Monthly Archives

March 2017

Lifestyle,

A Sixty Second Poem

Understand….

For years and years I didn’t understand why it was this way
What was God’s plan
Confused to know who I was

What was my purpose, why am I here
Unable to understand the unsettled journey and having no fear

Others didn’t understand
How could they when neither could I,
Lost in a world with so many questions, Oh Lord why?

Years of searching, looking, wanting
Never understanding, why me?
Why did you give this journey to me?

Why is it that everyone seems so settled and supported
Why is it that each direction I turn there’s glass I tread
Why can’t it be someone else life instead

I see
I see why God gave this journey to me
To reach those who need to understand,
Who need to accept God’s plan
To be your unique self
To love and trust thyself
To understand one’s self
To be your self

I accept what you gave me
It’s taken some time
I believe it’s what made me
Your plan is for me to use it and shine

Lessons learned, blessings given
The girl has turned, a women has risen

Now please understand
It’s not for sympathy I speak out
It’s not to raise myself or scream and shout
It’s to show strength and confidence
An insight to what I’m about
It’s for you and me to look deep and start figuring things out

Written by Emma Louise Ink…

Lifestyle,

Mixed Race Me

What am I?

I asked the question in my previous blog (where do I belong?) Who am I? – What if I asked – What am I? Doesn’t sound nice does it? This question has been posed to me so many times…… the life of a mixed race girl!

People of mixed ethnicity experience living with being mixed race differently to those who are born into one race. For some it’s never been an issue but let’s be honest they are far and few between. I have not yet come across anyone who is of mixed ethnicity who has not had to challenge someone’s opinion/views or had to listen to people debating about which ethnicity you look like the most. To be honest in my experience the default of someone who is of mixed race is that they are Black. Why is this? Is it because the colour Black is more prominent than the colour White? Is it because the colour of your skin determines where you belong?  Whether or not you feel akin to one side of your culture more than the other people will always put you in a ‘box’.

 

Family Fixtures

‘Oh look your dad is on TV again” – my Nanna (Great Grandmother) would say as the PG tips advert came on (for those who are not familiar, this commercial advertised tea bags which featured monkeys). ‘Wow’ I hear you sigh. My Nanna was ignorant to the fact that this was such a demoralising/racist statement. She was brought up in a ‘White World’.  A world where Black people would be known as the lower class. I think one of the first Black people she personally came across was my father. Yes this was very upsetting and unsettling. A young girl whose father was a born Jamaican. He stood tall, although he was only 5’5. His personality was strong and he was very proud of his multi-racial family. He would challenge anyone who had an issue with his ethnicity – our ethnicity. So how did he manage my Nanna – he avoided her. It wasn’t worth the family battle of the ‘which race is right’.

As time went on, in my teenage years, I started to see small changes, I started to see the ‘White World’ evolve and become a little more educated. My father was having longer conversations with the ‘White’ bread van man and statements about how ‘fluffy’ my hair was wasn’t as regular (my hair used to be frizzy and curly). I even remember sitting in the front with my Nanna as she drove my brothers and I back home. She was listening to the news on the radio when all of a sudden she said “Oh Trevor McDonald is such an intelligent and handsome man”. Erm Nanna, you do know he is Black right? Seems she evolved too…..the life of a mixed race girl!

 

Too White to be Black – Too Black to be White

My identity has always and will most probably always be questioned. I am very proud of my ethnicity and stand strong with it although, I am perceived in so many different ways. As you can see I am rather fair skinned. My hair is soft and I have European features therefore, very rarely people guess that I am Mixed Race Caribbean. Now I don’t see this as an issue however others do.  One day I was ordering food at a Caribbean food store & I asked “what type of peas did you cook with the rice?” The lady’s response was “what do you know about rice and peas?”. This was troubling for me, especially for a women who has been brought up with the Jamaican culture. Caribbean food is all I knew for a long time but again – was I just too white?

Similarly I was working in an office a number of years ago where every time a Black student, yes I said Black, did something wrong the staff were reluctant to discuss it in front of me. This was after they established I was mixed Black Caribbean. They would use code talk, as if they were unsure how to discuss any students who were of colour in front of me. I also remember that every time a Black, yes I said Black again, student asked for support they would ask me to deal with it, as if they felt I would be able to relate easier. Was I paranoid? Maybe I was just too Black?

 

It’s ok to be an outcast as long as you stay true to yourself!

This world now is so multi-racial. ‘Mixed raceis actually the fastest-growing ethnic minority in the country. What we need to do is Accept, Adapt and Absorb change and difference.  I am the future face of this country. We are the future faces of this country. So to those amongst us who are still struggling to understand that using the word ‘Half Cast’ is not appropriate. To those who are afraid to use the word ‘Black’ and to those who struggle with what ‘box’ to put you in – ask questions. Talk. Discuss. Don’t be afraid to want to understand and be educated. If you are unsure of someone’s identity its ok – I don’t always get it right. Black is Beautiful, White is Beautiful, Being Mixed Race is Beautiful.  It is our responsibility to challenge what we don’t accept and promote what we do. If we don’t, ignorance will always be amongst us……the life of a mixed race girl! x

It doesn’t matter if your black or white’ Michael Jackson once said

 

Love your Identity

Embrace your Identity

Embrace others Identity

Don’t allow others to give you your identity

Lifestyle,

Being a Single Parent?

Do you identify yourself with being a single parent?

What is a Single Parent?

Does it matter?

I have supported so many single parents with living independently, helping them to make informed decisions about their lifestyles choices. Some it has been clear that they are a single parent. One was a father to a 2 year old where the mother was not in his daughter’s life. Another was a mother of three who was separated from the father however, the father was still very much active in the children’s life. Now, I would say that these two scenarios are different. I identify a single parent to be a parent who is bringing up their children alone without the other parent. However, what if the biological parent is not active in the child/rens life but a step parent is? Are you a single parent then?

Definition – A single parent is an uncoupled individual who shoulders most or all of the day-to-day responsibilities for raising a child or children.

I have two children. My second is to my current partner who I live with so I would say that I am NOT a single parent. My partner does for my first son as he would do for my second like attending the barbers or taking him to his weekly sports activities. So why do (sometimes) I feel like a single parent when managing my first son’s needs. Bizarre right? Let me explain. I always feel a sense of guilt – I feel that it is not my partners responsibility so I don’t allow certain things to be shared e.g. funding for clothes, school trips, sports events, and holidays. In my mind ‘he is MY son so ‘My responsibility’. The truth is I think this is my own personal guilt of feeling like I have burdened him with another child. I feel like his life would be so much more straight forward if he only had to manage his biological son. This guilt forces me to take the lead  when talking about my first son as I feel like a single parent even though in reality I’m not. This is an internal feeling that I need to manage because I of all people know that there are many single parents out there who really struggle and would feel unsettled with my reasoning.

Does it matter?

Does the label of being a ‘Single Parent’ matter? I asked 10 single parents how they felt with the label ‘Single Parent’. Four out of the Ten have children to more than one partner.

100% of the single parents I spoke with said that although they accept their situation of lone parenting – they do not like the terminology ‘single parent’. When asked why their responses were –

  • ‘It sounds negative’ – why and to who?
  • ‘It makes me feel ‘humiliated’– For what reason? You’re doing a good job right?
  • ‘I feel like I am letting my children down’ – really why? Because you are doing a good job raising your children by yourself?

I went away and thought about the conversations we had.

I believe that a big influence is society today. It makes people feel this way. Two point Four children is the expectation right? Oh and a dog and cat! And then there’s the thought of a ‘blended family’ – a household with more than one last name – now that is also something that people frown upon. You shouldn’t feel like you have to stay with someone because you have had a child with them. You don’t become a ‘doubled’ single parent if you have children to more than one partner right?

Finding your happiness brings household happiness”

I wonder if the parents I spoke with feel like they are not living to today’s expectation and that they were letting everyone down – everyone being anyone they come into contact with. The secretary at the doctor’s surgery who asks for the family name, ‘erm….. Jones, Simpson and Cummings’ ) The teacher who looks down at you because you have attended parents evening alone–  I mean you’re not capable of digesting all the information about your child by yourself are you?

The pressures this can have on people is one we don’t realise; Our Mental Health being one of them. We don’t always see deteriorating Mental Health creeping into our lives and we don’t always realise that stress, of different levels, is one main trigger. The burden of feeling like you’re a disappointment can alone be a trigger. How confident are you with discussing how you really feel? Most single parents I have spoken to have said ‘I can manage’, ‘I am fine’ and some have said ‘I want to share the daily activities with a significant other’, ‘I want to go for Sunday walks in the village and share the responsibility of making a bottle’. Whatever it is you do, think or feel as single parent the most important thing to remember is that it’s OK. You don’t have to feel like you have let anyone down. Don’t let the fickle minds of society control your thoughts. Do what is right for you – if you feel like you want to find someone, it will happen, you will. If you don’t want to find someone, then that is totally fine too.

I would love to hear your views and if you have any specific areas on this subject you would like me to talk about.

Here are some Statistics I have sourced from www.gingerbread.org.uk

  • There are around two million single parents in the UK
  • The average age of a single parent is 38 years old
  • Less than 2% of single parents are teenagers (aged 16-19)
  • The majority of single parents don’t receive Child Maintenance payments
  • The proportion of single parents who are fathers is around 10%
  • 5% of single parents are in work
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