The Start of Our Journey...
2020 was a year that will go down in history! One that will never be forgotten!
Me pre-2020: I knew all the ‘ism’s’ still existed. I’m not all-knowing but not totally ignorant either. But for me I felt lucky, I felt the people around me were lucky too! We are a family and have a circle of friends of mixed cultures and heritages who love each other. We had never had to raise the point of any ‘isms’, especially racism!
To introduce us:
Jon is Bajan/Guyanese and I am White/Irish. Evie and Isla are a beautiful mix of us both. This is the beginning… Jon and I had an instant connection, spark, electricity, whatever you want to call it. We had similar views, goals and ambitions, we were and are pretty much on the same page. We decided to have a child. Evie. And then Isla came as a beautiful surprise. Jon also has a daughter from a previous relationship, Ruby.
Our main thoughts on raising the girls were to teach them to always be kind, well-mannered, happy, have a great work ethic, love who they are, to always find a solution, and to be positive and proactive. For me, this is the aim for our future generations. Never taking away from their heritage and the part that plays in their identity. These characteristics are the overriding factors of how they are perceived by the world and not by the colour of their skin.
I had never really thought about how society would treat them, being female and of dual heritage. I just always thought because of the love of our family and friends, how multicultural we all are and how multi-cultural London is. I ignorantly didn’t think they would be looked upon in any negative way!
My Dad would always say: ‘Danielle, you look at life through rose-tinted glasses,’ and I do! Is that a negative? I’m not sure. I never thought so but, on the flip side, it can be seen to be quite naive and ignorant.
Lockdown: For us, we spent quality time together as a family, it was lovely. It was also quite stressful but ultimately, we were lucky, and are lucky! The weather was amazing and we are very fortunate to have a garden.
George Floyd was murdered and the news was everywhere - it shocked the world. And although movements and protests and the push for change was nothing new - this time the world had had enough. Stop racism, stop the brutality, we want equality! We all started to have conversations within our family and our family friends, and from this, I began to realise that our family and friends’ views and perspectives were all different. Of course they are but where I thought we all felt the same and had the same outlook regarding race - we did not! This is understandable. We all have different life experiences and as I have said already, our unit is our norm, we never had to raise the point of any ‘isms’, especially racism.
During these conversations, I couldn’t empathise as I am privileged but I listened and understood. I also spoke to some of our friends who are of dual heritage. Some of them felt that they didn’t have ‘a place’ in society. They leant to one side of the family more and it made me feel sad. I felt sad as Evie and Isla’s mother. I would never want them to feel that they did not have a place in the world or that they could not relate to our multi-cultural blended family. I don’t ever want Evie and Isla to feel disconnected from me in any sort of way. These are obviously my feelings and fears but these feelings hurt.
It was such an emotional time for many communities and I felt sad for Jon and for Evie and Isla and the world we had brought them into. Jon and I began to have conversations that we had never had before. He had views and feelings that I had not known because we had never discussed it.
Evie and Isla are so young, beautiful and innocent but as they get older, it’s up to us to ensure that they are educated and not just school educated but in life. It’s up to us as their parents to give them the right tools to grow to be well-balanced adults who are going to get what they want out of life regardless of any resistance.
We are very family-orientated and we ensure that the girls see all of our family and friends as much as possible. I’m very lucky that my girls are loved and surrounded by such amazing people. These beautiful people help shape Evie and Isla every day!
I didn’t realise that an idea started to form around the end of August 2020! What if I wrote books that taught not only Evie and Isla, but other children about the different heritages and cultures of our beautifully blended family and of the world? Then I just started to write. There is a major lack of diverse books and so many self-publishers are writing diverse books that need to be on bookshelves, in libraries, schools, and in nurseries.
In order to create true equality and diversity, all races and cultures need to be represented, not only through peers and people in their communities but in the books, they read, the toys they play with, and who they get to see as role models or in the media. This generation of children can make a real difference in the role racism plays in the future and the more they experience equality through diversity, the stronger this change can be. The lead characters, Evie and Isla, will be familiar and relatable to other children reading it who are of dual heritage. It is also a great opportunity for children of other cultures to experience diversity. It educates children on another part of the world - taking it from the unknown to a celebration of an exciting, beautiful country. I want Evie and Isla to always be proud of who they are and the amazing family they are part of. We want equality in every aspect of the word, and we are proud to make a small contribution to help move towards this.