A woman of colour’s experience of internalised racism.

Recorded in Birmingham.

Transcript

Parents’ evening was a really nerve-wracking time for me. For the most part, the early part of my secondary school life, I was really really really really nervous whenever there was a parent’s evening day. But my fears weren’t really to do with grades and teacher feedback, but more about how my parents would come across, to my peers and my teachers.

I’m Indian, both of my parents are Indian, and although my school was diverse, I very much felt, Indian. And i distinctly remember every time my mum and dad would drive to the school, and it came to the time of getting out of the car, my mum would say, you know, “should we go now?” and I’d look at my dad, and I would say “mum is it ok if only you come”.

Now my dad has a beard and a turban, and I was worried about what people would think, because he was visually just too different to the other parents. My mum is quite fair skinned, my dad is darker skinned, and it’s horrible that I thought that and that I was worried about that. And it really irritates me now. It was absolutely disgusting and I remember the look on my dad’s face. He’d just know. This isn’t anything that surprised me. He would know that this is something.

And I remember he’d always joke about how we were ashamed of him. But it was always a joke. But then actually in practise he was very obviously reluctant. And this reluctance isn’t anything that’s new, it’s just a product of Islamophobic slurs, racist remarks and the kind of preconceived ideas of beauty, and what I perceived as a direct dichotomy of, you know, what I believed was beautiful and correct and right. But it’s good that you can realise and move on and accept that it wasn’t necessarily my individual fault but the kind of things that I’m culturally conceiving and the things that are standing around me.

I guess the important thing is that parent’s evening is less about grades and all that but, for people of colour it can be a big thing, a constant say visual comparison. And you know it can manifest these anxieties in lots of different ways and well I guess this is just a very very small example.