Updated: Oct 7, 2019
I originally wrote this post as an article for Female First Magazine. It's something I feel strongly about and I thought I'd share it with you here.
I was born in Barbados and came to England when I was five with my parents and little sister on a big ship. I don’t remember much about my first impressions of England, but it must have been a shock. It feels like it’s been my home forever now, and I love it here. But I do remember being persecuted at school because of the colour of my skin.
Back then I didn’t understand why other children were being so cruel, but I refused to let the name-calling get to me. I suggested to my sister that we should call each other by those same names and that way they wouldn’t mean anything and couldn’t hurt us. After all, they were just names. Of course, now black people in America call each other “nigga” all the time, and I guess it’s exactly the same thing.
Even though I was very young at the time I remembered thinking: I’m not going to let anyone give me a hard time because of my skin colour. My parents never gave me or my siblings any reason to think that we were worth any less than anybody else, and so we grew up feeling that we were valuable despite being told, non-stop, that we weren’t.
As I grew up, I came to understand that certain people will always fear those who are different from them, whether by race, size, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability. We’ve come a long way in this country since I was a child. We don’t have race riots any more, xenophobia is much rarer, and I don’t feel the same hostility at all. Racism still exists, of course, but it’s so much less prevalent then it was 40 or 50 years ago.
I’m so grateful to all those who helped to get to this stage of acceptance. I’m so humbled by what people like Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and so many others have achieved, and how much they sacrificed along the way.
That’s why it’s so disgusting to see a demagogue like Donald Trump deliberately inciting racism. And not even because he’s a racist himself – I really don’t know if he is or not – but because it’s his way of gaining power and wealth, by manipulating and exploiting millions of scared, uneducated Americans who are comforted by the age-old message of pride through hate.
That’s why we wrote and recorded the new song. It’s only a song, but sometimes music can change things. Maybe it will help reinforce people’s determination to oppose the reactionary, illiberal, greedy demagogues who are gaining audiences worldwide. As we say in the song, All they care about is money. And I don’t think it’s funny any more.