Hannah Robertson, Ella Simpson, and Ella Reid founded The Mixed Message at the start of June to explore the complexities of Black mixed-race identities. The platform was born out of conversations about the journey of growing up as a Black mixed-race person, and the complexities of this experience. Here, the three founders speak to our founder Chloe Laws…
Hi! Tell our readers who you are, and why you started The Mixed Message?
We are three Black mixed-race women based in London, we started The Mixed Message to create space for Black mixed-race people to celebrate the complexities of Black mixed-race identity. It’s a discussion and learning platform aimed to open the conversation about the experiences of Black mixed-race people, but also to amplify the voices of Black people in the continued fight against racism. Our community hopefully offers a safe space for unity and connection among mixed-race people, but also provides resources and thought-provoking discussions for people of all races. For example, we have been really pleased to see that parents with mixed-race children have found our platform informative and insightful.
‘I quite often suffered from what I now know is called “Racial Imposter Syndrome” where I felt almost fraudulent in both Black & white spaces.’
What are some of the complexities you face as Black mixed-race women?
ES: Growing up, my parents never really spoke to me about race, so I think as a child, and even into adulthood, I was never entirely sure of how I was supposed to identify. I quite often suffered from what I now know is called “Racial Imposter Syndrome” (we have a great post about it on our page) where I felt almost fraudulent in both Black & white spaces. I think another challenge we face is finding the balance in acknowledging our privilege and amplifying the voices of Black people, particularly Black women, whilst also speaking on our own truths and experiences. It can feel like you’re overstepping at times.
For those who might not be aware, how would you define colourism?
ER: Colourism is the discrimination or bias towards people with dark skin and the preferential treatment of people from the same race with lighter skin. This cultural phenomenon is a by-product of the slave trade: whereby the light-skinned offspring of slave masters were given preferential treatment over slaves with darker skin. Colourism is not only divisive, the rhetoric has continued throughout history and is reflected in today’s modern-day beauty standards favouring those with light skin and more eurocentric features. This has resulted in the underrepresentation of dark-skinned Black people in the beauty, film, and music industries, and beyond.
What privileges have you faced being mixed-race?
HR: As mentioned before, we benefit from colourism every day. We’re less likely to experience harassment from the police than our dark skin counterparts. Black beauty standards more frequently cater to light skin women like us. White and Black men alike idealise and fetishise mixed race women – and while fetishisation is not a compliment, it often manifests as ardent and public appreciation, which is less widely demonstrated for dark skin women.
…And equally, what fetishisation or discriminations?
ES: I think my biggest pet peeve is the fetishisation of mixed-race babies (once again, check out our page for a post on it). It is so problematic when people say, “I want mixed-race babies”. It dehumanises and completely disregards the complexities of mixed-race identities. Mixed race babies are so much more than their hair type or their eye colour, and people need to recognise that. We’ve had a lot of parents of mixed race children following our page which has been so exciting to see – we really hope we’re helping to make a difference in how these children will eventually see themselves.
What’s next for The Mixed Message?
ES: We want to keep building our community, keep spreading positivity, and keep educating ourselves and others. We really wanted to create a space where people could find each other and at the same time, find themselves – and I really hope we’re doing that. Hopefully one day there won’t be a need for the page anymore, but until then, we’ll just keep at it.
The question we ask everyone: what would you tell your 16-year-old-self if you had the chance?
ES: When I was 16 I actually wrote myself a letter to open when I was 26 (last year) and I look at it often. I’d written out 10 “hopes” about how my life would be so far. I remember at the time thinking they were near impossible, but now I can say I have achieved every single one. So I’d want to tell her that everything will be fine! Better than fine even. And to just trust the process and that there is so much more to life than the places and the people I was experiencing at that time.
ER: That boy ain’t shit hun! Love and celebrate yourself in every way. You cannot control how people act or will receive you, but you do have the power to change your own perspective and how you react in those situations. Your happiness is in your control if you want it to be. Make each moment count. Laughter is your cure! Protect your peace. Don’t take yourself too seriously and you will be a lot happier for it. To the crosses* people all the way at the back… you ain’t shit either! Know you will make it and be successful anyway xoxo
HR: I’d have to tell 16-year-old-me to keep being herself shamelessly. Working hard and studying is cool and it pays off. The boys that don’t fancy you now will be begging by the time you’re 21, trust me. And the cruel girls who make you doubt yourself don’t see you, they don’t deserve your energy. You don’t have to try and be like anyone else to be happy, you are the best version of you. Manifest the future you want and you’ll get it – that job at Vogue House is yours, bish!
*Jamaican Patois meaning: problems, causing trials
Follow The Mixed Message HERE.