Sophia Cooper says she is regularly stopped in the street by strangers who ask why her daughter Flossy is Black – when her two sons, Fin and Maxwell, are white.
Finn, 11, and Maxwell, eight, have inherited their Irish dad’s fair skin and bright eyes, but sister Flossy, four, has inherited her mum’s dark skin and hair.
Mum Sophia, who lives in Redditch, Worcestershire, says that she and husband Chris, 42, a recruitment manager have always noticed a difference in the way their daughter is treated compared to her sons.
They’ve also decided to speak out about the racism Flossy faces – including being called ‘chocolate face’ at preschool.
Sophia, a women’s health charity director, said: ‘Flossy was told she has a “chocolate face” by another child, and she was really upset about it- the boys never had to deal with that.
‘From the moment she was born we noticed the difference in the way people approach her, in the way they perceive her.
‘As a woman of colour it seems difficult to openly speak about race without making it seem you have a chip on your shoulder.’
Sophia worries that despite Flossy having the same set of parents, the same lifestyle and upbringing, she may not have the same opportunities as her sons.
She said: ‘She was born with a “tan” and when we brought her home and introduced her to our family, people would just say “isn’t it funny that she is Black and the boys aren’t ?”.
‘People find it really hard, asking questions like “why is she Black?”- I’d say “because I am Black”.’
Sophia has also received comments about whether she is the biological mum of her sons who have a different complexion to her.
Finn and Maxwell did once enquire why their sister looks different to them but have not mentioned it since.
Flossy is oblivious to the comments for the most part but it really grates on mum Sophia.
She adds: ‘It’s the little things like at school discos, people would ask me “is she twerking?” – I‘d say “no, she’s four, she’s just shaking her bum”, that’s what four years olds do.
‘She is oblivious at the moment but she was upset about the chocolate face thing.’
And while she has experienced discrimination herself, Sophia wants to raise her daughter to have her own voice and be confident about who she is.
‘I was told by a man on the bus that if it weren’t for him people like me wouldn’t be allowed into the country.’ she said.
‘Three years ago I went to exchange a toy for my kids, it was raining, I was wearing a tracksuit and I had my hood up.
‘I bought £150 worth of things and exchanged a toy of £7.
‘Somehow I ended up sitting in a small room, accused of shoplifting – they believed the toy I wanted to exchange, I had stolen off the shelf.
‘I had to call the police because they didn’t let me leave – I even offered to pay and they still wanted me to admit that I stole it.’
Sophia thinks there’s a long way to go to achieve equality.
She said: ‘Ever since I became a mum I noticed there is so much more that needs to be done. Saying “we are all the same” is not really enough anymore because that is not changing things.
‘I am concerned every day Flossy won’t get the same opportunities as the boys.
‘Either it’s the boys getting higher salaries, or Flossy not getting interviews for jobs because companies checked on her social media and saw she’s Black.
‘Flossy is not going to be able to make a change on her own – it takes all of us.’
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