Growing up I struggled with my identity.
I was born at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton on 24th October 1998. My mother is Jamaican and Cuban, whilst my father is White British. I was my father’s fourth child but my mother’s first child. Two years later my beautiful brother was born, who was diagnosed with Autism at two years old.
Growing up I struggled with my identity as a Black mixed-race girl who attended an all-white primary school. I never really recognised the significance of being a POC until middle school Year 6, when one of the only other mixed-race students verbally abused me in reference to my colour. I had never heard the N-word used until I moved to Bedford and went to a multi-racial school, it was there I experienced the most racism. Before I started the school, the Deputy Head allocated me to a group of girls she thought would ‘be best suited to me’ purely based on my race rather than my interests. I then had one of my Black friends state ‘you are too black to be friends with the White kids but too white to be friends with the Black kids’. I was utterly confused about who I was. Am I more Black because my skin is brown and that is how people see me first … or am I more white due to the environment I grew up in?
As I mentioned, my brother also had autism. His form of autism presented in being selective mute, seizures, behaviour issues, learning difficulties and other numerous traits. I used to get very upset as a young child as to why my brother never played with me. I think he was about 6/7 years old when he first started acknowledging me. I always knew my brother was special and I protected him from children who bullied him or adults who treated him less than. Since then, I attend most of my brothers educational and social work meetings to ensure that he can access the resources he deserves, getting the best possible educational experience.
Angel Morphew (she/her) – VP Diversity Officer (Wolverhampton Students' Union)
My whole life story is very lengthy, but I feel these are two key parts in my life which led me to being so passionate about being an advocate for change in equality, diversity and inclusion. Being mixed race led me to wanting to gain knowledge on my identity. As an undergraduate I studied Sociology and modules such as Racism, Diversity and Difference, which really enlightened me to thinking different about race as a social construct. Through reading books such as Mixed Other by Natalie Morris and BRIT(ish) by Afua Hirsch, I’ve come to understand and accept the complexity and dual heritage. I want to promote and celebrate mixedness and for The University of Wolverhampton mixed population, I hope to improve their experiences.
As whole I’m passionate about Race, Religion, Disability, Gender/Sex, Sexuality and all the above. I really care for others, their wellbeing and their right to equality and inclusion.
Looking back at my life there were times when I thought I wouldn’t get to this point.
I never thought I would have been in the position of graduating, buying a house or even getting engaged. I had a traumatic childhood which I carried with me every day for many years, like a lingering black cloud. I let it dictate my happiness, motivation to achieve and my true potential. It was not until I started working in various roles such as education, care and the charity sector that I came to overcome my own challenges. When I worked in the Samaritans I listened to people’s life stories, the challenges that they faced and the mental health issues they lived with. Many of the conversations ended with a ‘thank you for listening to me, I feel a little better now’ and that meant everything to me, knowing that I had helped someone in their darkest of times to just keep going. I worked as a care worker during the pandemic supporting young adults with learning difficulties and disabilities. It was incredibly rewarding to be able to assist them in becoming more independent and productive individuals. I currently work as the Diversity Officer at Wolves SU and I get to improve students experiences from various liberation groups and champion inclusivity across the university.
Improving others’ lives regardless of the size of the impact has helped me overcome my own personal challenges and mental health. Being able to make a difference in the lives of many has made me realise my purpose.
What drives me forward?
Wanting to be the best person I could possibly be. I think personal development is really important, you should set a standard for yourself on who you want to become. We are only human, so I know I will have times when I haven’t been the best person or made the best choices, but I hope to learn from that. I want my future children to look up to me as a role model and hopefully others around me. Not only building a professional career to look back on in 50 years with a smile of achievement but building upon my personality and attributes as a person.
I am happy that I get to inspire and encourage other students to be proactive in creating a university space that they feel comfortable to study and truly belong. I love when students approach me with ideas or questions on how we can improve their experience and especially when they want to get involved in the projects/campaigns that I have launched.
What makes me human.
I am emotional. Over the years I have heard from my parents, fiancé, and friends that I am ‘too emotional’ because I cry. I cry when I’m upset, angry, frustrated, happy, tired, overwhelmed … you name the emotion, and I will cry over it. I always thought this was my weakness because I wear my heart on my sleeve. Lately, I’ve begun to embrace it, as the only reason I am emotional is because I truly care.
I’m passionate about the work I do and protective over the relationships I have built throughout my life. I care a lot about people, how my actions or external factors impact their lives and that’s why I’m so driven in my career focus to improve individuals lives both inside and outside of university.
Being human to me is being in touch with my emotions but instead of the emotions consuming me, I channel it into making positive changes.