be reckoned with.
MIXED aims to provide a platform for mixed-race women, who are often unintentionally overlooked by both white and black communities, to share their world with everyone else. Our experiences as women are similar, but there is so much to learn from and about the mixed-race community. In this issue we talk a lot about stereotypes and common misconceptions surrounding women of colour. But more importantly, we explore the varying experiences, achievements and opinions of mixed-race women from all over the country. This magazine is particularly special to me on a personal level, because it is something I feel has been missing from my life forever. My heritage would fit in to the category of ‘White and Black Caribbean’ but to be more specific, my father was Jamaican and my mum is White British. Having never met my father or his family, I never felt connected to my Caribbean roots. Both my brother, sister and mum are white – along with the rest of my family, and growing up I always felt angry that I was different to them. As with lots of mixed-race people, I felt very insecure about my identity and in my case I was embarrassed and upset that people knew that I had a different father to my siblings. I really struggled with my appearance and I despised my hair, skin and features because they were a constant reminder that I was different to my friends and family. With the intention of complimenting me, people would constantly bring up how my hair was like ‘candy floss’ or would make comments about how lucky I was to have brown skin - but for an insecure little girl, the constant attention only made me feel worse. As I began to enter adulthood, my feelings towards my mixed heritage changed drastically. Now, I absolutely love being mixed-race for an endless list of reasons. I feel one hundred percent comfortable with who I am inside and out and I want other mixed-race girls to feel the same. I wanted to create a space where mixed-race women could express themselves in their own raw, honest and unfiltered words - so that no girl ever has to feel as isolated and alone as I did. MIXED is not about segregating people into crude categories, it’s about enabling bi-racial women to choose how they are represented and to speak for themselves – uninterrupted. I would like to dedicate this first issue to my beautiful mum, Rebecca – who is my rock, my inspiration, and my best friend.
Nourish Naturally The best natural ingredients for your hair.
lack and white mixed hair is commonly associated with breakage and frizz. Moisture is crucial in removing brittleness from your hair and increasing elasticity, which helps to curb breakage. Moisture treatments and ingredients help to smooth and rehydrate your hair. Although butters and oils aren’t moisturisers, they help to seal in existing moisture so that your hair is less affected by humidity and is less prone to breakage and split ends.
Coconut oil Coconut oil is a classic example of an emollient that is perfect for sealing moisture into your hair. It is a very popular ingredient amongst people with natural hair because it provides both strength and shine to locks. If you have thicker and hair, it can be used as a leave in conditioner to replace the natural hair oils that have difficulty sliding down curls.
• Shea butter Shea butter is another emollient that contains lots of fatty acids. This means that it provides a layer of oil on top of the surface of a hair strand, significantly reducing the amount of moisture lost.
• Extra virgin olive oil Extra virgin olive oil seals and softens the hair. It can be used as a quick pre-shampoo or a deep conditioner. Avocado - Many natural hair products use avocado since it’s packed with vitamins A, D, E, and contains more potassium than bananas. Easily absorbed into the skin, avocado oil is a quick way to get multiple nutrients onto your scalp for improved hair growth.
Honey Honey is a light humectant that also has antibacterial properties. Due to its ability to retain water, honey is a really effective hair moisturizer. Cover your scalp in honey and leave for 2-3 minutes before spreading it over the rest of your hair and washing out.
• Aloe vera Aloe vera can be used to promote hair growth, stop hair loss and treat scalp problems. Aloe vera gel can be used by directly applying it to your scalp or mixing it in with your conditioner for a more intense gloss. Make sure to leave the aloe gel or juice on for at least two hours before rinsing or washing your hair. This treatment also works to promote hair growth, since aloe vera contains an enzyme that stimulates hair follicles.
KAMANZA AMIHYIA INTERNATIONAL HAIR AND BEAUTY STYLIST SHARES HER FAVOURITE BRANDS
he term ‘mixed-race hair’ is ambiguous because of the endless combinations of race that could occur. Every mixed girl knows that no two mixed-race hair types are the same; some girls have loose and fine curls, some have tight afro kinks and some have no curls at all. There are many amazing products out there on the market but unlike brands designed for Caucasian hair, brands that make products for afro and curly hair are never seen advertised in mainstream media.
When it comes to buying products for curly hair, it is usually a case of trial and error until you find the right product for you. It also depends on what overall look you’re seeking to achieve. Do you want to transform your curls into a bouncy afro or do you prefer a sleek and contained updo? One of the best things about curly hair is its versatility. You can do pretty much anything with your hair if you look after it properly and are using the best products. Kamaznza Amihyia is an internation-
al hair and makeup artist who has worked with Stevie Wonder, Kelly Rowland, Serena Williams and many more iconic black celebrities. She has over 25 years of experience in the hair and beauty industry and regularly teaches media hair and makeup for big media organisations such as Lime Pictures. So if anyone knows what they’re talking about when it comes to curly hair, its Kamanza - and these are her top brand recommendations:
LABEL. M KERAKARE CAMILE ROSE
TALIAH WAAJID DESIGN ESSENTIALS
Why do we hate our hair ? MIXED
omen face constant scrutiny – not only for our attitudes and aspirations, but almost always for our physical appearance. The list of weapons used to damage and hinder the success of women from all over the world is endless. There is an added pressure for black and mixedrace women, who are expected to meet unrealistic beauty standards, drilled in to western culture for decades. Feminist activist, Afreen Ahmad sums the beauty industry up perfectly. She said: “Large corporations, such as media and beauty houses, set the unrealistic beauty standards for female beauty. “We live in a capitalist society, one which profits off our insecurity so, in my opinion there are systems in place to point out what the majority of women lack naturally and then create a beauty standard from it through models on the covers of magazines, runways and Instagram. “Businesses then put out products, so women who see what they supposedly lack, are then bombarded with a product advertised to compensate for that flaw. They are drawn in to consuming these products and buying into an unrealistic beauty standard. “I believe female beauty standards exist to line the pockets of businessmen.” These un-obtainable aesthetic requirements; are as damaging to individual women affected by it, as it is to our society as a whole. It is impossible to grow and evolve as a species when the self-esteem of an entire category of people is at risk of damage. Being female brings as much joy as it does obstacles; particularly for women of colour, who are given the extra challenge of achieving a standard of beauty that excludes their race. Hair adverts describe ‘silky, long hair’ as the key to happiness, and when black and mixed models are used in advertising, their natural hair is often straightened or concealed with a wig. When standards such as this are drilled in to girls from a young age, alongside a general ignorance on how to nurture and style curly hair, it’s not surprising that so many young, mixed girls have a difficult relationship with their hair. The detrimental affect these standards are having on black women is tragic. The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey, a study conducted in 2014, showed that black women were the most likely category
of women to have a common mental health problem. It is so common for black and mixed women to chemically straighten their hair – causing irreversible damage. Their hair follicles damaged by sewing artificial weaves into their hair, and in some countries, women even bleach their skin using dangerous chemicals. However, the worst and most permanent type of harm caused by these actions is the message broadcast to these individuals, who feel that the only way they can be beautiful is by changing themselves. Helena Hastings-Gayle, a 20-year-old English Litera tur e student, is one of many young mixed-race girls who has struggled with her physical appearance. The University of Leeds student is mixed Jamaican, English and German and like many mixed girls, has very curly hair. She described the relationship she had with her hair growing up as ‘difficult.’ She felt embarrassed by her naturally auburn locks. She added: “I definitely used to hate my hair, and it is something I still struggle with. I used to hate how thick and kinky my hair was because no celebrities or models would wear their hair like that. “People, especially the black boys, would make fun of my naturally afro hair, probably because of internalised racism. It made me feel ashamed. “I still dislike my hair because the colour of it doesn’t fit in to the stereotypical mixed-race hair category and it is also very rare, which I don’t like, but I am growing to appreciate it more and more.” Although natural hairstyles such as braids, dreadlocks and afro’s are considered ‘extreme’ and ‘unprofessional’ by employers and schools, the natural hair movement has inspired women of colour to challenge this misconception and to embrace who they are. Helena continued: “Usually my hair is in box braids or slicked back, but the way I style my hair has definitely changed over the years. “When I was younger I would usually have it in plaits, messily pulled back into a bun or straightened to death. “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve made an effort to learn more about my hair and how to manage it and I’ve been inspired to experiment with fake hair like extensions and weaves.” The journey most mixed women have to go through as they learn to love their hair is long and varies depending on the individual and the social environment they are immersed in. Women are free to style their hair however they like, and whether they choose to go natural all the time, sometimes or never - the most important thing is that they feel good about themselves.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE ME
I AM A MIXED-RACE WOMAN
WHO WHO WHO WHO WHO WHO WHO WHO WHO WHO
ARE ARE ARE ARE ARE ARE ARE ARE ARE ARE
WE WE WE WE WE WE WE WE WE WE
THREE MIXED RACE WOMEN SHARE THIER EXPERIENCES WITH RACISM, PRIVALLEGE AND HAIR.
Kennedy Myers 21 Student Coventry Mixed Scottish, Spanish & Sicilian
Kennedy: Often in primary school people confused me for being Indian. Therefore, as a younger child I never faced any problems for being mixed race but more so for looking Indian.
Amber Dacres 22 Student West Yorkshire Mixed white & Black Caribbean
Talia Smith 22 Student Bradford Mixed white British & Dominican
Overall, what has been your experience as a mixed race woman?
Amber: I find that I am very much in the middle in terms of who I am and don’t really fit into a category of black or white. For example, if I go to a black hairdressers they will overcharge me because they see me as white and as not knowing my own hair as I’m not a full black woman and therefore think they can take advantage of this. When I go to a white hairdresser they equally overcharge me as afro hair is not normally part of their training.
Talia: I personally don’t have any connection to the mixed-race side of my family. Besides my mum, I haven’t really experienced Dominican culture. I think that is why I’ve never really questioned if I like or dislike being mixed-race.
How does being mixed race make you feel?
Kennedy: I really enjoy being mixed-race. It gives you a privilege of being part of two or more different cultures which many people who are not mixed race do not get the chance to experience.
Amber: Sometimes I’m happy that I get the best of both worlds but sometimes I do feel almost awkward as a mixed-race person because I don’t really belong to a group.
Kennedy: No, not that I am aware of.
Amber: I think everyone who has light skin should accept that they have light skin privilege - not necessarily white privilege. As a light skin woman you are typically considered more attractive than a dark skinned black woman. This has been bred into us through the media and continues to be perpetuated even among black people. In a club this year I was told that I had ‘all the good black features’ as to say, I’m lucky because I’m not full black so I don’t have all the features of black women that these men found less attractive.
Kennedy: Last summer I was in Birmingham city centre celebrating a friends birthday. We were all very drunk and this older man tried to join our group. We were all drunk so started to make inappropriate comments towards him expressing our confusion as to why here was trying to join the party. In response he singled me out and said “people like you are what’s wrong with this country.” I became really irritated and tried to argue back with him saying I was born in this country, contribute in taxes and study law. He then responded by calling me a “Paki” then ran away.
Amber: Ever since I was young I have experienced racism, I had girls refuse to sit next to me in gymnastics because I was “poo-coloured”. In Spain I was called “puta negra” which means black bitch or whore because I ignored a man who made a kiss noise at me. Even without meaning to be racist, I’ve had a friend turn specifically to me at a club that was playing hip-hop music and say “oh there’s a lot of blacks in here isn’t there Amber.” which shocked me a lot.
Talia: I didn’t even know I was mixed-race until I was 10. My mum never made a deal out of the fact my appearance was any different to any of my friends. I just looked how I looked and they looked how they looked, no big deal. It was when other children started making daft remarks that she explained.
Have you ever experienced white privilege? Talia: Not that I can think of.
Have you ever experienced racism? Talia: I once had a kid at school say “sorry, I don’t play with brown children” and that’s always stuck with me. As an adult I wouldn’t say I’ve experienced racism though.
WHO WHO WHO WHO WHO WHO WHO WHO WHO WHO
Kennedy: Yes I can relate to this to some extent. However my hair has more of an Indian or Mediterranean influence. So if I wanted to, I could mimic the beauty standards with less hassle.
Kennedy: I used to straighten my hair in primary and secondary school and even into my first year of university, but now I embrace my curls.
Kennedy: I suffered racial abuse when I was in primary more than secondary school and again they were directed more towards to fact that I looked predominately Indian.
Kennedy: This happened more so in my first year at university. When I returned home for a weekend I would be referred to a “Lucy” by my family. I didn’t understand what this meant at first but it turns out they were mocking me because I had become more well spoken since starting university. On the other hand, I had come to a university with a high rate of white middle-class individuals and people would jokingly call me rough. Now I have learnt to moderate my speech depending on who I am around. This shows how people inherently link being well spoken with being white.
ARE ARE ARE ARE ARE ARE ARE ARE ARE ARE
WE WE WE WE WE WE WE WE WE WE
A lot of mixed/black girls hate their hair growing up because of unfair beauty standards placed upon them. Did you ever feel like this?
Amber: Yes definitely, we’re made to feel that it’s unprofessional. Black women on TV almost never wear their natural hair and so the very few black women such as Tyra Banks, Beyonce and Naiomi Campbell, who are considered attractive by the mainstream media, often have straight hair. I don’t feel this way now as I feel that my hair makes me stand out. I work as a model now and my agent actually prefers me to wear my hair curly, so I have definitely begun to embrace it and see it as beautiful.
Talia: Growing up I absolutely hated my hair. In the least vain way possible I would always try to catch my reflection around school to see if my hair had bushed out through the day, which it usually had. All of my friends were white with long, shiny, straight hair and as a kid I felt this was unfair. I would also always get people trying to touch my hair without asking. I remember kids in the corridors at school would just walk past and start messing with it telling me it looks like springs. Half of the time I’d never even spoken to these kids in my life.
What is your relationship with your hair like?
Amber: Right now I’ve begun to embrace my natural, curly hair and so I wear it natural everyday but I have had it dyed lighter. I used to straighten it every week and wouldn’t go out with my natural hair but as I have gotten older I have become more confident and assured with my afro.
Talia: Whenever I’ve straightened my hair I tend to get “Omg it looks so nice straight, you should do it like that more often” or “It looks even better on you than curly hair.”, which is just a back handed compliment. As I’ve got older I’ve learnt to love my curls. The only thing I hate is how it just won’t grow. It also frustrates me how ‘mainstream’ hairdressers don’t have a clue what to do with mixed-race hair. These days I’ve learnt to embrace having volume to my hair but I still get slight anxiety when I go on a night out. I also worry if my hair looks the same as when I left the house sometimes - which is so silly, but it’s just the way I think from the way others spoke about my hair whilst growing up.
Has anyone ever said anything about your physical features that you felt was rude or ignorant?
Amber: Black hair doesn’t need washing as often and so when people ask me questions about how I maintain it and I say I only wash it once a week, people pull faces and call me gross. Although its just a lack of understanding of my hair type, it still feels rude. There’s also the classic, people having fake tan on and going “I’m almost as black as you now”, which I don’t find overly rude but it comes across as a bit ignorant. I’ve also burned my skin whilst living in Spain and it went red and I had people going, “You’re not really black, black people don’t burn.”, basically calling me a fake black person, which again is bizarre and ignorant.
Talia: I have lost count of the number of times a guys opening line has been something like “What ethnicity are you?” or “Is your hair real?”. Then there’s the guys who ask me where I’m from and when I respond saying Bradford, they ask me again “But where are you from, from?”. It makes me laugh, and is an instant turn off.
Have you ever been made to feel that you are 'too white' or 'too black' by anyone?
Amber: I’ve always felt the most unattractive out of all of my friends because I’m black. I find that I never really get approached by boys and sometimes I do feel that my skin colour is the reason for this. I’m also made to feel too white because of the way that I behave and It’s mostly my brother and his friends who make me feel like this.”
Talia: I’ve been called a fake black girl before because although I have olive skin, my complexion is quite fair.
Things people need to STOP saying to black women Romany Mukoro ©
“Mixed race babies are so cute!” All babies are cute.
I wish my hair was all frizzy like yours!” Trust me, frizz is the enemy.
“Is that your real hair?” Yep.
“I’ve always really wanted to hook up with a brown girl.” Good for you.
“I bet you can twerk really well!” I came out the womb twerking.
“I love light skin girls!” Nobody asked.
“How comes you act so white?” How do you act white?
“I wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of you.” Don’t then.
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HER SKIN AND MINE
ixed-race children from two parent families are blessed with the opportunity to grow up in an environment where two or more cultures are appreciated. The sharing of culture, beliefs, religion and traditions has the potential to nurture children to become more accepting and thoughtful adults. It goes without saying that for any parent, having mixed-race children is no different to having children with the same ethnicity as you. However, differences in skin tone and physical features between the child and their mum is a frequent topic of discussion between people who most of the time are nothing to do with the family. Is it curiosity or ignorance? Why is it no one ever talks about the adjustments white parents make and the lessons they learn whilst raising mixed children. From learning how to style curly hair to dealing with racism, white mums raising brown children are thrown in the deep end in so many ways. 52-year-old Zoe Binns has three children with her husband Paul who is of Jamaican decent. When she first introduced Paul to her mother-in-law the response she received was nothing more than a backhanded compliment. The constant reaction to interracial couples frequently involves reducing a black person to nothing more than an opportunity for cute babies. It is demeaning and sad, and unfortunately this outlook is a common occurrence across the globe. “When I was young living in Hull, I never knew anyone black or mixed-race. I always envisaged having blond hair blue eyed babies.” She said. “At the time, people including my dad and stepmom would say things like ‘mixed-race babies are always so beautiful’ and to me this felt very small minded. I’ve never had any negativity towards my children but its comments like this that really get to me.” “I remember someone saying to my step mum, ‘how do you feel about having a coloured son in
law?’, and she replied, ‘I’m not bothered because they make beautiful children.’. I know she meant it in the nicest possible way but it just felt very small minded to me. “Other than that I have Never experienced any negativity towards my children.” The outdated negative stereotypes surrounding black men continue to impact bi-racial families today. Zoe’s work colleges were shocked to learn that all three of her children had the same father and that they were conceived after marriage.
“I couldn’t understand why people felt the need to question me just because my children are black.”
“I’ve never felt the need to question the parentage of other people’s children so I couldn’t understand why people felt the need to question me just because my children are black.” In some cases where a mixed-race child lives in a single parent family and has no connection to their black side of the family, the questions are even more difficult to tackle. 37-year-old Claire Boyd is a single mum to her daughter Chloe, 12, and found it challenging to help her daughter feel part of the family – who are all white British. She said: “My daughter has always felt different because she has a different complexion to me and her siblings. Of course, to me I don’t care what skin colour she has, but for her, a part of her identity is missing and she feels disconnected because of that. “I hope that as she gets older, she begins to understand that family is more than looks. In fact, we look exactly like each other, I hope one day she is able to see that.”
Despite their contrasting family dynamics, both Zoe and Claire really struggled to manage their daughters curly hair as they were growing up. Zoe said: ”Coping with black hair has been an absolute nightmare for me and it still is to this day. Sometimes I feel a bit like I’ve failed my girls because I’ve never been able to braid and style their hair. “I’m not close to my husband’s family and I don’t feel like my children have had much black influence in their lives.” Claire added: “ My daughter has very fluffy hair and I’ve always struggled to find the right products for her.
“I’ve had to put my foot down when it comes to chemical relaxers”
“When she was younger I used a toothbrush to smooth her edges and luckily I know how to French plait. “I’ve had to put my foot down when it comes to chemical relaxers as I don’t want her to destroy Chloe’s beautiful hair. She may not be happy about it now as it means she cant conform to societies beauty standards, but in time she will learn to love her hair and I’m sure she will thank me in the future.”
Is the term ‘mixed-race’ inclusive?
he term ‘mixed-race’ is used to describe a person whose parents or ancestors are from different ethnic backgrounds. In England and Wales, the 2001 census included four sub-categories of mixed ethnic combinations. These were: ‘White and Black Caribbean’, ‘Mixed White and Black African’, ‘Mixed White and Asian’ and ‘Any other Mixed background’, with the latter allowing people to write in their ethnicity. In the UK it is estimated that mixed-race people make up 1.98% of the population. The Office for National Statistics estimates suggest that there are just over 1.25 million mixed-race people in the UK and by 2020 it is predicted that mixed-race people will be the largest minority group. Despite the meaning of the term being simple and clear, somewhere along the line, it became a term mainly used to describe individuals who have one black and one white parent. Because of this, people are often shocked at the idea of a fair skinned person identifying as mixed-race. Kathryn Moon, a 21-year-old musical theatre student from Yorkshire is mixed white British and Pakistani, although her fair skin and lack of connection to her Pakistani relatives has meant that she doesn’t identify as mixed-race. She said: “I don’t know much about my grandad’s Pakistani culture and because my skin colour does not portray my heritage, I’ve not had to face the prejudices that other people of dual heritage have had to face.” Being mixed-race with white skin has led to a number of people making assumptions about Kathryn’s parentage. “People joke a lot about my mum ‘sleeping with the milkman’ and one of my primary school teachers thought my dad was just my mum’s partner and not my dad for the whole time I was at primary school.” She said. Sadly, it’s not uncommon for mixed-race children to feel a sense of shame around their heritage due to negative stereotypes associated with their culture and the isolation this can bring. “When I was younger I think I was very aware that I had a mixed race parent.” She explained “Sometimes I felt embarrassed to admit that my grandad was from Pakistan because of the racism that often comes with being from there. “However, as I got older, I realised that my ‘embarrassment’ stemmed from peoples racism against Asian culture. Nowadays, I am very happy to talk about where my grandad is from and am very open about my dad being mixed race.” She said that even as a mixed-race person herself, she associates the term with someone who is mixed black and white. She said: “An example is that although my dad is mixed-race, half white and half Asian, most people would see him just as ‘Asian’ rather than mixed-race.” The term ‘mixed-race’ itself is inclusive, however the way in which its meaning has been adapted and altered means that it generally is only inclusive of one type of mix. To be mixed-race is to be of dual heritage. End of story.
Laura Gedall ©
I DO WHAT I LOVE AND I LOVE WHAT I DO.
MIXED speaks to Rashida Rasjid about being mixed-race in the LQBTQ+ community
here’s a common misconception amongst brits that the LGBTQ+ community is completely accepted by all and that discrimination and abuse towards these people is a thing of the past. Millennials and the youth of the UK tend to be more progressive in their thought processes and attitudes towards the queer community and most are keen to embrace and celebrate all of our individual differences without passing judgement or expressing any negativity towards one another. Despite this, it would be naïve to assume that these attitudes are shared by all. Although in the UK there is a growing acceptance towards the LGBTQ+ community, it still doesn’t feel like enough. The word acceptance has very mixed connotations. Are people welcoming change or are they simply just tolerating it? According to the Mental Health Foundation, LGBTQ+ people are statistically more susceptible to mental health problems than heterosexual people due to the levels of discrimination, isolation and inequalities they face. They are also more likely to experience a range of mental health problems such as depression, suicidal thoughts, self-harm and alcohol and substance misuse. Hate crime and homophobia are also still prevalent in society making people of this community feel unsafe and at risk. Of course, the level of fear is heightened for lesbian, gay, trans* and non-binary people of colour where the average life expectancy is just 30 years old. A woman who has fought against all odds to build a happy life for herself is 21-year-old Rasheeda Rasjid. When she first came out as transgender she experienced mixed reactions from friends and family but despite this she remained true to herself and was able to embrace this new chapter in her life. She said: “One of the biggest struggles for me coming out as a transgender woman was not being embarrassed about who I am. It took a while for me to actually be able to bring myself to say it and not be ashamed.
“Although I had great friends around me who supported me it was always hard to have my parents say to my face that they were too embarrassed to be seen out in public with me, but it’s just one of the things I’ve had to get over and learn to deal with, because I can’t spend my life seeking approval from people I’m never going to get it from. That’s the sad reality of the situation.” Unfortunately, it is common for the parents of a transgender person to not accept their child’s decision to transition. This could be due to ignorance and lack of education on the LQBTQ+ community. But according to Rasheeda, who’s mum is of Caribbean and Indian decent, acceptance is even less common for trans* people from ethnic minority groups. She said: “Ethnic minority groups are traditionally heavily involved with religion, particularly the black community. “Unfortunately homophobia and transphobia are heavily engrained into a lot of religions making trans women of colour feel even more isolated because much of our religious family reject us, so in essence we are excluded from both the white and black community. “I’ve met a lot of mixed people and people of colour who won’t accept me because I’m trans, but then I’ve also met white trans women who don’t get along with me because I’m not white, so sometimes it feels like I can’t fit in anywhere. Obviously there’s mixed people and trans people who do accept me too and I do feel that more recently society has become more accepting of us.” Rasheeda has also had to endure abuse from online trolls on Instagram. Along with transphobic comments on her personal account, bullies have shared images of her on social media leaving her open to dehumanising hate comments. Black women are also often separated into crude categories depending on the shade of their skin complexion. Women of colour who have a lighter skin complexion are often treated
Rasheeda Rasjid © with more respect than individuals who have darker skin. Rasheeda explained it as a version of white privilege that mixed race woman benefit from. She said: “Whiteness is considered of greater value by society and being mixed with white makes you more valuable and relatable to a predominantly white society and culture. We all face oppression and discrimination but dark skinned black people face this on a stronger level, which doesn’t sit well with me.” After completing college and cosmetology school, Rasheeda broke in to the sex industry - something she has always aspired to do. She now works as an escort, porn performer, stripper and dominatrix in and around Liverpool and thoroughly enjoys what she does. She said: “Being a sex worker has given me the freedom to be my own boss and not have to worry about how I’m going to be perceived as a transgender individual in a more controlled work environment. I’ve now got the financial stability to achieve things that are important to me and I feel incredibly empowered.” Being a mixed-race, transgender woman who works in the sex industry has meant that Rasheeda has had to deal with lots of abuse. She has had friends refer to her by the male name she was assigned at birth and has been humiliated in public a number of times. On one occasion a group of 30-year-old men approached her on a bus, demanding to touch her hair and when she asked them to stop they proceeded to scream racial abuse at her, forcing her to sit at the back of the bus. “Nobody helped me, not even the bus driver” she added. “I felt so powerless and small.”. The stigma surrounding women of colour and sex workers is still largely negative. In films, black and mixed women are frequently cast as the ‘sassy sidekick’, and sex workers are portrayed as victims (which they sometimes might be) as opposed to empowered women – which is exactly how some
women in the industry feel. The 21-year-old added: “A lot of us who choose to do sex work and aren’t forced into it, love our job and treat it just like any other job, but the media paints it as this naughty taboo underground secret which I don’t feel it should be. Its legal and it should be recognised just like any other job.” Despite the challenges Rasheeda has faced in her life, her outlook remains positive. Some food for thought (in her own words) and what she would like everyone, but particularly cis-gendered women to think about is how we would feel if tomorrow we woke up in a male body that wasn’t ours but still felt the same inside. She said: “What would you do if you still felt mentally like a woman but had to exist physically as a man? What would you do? Would you feel trapped? Would you transition?”
If you are affected by any of the content in this article you can visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/advice-and-support-forlgbt-people
Natalie Morris ©
uccessful journalists require certain characteristics; dedication, passion, drive and of course, the ability to tell stories that both grip and educate readers. Natalie Morris, Senior Lifestyle Writer at Metro certainly has all these attributes - proven by the high quality, eye-opening content she has produced throughout her career. Natalie, who hails from Manchester, has lived in London for the past seven years, whilst building her career. The 30-yearold began writing for Metro eight months ago, following years of working in broadcast journalism. She said: “I started off in publishing, then I was the editor of a netball magazine, which I really loved. “I then joined the trainee scheme at ITN and ITV News, which was amazing, because I was able to get experience in broadcast news and learn how to shoot and edit film.” Natalie’s most recent project is a weekly series called Mixed Up, which aims to elevate the under heard voices of the mixed-race population in the UK. She explained: “We are the fastest growing ethnic group in the UK and despite the fact that we are not a homogenous mass, there are so many commonalities that tie our experiences together. “So far, I have learnt that there is so much that binds us as a collective group. I’ve also learnt that writing about race on the internet is a total minefield.” Being mixed-race in Britain is a unique experience with many positives and negatives. Natalie’s mum is white British and her paternal grandparents are both Jamaican. “My experience of being mixed-race in Britain is largely positive. “I have been lucky in that I haven’t had to endure too much in the way of overt, hostile racism. “But there is an insidious undercurrent of hostility that I definitely feel at times. It comes in narratives from the media, micro-aggressions in the workplace and fetishizing comments from strangers on the street. “It can definitely be a tricky position to be in – that ambiguous line of in-betweenness, often not knowing where you fit.”
“I find I am able to code-switch seamlessly depending on who I’m with.” These feelings are shockingly common amongst the mixed-race community in the UK, but not everybody feels that it has had a negative impact on their career or life. She continued: “For me, I like the fact that being mixed-race positions me in a liminal space, where I am able to be both and neither at the same time. “It is quite a unique perspective and I do feel like it has allowed me to blend in to multiple situations. I find I am able to code-switch seamlessly depending on who I’m with. “At the same time there is an underlying feeling of not being enough and feeling the need to prove myself or justify myself, but
as I have grown older this insecurity has lessened, and I hope it continues to do so. “Society is so intent on labelling people and fitting people into neat boxes, it can be hard when you feel like you don’t really fit properly in a single box.” The idea that mixed-race women experience a level of white privilege that black women don’t is a controversial topic that is really prevalent in the debates black women are currently having in the community. Most mixed-race women feel that they have experienced a form of privilege, but this is often counteracted by their equal experiences of racism and sexism both in the workplace and in day-to-day life. Covert racism is a common occurrence and a lot of the time isn’t even intentional, but this doesn’t take away from the fact that many mixed-race and black girls feel that they are only included in certain scenarios as a way to fill a quota. Speaking on her own experience of white privilege and racism, Natalie said: “I feel that I am a palatable level of diversity for employers because with me, they get to tick their ‘ethnic’ box without actually going out of their comfort zone or confronting anything that threatens them. “I grew up in a very white area, I went to a girls grammar school with mostly white students so my proximity to whiteness has afforded me huge privileges in that way.” “As a young child I was called stupid kid stuff like ‘brownie’ and ‘chocolate face’. “But what I experience now is usually much more insidious and subtle. It is the stuff that gets under your skin – presumptions about my life, that I have an absent father, or that I smoke weed, or that I like reggae music. Archaic stereotypes can be really exhausting.” The biggest struggles Natalie has faced in her career stem from the incredibly high standards she sets for herself. She always wants to do more and achieve more but is slowly learning to be happy and grateful with her journey as it is. Her passion for journalism began as a child. She said: “I have always loved writing. I love to read and tell great stories. “Journalism is a great way to discover interesting stories and tell them creatively and effectively. I want my work to speak to people and help them feel that they’re not alone. I want people to read my work and think – oh my god, I’m not the only person who feels like this. “Reading beautifully-written stories by other people always lights a fire in me and makes me want to create something equally amazing. “I find it fascinating to talk to people from such wildly different backgrounds. It shows me the possibilities of life outside my own narrow field of experience.” For anyone looking to get in to journalism her top suggestion would be to get as much varied experience as possible. She said: “Journalists these days need to be fully self-sufficient and able to write, record, shoot and edit - so skill up as much as you can. “Also, be confident and speak up. But don’t beat yourself up if you can’t, confidence comes naturally with time and experience – so be patient.”
Summer Gedall talks CAREER with Mixed Up editor Natalie Morris.
“When I was young, like 11-years-old, I was obsessed with Craig David - I loved him so much. When I worked at ITV News I got to interview him and it was maybe the best moment of my life (I’m kind of kidding, and kind of not). That was a major, major highlight in my career. I wish I could tell 11-year-old Natalie that I got to do that.”
- NATALIE MORRIS
EKAT PU ECAPS
Romany Mukoro Â©
TAKE UP SPACE
OPINION: MIXED-RACE BABIES ARE BEING FETISHIZED
By Summer Gedall THE BIRTH OF PRINCE HARRY AND MEGHAN MARKLE’S BABY BOY IS A MONUMENTAL SIGN OF PROGRESSION IN BRITISH CULTURE. IT’S DELIGHTFUL TO SEE HOW FAR THE BRITISH ROYAL FAMILY HAVE COME IN TERMS OF THEIR LEVELS OF ACCEPTANCE AND WILLINGNESS TO BREAK TRADITION. THAT BEING SAID, IT’S SAD THAT THE BIRTH OF A BI-RACIAL CHILD HAS HAD SUCH A BIG REACTION. IT REALLY SAYS SOMETHING ABOUT THE WAY WE VIEW RACE AND WHAT CONSTITUTES PROGRESSION. IT ALSO CONTRIBUTES TO THE ‘FETISHIZATION’ OF MIXED-RACE PEOPLE, PORTRAYING THEM AS A COMMUNITY TROPHY THAT CAN BE DISPLAYED IN SOCIETY TO DISTRACT US FROM THE CASUAL RACISM THAT STILL PLAGUES EVERY CORNER OF THIS COUNTRY. JUST DAYS AFTER THE BIRTH OF THE NEW ROYAL BABY, A VILE TWEET FROM FORMER BBC RADIO 5 HOST, DANNY BAKER’S TWITTER ACCOUNT WENT VIRAL. THE TASTELESS ‘JOKE’ WHICH FEATURED A PICTURE OF A SUITED CHIMPANZEE ALONGSIDE THE CAPTION ‘ROYAL BABY LEAVES HOSPITAL’ HAS SINCE BEEN DELETED, BUT THE EFFECT REMAINS PREVALENT. THE 61-YEAR-OLD LATER RELEASED AN INSINCERE APOLOGY, BUT FURIOUSLY DENIES THAT HE IS A RACIST. INTERRACIAL CHILDREN WERE ONCE CONSIDERED TRAGIC FIGURES, SELF-LOATHING OBJECTS OF PITY TRAPPED BETWEEN TWO RACIAL IDENTITIES. NOWADAYS, BEING MIXED RACE IS CONSIDERED ‘COOL’ OR ‘TRENDY’. PEOPLE WANT TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH MIXED RACE PEOPLE. IT MAKES THEM LOOK CULTURED, LIBERAL EVEN. YOU ALSO CAN’T BE LABELLED A RACIST IF YOU KNOW SOMEBODY WHO IS MIXED OR BLACK. THAT’S THE RULE APPARENTLY. IT’S VERY IMPORTANT TO CELEBRATE ANY INCREASE IN TOLERANCE AND ANY FORM OF PROGRESSION IN SOCIETY THAT HELPS SEVER THE DIVIDING LINES THAT KEEP US SEGREGATED FROM ONE ANOTHER. MEGHAN HAS PERFECTLY EMBRACED HER ROLE IN THE ROYAL FAMILY WHILST ALWAYS REMAINING TRUE TO HER ROOTS. SHE INVITED THE FIRST BLACK PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH TO DELIVER A SERMON, ALONG WITH A BLACK CHOIR. THIS WAS AN ANGLICAN AFFAIR PUNCTUATED BY SOME UNAPOLOGETIC BLACKNESS: THE EXUBERANCE OF TRADITIONAL BLACK PREACHING BACKED UP BY SOME DOWN-HOME GOSPEL MUSIC. THE NEW BABY IS A REFLECTION OF MODERN BRITAIN WITH ITS CULTURALLY DIVERSE POPULATION AND WILL QUICKLY BECOME THE POSTER BOY FOR SOCIAL CHANGE, AND THIS IS SOMETHING THAT SHOULD BE CELEBRATED! WITH ALL THAT SAID, CONGRATULATIONS MEGHAN & HARRY AND WELCOME TO THE WORLD BABY ARCHIE.
BLACKFISHING a bizarre new trend taking over social media
he term ‘blackfishing’ is relatively new in pop culture.
A marriage between the terms ‘black’ and ‘catfishing’, the word is being used to describe white social media influencers allegedly presenting themselves as black. The phrase gained popularity via cultural critics such as Wanna Thompson who has been vocal in her disapproval of the use of cultural appropriation to gain popularity. Features typically associated with black and mixed-race women such as fuller lips, brown skin and curly hair are being replicated to extreme levels by white women. The issue is not with these girls loving these traits, but more with the lack of understanding of how the positive feedback they receive can be an insult to women of colour who have been ridiculed for possessing the same features for millennia. Many white women are capitalising off an aesthetic that brown and dark skinned women are still shunned for having. Swedish Instagram model Emma Hallberg, who has almost 270,000 followers, is among those accused of “blackfishing”, for her extreme tanning, dark make-up and hair braids.
A perfect example of a celebrity who has consistently made a profit from black culture is Kim Kardashian-West. She has been labelled as the woman who made curves fashionable again. However, many black and mixed women who have the same body shape as Kardashian, feel angry that she has been given credit for making body types typically associated with black women suddenly desirable. Nikida Mendez an English student from East Sussex said: “We are not a fashion trend. Why is it okay for a white woman to decide when black women are beautiful? “It’s got to the point now where black features are now attractive, but only when it’s a white woman who has them following surgery.” The issue lies with credit. It is very disturbing to come to the realisation that white women call the shots in deciding when it is ‘appropriate’ or ‘desirable’ to be black.
I N C L
its about time
U S I O N
ntil recently, it was very uncommon to see hair and beauty products aimed at women of colour on the shelves of local supermarkets and shops. If you required afro hair products, your only option was to seek out a black hairdresser, which only really appeared in big, multi-cultural cities. Mainstream hairdressers would only stock hair products for Caucasian hair and attempting to get a haircut in one of these establishments was as humiliating as it was depressing. Makeup was another obstacle. Finding the correct shade out of five options was impossible. There genuinely was nothing there. It’s surprising how difficult it was, and still is for women of colour to buy basic beauty products without having to go out of their way to find a ‘special’ establishment specifically catering for them. Considering how many British people are Black, Asian and Mixed, it’s a great shame that our highstreets aren’t inclusive for everyone. However, over the past 3 years there has been an increase of
products available for women of colour to buy on the high street and in mainstream shops. Rhianna’s FENTY beauty range boasts shades for 40 different skin tones and was created with the promise of inclusion for everyone. The 30 year old stated on her website that: “Fenty Beauty was created for everyone. For women of all shades, personalities, attitudes, cultures, and races. I wanted everyone to feel included. That’s the real reason I made this line.” Earlier this year, Fenty Beauty announced the release of a range of new products, including bronzers, eyeliners in a range of neon colours, and a range of concealers in 50 shades. Fenty Beauty products will now be available to buy at Boots stores across the UK, which is exciting news for the black community as this means they will now be able to buy products that are suitable for their skin tones, just like every body else. Popular supermarkets and shops such as Asda, Tesco and Superdrug have also started to stock a range of afro hair products in their stores. Finally.
MIXED Amber Dacres ©