It amuses me when people talk about Coventry, specifically their experiences whilst at Coventry University. I listen to their stories intently and consider the stark differences between their experience and mine in the version of Coventry I grew up in.
In 2001 Coventry’s population consisted of 5,412 black people from a total population of 300,848. I was the only black person in my primary school class for three years and there were five of black children in the entire primary school – until the glorious day I was joined by two black boys in Year 6.
I was so elated the day two faces, much like mine, came and joined me, I thought, “Yes! I’m not alone anymore.” No more being the only child in the class not being invited to the party, no more weird questions like, “If you could choose your skin colour, would you be white?”, and no more kids refusing to play with me because I’m black. Finally, there would be people who could understand my My Wife And Kids references – people I could feel truly comfortable around.
Although there were only three of us, the sense of community, companionship and shared experience was there. We could banter and tell inside jokes that the other students just would not be able to relate to. When a teacher was being particularly harsh or strong with one of us, we would look at each other because we knew the deal, we knew why.