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Parisian drugs.

Last summer, I brought a friend to Paris with me for a séjour comprised of five days, planning to see all the sights we could possibly cram into that short week. (Despite my going back there every five months or so after moving from France to Britain when I was five, I never took the tine to appreciate the hotspots of the city.) If I’m honest, I’ve always preferred the UK to Paris (something about the ethics and culture) but it was completely different when I brought someone else along for the ride, the famous city being placed under the microscope. It became even clearer that Paris isn’t the picture-perfect fairyland you’ve been lead to believe. Turns out the Eiffel Tower is just a heap of metal and the rats that skitter under the métro tracks aren’t as friendly as the ones Disney sketched out. The aroma of beautiful, artisan coffee is soon replaced by the stench of ashy cigarettes, and trust me, the graffiti hurriedly sprawled on any kind of free space quickly becomes a lot less ‘artistic’ and a lot more distasteful. 
On one particularly hot afternoon, after an unpleasantly sticky métro ride, we spilled out onto the streets of paris and only wandered about 200 metres before I saw a sight that has been burned into my brain since. A homeless man was hobbling past us, his sign in one hand and his other weathered hand desperately clutching a syringe. Now the homeless population of France is disgustingly high and shockingly visible in everday life, so (unfortunately) this wasn’t the aspect of this disturbing sight that shook me so much. I was astounded that he was carrying on something so unsustainable, regardless of whatever position you are in, especially in his situation. Acknowledging that this massive issue could possibly have been the cause of this (financial and emotional) mess to begin with, this was one of the first time I fully began to understand the devastating effects of drug use.

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War

But you say there is equality.

When I was little, I wanted to be white.
That’s the colour the sweet, popular girl at school was. That’s the colour the beautiful, breath-taking supermodels on the billboards. And that was the colour all the characters in my favourite tv series were. Which role models looked like me? Beyoncé is now the third woman (behind Naomi Campbell & Halle Berry) to grace the cover of Vogue in the magazine’s 123 years of publication, and people are raving as if this is iconic. That’s not iconic. That’s ridiculous. The third in 123 years. But you say there is equality.
My mother moved from France to England because she didn’t believe she, a young black woman, could get a respectable teaching job where we were. My mum forced me to read English story books, meant for an age much younger than I was yet it was still extremely difficult. She made me read every single day and I hated every minute of it. I see know that she did this so I could speak English perfectly by the time it mattered, by the time people started to assume I was illiterate, uneducated and ignorant from the colour of my skin. And even though my mum spent hours teaching me the English I am able to speak so fluently now, due to her patience and encouragement, you can still tell English is her second language. She asks me how to say certain British expressions to fit in, She asks me to proofread emails for her, out of embarrassment that she feels her English isn’t sufficient enough to be taken seriously, it sickens me that while their mastery of the English language is more than proficient, it doesn’t matter, because the rest of the world doesn’t care. But you say there is equality.

I grew up, watching the world’s understanding of my cultural heritage being reduced to the “black best friend”, being portrayed as domestic help, sassy and thugs. I grew up being asked “but, where are you really from?” as a reply to when I told them I was born in France. I grew up, being told I had to be the servant when I played families with my white friends, when I held in me the fact that when slavery was finally abolished, slaves received no apology and the slave-owners often received a minimum of £50 per slave in compensation. The slave-owners received paid compensation. But you say there is equality.
I live in a country that when a well-known television presenter says the racist n-slur, on air, he keeps his job .I live in the 21st century, where the only understanding I can get about the story behind my heritage comes from my own parents, where the only times I can see people who look like me on screen and aren’t portrayed in a degrading, racially comic, stereotypical way is on YouTube. The caricatures on television teaches us that we are brash, aggressive deficient at English and poor. But you say there is equality.
Who would want to black? In the few instances coloured people made an appearance on my television, they were always the criminals, the delinquents, the poor or had a funny accent everyone could laugh at. Obviously no way someone who wasn’t white could be educated, wealthy or even just a generally good person.

But still, you love your jazz music, your fried chicken. Please, enjoy your holidays to the Caribbean, your corn rows and Morgan Freeman.

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my childhood

So I was just contemplating my life and decided to put it down on paper (screen?), it feels odd writing about something so personal as I’ve never really thought about it before.
My parents were never married and split up soon a few years after my birth (when they were both just 21). Until I was about 3 years old, we all lived in Paris. This was when they realised they didn’t really love each other (even though I’ve asked many times precisely why they broke up, they’ve always both replied “we just realised we weren’t right for each other” or “ask [insert opposite parent].”

After it dawned on them that they didn’t have a romantic future, my mum decided to move to England where she’d always dreamed of living, simply saying that it would be easier for her to become a teacher here, while my dad stayed in France, working at ARVAL (I’ll be honest, to this day I still don’t know exactly what he does).

I don’t remember it very clearly but I know that the situations I was placed in after weren’t ideal. I was told to choose which parent I wanted to live with, the movie cliché which turned out be an easy decision seeing as my young age meant I had little consideration for either of my parents’ emotions. I had to stay with my dad in France while my mum built a home for me in the UK which was both emotionally and financially stable.

I have vague memories of going to nursery in France where I was likened to a frog by a much prettier girl and the French donuts I always got on the way home, always ending up covered in dusty sugar.

After a few months, I emigrated to England with my mum and after co-renting for a while in Brixton, we moved yet again to Greenwich, the area in which I went to primary school and currently live now. 

I think it’s pretty easy to tell that the beginning of my childhood was not founded in stability and seeing as I could not speak any English when I first arrived in Britain, the fact that I was barely able to communicate with most people around me meant I was automatically categorised as “shy”.

In France, I was noisy and confident (for a 4 year old) but here, I had nothing to say, simply because I couldn’t say. 

My primary school definitely wasn’t the best education wise, in fact it could definitely be classed amongst the worst, but it was diverse and accepting and at the beginning that was all that mattered. 

The first few years went fairly quickly when suddenly I began facing some problems. I wouldn’t always agree with people on things and I often voiced my opinion a bit too clearly and I think I must’ve pissed some people off.

I started being kind of left out of things and if I did something wrong, however small, it would be pointed out and ridiculed in the playground. I wasn’t invited to birthday parties or sleepovers yet when it came to my birthday I was reprimanded by the very people who had excluded me. There’s one incident that will forever stick with me:

It was a sunny day so I’d gone into school wearing a white and red dress. I was in the playground alone, doing something mundane like hopscotch or skipping when a group of girls in my year approached me. They had come to confront me about the utterly stupid and harmless fact that my dress had straps. According to them, that wasn’t allowed. Although I was internally questioning their authority, I wasn’t particularly bothered and just said ok and moved on. However, they took it upon themselves to follow me all around the playground repeating themselves over and over until eventually they were all running after me and I consequently burst into tears. 

A teacher finally saw what happened (too little, too late), separated them and brought me up to her classroom. 

After this she established (all on her own, may I add) that I was being bullied. I was surprised. Even though these girls sometimes made me feel bad or sad, I never really saw it as them bullying me, I just kind of thought “oh, I’d rather they not do that.”

I guess I was also surprised because people couldn’t really be bullied in real life, could they? That was the sort of things that happened in the movies, not to real people, not to me.

Even now looking back, I’m hesitant to say they were bullying, I just feel like they were some stupid girls who took their spite and boredom a little too far and unfortunately I was in the way. 

I don’t know if this happened because they simply didn’t like me.

And I don’t know if this happened because the problem was with them.

But all I need to know, is that if that happened now, I would not take their shit. And to be honest, I think that’s all I need.

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some random facts about me

I’m feeling a little low on inspiration today so I’d thought I’d do this.

1. I was born in Saint-Denis, Paris and moved to the UK.

2. I go to boarding school in the middle of nowhere.

3. I’m a vegan (but I often slip up when it comes to sweets)

4. Most of my clothes are from Thrift Stores.

5. I really, really hate Eurodisney/Disneyland.

6. My favourite book is The Ciderhouse Rules, John Irving.

7. My favourite song is Mad World, Gary Jules but that will probably have changed by tomorrow 

 8. I’m going to stop at 8 because that seems like a solid number.

See you later everyonee 🙂

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