Shaunagh Brown says she does not feel like she fits in anywhere and it “boils her blood” when people say they do not see colour.
The Harlequins prop, who turned to rugby after carving a successful career in athletics, says being mixed race is part of her identity, and the people who say they cannot see colour are not fully seeing her for who she is.
The result is she does not feel like she can truly be herself anywhere but at home with her family.
“If you ask me, do I feel like I fit in? The short answer would be ‘no’. I don’t feel like I fit in; there’s a lot of places in life I don’t feel like I fit in,” the England international said.
“The only place I feel comfortable to be entirely myself is at home. That’s everything from how I dress, how I speak, the music I listen to, what TV programmes I watch. All things like that.
“My house is the place I can feel completely myself. Which is a shame.
“I go to rugby, I’m the only person that’s a different colour, and then I’m the only person that wants to listen to bashment. I’m the only person that wants to listen to hip hop, or whatever it is. I do feel different.
“I’ll go to old friends from living in London, and they’re maybe not doing so well and the way I speak I’m the posh child. I’m definitely not posh.
“But then I’ll go to rugby games and I’m the ghetto person, and I’m definitely not ghetto. Even when people sort of impersonate and go ‘innit bruv’ – I don’t talk like that.”
Brown says the differences between people should be acknowledged and celebrated, rather than treating individuals like ‘sheets of blank paper’.
“People say ‘I don’t see colour’, which boils my blood; ‘I don’t see you as black or white’. What you see me as is irrelevant, it’s what I see myself as,” the 30-year-old said.
“I’m telling you part of my identity is being mixed race, is having afro hair. If you’re saying you don’t see colour, for me you don’t see me as part of my identity. You’re just seeing me as a sheet of blank paper.
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