Hi, I am Leon. I live a few miles north of Bridport. Ethnically I am mixed race – my father is from Trinidad and my mother is from Kent. I was born in Shoreham in West Sussex and brought up just outside Chichester in the same county. I have also lived in LA, California and Dallas, Texas during my childhood.
I’ve experienced racism from both people darker than me, and white aggressive racism in the States, as well as moderate, off-hand ‘everyday’ racism from so-called friends and school mates in Sussex. But only colloquial ignorance in Dorset. Nothing overt, I’m just treated as if I am something unusual. I think because I work in the local hospital, and have done for 20 years, I’ve been quite visible to the locals in a professional setting and have met a lot of locals. Maybe things would be harder if I had a less public job.
It is hard to call Dorset home; it’s not that I’m not accepted, but more that I’m seen as an oddity and kept at arm’s length. This is done in a friendly manner, but it’s arm’s length all the same. All my friends are not from Dorset although they live here.
Emotionally it has been quite hard because I’m an outgoing, friendly, confident person and I’ve struggled to find like minded souls to have as friends. But I don’t put this down to racism, more a lack of worldly experience as a general rule here. It is rare to find someone from West Dorset that has travelled much and experienced different mindsets and cultures.
It’s hard to say what the main differences are for POC in rural and urban locations as that is totally up to the different people who inhabit these areas, and each area is different. I’ve lived in rural areas where people have a wider world view but that didn’t necessarily make them tolerant.