I have wanted to talk more about racism but I didn’t even know where to start. I’m going to just share a few thoughts based on my experience.
The period when I got privately fostered in Bournemouth, with my first carers, was by far the most racist period of my life. Yet somewhat confusing because these carers used to get money from my mum, smile in my mum’s face, yet behind closed doors call me all the racist names you can think of. Especially when they were arguing between themselves as a couple. Not that I had anything to do with their conversation, their racist name-calling was more of an outburst of frustration, simply because I happened to be there when they were having their own problems.
I illustrate this on my first music project and I even did a skit that shows one of many of those moments.
Speaking with my mum recently I was surprised to realise she was unaware of all of this.
But also the seven year old me was scared of my mum, she embodied the notion of African discipline, which was starkly different from my new found freedom in Bournemouth playing outside regardless of home life.
Luckily though, there were social workers who were more attentive to my wellbeing. I got moved to another family and have white foster parents I call family to this day because of the love and support they showed me regardless of colour.
There have been other situations in my teenage years where I experienced ‘obvious’ racism outside of home and rage was typically my way of handling it. But talking to my carers and even the police made me focus my energy in a better direction I was in control of.
In my adult and professional life, honestly I haven’t experienced racism as overtly as during my childhood which is partly why I held back on speaking about my experiences as I did not want to feel insensitive to the anger of other black people around the world. And I know my experience and voice is equally as valid. But I can feel the tension and needed to take some time to think, process what’s happening, and articulate myself in a way that’s honest to my experience.
I hope people will take the time to educate themselves about the nuances and micro-aggressions of racism that are pervasive in our society, many of which they may not be aware of. Institutions should take a hard and humble look at their policies to make sure that equity is at their centre. Sadiq Khan committing to review – and taking down statues that represent slavery – is a right move to show Britain and the world that the UK is committed to being a country that is turning a page in history.
It’s important for me to speak up because what happened in my childhood is not right. And what happens to black people all over the world every day is not right. The more we use our voice to open up dialogue about our unique experiences, the more we will give other people the strength to talk about their experiences and stop white people who are ignoring our experiences from blocking change. This will make for a richer understanding for all of us to move forward progressively towards a society where everyone regardless of their skin colour has access to the same opportunities.
About the Author:
Ric Flo is an Artist, Motion Graphic Designer, Rap Workshop Facilitator and Foster Care Advocate. He uses the art of rap and his experience in foster care to encourage positivity in young people through creative workshops whilst developing his own music with the Hip-hop Collective Jungle Brown. Ric is a member of our Being the Story Spokesperson Network.
Watch Ric Flo’s Being the Story performance and talk on ‘Creativity For Change‘
Read Ric’s Blog: Thoughts on Farming, Foster Care & Belonging