The Thin Ice Between Colour and Expectation
by April Roach, THE NETHERLANDS
I thought little of race growing up in a very culturally diverse area in South-East London. It was only when I moved to the Netherlands at the age of eight that I began to realise my skin colour meant that I often stood out. My sisters and I enjoyed teasing the Dutch, who would boldly demand where we came from and would keep pursuing the question when we answered that we and our parents were born in England. For many of the children who pointed and whispered at us, we were the first black people they were seeing. I’ll never forget the shock of when someone from the audience of one of our ice-skating shows came to congratulate my sister and I on our performance, specifically because he was amazed at how we were the only black girls on the ice. At first we were dismayed, wanting to be congratulated on our performance and not our skin colour. But now when I look back on the experience I remember the admiration in the man’s eyes. He saw how we stood out from the rest and yet he was impressed with how we skated in spite of that difference.