Michelle Leicester

Story Number:Story-52

I think that my own childhood experience and being in a mixed-race family and living in a very kind of white area, we… we really… we did experience a lot of abuse and discrimination as a family growing up. And sometimes people treated us as though we were a bit exotic and so you know we were treated in that way, umm but more of the time we were you know actually a bit unpleasant, and so… and I remember just feeling you know painfully affected as a child cos I just thought… I don’t… I don’t get it… I don’t fit… I know who we are, I know how much love there is in this family, I think my mum and dad are great, why does nobody… why do other people just think we’re really weird and why don’t we just fit in? Umm and so that process of not fitting in, and I think it very quickly made me gravitate towards other people who I could see were also being discriminated and for… for whatever reason, so I think I always had that… like a heightened sensitivity to it. My… my mum was always kind of… had quite liberal-ish view points. Um my mum and dad were kind of sort of hippies in the sixties and so they were all a bit kind of free and open. But my… but my… but neither of them I would say were kind of activists in any way. Um I think my mum is actually more an activist now than she ever was, she sort of you know, does her bit to support the labour party. So left wing political views I think were always part of the household conversation and so we came at things from that point of view. But I was… when I was thinking about this question before, I realised how much my… my shaping of the world was influenced by the music that I grew up listening to, cos mum and dad were really into Bob Dylan and Joan Baez and so those American kind of folk singers… and so a lot of the music I was listening to was a kind of… was protest music. And because they were stories and I’d just… and I’d ask questions… well who was this particular chap…? That stuff… those songs I was listening to… those sort of old… those stories of injustice and discrimination that were happening on racial and class lines – that really sort of prompted something in me. So I think yeah… from about yeah… 11 years old, that awareness of racial discrimination became really really stark.

Recorded: by Jayde Stevenson