19 – Antiguan, Cuban and Singaporean

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I grew up in Edmonton, and my mum’s a single mum; she brought me up on her own and I really respect her for that. We lived by ourselves; I don’t really have many family members, it’s just always been me and my mum. I had a few mental health issues, and I took a year out after secondary school because I took a drug overdose. After I was out of hospital, I didn’t really know what to do with myself, but then I applied at Woodhouse and I got in. I’ve always been really self-conscious about where I’m from and who I am. Even when I was in hospital the nurses said they’ve never seen someone of colour before. It was embarrassing because, I felt like I was representing my race in a negative way. My mum constantly tells me I’m gonna have to work that little bit harder because I’m black. I feel like it’s a massive weight on my shoulders sometimes.
I went to secondary school in a predominantly white school, and it made me really unhappy. I was there for 5 years and I hated my skin, I had a lot of problems; I used to want to rip it off and cut myself. However, coming to college and being in such a multi-cultural place really made a difference. I feel so comfortable, like I can have my hair curly, or straighten it if I want to. One time when I was little, I’ll never forget, I went to a playgroup and one girl said to me, “we can’t be your friend, because you have the same colour as poo”. My race has always been that elephant in the room, especially when I’m surrounded by white friends and I’m the only black one. I used to be called an ‘Oreo’, I was told my lips were too big for my face, my nose was too big…I never felt like I fit in anywhere and I would always experience casual racism. It’s frustrating that society’s aesthetic is so geared towards whiteness.
I’m hoping that in the future I’ll be able to get a decent job, and just be stable in life and be happy. I want to hopefully go into something like counselling; something where I can help other people, because from personal experience it’s something that’s important to me.


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