“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there…”

Growing up in Crawley in the 1970s I knew only two people that were a different colour from me, and they were brother and sister. My primary school was therefore almost 100% white. Indeed it was so white, on one fateful day in 1976 I found myself being held down in the girls’ changing rooms and having my skin scrubbed with paper towels, until it bled.

My “friends” simply did not believe that my skin colour was quite right, or should I say white? Now I know that my skin colour is due to the fact that my liver doesn’t work properly, resulting in a yellow cast(e), rather like jaundice. But in the seventies it was still clearly the wrong shade to be.

Now, all these years later, Crawley has changed beyond recognition. Over the years I have worked in schools that are both racially and ethnically diverse, but also diverse in so many other ways too…

And it’s not just Crawley that has changed, my family has changed too. I now have a West Indian aunt, one sister-in-law whose family originally came from Pakistan, and another sister-in-law whose family came from India. Big changes indeed!

L.G. Crawley resident since 1967

Person in purple coat and leggings and grey knitted hat, standing in front of a street painting of a person in coat and trousers holding a stick.
LG. Resident of Crawley since 1967 and local artwork by Rilla

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