As part of my voluntary work on the Amplify Black Voices UK project, I have been running short portrait sessions with people who have stories they want to share. You can find Jayne's words below. Please take time to consider her words, and also check out the UK-wide project to learn more and discover more personal stories.
I was born in Scotland, but spent my formative years in Ghana. I have been living in England for 15 years.
During my time in Scotland, I experienced racial abuse when a young teenager called me a ‘darkie’ as he walked past. I naturally responded ( I was a teenager too) and told him where to go. Unfortunately, my father, mother and three older brothers were constant victims of racial abuse, but I will not go into further details as it is not my story to tell.
I have been racially profiled once in a high-end supermarket in Surrey, where I live. I was on my own and I had noticed the security guard following me around the shop floor. He was not discrete and I found it quite irritating, so I walked towards him and asked if there was a problem. I also took out my purse and showed him my ID, bank card and cash. He was taken aback and started to speak but was not making any sense at all. He eventually apologised and left me alone after that.
There have also been some shocking stereotype comments from individuals. I remember I was in an indoor pool at the gym with my husband and eldest son. We were teaching him how to swim, when this gentleman approached us and without an invitation started to lecture us about teaching methods and casually mentioned that black people struggle to swim because they have too much muscle or bone density. My husband and I were horrified and very quickly told him that his comment was inappropriate. He swam away without saying anything.
I also recall my eldest son’s school sports day event and he came first in both his 100m and 200m races. One of the parents approached and congratulated me, but then added, “…We all know why he won. He has an advantage!...”She laughed and then walked off. I never confronted the parent and sometimes I have asked myself why I did not say anything.
I feel that the persistent stereotyping of black people is exhausting and unwarranted, but it stems from a system that encourages it. I guess the only way to address this is to raise awareness. In consideration of what has happened this year with the BLM movement, I do feel that I have a part to play. We all have to educate ourselves. Going forward, I will of course respond (graciously) when ridiculous comments are thrown my way.