High school was confusing. My breasts developed, my hips started to curve and once a month I bled. Not only were there physical and hormonal changes to my body, I went to two separate high schools and I was one of a handful of black kids in both schools. The schools were situated in Salford, Greater Manchester, where the demographic is largely white.
The first high school was private, and I studied here for what felt like an eternity. It was here I awakened to the harsh reality that other people did not see the world in colour, only in dreary shades of black and white. I was shocked by the overt racial abuse. It happened largely due to the culture private school tends to breed – a particularly insidious brand of self-entitlement, which translates into saying whatever you want, whenever you want, with no real consequences.
On my first day, I got called a “p***” by a boy in the year above me. This was confusing because I knew he was wrong. I was mixed-race – Caribbean and white British. This was the first of many incidents at this school, where sharps words were hurled at me day-to-day like sticks and stones. I was teased about my “loo brush” hair and bugs were put in it. I was told, on more than one occasion, that I was a “slave”, nothing but a “n*****”. I left that school with painful, bitter memories, damaged self-esteem and zero confidence.