a passport with many visa stamps on it

Living Between the Lines

Identity: I think I struggle with the meaning of this word even now. What makes up my identity? Is my identity defined by where I was born? Where I grew up? Or by the country listed on my passport. As a cross-culture person, these questions consumed me growing up. When the question of identity comes up for me, my experiences as a black queer multi-cultural woman are the first to pop into my mind. All my experiences have defined me and made me who I am. My cultures have grounded me and formed the foundation for who I am but it wasn’t an easy journey to acceptance. I grew up in Stirling, Scotland until I was 10 years old. I was too young to understand what micro aggressions were, but when I think back to experiences in my childhood I understand them now. I went to school in a small town called Bridge of Allan and I remember being one of the few minorities in my entire school. Put it this way, in school photos you’d never miss me, I stuck out. As a young child, I had to shift through all the racial prejudices and comments that were thrown at me, including the ones that told me, I was not the right colour to be Scottish.

I moved to Jamaica when I was 11 years old. This time, it “wasnae mae colour, it was mae accent.” This was one of the hardest adjustments I ever made. I was a Scottish kid, and I knew that culture and only that culture. One of the hardest parts of moving is adjusting to new friends, new school and new surroundings. Did I mention Jamaica and Scotland have complete opposite climates?

It was very hard for me to fit in in Jamaica. When I left Scotland, it was cool amongst my age group to use the word “funky”, and when I arrived in Jamaica, I just assumed it would be the same there. Needless to say, I used it during class and quickly became the laughing stock of the class. I never quite fit in but I loved Jamaican culture but it was only from moving to Canada that I really began to identify with my Jamaican culture. Thinking back now, Jamaica helped me to find myself as a black woman considering that in Scotland, there was a lack of representation of people of colour. I never saw myself in advertisement or books or even dolls. Jamaica gave me that representation and self-love. I now identify as a Jamaican-Scottish person, why? Because that is who I am. These countries have defined me and still do. To say that I am more one than the other is incorrect. I am two equal halves of a whole. The Jamaican motto, “Out of many, one people” resonates with me. I am one person with a diverse cultural background.

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