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Leaving Northern Ireland Showed Me That Anything Is Possible

I was a six-year-old walking into my Primary 2 parent-teacher evening with my mum, and as we entered the classroom we looked at the “Guess Who” portraits that proudly lined up the walls, coloured in earlier that day in class. It wasn’t difficult for my mum to guess which one I was. Every portrait had a bright pink face and then there was me with a brown face and black curly hair. Suddenly, I felt like the odd one out!

In hindsight, primary school was an overall breeze for me. I felt that I fit in well with everyone and was able to just be me. That was, until one day, at just nine years old, a boy in school called me a “Black Burger!”  I knew this was meant as an insult and quickly and confidently reported it to my teachers. Thankfully, the boy was expelled and I moved on.

I grew up living in one of the most Loyalist* areas of Northern Ireland, with my brother and I being the only mixed race people in our street. My dad is Jamaican with my mom being from Northern Ireland, and though I have lived here my whole life, I was actually born in Manchester. In that time, there has only ever been one other ethnic minority in our community.