The things people genuinely say to me as a mixed-race woman must surely be a joke

Nope, they’re not


The state of being mixed-race begs a range of interesting questions, almost as if the shade of your skin colour deserves some sort of explanation. You’ll often get asked tame little conversation starters, such as “what is your ethnicity?” or “what’s your background?” Or, you know, “you’re brown, what do you mean you were born in Cambridge?” Just the usual, friendly icebreakers.

‘Oh, you’re mixed-race? You don’t have an afro!’

Contrary to popular belief, not all mixed-race people come with skin the colour of a caramel latte and a dark mane of close-curling hair. Surprisingly, those of mixed-race come from a real mix of backgrounds. Not that the clue is literally in the name, or anything.

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‘So you’re like, half-caste?’

Yeah, that term sort of belongs back in the nineteenth century.

‘You would look so pretty with green eyes!’

Oh yeah, I forgot I could change the colour my irises at will. And thanks for implying that my actual brown eyes aren’t pretty, by the way.

‘So, where are you from? …Oh, no, I meant originally.’

Well, I live in near Birmingham, but I was born in Cambridge, so I suppose I’m from there originally. No? Cambridge still not an acceptable answer? Great Shelford? How specific do you want me to get? Why are you waiting for me to say India or Nigeria when I’m not from there?

‘Are you from India or Sri Lanka then?’

Um, I’m from Malvern. It’s near Birmingham. You were close.

‘You’re black.’

I genuinely had an argument once with someone I had just met over my own race. Just a thought, but as I am the one in my own skin – shocking, I know – I think I should be the one to decide what race I am? And, you know, on top of that, I’m just not black.

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‘You speak good English!’

Probably the worst one yet. I also study English, so, I reckon I speak it, analyse it, read it, and write it better than you, you presumptuous arsehole. I may wish I was bilingual, and that English was but one in a long list of languages I could speak, but sadly, that is not the case. So, yes, I would hope that I speak “good English” as I embark on two more years of reading Chaucer.

‘You should marry a white/black/Asian guy – your children would be so cute.’

Picture the scene: I find the man of my dreams, only to jilt him at the altar because I realise his skin tone plus mine just won’t look “cute” on our baby. I should have listened to the person who asked me this: how stupid of me to prioritise things like common interests and a similar sense of humour over race.

‘What are you?’

A human being?

‘Can you dance like a black girl?’

…No words.

‘They only included you in that to show they’re not racist.’

Oh, yes, I’m sorry, I’m just your token mixed person. I don’t actually achieve anything in my own right, of course. People never include me in anything due to my own merit, I’m just here to promote political correctness. I’m great because I cover a wide range of nationalities in one, convenient body. Need to demonstrate diversity? Look no further – I represent four nations for the price of one!

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‘What foundation do you use? Do they even do your colour?’

It may have escaped your notice but there are shades other than “ivory”, “porcelain”or “nude”. Although, admittedly, cosmetics companies – some of you are seriously slacking on foundations/concealers for darker shades. Sort it out please.

‘What language do you speak at home?’

The usual, you know, Pig Latin. Ancient Greek. Parseltongue.

The Tab Leeds

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