In the shoes of others

I'm a mixed race person

- I'm a mixed race person, most of my friends are white and I feel like sometimes, no matter how much I explained to them they don't get it, or sometimes it feels like there's a lack of want to understand. And it sort of makes me feel isolated from people, I guess...

- Does it mean that there's issues coming with the fact to be mixed race?

- I mean, yeah, there definitely is. There's also sort of the idea that I don't feel like I belong in either, I'm too white to sort of fitting in with my dad's side of family, and I'm too Sri Lankan to be familiar with my mom's side of the family, it always sort of feels like you don't belong anywhere. And people sort of making you feel like a spectacle, I've had lots of people saying to me like « Oh, I've always wanted a mixed baby! » and stuff like that. It just comes from a complete lack of understanding, and people don't really want to learn about these things if it doesn't benefit them, do they?

- Can you remind a few moments in your life where you feel it made things more difficult for you?

- There's so many! But it's not like there's been any particular moment... I think anyone who is mixed race as well will know that it just sort of feeds into your life constantly. And I don't know, it's difficult to sort of just choose one moment. When people look at me, they don't know where I'm from, and they're too scared to ask as well, which... you should ask, you know, it's not bad to ask people these things. People think it's offensive, because no one talks about it, and no one understands it. I think it's great what you're doing though, it just all starts from people understanding more, I think it's really great! Have you spoken to a lot of other people about this?

- I'm close to a hundred interviews now, and had a few other similar participations yes. One of them was basically saying « I'm not black enough so black people are like umm you're not black, and white people say the same » ... it sounds like there's a few events sometimes happening and that overall, it's more about certain comments and very little things that make you feel this way and stuff that affect your sense of belonging...

- Yeah, micro-aggressions are everywhere and it's most of the time just very small things yeah. Which kind of makes it worst because it feels like you can't bring them up or when you talk to people about it, it's very easy to just sort of think that's just like a few tiny things. But once it builds up, it does affect the way that you view yourself for sure. Being mixed is great though and I'm so happy. I feel very lucky to be Scottish and Sri Lankan, and they're both amazing places! But um, yeah, I think the way for everyone to understand people better is just to talk more. I feel like honesty and conversations with people isn't so normalized, and that if it was, then people could be more open with one another, we'd be able to understand a lot more about one another, I think. So it's great that you're doing it, I think it's really cool!

this interview turned out to be very special to me. it's a very interesting one with this very very important point: sometimes we feel terrible not because something major or so specific happened. not because of one moment, but rather because of an accumulation of tiny events, of stuff that people say or ways that people treat us. which makes it then really difficult to even say "why" we feel this way, difficult to even give examples if we're being asked, because it's soooo very subtle. it would pass easily if it happened just once, except that because it happened too many times, we get triggered. it can then become something very difficult to deal with, and can definitely alter the way we perceive and interact with others.

the contributor here, and i wish i could really thank her for that (she unfortunately didn't leave me her contact details for it!), used the word "micro agressions". i'm not sure if there's a better word for it, it feels pretty right though. there's forms of agressions that are really tiny, it can be just the use of one word instead of another that sends a very different message, typically.

recently, i had a hard time with one of my closest friends, who because of being exhausted and emotionally drained by a situation that would be irrelevant to explain here, was talking to me in a way that felt slightly rude. no insults or anything clearly disrespectful, just, the accumulation of those bad micro treatments started to accumulate and made me feel terrible at some point. without this recent interview, i wouldn't have realized this so clearly. and if i had to explain to her why i felt this way, it would have just been vague as i had no real example to give her and maybe she wouldn't have understood what i wanted to express and it would have just sounded like someone who is just upset for no reason. having this realization helped me to see that it was ok to feel bad not only for obvious things, but also for some kind of almost invisible treatment, something easily forgivable if we can justify it for whatever rational reasons, even.

the way you feel is always valid. there's always a why.
it's of course important to see all sides of a situation, to try and understand the person we can be upset at to balance things. to observe our own fears and how they interfere with our feelings, and to consider all of that when starting the dialogue.

talking about dialogue, let's share a tip that someone once taught me: saying "you" when we blame someone for something often makes things worst.
try to see how you can adapt your sentences. instead of saying "you made me feel this when you said that", you could say for instance "when i hear this, it makes me feel this way". see which of these two sentences would make you feel more keen on apologizing, if you were the one being blamed for whatever you said/did. interesting, isn't it?

anyways, a massive "thank you" to this contributor, as well as all the other contributors! listening to you all definitely makes me see new things and makes me a wiser person! :))
#mixedrace #mixed #race #races #white #belong #understand #srilanka #srilankan #scottish #feel #life #understanding #microagressions #smallthings

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