Looking back, Even as far back as nursery, I remember playing Collectively with all the other children. Happily playing together, I had no awareness that I was different. We were all friends. However, Stepping into infant school, I was met With an astonishing factor. I was black!! Although there were many other children of colour in my school, there was a large cultural imbalance. To my horror, there was a daily culture clash. Consistent violence was the norm as children physically attacked each other. Just before my 8th birthday I moved to Birmingham and began junior school there. I wore glasses, and it was a problem for others. From the age of 3, I wore glasses As a result of a condition I have, Called Retinopathy of Prematurity. A condition that means, I was born prematurely, and my retina didn’t develop properly. This was the norm For me prior Junior school in a new location. Whenever my peers And I had a disagreement, they would call me names. I didn’t let it bother me because I just found something odd, out of place or funny about their appearance and called them names also. Soon we were all friends again. I arrived at secondary school in a completely different area to what I knew. Confidently going through lessons and all was well. My friends had a similar talent of rap, As I did. Every day without fail, we would rap, And the other Children would gather around for entertainment. Always up for a challenge, I saw this as an opportunity to compete With us. This daily attracted the whole school. We always won against the boys, this was delightful, especially as in those days rapping was considered a predominately male arena. One particular day, Just before the bell rang for us to resume lessons, We had once again defeated the boys in our lyrical battle. The crowds were Loudly cheering!
I was in year 7 and a very popular girl. Another popular girl in year 11 stood in front of me, facing the crowd and shouted, If I was as ugly as her, I wouldn’t be chatting Lyrics! Immediately the cheers of the school turned into uncontrollable laughter. I stood in amazement as my friends and enemies joined forces. They could hardly stand up as they roared with hysterical laughter. I looked on and remembered thinking, the whole school is laughing; it must be true. I am ugly! I shrunk Into a shell of inferiority and no longer entertained anyone.
After 4 years of feeling ugly, I had a fight at that same school and was left visually impaired. After 3 months off school recovering from surgery, I emerged with contact lenses. WOW, who was this stunning girl? No one liquor ghi!! I was admired by all!! And my confidence quickly returned. I wanted to briefly share some of the stages in my life that highlight the areas in which I was alerted that I was different. I was challenged throughout my childhood, from the colour of my skin to my physical appearance. I am sure many of you have similar stories to tell. Some even more gruesome than mine.
Bearing this in mind, I wanted to write to a younger audience. Aristotle once said “Show me the child until he is 7 and I will show you the man. Isn’t that amazing? By the age of 7 the Characteristics and attributes of a child are already shaped and established for who they will become as adults. I want to affirm children between the ages of 4 & 7 promoting diversity and equality no matter their colour, culture or appearance. They are all unique and beautiful. Self-confidence and acceptance of self are essential in a world that can be harsh & cruel. My desire is for our children to love themselves & be kind to each other. It is great that we are all different. The world would be incredibly dull if we were all the same.