Thursday, September 28, 2023

BAME VOICES: Life As A Mixed Race Woman in Belper

(Our writer asked to remain anonymous)

I live in Belper, which as most people know is a very white area, and you don’t see many different ethnicities round here. It’s crazy really when Derby is literally a 20 minute drive away which has so many different cultures. I don’t have a single friend that isn’t white.

Anyway, growing up wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows. I used to dance when I was 4-10, and I did enjoy it until you realise they don’t make pretty tights in your colour , you can’t have the nice ballet shoes that everyone else has, and during shows you can’t take your hair down.

Doing simple things such as going for a haircut was a nightmare, as hairdressers aren’t required to deal with afro hair. I couldn’t have a wash and cut and blow dry at the salon, my mum would have to wash and blow dry and straighten my hair at home (which took about 2 hours) in order to make it manageable. I’m embarrassed of my natural hair. Bullying was horrendous because of it. Because I wanted to just have my hair down. I got called so many names, I would have a meltdown if I had to have my hair natural for one day. I got people throwing things in my hair, sticking their hands in it, saying it was cool but quite big, never pretty. I always wished i could be one of the “pretty white girls” with their long straight hair & blue eyes. Teachers always telling my friends to “keep away from her, she’ll only drag you down”.

Walking through town is something you should be able to do with ease, but I always keep my wits about me just in case. I shouldn’t have to at 18, especially in this so-called “lovely” town.

Saying thank you or even just smiling at people always confuses me, because I’m always met with a scowl or people put their head down and avoid eye contact with me.

I have people clutch their bags tighter when I walk past.

I say, “good morning” or, “hello” and don’t get anything back.

But when my boyfriend does it he always gets a smile or a response? The same with my friends. In the end I just end up not saying anything, then I get labeled as rude – “you should smile more, what’s wrong with you?”

Dating as a girl is hard enough. Dating as a mixed girl is disgusting. Boys asking you where you’re from, no not the city, where your skin colour is from.

You tell them, and then they go “wow I love me an exotic girl” “I’ve never slept with a foreign girl before” “heard your kind are good at_______”.

I am not a trophy to add to your collection, I am a human being. Please don’t say things like this to any girl of any heritage; it is disgusting and wrong.

I’m lucky that I now have a boyfriend who supports my feelings during this time, and who fully supports my views. I just wanna urge everyone to please please please stop saying “all lives matter.” I know where you’re coming from, but you are belittling the whole movement that is happening right now. All we want is for people to treat us better.

11 thoughts on “BAME VOICES: Life As A Mixed Race Woman in Belper

  • John Devine

    You will always get a smile from me. And respect.

  • I’m horrified that things have not moved on and that you have to go through this. You will always be treated with respect by me. Don’t lose faith in people. They’re not all the same.

  • Michelle Orru

    Shame on any person ever who discriminates against race or religion. We’re all a part of the human race and all unique in our own way.

  • What a brave and enlightening article. Thank you so much for sharing that.

  • Cheryl Stone

    I find this really unusual from the majority of people in Belper, we’re known as being a friendly lot.
    Of course there is always the ignorant that pull the Belper name down unfortunately!

  • What a courageous thing to do in the current climate. Thank you for sharing. I hope our kids can thrive in a more inclusive environment. There is no excuse for ignorance in this day and age but it is everywhere I hope we can all do our bit to reduce it.

  • Tom Elliott

    I moved to belper having lived and worked in south Manchester. Although I have found Belper to be a lovely place with lovely people , I have heard things said that are only fit to be buried in the past. Attitudes and values that are not acceptable and initially i was shocked. It still upsets me now. If I hear anything said out loud that I find unacceptable I always speak out and say something. What this young person has experienced brings shame on us all. I hope we can be better in future. I applaud her courage in speaking out and in my humble way I share her pain.

  • Wayne Reaney

    You would always get a smile , hello or morning from me. I would like to believe that most of the people in belper would be the same. Keep your chin up and smile it’s them that have the problem and not you

  • Elizabeth

    Thank you for sharing your story, I have family who are black and mixed race and I know they also find it hard now that we have moved to this area as it’s very white. I’m so sorry that you have experienced this. I am learning and understanding more about my white priviledge and hope to continue learning and growing in awareness. You will always get a smile from me 🙂 xx

  • My step dad is black and growing up in belper I have seen the inequalities that he has had to face in our town. I hope that you feel safer and more like you belong, because you do. I hope people see their deep prejudices and challenge themselves to be better and to do something towards making our town the most inclusive and accepting town we can be. Thank you for sharing your experience, I think people really do need to see that belper isnt all rainbows and smiles.

  • Gill Phillips

    This makes me sad to hear…. but we need to hear it. What can we do to make our ‘lovely’ – but very white and not at all diverse – town friendlier and more welcoming for people of different ethnic backgrounds?

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