This post was initially going to be about my love for double denim. I was going to talk about how you can wear denim with everything. It’s easy to style, easy to wear and to me double denim is just the epitome of cool, especially when I’m not.
However, what could I say about denim that you don’t already know? In some ways it seems trivial to discuss my latest OOTD. Instead I wanted to share my inner most thoughts about a topic close to my heart. I don’t usually like to talk about personal or serious topics on here,
so I’m sorry for that, but I think it’s time I stopped pussy-footing around such an important subject. I want to talk about my mixed feelings about being mixed race.
Obviously it makes sense to start with a little backstory. My father is Algerian and my mother is Welsh. I was born in England and have spent my whole life living in this country. Growing up, I didn’t feel different but subconsciously I knew I was. A lot of my experiences are something that all POC will relate to regardless of who you are as a person.
The frustration of just being yourself and acting the way you always have, for it to be dismissed so easily is something I find very hard to comprehend. What is it that makes you forget everything you know about me? The way I look? The way I act? My name?
What’s in a name?
My name has always been a thorn in my side when it comes to being mixed race in a predominately white country. Yasmina is a traditional Algerian name and let me tell you it doesn’t half get people in a tizz. Most of the time I get Jasmina, or it will start off as Yasmina only for it morph into Yasmin or Jasmine. The worst is when people make up a whole new name altogether! Jasminda, Yashmina even Tasmania, I’ve heard it all. I honestly think I could be called Jane and people would overcomplicate it. It’s almost like they think, oh she looks foreign so her name must be something really complicated. It’s only one extra A people. Calm down.
Love Island fans will laugh at Hayley and her ditzy forgetful attitude and the fact she could never remember Eyals name. Yes I think we can all agree he’s not exactly the nicest person himself but for me, every time she miss-pronounced his name or called him something else entirely, it filled me with rage. I found it so unbelievably disrespectful that after a week of knowing him she couldn’t get it right. It’s not even a complicated name, although that’s no excuse, and for someone who has an unfamiliar name themselves, the whole thing stank of ignorance and privilege.
The worst part about all of it, is that I let things like this get to me. I let it influence the way I act in the hopes I don’t attract attention to myself. I even refer to myself as B on my blog just to not have to deal with the issues surrounding my name.
Where’s the diversity in blogging?
My love for blogging is another reason I’ve felt compelled to talk about being mixed race. Owning a blog is something I never thought would happen. I get to write about things I love (obviously makeup) and meet new people who have similar interests and passions. The blogosphere is an amazing community to be part of but sometimes I can’t help but feel underrepresented.
The amazing blogger Chloe in Curve tweeted the other day about a press trip from a well known clothing brand. It included girls who in all honesty could have been clones of each other. Thin, white and blonde, Chloe pointed this out and questioned the lack of diversity. In terms of ethnicity, plus sized, or disability, this trip included none of them. How is that reality? How is that representing the many different types of people there are in the world? More importantly how does that make the people who buy your clothes feel when you’re basically saying this is what you deem to be beautiful.
I’d never knock the hard work that many bloggers do. Blogging isn’t easy and everyone deserves the success that comes along with pouring your coffee drenched heart and soul into your content. I truly believe, people shouldn’t get picked just because they tick those alternative boxes. However, as a business and brand if it doesn’t even cross your mind that there’s a lack of diversity in what you’re doing, that’s a real problem.
Some people only ever see different
In those moments you finally feel included, it only takes one person to make one comment for you to come crashing back to reality. Worst of all, it’s usually people you’ve known for ages, people you’ve interacted with at work or social engagements. People you thought saw you as you the person, not you the colour.
Just the other day I was discussing the World Cup with a colleague I’ve known for a few years. After saying I was gutted Algeria weren’t in it this year, they asked me if that is where I was originally from. Trying to not get offended, even though I’ve already mentioned I was born in England, I replied repeating just that. He proceeded to say, yeah but Algeria is where you’re originally from.
Maybe this seems like not a big deal to many people. It was obvious he was referring to my heritage so why not just answer the question as such. Well why should I? Not only does that question completely undermine the years I have spent working with this person for them to still not acknowledge I’m English, but also ignores the fact that as a mixed race person I’m also half Welsh (Bore da to any of my lovely Welsh readers btw). Why is my non-British side the only side you focus on?
As I’ve said, these are just some of experiences common to all POC. As “touchy” as the subject may be, it’s important that we, and I mean everyone WE, talk about it. For me, that means sharing how this specifically affects me as a mixed race person.
Mixed Feelings about being Mixed Race
Growing up in a predominately white country, being half white, I technically consider myself as such. My whole life so far has been what I would call typically British. Living in North Wales and then Liverpool, two places that are not racially diverse has meant all my friends have been white. Writing this post right now, I even feel uncomfortable using the terms POC and white. It’s almost like it’s ingrained in me not to say things that might cause offence to POC, when the reality is I am one. It’s incredibly confusing.
As a mixed race person you feel like you should be accepted by everyone, but that’s definitely not always the case. I’ve had strangers come up to me and speak arabic and when I say I don’t understand, their response is one of confusion and shock. Family members have told me I should dress more appropriately since I’m a muslim woman, which I’m not. I have had white people throw racial slurs and tell me to go back to where I came from. I’ve even had a supervisor ask me if English is my first language after an hour long talk with them! For whatever reason some people only see what they want to see and what they see is different.
Being mixed race, makes you feel like you don’t fit in. I can never act fully Algerian or fully British because the reality is I’m not. It’s a bitter pill to swallow and one I’ve desperately tried to sugarcoat. Many white people only take me at face value, never really trying to see past the brown exterior. Whilst Arabic people consider me one of them until they talk to me and realise I’m not. Both hurt in different ways but it’s made me realise that my negative feelings never stemmed from the mix of cultures and countries. The issue has always been people. As a result, I have a lot of built up conflict inside of me and really the only thing I can do is accept myself. When that finally happens, when I finally see all of me, I hope that others will see me too. Just me.