Growing up on a council estate, within a religious and African household meant that from an early age I always knew that two things were key: education and having a faith. Both of these things seemed to be the backbone of what made a good human being, so my Mum and Dad always sought out the schools that could cater to both. I’ve been to an array of faith schools - from Church of England schools to Catholic, so my brother, sisters and I became familiar with different religious practices. It also meant that our schools were in the leafy areas of Balham, Richmond and Wimbledon where, although diverse at the time, were predominantly made up of a high number of white people.
There were many benefits of mixing with different groups - I became a chameleon, a skill that has become very handy whilst growing up, but I did have a core group of friends who were mostly white. I quickly noticed my place within the friendship group and how I was fetishised by friends who had an almost obsessive idea of how I should be as a black young woman. I’m sure you’ve all had something on the lines of “you should grow an afro, it would suit you”, “you must like R&B and Rap – it was never a question of would you like to grow your hair or do you like this genre of music. It was always an assumption of who I should be.