Like many people, Laila Woozeer has recently been using the dating app Tinder. One day, she logged on and found this message.
In response, Woozeer, a musician and events director from north London, wrote a blog post entitled "What It's Like Not Being White".
In the post, which Woozeer gave permission for BuzzFeed to share, she listed other comments she “hears all the time”, such as: “When did you come to this country?”
THINGS I HEAR ALL THE TIME:
"So where are you really from?"
"So where are your parents from?"
"You're obviously not English"
"When did you come to this country?"
"Do you feel part of British society then?"
"I just think brown girls are more interesting." – most recently heard from somebody 5 months into a relationship
"So you don't really have a race? What kind of a person are you?"
"Do you still consider yourself a person even though you don't have a country?"
"Well, obviously you don't count because you're brown/ethnic/mixed" etc or "You wouldn't understand because you're brown/ethnic/mixed" etc
"Are you vegetarian for religious reasons?" – a question never asked of my vegetarian white friends when we eat together
"You wouldn't say that if you had a country of your own."
"You're so dark and mysterious, it's like you're a stranger from another land."
"I've always liked exotic girls" – again most recently heard from somebody 6 months into a relationship
"It's like, when you go out with somebody from another country it makes your whole life feel more tropical, you get that tropical holiday feeling. You're basically like going on a holiday."
She also explained her "shock, disgust and disbelief" with being labelled as an "other".
My initial reaction was shock, disgust and disbelief along with a weary resignation...It's not an acceptable line. I'm mixed race. I was born in London. I have a non-Caucasian name. I have brown skin and thick dark brown hair. My name and my colouring, two aspects of myself which I have no control over and were mere circumstances at birth, have far too often become the sole distinguishing features that people latch on to. These features single me out as not being white. Though 13% of the UK and 40.2% of London are not white, being not white still means I am different.
I am reminded daily in the way people talk about me or to me and by the assumptions implicit in conversations. I've long been resigned to how things are, but the anger I feel about this is growing. I am made to feel strange and unusual; I am made to feel "other". I am literally forced to identify myself as "other", because I am "Mixed Other" on the drop down menu of racial backgrounds on HR forms and the national census."