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Akala: ‘As I grew up, I became embarrassed by my mother’s whiteness’ | The Guardian

Akala: ‘As I grew up, I became embarrassed by my mother’s whiteness’ | The Guardian At five, the hip-hop poet was racially abused at school. Could his mother ever really understand?

Race, Race Relations, Akala, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN, KINDR'D Magazine, KINDR'D



One day in 1988, at the age of five, I returned home from school upset. My mum tried to work out why but I was reluctant to tell her. After some coaxing, I told her that a boy in the playground had called me a particularly nasty name. As I was about to spill the beans, a strange thing occurred. I said, “Mum, the white boy… ” and trailed off before I could complete the sentence. A profound realisation hit me. With a hint of terror and accusation, I said, “But you’re white, aren’t you, Mummy?”

Race, Race Relations, Akala, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN, KINDR'D Magazine, KINDR'D

Before this, my mum was just my mum, a flawless superhero, as any loving parent is in a five-year-old’s eyes. I sensed that something about that image was changing in the moment, something we could never take back. I wanted to un-ask the question. My mother’s expression was halfway between shock and resignation: she’d known this day would come, but the directness of the question still took her aback.


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