In many of my interviews, a number of guests will discuss the turning points during their lives when they evaluated what they were taught about their Black identities as young people. For example, Jessy Bernard highlighted the stereotypes she confronted about growing up Haitian-American in the U.S. Dr. Nafeesah Allen recalled pushing back on the subtle messaging as a high school student that the Black American story wasn’t as valuable as the Black immigrant one. JK Hobson unpacked the clear colorism prejudices while visiting his grandmother in Puerto Rico.
What’s compelling about each of these stories (and many more), is how much those perspectives would impact their future work. Motsabi Rooper’s story is similar.
Motsabi (she/her) is a race, identity and belonging expert. She is passionate about supporting parents to build belonging, healthy racial identity and strong self esteem in children of ‘mixed’ and ‘black’ heritage, living in predominantly white spaces and contexts. Motsabi is the child of a former Black South African activist and a White British journalist. Much of our conversation is underscored by the lessons she received overt and covertly about race and identity while growing up mixed race in Britain.
In this episode, Motsabi discusses growing up mixed-race in a predominantly White family in the UK. She also shares her journey of working in the foreign service and her eventual decision to leave. She also highlights why she is centering her work on supporting parents raising children of color in mixed families or those who have gone through transracial adoption.
EPISODE CONTENT | HIGHLIGHTS:
The impact of not speaking her father’s mother tongue and a legacy of apartheid. [7:32]
How Megan Markle’s experiences spark a broader conversation around mixed raced identities in the UK [14:51]
The chance meeting that led to working in the European Union Foreign Service [26:31]
Navigating being the “only” in spaces while working in the foreign service [29:52]
Why illness led to a significant career shift. [40:50]
What drives her to build support resources for mixed race families [48:59]