How would you describe yourself?
James: When describing my background, I often mention that my four grandparents were from four countries– Trinidad, Grenada, UK and Venezuela. Mixed is a powerful enough word for me. Trinidad is a very mixed and mixed-up place where national identity is tied to inclusive cultural celebrations and identifications.

What are the most apparent differences between your home country’s issues and the issues of race/racism here in the states?
James: Theses have been written on this.

At its core the difference between growing up in a predominately brown population versus a predominately white population is that growing up, your heroes and leaders were all brown. In fact they were browner than me! That’s what I aspired to be. They held the influence, they were the Nobel  prize winners and the Premier League footballers. In America things are a bit different, and the hometown hero, Governor, may be from a race that has historically persecuted yours. That’s tough.

 “At its core the difference between growing up in a predominately brown population versus a predominately white population is that growing up, your heroes and leaders were all brown. In fact they were browner than me! That’s what I aspired to be. They held the influence, they were the Nobel prize winners and the Premier League footballers.”

 

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Name: James

Race:
Mixed (White, Black, Asian)

Ethnicity: Trinidadian

Birth Decade: 1980s

“When describing my background, I often mention that my four grandparents were from four countries– Trinidad, Grenada, UK and Venezuela. Mixed is a powerful enough word for me.”

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How would you define racism?
James: Words, actions and ideology that implies inequality of races or disadvantages one race over another in any way.

Does race matter?
James: It does because it impacts what people can achieve in life when not treated fairly.

When did you first realize that your race mattered?
James: I wasn’t really aware until university and leaving Trinidad into a hyper-racial environment in Texas. “What are you?” was a brand new question for me.

In your educational experiences, did you learn anything about race? If so, what did you learn? What resonated with you?
James: I was taught that “we were all one people” in school in Trinidad. Which is probably what the founding fathers wanted to impart to build social cohesion but might not have been the complete answer.

now

How regularly/often do you engage in conversations about race?
James: In person– probably a couple times a week but online and via social media I feel we speak about it more as folks share articles, photos etc.

What frustrates you the most about racism and/or racists?
James: Frustrates me when I see an educated person being racist. Hard to understand.

Is there anything you’re curious about regarding someone else’s race?
James: No. I feel free to ask and have friends of a range of races.

Does everyone in your immediate family feel the same way about race? If not, why don’t you think so?
James:
Nope! My parents are from a less careful generation. PC is not a phrase.

To what extent do you discuss issues of race the same way they were discussed when you were growing up?
James: Very different for my daughter (who has a Black mom). We have story booking at home about Black Women who have done great things in History etc.

If you’ve ever been treated differently because of your race/culture, can you describe any/all relevant situations?
James: I sing calypso and many times have been judged for not being “black enough” — which really means dark enough, not culturally. One band leader was shocked when I won my first competition and even used a historical slur. Another famous UK soca DJ, who is a big fan, admitted at first he was very skeptical.

“I sing calypso and many times have been judged for not being ‘black enough’ — which really means dark enough, not culturally. One band leader was shocked when I won my first competition and even used a historical slur.”

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