Alfred Enoch Writes Letter to His Younger Self on Racism and Being Multiracial
Earlier this week, Metro.co.uk published a letter that actor Alfred Enoch (Dean Thomas) wrote to his younger self as part of Black History Month, which is celebrated during the month of October in the UK. In his letter, Alfred focuses on his own experiences with race and racism.
Having grown up in Britain with a black Brazilian mother and a white English father, Alfred discusses how his experiences as a child contrasted with his experiences as an actor working in the United States.
You’re going to get a job in America. It will change your career. It will change you. More specifically, it will change the way you see yourself. For what I think will be the first time in your life, you will not just be aware, but conscious of your ethnicity. You will become conscious of how that affects the way you are perceived, the way you are treated, and of a wider narrative of which you are a part.
He also discusses his own privilege and elaborates on the struggles his mother faced, which have shaped his own perspective.
She grew up under a military dictatorship in a Brazil that was even more unequal than the one you know today. She was one of the few black students at her university, the only one in her year at the medical school. She funded her degree by working as a teacher at a school far outside of Rio while studying at the same time.
Meanwhile, Alfred says that he became most aware of his ethnicity after moving from Britain to America.
You will begin to ask, for the first time, what it is to be black in a predominantly white society. You will be challenged by people dear to you, emboldened by people more desperate than you, and welcomed by people unknown to you. You will begin to see the wood as well as the trees.
In one line, Alfred summarizes his own privilege.
My understanding of the workings of society was from the blinkered perspective of one who had not felt its iniquities.
However we identify ourselves, Alfred’s letter issues an important reminder: We are, in large part, limited by our own experiences with racial injustice. In fact, it is at the conclusion of his letter that Alfred states, “All I ask of you is that you open your eyes.”