Teenage Kicks: Growing up as a Biracial Girl with Michelle Perry


“How it felt growing up biracial in a white family”

I got goosebumps listening back to the clips in the introduction for this podcast – Michelle has such a fantastic outlook on life – I promise this one is a must listen!

Michelle Perry’s father was black, but he left the family home when she was 3, and she grew up in her mother’s white Jewish community. As a child she had no black influences in her life at all. Michelle talks to me about how growing up as a biracial teen in an all white community affected her mental health and her life choices.

“I thought I was white, but I was black”

Michelle talks about how until she was 12 years old she thought she was white – it took meeting her first black people at school for her to realise that as a mixed race teen she was ‘different.’ We talked about how shocking that felt to her, how she processed the realisation, and the troubled times she went through before coming to terms with her biracial identity.

“Let go of the shame – it doesn’t help you to move forward”

We touched on current conversations about anti-racism efforts, and how white people can help by getting past their lack of knowledge and understanding, and by speaking out without fear.

We also talked about how much language matters when white people refer to black and mixed heritage people – Michelle clarified a few things for me there too. She has a very robust attitude to conversations about race that I found really refreshing and useful.

Michelle Perry on growing up biracial in a white family

“Just keep walking”

Michelle went through a really tough time figuring out who she was, but she says that the consequences of growing up biracial are what made her the person that she is today. She also says it’s true of everyone, and that we should just “keep walking” – her words, until we find who we’re meant to be.

Having used her experiences to support other young people in social work, and then taking on advisory roles in her corporate career, Michelle is now a life coach and teacher at successfuldiligence.com.

Where to listen:

You can find the episode in your usual podcast app, or if you prefer, you can listen online below, or through the podcast page.

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Subscribe to the Teenage Kicks podcast

Thank you so much for listening! Subscribe now to the Teenage Kicks podcast to hear about the new series when it begins. I’ll be talking to some fabulous guests about difficult things that happened to them as teenagers – including losing a parent, being hospitalised with mental health problems, and battling an eating disorder – and how they overcame things to move on with their lives.

I’d love to hear from you if you have any suggestions for future topics on the Teenage Kicks podcast. Contact me here, or you can find me on Instagram and Twitter at @iamhelenwills. I appreciate every message, and love to hear from my listeners.

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For information on your data privacy please visit Zencastr. Please note that I am not a medical expert, and nothing in this blog or in the podcast should be taken as medical advice.

Join me in the Teenage Kicks Facebook group!

If you’re a parent of teens it can be difficult to know where to go for advice, to vent, or just to talk. So I’ve made the Teenage Kicks Facebook group, for all parents of teenagers to chat in a safe space. It’s a private group and everyone in there will be a parent of teenagers.

And if you’re stuck for how to engage with your teenager, this list of things for teens to do might be helpful.

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