family

I’ve pondered a while whether I should write this post, to air my views and explore a subject that frankly, needs more airing and exploring.

A grey area I’ve shied away from writing.

For fear of being judged, of being considered ‘too white’ to have experienced racism, for concern of not being taken seriously.

Thank you to my great friend, the brilliant writer Uju of Babes About Town for encouraging me to get this on paper (digi-paper) and to hit publish after a many a chat about ethnicity, belonging and identity!

…You see I am considered White European as both my parents are Greek Cypriot, I was born in Leeds, Yorkshire and am British.

When I asked my Mum if she considered herself white, she said, ‘olive’ and that’s what we are, olive skinned-although to be fair, that term makes no sense to me.

Cyprus geographically is considered to be part of Europe, but it is an island equally close to the Middle East, and my ancestry is no doubt, as with us all, mixed by neighbouring/conquering countries over history.

I am perhaps ‘in between’ to some, a little bit ‘different’, I often see people struggle to quite place me and I’m used to the question, ‘So where are you from?’, usually on a daily basis. Funnily enough, it never means which part of Leeds!

Granted, I could be from anywhere, we’re all global citizens after all and in my 35 years on this planet, I’ve been asked if my origins lie in so many different countries, I’ve literally lost track and count. Some from memory though include whether I’m: Latino, Spanish, Italian, French, Mixed Race, Asian, Middle Eastern, Israeli, Turkish, Greek, Moroccan…the list goes on. And on.

…I’m always stopped in Paris and asked for directions by tourists assuming I’m a local.

When I lived in Rome, the Italians were stumped daily that I couldn’t speak their mother tongue.

I’ll never forget ( and it happened on many occasions) when Spaniards and South Americans would speak Spanish to me on the tube, or in clubs in London.

I’ve also been asked if I’m mixed race, Asian, Mexican and more-

And all that is wonderful, that so many people assume I look like they do and can connect with me. Truly.

And that old age question, ‘Where are you from?’ is natural no doubt, particularly when you live in a majority White English country, but it can be loaded at times too and rather complicated.

The fact I am being asked firstly makes me recognise on a daily basis my ‘otherness’.

I was born in Leeds, I’m British, my parents were born in Cyprus, but were half-generation immigrants, moving to the UK in their tweens and late teens respectively.

We all feel British- but we equally have a strong sense of our ethnicity, we are connected to our community, our Greek Orthodox religion, traditional food, films, music and of course values we hold, that are tied in part to our background.

I’m proud of my heritage.

There are downsides too to that deep connection to both-my host society and identity of Britain and my origin.

I have been asked if I’m British by some, most unaware of what being British actually means, questioned on whether I feel ‘British’ or ‘English’, patronised, I have endured racism and was even asked once, if my fairer youngest child was my own, by a new teacher who assumed I was a nanny.

I even directed and produced a series of documentaries on exploring what being British means through the eyes of children in need of social cohesion. You can watch each part on the Guardian’s website: Divided Camps, Am I British? and Building Bridges.

…For me, my frustration lies in the fact others feel they have the right to ask those questions, or make those statements in a way that shows ignorance which can hurt or harm. Rather than assuming I was the nanny, why not ask first if I was the mother?

So much of the problem is in the context and/or delivery of the questioning.

I believe in the power of micro politics and in all honesty,  I’m annoyed that I’ve not always taken a stand, spoken up or fought in some small way the too-often uninformed and racist attitudes of others.

I need to be more confident in calmly stating to the offender they don’t have a right to make a statement. To remark about my ‘exotic looks’ or make me feel unusual.

Thank goodness we are striving boldly towards greater equality, since my own childhood at least and improvements have been made.

I distinctly remember school teachers at my private all girls school telling me I was loud because I was Greek throughout my school years (quiet Greeks do exist too, people)- and the sheer lack of diversity in toys and on TV growing up, played its part in fuelled an ‘otherness’ in both myself and my brother.

I was also raised bilingual. My mother told me that after my first day at school I announced to her and my father I would never speak Greek again. Not a word.

I wanted to fit in.

I understand it is entirely natural to feel that way, particularly as a child, ethnicity aside, but looking different to a majority white British populated school and quintessentially English town of Ilkley, served to exacerbate that desire.

Having a Dad who would encourage friends over for tea, to try Greek food they were scared to, made me crave for fish fingers and normality! 10/10 for effort though Dad!

…Moving to the larger city of Leeds, aged 7, Leeds, connecting with children from more diverse backgrounds (we moved to a predominantly Jewish area) and the start of the love-hate years of Saturday Greek School helped me realise being Greek was pretty cool after all.

Now with new British Greek mates, I gained a renewed sense of a pride in who I was. I wasn’t alone, the only Greek in the English village!

Plus, speaking a language only you and your Greek mates know can be all kinds of hilarious!

And now? I’m instilling that confidence and self-belief in my own children, I want them to know my background and their father’s (English) and appreciate both cultures and to ensure they will hopefully feel they fit in anywhere, in the world.

There’s only one race, the human race, after all.

I fully embrace who I am, I love the fact my looks can frankly fit/conform to so many ethnicities (a kind of instant passport offering me automatic residence anywhere) is liberating. It allows me to engage, relate and connect with so many.

I just wish this feeling of freedom existed for my own parents whom moved here from Cyprus in the 60’s, my mother aged 12, my father 16, they both met at university at 19.

Both from middle class backgrounds in Cyprus, my father attended an American boarding school, my mother’s father spoke 6 languages, the economic situation meant my Mum’s family moved to the UK, having to start again from scratch.

My father’s situation was different. His parents were comfortable in Cyprus but he too arrived in the UK, having to support himself.

My folks both studied and gained MA’s and MSc’s (my Mum also a PGCE and she started a PHD)-and eventually both went on to have successful careers.

Both, however were subjected to racism and despite being highly educated, struggled when it came to job opportunities.

This only spurred my father, an entrepreneur on. My mother was a teacher and university lecturer, focusing on fittingly, sociology and English Literature.

Ironic that only last year my Mum and I were subjected to being spoken to SLO-OO-WLY on two separate occasions in a well known department store.

That assumption that we might not speak English or in fact, even if we didn’t, needed to be spoken to as children, is casual racism.

Sad and baffling.

Then, last week, a white male (seemingly middle class), who also appeared rather intoxicated approached me in a store, while I was shopping with my husband and kids, firstly pointing to a nightie on a stand advising me I should buy it- (weird, uncalled for, sexist…) before asking my husband where I was from?

Am I now voiceless too?

Objectified, he began playing a guessing game, proceeding to blurt out a list of countries from Italy to the Middle East, before asking me where my parents were from and if I was Jewish or Christian?!

Highly inappropriate behaviour that needs to be called out, correct?

When I replied that I’m British Greek Cypriot he told my dumbfounded husband that women like me are the most beautiful but the hardest work.

The whole thing was a cringefest of the highest order.

There are ways to ask about people’s backgrounds of course, this, I’m not silencing, but is it appropriate to bombard a stranger, to make them feel ‘the other’ in their home town, going about their business, to air misguided assumptions and proceed to play a game of ‘what’s your ethnicity’ with them?

No.

I’m proud of my roots (Leeds and originally Cyprus)-I am British. But these comments, someone stopping me in a public place asking for their history, my parent’s history and making remarks based on unfounded stereotypical notions, is JUST NOT ON.

No one must feel dismissed, talked about, laughed at, less than.

Ask questions, show interest, YES, the more we understand about one another’s differences, stories, experiences, the better. The more open and nourished we will feel.

The more difference is naturalised and celebrated, the more empowered and less fearful we will be and become. No doubt.

This post and my views do not want to call a stop those discourses, those important conversations, but rude, ignorant and racist statements must be stopped. People must think before they speak.

…I related to so much of what Laila of Tape Parade so succinctly wrote about in ‘What it’s Like Not Being White Post‘ , which went viral last year. I discovered it last week thanks to Marie Claire’s instagram feed where we both took part in their #breakfree campaign.

Her post gave me the final push to write this today.

Like Laila, I too, never know which box to tick on forms-‘White British’ doesn’t adequately represent me -people often can’t be bothered to even try and say my surname-and I’ve seen first hand as a screenwriter and director how limiting representation is on screen both here and in the US.  How few ethnic minority gatekeepers work in the industry to get important, other, different stories and ways of ‘being’ made and on screen.

When I lived in London, I felt race to some extent was far more invisible than elsewhere in the UK- yet of course, it still exists. My friend Zaz’s post on Why We Have to Be Aware-The N Word is Still Out there‘ angers and saddens me in equal measure.

I don’t want race to be an issue for my kids whom are of mixed origin. I don’t want stories like my own TV project on warring kebab shop owners in London, to be hard to cast and greenlit because there are so few Cypriot looking actors, famous enough to make it happen. The case right now.

You only have to look at the #Oscarsowhite situation to despair.

Maybe the worldwide discourse on this lack of diversity in the media and the release of the much anticipated My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (the first film was the highest independent grossing film of all time when it was released) much to the surprise of most of the industry many who passed on it as a screenplay, might JUST help ‘other’ stories become more mainstream, commission-able, the norm.

And not just narratives revolving around ethnicity either. We need protagonists who just happen to be Black, Greek, Turkish, Hispanic, disabled, lesbian, transsexual.

I DO NOT want there to be a lack- and yearning for equality in 2016 and beyond- yet the road is long and so much is needed to transpire, and happen for change.

Is it too much to ask for an openness, for an interest and respectful approach to understanding and accepting one another and all our differences? For tolerance, thoughtfulness and a commitment to challenging those against equality.

I don’t think it is.

Let’s do this.

I’d love to read your thoughts.

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74 Responses

  1. Kieron

    Hi

    What a great article. Thank you for this.

    I was searching for racism and how people feel after having an awful experience at the airport.

    I’m a British born Pakistani-quarter Irish guy who does mostly modelling for a living, so I have to travel alot. I was in Geneva a few days back and the most upsetting thing happened.

    The flight was all white except for me and another Asian looking guy, who I presume was south asian in origin. I was dressed quite smart and looked very presentable. As I walked past the customs , two men stopped me and the other guy. He was taken to a different area. I was then searched infront of everyone , including the people who had been on my flight. All my books were flicked through and the contents of my pockets and luggage searched. It was so humiliating. I asked was there a specific reason why I’d been stopped. He said it as just a random security check. I was then asked where I was from, even though he had the passport in his hand. I said Bristol, UK He asked me if I was sure I said ‘yes’! I felt like crying after they had finished.

    Sadly this type of stopping has happened a few times at airports to me. Never to this extent though.

    I also get ignorant people saying ‘oh you’re a model, so, how come you are not in Bollywood’!! Erm I have no interest in Bollywood, I find it tacky and commercialised and cannot identify with it. It’s quite insulting to assume Bollywood is the destination of my choice because I’m brown!

    I’ve also noticed how some white people are sometimes treated with more and better quality service, in a customer service setting. I remember walking into a Selfrdiges in Manchester and customers were being greeted and smiled at as they walked through. When I walked past, there face was neutral and they had a dismissive in there tone. This type of micro –racism can hurt the most.

    So, again, thank you for this article.

    Kieron

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      Keiron I’m so sorry for your horrendous experiences and sadly read and hear so much of this, it’s heartbreaking. Like you,I’ve been treated badly in shops (sales assistants in a well known high street store have twice now spoken to my Mum and I slowly despite us chatting to her normally and it being obvious we can speak English (my mother tongue). I think people fear ‘the other’, those they don’t or feel they can’t relate to nor understand and often their responses can be so incredibly basic an reactive-people seem surprised for example when I say my parents met at uni, that my Mum, a first generation Greek Cypriot immigrant went on to be a university lecturer before both opened restaurants. Why the surprise? I hope thing will change. I hope blogging and honesty and conversation will help people realise there’s only one race: the human race. Know that you are not alone and importantly that you are in control of your reaction to this racism and small mindedness, that no one can make you feel less than unless you let them. Thanks for your comment.

      Reply
  2. Mess and Merlot

    The whole issue of racism just makes my skin crawl. To be honest I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned ‘ignorance’. It’s ridiculous to think you could be standing in a playground full of other parents from all over the globe and be the one deemed ‘different’ based on your appearance. I’m Irish living in England so although I have never ever experienced anything I would describe as racism, I do get daily comments once I open my mouth, maybe just innocent chat about where I’m from or a ‘funny’ comment about the Irish amongst friends. Just enough to feel different (never a bad thing in my opinion) but never offensive, so I find it really sad that other people, just like me, who weren’t born here suffer some awful abuse because of it and even more so that people like you who WERE born here are on the receiving end of these ridiculous comments. Again, in my opinion, it boils down to ignorance on the part of the offender. (That guy in the shop – WOW!)
    I’m glad you wrote this post, and happy to hear you are proud of your culture -who wouldn’t be, I always think of the Greek culture as a really warm, loving (boozy!?) and totally up for a laugh one! 🙂
    In an ideal world there would be no ‘tick box’ or one that simply states ‘Earthling’ 🙂
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    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      Oh what a wonderful comment darling, I totally agree, people fear the ‘other’ and the behaviour I experienced is just so uncalled for and stems from complete ignorance. I love being Greek, it’s such a wonderfully smart, cultured, warm, funny background to stem from xx

      Reply
  3. Meredith

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  5. Shahida kola

    Wow ! You basically just read out my life story . I am mixed race . I always get people guessing where I am from. When I went to Mexico they thought I was one of them. I went to Morocco , I was one of them . I have been called all sorts. One I do remember is someone walking past saying she must be Bosnian . Nothing wrong with being Bosnian but I wasn’t .

    I wish people wouldn’t assume things and maybe just ask nicely . I don’t mind fitting in when I go to countries it feels nice . I don’t like people presuming I am something.

    I too have to tick the mixed race section on a form and so will my children but hey!! What can you do. It would be nice if everyone would be more nice and ask but then that would mean a more peaceful world. Wouldn’t that be nice . 😀

    Reply
  6. Franglaise Mummy

    I can’t believe you have gone through this, people are just so ignorant sometimes! Having lived in France, the UK and now Mauritius as a mum to French/English girls I often get people asking me if I’m French if they hear me speaking to the girls in French. I reply either that I’m a citizen of the world or that I’m Franglaise 😉 Our eldest was at school in London where 1/3 of her class was non-white, and now here in Mauritius about half her class is non-white, which I love as it means she’s growing up exposed to different skin colours, cultures, races and religions. If we all educate our children to accept others for who they are and not their skin colour then hopefully this will no longer be the case for future generations. Keep being you lovely, beautiful unique you 🙂 xx
    Franglaise Mummy recently posted…Turning 40My Profile

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      Thank you darling, I love that, ‘world citizen’, it is what we all are, I hate for anyone to use anything about them in a way that makes them feel limited, we are all amazing, thanks for your lovely comment x

      Reply
  7. Carol Cameleon

    Oh my goodness me, what a subject… One for a conference rather than a blogpost! But hey, that’s the power of the subject. That it conjures up so many discussion. To be ‘accepted’ in all the different situations, scenarios, places you mentioned here Vicky, is testament to the world being largely uncomfortable accepting the ‘other’. Yet I don’t honestly think that the majority of the population (of Britain anyway) are ‘actively’ racist. More passively ignorant I think. More so bobbing away in their own little towns, in their own little bubbles that actually they forget to accept the diversity of their surroundings and almost shut themselves off from it. Fear? Feeling of being inadequate? Curious but not brave enough to be ‘the only’ in their area/social circle that actually allows others in? The debate goes on!
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    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      Thanks for your comment Carol, sadly I and many others I know have experienced racism, casual and overt so while of course not everyone is racist (what a sad thought that would be) and like you say some are not intentionally so, the matter is real and exists and needs to be called out.

      Reply
  8. Someone's Mum

    After saying I would read the other night, I have just got round to reading this! That’s small children for you. :/ But I knew it would be an important one so I bookmarked it and made sure I didn’t forget. I think what you say about a sense of ‘otherness’ stretches across all types of prejudices and stereotypes. I see… casual isn’t even the right word… it’s racism and sexism that is so entrenched that it is almost oblivious. And I think you are right that it needs to be challenged. One example I can tnink of is that video footage of a girl walking down streets and being accosted and greeted by men. I was so appalled that so many saw nothing wrong with it ‘She should just take the compliment’ etc. I can understand why you were nervous about posting but I am so glad you did. The only way it will change is if it really does become unacceptable. Sometimes there is no genuine ill-intent behind it, just lack of understanding, sometimes there is. But both kinds need to be addressed. Great post. Well done for being brave and posting!

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      Thanks so much Danielle for reading this and commenting, you are so right about writing and sharing to try and create change. That video made me angry too, no one has any right to make anyone feel vulnerable or not equal.

      Reply
  9. natalie

    Great post lovely. I, too, struggle with this issue being of mixed race heritage. That question so where are you from really irks me. I always reply – England. And then quickly move the subject on. And again it’s the way it’s asked that annoys me. Assuming I’m some exotic creature when I speak English as you. I was born and bred here and I have very little connection to my father so have little knowledge or understanding of this side of my heritage. Yet this is the only side that everyone focuses on.

    Thank you for this wonderful and very important post.

    Love Nat x

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      It can be so frustrating can’t it, like we have to justify our origins with our answer. I don’t mind the question but it depends on the context and find it odd when it comes as soon as someone meets me. Thanks for your comment xx

      Reply
  10. Silly Mummy

    This is a great post. So interesting, but also a little disheartening, to hear of your experiences. It really annoys me that so many people ask people who are clearly British (or where there is no reason other than their skin tone to think that they aren’t) where they are from. Or, even worse, after receiving an answer of somewhere in Britain: ‘But where are you from originally?’ I don’t know how there are still so many people who think that all British people look the same. Or why they feel they must know where someone is from, but only if they aren’t caucasian – I mean, I could not be British too for all any stranger knows, but no one ever asks me to check! #brilliantblogposts

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      So true although I don’t mind that question, depending on tone and context but it is sad that there are still people out there who don’t quite know what being British means.

      Reply
    • Honest Mum

      P.S As someone Mediterranean I do consider myself Caucasian but people Caucasian who don’t fit a blonde, blue eyed mould are still questioned and I also feel like ‘the other’ too in certain situations. I actually Googled what is defined as Caucasian and apparently being Mediterranean is a sub race of being Caucasian. Not that it matters one bit but semantics and terminology interest me. When people ask where I’m from, I always say ‘British Greek Cypriot’ I want to honour and reflect my full heritage… All I know though, is there is only one race, the human race and people need to be open and respectful to all. Thanks for your comment x

      Reply
  11. Stephanie

    It is really interesting to hear your experiences, I have never had to deal with any questions but it must be quite hard sometimes. However it would be nice when one day people don’t need to ask. It doesn’t really matter does it.

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      Exactly, shouldn’t ever be an issue. I welcome questions and interest but making people feel somehow ‘less than’ is not acceptable.

      Reply
  12. laura dove

    Great post and very interesting too. I can’t believe that you have experienced so much racism, the ignorance of some people is unbelievable isn’t it? I have never had to deal with these issues and yet I am so sorry that people do, great that you have spoken out about it. Well done you. #brilliantblogposts
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  13. Laura

    Thank you so much for sharing on such an important topic. As White British I think I sometimes forget what others endure. It’s shocking how insensitive and offensive some people can be, especially the nanny comment!

    #brillblogposts

    Reply
  14. Mirka Moore @Fitness4Mamas

    I am actually really surprised what you have been through as I always thought that it would be normal for people like me, but you? Shame people judge by the looks, very shallow. As you know I am originally Czech, and have been going through the same since I have moved here to london more than 10 years ago. I use dot live in Sydney, and guess what none of that was happening either, a very multicultural place (like London), but very different. After Zaz mentioned that thing I spoke to hubby ( who is mixed race as you know), and was asking him, but he said he has been very lucky and never been in a situation like this, which might be as he was raised by his white grandparents in a white suburb. I am grateful for that, and really hope that our girls will not have to go through this. Fabulous post about a very sad topic. Well done for coming out hun xxx
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    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      So frustrating hun to have been on the receiving end to racism, so glad you guys haven’t experienced it. Hoping none of you ever do xx

      Reply
  15. Salima Yakoob

    It is encouraging to know that I am not alone in feeling awkward when it comes to finding identity. Some time cross-cultural perceptions create hurdles that get in the way to being understood.

    Like you Vicki I am a mum who is juggling career demands and doing school runs at the same time. If you are a person of multi-ethnic origin, growing up experience in England makes you learn how to live along with differences and associate yourself with British cultural values too.
    My husband is from the second-generation Paksitani origin background and grew up in England. For him there is no other homeland – England is his home and he is comfortable any where around the world telling others that he comes from England. But I came over from Pakistan.

    Settling in a a new country is an ongoing learning experience. While I have noticed the subtle barriers which come to exist in every day interaction, I still believe that England is a tolerant country in terms of welcoming cultural diversity.

    Often media perceptions influence opinions and where every living environment is different, certain characteristics are now common everywhere. Urban lifestyle classified as Middle Class or Suburban can be no different in other parts of the world. Sadly the media image of Pakistan overshadows the life that can be very normal and comfortable.

    Most of my schooling took place in an Irish Convent School, where the nuns raised high standards of education excellence and good social skills. And seeing my children growing up in England, I can spot certain similarities in the way I was taught. But it is hard for others to see it that way. Children learn to pick up what the adults inculcate and there have been instances where white background friends of my children have promised birthday invites and never receive any. Surely the values of the parents come in place before friendship. My son and our neighbour’s daughter went to the same nursery and were in the same class. It was hard for my son to hear the voices of his class fellows jumping on the bouncy elephant and singing ‘Happy Birthday,’ while he played with bat and ball in our garden.

    Time and again questions are asked to put you in spot that you are different. It is with difficulty I learn to accept that this is okay, because I was taught by my parents never to make others feel uncomfortable by sounding too intruding. I am comfortable eating any sort of options, and if I dont request for halal food, why should I be asked, which is what one mum did on a coffee morning. Where we have all learned to accept that fun and games, chiling out has no culture, why should Indian and Pakistani mums offering to help in summer fairs are only given the option to manage stalls selling somosas and bhajis!

    Living along with cultural differences come with a certain price and I think the best way to deal with it is too never give up being positive. Sometimes when my daughter gives in from the pressure of not having enough friends, I have to remind her that she has a supportive golf coach, who hasnt given up on her and her ability to master the game. And while it is good to have a loving and supportive family, it is equally important to know what you can give back in return. For me and my husband the priority is to give the best to our children. They have been taught to value good upbringing with the view that they can give something of value to their country.

    Great blog and so glad you wrote on the topic.

    Salima Yakoob
    Birmingham

    Reply
  16. Mrs Tubbs

    I’m Welsh / Irish / English so haven’t experienced this directly, but I cringe when I’m out with friends who are as equally British as me who get asked where they’re from or patronised because they’re don’t fit into people’s perceptions of what a “British person looks like”.

    Oddly enough, I have a makeup related rant coming up shortly that touches on this. If you look at the foundation colours on some counters, it’s like black people don’t exist.

    Good for you for speaking up. 🙂

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      Thank you, not on for anyone to feel they don’t fit in anywhere. You are right that make up can be limiting, there are some super brands getting it right too thankfully but there needs to be more. Let me know when your post is live please as would love to read it x

      Reply
      • Mrs Tubbs

        Post will appear in March and I’ll tweet you. Thank you for the email as having things pointed out is how you learn. Apologies!

  17. John Adams

    Oh yes, I inhabit this world also. I’m white (olive according to my mother!), born in the UK, lived here the majority of my life, speak English as a first language and baptised by a Church of England minister. My early years were mostly spent in Cotswold villages where everyone knew everyone. Yet I have a French father. I have no affinity to France whatsoever. Left the place when just out of nappies. In fact I think it is a highly-troubled society and very glad I don’t live there (I have three French relatives left in France; the rest all emigrated years ago!). This has, at times, caused me issues and I have faced foul verbal abuse because of my heritage. I was once told by an English nationalist I couldn’t possibly be English on account of having only the one “English” parent. My own heritage, however, is much more complex than that. My grandmother, my main carer as a young boy, was Northern Irish while my great Grandfather was Scottish and the Scots influence on the family loomed large. I’ve only ever thought of myself as British, although the quirks of my birth and the European colonial era have given the right to citizenship of more nation states than you can shake a stick at! In fact I was once described as “an explosive mix of Anglo / French Catholicism and Protestantism”. I thought that was quite cool! I am a Brit, an internationalist and citizen of the world. Those that have cursed me for my heritage have an issue, not me. Oddly though, my daughters refer to themselves as French. They’ve never been further than Calais!
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    • Honest Mum

      John, what an empowered and empowering comment, we are all world citizens and must be proud of our heritage and every person on this planet is not from 1 single background/ origin. Like you I believe in ‘one race, the human race’. What an amazing heritage you have and I love the pride your children have x

      Reply
  18. rainbowsR2beautiful (@rainbowsaretoo)

    I moved around a lot when I was a child as we moved with my Dad’s work and most of it was to small villages. For most of the time this was simply moving around within the UK. Nearly everywhere I went I was different. This was not because of how I looked but because I just wasn’t local and despite my best efforts to fit in, I was always obviously an outsider. It took me a while to embrace that I was different. Now two out of the three of my kids are ‘different’ because they have additional needs. I get a lot of personal questions and daft comments all the time. Even ones that are meant to be nice, I’m not sure about (like http://rainbowsaretoobeautiful.blogspot.com/2016/01/i-dont-know-how-you-do-it.html)

    Thanks for the wonderful post.
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    • Honest Mum

      No one deserves to feel like an outsider, I am sorry you receive negative and silly comments towards your children, that makes me very sad x

      Reply
  19. Elizabeth (Plant Based Bride)

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Vicki. I admit that I don’t know what it’s like to experience this kind of treatment. I am white, and there’s really no ambiguity. From time to time I’ve been asked if I’m part Asian, or where I’m from, but most people just (rightly) assume that I’m just white. I do, however, know all too well what it feels like to be made to feel other or to be approached with inappropriate comments from strangers, it just usually centres around my gender rather than my race. I feel lucky to have experienced relatively little racism in my life, and do my best to put myself in the shoes of others and think before I speak.
    While I whole-heartedly support speaking out against racism (or discrimination of any kind), it can be hard to read some of the harsher articles out there that demonize white people. In those instances I am made to feel less because of my skin colour, as though my whiteness automatically makes me a self-centred racist, and I don’t think that’s the right approach either. The internet breeds extremism, and I admit I sometimes avoid reading articles such as this one as they can be painful. I think its wonderful that you have such a rich heritage full of tradition, and are lucky to have been steeped in it as a child. I fear I’ve rambled a bit, so I’ll cut it off here! Enjoyed this post as I do all of your writing.
    Elizabeth (Plant Based Bride) recently posted…Why You Need To Get More FibreMy Profile

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      Thanks for this, I believe that everyone should be treated equally and with respect. As one of very few female directors, I know too well the inequality of the industry and the world for women too. Thank you for your comment, I’m glad you read my post and enjoyed it 🙂

      Reply
  20. Lizzie Somerset

    Vicki you are, as always so kind with your words. I know if that man had spoken to me like that I’m not sure I could be held responsible for my response! Speaking out without offending is a gift. Brave and kind. Well done for writing this post lovely. I am British too and we believe come from Denmark way, way back down the line. Just because you wouldn’t know it to look at me doesn’t make me any less or more British than you are. People who are ignorant and rude have their own attitudes to look at. Head up high as always. Lizzie xo
    Lizzie Somerset recently posted…City Country LifeMy Profile

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  21. Unhinged Mummy (aka Janine Woods)

    Well done for being brave and hitting the publish button. I can understand why it took you so long to pluck up the courage to write this. I have a few posts in my drafts that I am not yet ready to publish so I do understand what that’s like. Also, I just wanted to say that I realise your post is about a serious issue but in all honesty I see your pictures on your blog and all I think is “how come she also looks so glam?” You always look so immaculate and it amazes me that people manage to see anything other than that lol.

    #brilliantblogposts
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    • Honest Mum

      That is so kind my lovely thank you and I’m so glad I published the piece, despite it being a bit scary! Thank you for your comment x

      Reply
  22. Mama and More aka Zaz

    Takes deep breath – this post, and any discussion about the marginalisation about anyone who is other, whether due to colour, culture, shape, size, nationality, religion, sexual preference, hell, even eating preferences, is so incredibly important. It cannot be brushed under the carpet, and we can’t assume that we have moved into an age of enlightened and more intelligent thinking – as you well know, ignoaramuses abound, and every now and then – although, at least not as prevalently as once upon a time – someone comes out with a corker that makes your eyes pop and water. When I wrote that “N-word” post, I was reeling from a rare but harsh attack. This week, after I think 3 years since that post came another vicious verbal attack. We need to keep talking about it so that we are all conscious of our words and the way we treat others, and so that we don’t hide in cliques but celebrate our uniqueness together. Thanks for hitting publish hon, these things must be named and we must grow bigger than them. Xx

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      So wise Zaz and I am so angry you and I and so many for all the reasons above are marginalised and made to feel less than, it is still happening and it must stop. Together, talking, writing, sharing and calling out this behaviour is crucial to creating change. Thank you for your wisdom, inspiration and friendship, love you xx

      Reply
  23. Marina Sofia

    A woman after my own heart – well done for voicing what so many of us have been feeling but tended to sweep under the carpet!
    I also look slightly Mediterranean, which never stands out anywhere else except in places like Britain and Germany. The worst thing is that I am Romanian (but have lived in the UK for 20 years now, have become a British citizen and actually studied English, so know grammar, literature and history better than many a native!). So you can imagine the prejudice I get when I mention that – gypsy, pickpocket, come to live off benefits, come to steal jobs etc. etc.
    And in the US I was told that my Greek husband and I must have delightful mixed-race children…
    I keep telling myself: in the long run we will all be khaki. But actually, all being the same isn’t the desirable end goal. Celebrating the beauty of diversity should be the goal!
    Marina Sofia recently posted…Home-Grown Crime FictionMy Profile

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    • Honest Mum

      I just fail to understand why people feel it is their business to make assumptions and not think before they speak. I don’t feel the term ‘mixed race’ is offensive as in if someone tells me my kids are mixed race, I don’t see that as a negative thing although I do believe we are one race, the human race x
      Honest Mum recently posted…Valentine’s Day Meal for TwoMy Profile

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  24. Sarah Admissions of a Working Mother

    Wow what an incredibly rude man! Well done for keeping your cool, he deserved a telling off. This is a great post though, thanks for sharing x
    Sarah Admissions of a Working Mother recently posted…When Your Toddler Holds You Hostage In SuperdrugMy Profile

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  25. Katie

    Good on you lovely. I constantly get asked if I am Italian and from certain men then get told that I must be fiery and a great lover if I am. It’s rather a sham to disappoint them.
    I think the media has played a huge part in creating an unnecessary divide between people and I think race/class/heritage separation is worse than ever and it doesn’t need to exist. It’s almost like living in a world with several mini Donald Trumps. I saw your photo when I first started reading your blog and then only thing that went through my head was “Wow, she’s gorgeous and I wish I was the photogenic!!” I didn’t even consider you to be anything else until this post!
    Well done for highlighting a serious and yet absolutely ridiculous issue!
    #brilliantblogpost
    Katie recently posted…My Fat Journey: Weigh In Week 5My Profile

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    • Honest Mum

      Oh Katie thank you for your kind comment firstly, wish race was invisible. I believe in one race, the human race and it shocks me when others don’t share that view. Sadly racism exists but we need to make a stand. You are totally gorgeous and photogenic by the way x

      Reply
  26. Patrick Weseman

    It is a strange subject. It needs to be talked about all over. I am a mixed-race (African-American and Irish) and people think I am Middle Eastern and part of ISIS. Since, I live in an area which has a huge East Indian population, people think I am East Indian. It is strange. I have been called all the names you can think it. I don’t mind that, I mind the people who say that they are racially sensitive but will say to me “Your kind” or “People like you” when I break out of their “sterotype box”.

    I have two kids who are adults. My daughter has my skin color and my son looks Irish. He has the fair skin and red hair. One thing that I noticed during their school days was how they were treated by teachers. They both are from the same blood and they treated totally different, less was expected from her.

    Thanks for posting this.

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      This makes me so sad and angry on yours and your kids behalf. No one has the right to treat anyone without respect. At school children should be taught to understand and respect one another’s differences, I know that is what my own kids are taught. I hate the ingrained racism we face- I hope things improve and rapidly x

      Reply
  27. Kayla

    Great post! Sadly, I experience racism a lot. And when I try to talk about it I get told that I’m being “too sensitive”.
    Kayla recently posted…JANUARY HAULMy Profile

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  28. Random Musings

    I’m pleased you decided to write this post. I think it’s important that people get a reminder that racial discrimination is still happening in a so-called “polite” society.
    Why can’t we judge people based on whether or not they are ass holes rather than their colour, birth place, sex, gender etc.
    To have a stranger approach you and question your husband (not even having the basic decency to ask you!) about where you are from is shocking. I think you did well to not tear him a new one!
    Thanks for hosting #brrilliantblogposts
    Debbie
    Random Musings recently posted…Interview Techniques To Land That Dream JobMy Profile

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      Haha that ‘assholes’ reference made me laugh, you are so right, no one has the right to make anyone feel less than, we have such a long way to go when it comes to prejudice x

      Reply
  29. Sharmin

    I’m so glad you wrote this though especially your recent encounter saddens and angers me. And i can safely say such experiences are not unfamiliar to me either. What bothers me the most in this whole ‘otherness’ debate is that if you have mixed heritage it is a given that you should be on public display with constant questions fired at you. As a result, the lines between a compliment and a racist remark become blurred because of unintentional yet blatant ignorance. This really should be tackled first😕 Your post is spot on. X

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      So true darling and so sorry you’ve had this like me. I remember us discussing this and you are right, it reminds me of pregnancy, suddenly everyone has a right to remark on it, you become public property. So frustrating. Lets all pull together and help create change by standing up, writing about it and calling people out on it x

      Reply
  30. Emma

    A really important post that needed to be read. I am shocked at how rude people are and like the lady above I found myself shaking my head in frustration at some of the things you and your family have had said to you. We need to carry on writing and reading blog posts like this so that we can start challenging inequality and promoting kindness and compassion.#brilliantblogposts
    Emma recently posted…Feminist in HidingMy Profile

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    • Honest Mum

      I totally agree with you Emma, such a despairing situation-we must do as you say, keep writing, challenging and promoting kindness. Thank you for your wisdom xx

      Reply
  31. Babes about Town

    I’m so pleased you wrote and published this post, because these issues are still pressing, despite the fact we’re now in 2016. Often the subtle racism, the casual racism, the institutionalised racism does the most damage because it’s so insidious. Sometimes it’s really just about awareness or lack of it, because of where people are coming from or how they’ve been raised to think about and treat difference.

    I’m so glad that my kids are growing up in a much more open, diverse version of London and the UK than I experienced on first coming here. And part of the progress we’re making is being able to have open, clear-sighted discussions even when it makes someone uncomfortable! It’s about listening to and validating our unique experiences as well as common ground on issues like ethnicity, belief systems etc. Very pleased you’ve started the conversation on your blog, clearly there’s still a long way to go x
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    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      Uju, thank you so much for encouraging me to write this post and as always, for being there to talk to me, and share your wisdom. I too am relieved our kids are growing up in a different world to what we experienced years earlier, and you are right there is so much that still needs to change. I agree too that the more we write, share, discuss and debate the issue of racism, the more empowered we can feel in creating this change x

      Reply
  32. Angela Milnes

    I totally get this. I never expected to have the experiences I have had and my daughter after having a child of mixed race and it is saddening how racism and ‘being the other’ is a huge thing still in today’s society. I really enjoyed reading your post and agree it’s important for equality and pleased you mentioned disabled too as I am someone speaking out for disability! 🙂 Angela

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      Thanks Angela, so important all minorities are represented in the media and no one should be discriminated against or made to feel the ‘other’. It makes me sad and angry to hear how your daughter has been treated by others. Thanks for commenting

      Reply
  33. Monica Gilbert

    I’m white, so I can blend in. Until I talk, and everyone makes assumptions about me just because I’m American. Bashing American culture seems to be a huge sport on British websites (especially parenting ones). And I’ve found getting a job suitable to my educational level impossible (even my in-laws seem to look down upon my schooling because it’s not British). I just had an experience where my mother in law was talking about a series of early reader books. I noted their similarity to an American book series my family had bought for my daughter ages ago. Of course, she had to immediately order the “correct” British version so that my daughter could learn properly. (There was even a comment about correct spelling which I was expected to laugh over.) The alienation never goes away, and it’s so difficult not to completely lose your voice when silence is easier. I can’t imagine how much more difficult it would be if I looked “foreign.”

    Reply
    • Honest Mum

      These cultural divides are ridiculous aren’t they? The thing is, I don’t consider myself ‘foreign’, I’m British, white/olive but my ethnicity is Greek Cypriot, day to day I don’t feel different in any way, then someone might say something ludicrous like on the weekend- that makes me stop in disbelief at their sheer ignorance and lack of education and experience. I won’t tolerate racism or prejudice. Have you discussed your feelings with your mother in law regarding her trying to put a stop to American culture/literature reaching your child?

      Reply
  34. Ebabee

    I’m so glad you hit publish in the end because these things NEED to be said. Can’t believe some of the stuff you’ve been through. Like you I am all for learning about other people, their cultures and their backgrounds but there is no excuse for racism. I’ve had my fair share of unpleasant experiences being Indian, but not nearly as many as I may have had simply because I don’t look typically Indian. I have so much to say on this topic that if I start I will never stop. But so glad you published and I agree with each and every word. xx

    Reply
  35. Stephs Two Girls

    OMG thoughts are that I’m truly shocked other people have no shame in asking rude questions, such as the nanny one and the intoxicated man. Whatever race/nationality they were, they were so wrong. I’ll admit that sometimes I’m scared I’ve said the wrong thing out of ignorance, but I seriously hope I never get it THAT wrong (though not wrong at all is preferable!). To the vast majority of people I know, it doesn’t matter where you are from, or where your parents were born – or what career your father had, which I know used to be a big issue in earlier times. Times are changing, albeit a bit too slowly in many senses, but I do have hope for the future and that common sense eventually wins through. I’m pretty sure the France/Italy comments are because you are so stylish though 🙂 xx
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  36. Jeannine

    Great piece and I totally get it! I have been mistaken for the nanny in UK and for the housemaid in Australia 🙂 simply because my children have fair skin due to being mixed race. I never mind the curiosity but I cannot stand the rudeness and assumptions. Good on you for putting it out there.

    Reply
  37. Tinuke

    Yes yes yes! This and so much more!
    I shook my head reading some of the experiences you’ve been through. Shook it out of frustration that it happened to you and that almost identical things have happened to me on many occasions.
    I’m glad you wrote this. Race, ethnicity, equality, these issues are so important and we shouldn’t feel afraid to discuss them.

    Reply

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