While you were growing up who did you see in the media that looked like you?
To be honest, I think when I was younger I relied on media from the USA to see people that looked like me. There was definitely a lack of Black-British representation although things have improved since I was younger. However, I think that is part of the reason I had such an affinity to 90s/2000s shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, My Wife & Kids, Sister Sister, That’s So Raven – because I got to see families and people who looked like myself and my family. Most importantly, these shows centred on black characters rather than just having them as minor characters adhering to a racial stereotype. Someone I really valued when I was growing up was Malorie Blackman. I vividly remember the turning point that came for me when I read Noughts and Crosses. In many ways her novel taught me more about institutional oppression than all of my history lessons! It also meant a lot to me, as someone who spent a lot of time in the library when I was younger, to see black characters on the cover of a novel.
The turning point came for me when I read ‘Noughts and Crosses’. In many ways it taught me more about institutional oppression that all of my history lessons.
In school who did you learn about that looked like you or had similar experiences to you?
I didn’t really until Year 9 where we spent a short time in History lessons on black history and learnt about the Windrush in Geography. However, by that time a lot of what we had been taught I had already had to find out myself after tiring of hearing about the Florence Nightingales I relied more on my family, books and even the Internet to teach me about the Mary Seacoles that had been neglected by the school curriculum.
Why do you think diversity and representation is important?
Seeing yourself represented is not just important, it’s necessary. It’s acknowledgement that you exist, that you are enough as you are and above all, that you matter.
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