Maria Uzor: 'I've had people cry to shut down the conversation' – BBC

A musician has told how being asked where she was from was rarely just about "curiosity".
Maria Uzor, who was a singer with post-punk dance duo Sink Ya Teeth, said she been asked the question multiple times.
"When you've experienced racism, it makes you hyper-sensitive to the subtleties of conversations," she said.
Ms Uzor, from Norwich, was speaking after a black British charity boss was repeatedly asked where she was "really" from during a royal reception.
Ngozi Fulani described feeling "interrogated" by Lady Susan Hussey at Buckingham Palace.
The late Queen's lady-in-waiting apologised and resigned after the incident.
Ms Uzor, an artist, singer and keyboard player, said she had faced the question "countless times".
Describing her heritage as half-Nigerian, half-Barbadian, Ms Uzor explained what it was like growing up in a "predominantly white city".
Speaking on BBC Radio Suffolk's Belongings programme, she said she "knew what the person was really getting at" when she was asked the question.
"You can always tell when someone is asking the question out of curiosity, or if they're trying to ask the question out of some sort of power structure, or hierarchy, or to sort of insinuate that you shouldn't be there," she said.
Ms Uzor, who also worked as a teacher, said she was asked the question "a lot" when growing up and while working in schools.
"They brought the conversation up, i.e. what was it like growing up in Norwich? And then you explain some of the instances that you've experienced and they'll go completely on the defensive," she said.
"I've had people cry in order to shut down the conversation and only stop crying when I put aside what I have to say and comforted them.
"It's like the crier is there to turn the focus away from you, to change the conversation, to comfort them. It's not nice."
Ms Uzor, said a genuine interest in her cultural heritage always came across differently.
"You always know it. I think they say communication is 10% language and 90% sort of body language, vibe?" she said.
"So you know when someone is being genuinely curious. You can sense in their tone, the way they might position their eyes in a certain way.
"And I have been asked that question genuinely, and I've responded because you know it's coming from a good place."
What occurred at Buckingham Palace, was a case of someone not willing to accept Ms Fulani as British, said Ms Uzor.
She added, the debate it prompted, highlighted the need for white people in particular, to listen.
"Don't get on the defensive, don't try and gaslight someone," she said.
"Don't say, 'Oh I'm sure they didn't mean that', and things that diminish the experience that the person of colour has been experiencing," she said.
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