Writing a book about rural racism has proved to be a cathartic experience for a Stroud mum.
Sabrina Pace-Humphreys has just published Black Sheep, a biographical story about her personal struggles growing up as a mixed-race person in what to many appears to be a sleepy rural idyll.
“I looked around and I didn’t see any other black people as a kid, I had no one I could connect with growing up,” revealed Sabrina,44, a mum of four and grandmother of three, who was born to a white mother and black father.
In the book Sabrina tells of the little girl who felt utter isolation: “I felt non-human. Do you feel I don’t belong here? And if I don’t belong here, where do I belong? I moved to Stroud when I was four with my mother and my sister, who although we have the same parents, my sister is white presenting.”
Despite finding solace in writing the book, Sabrina admitted she had to revisit the trauma to tell such a compelling and at times heartbreaking narrative: “Writing it down and going through the process, I always knew that if I was going to tell this story, I had to embody each of those experiences. I had to relive them in order to tell them. And it was incredibly hard, it was like reliving the trauma over again. There was an element of it being a cathartic experience because I could now with maturity, with more emotional intelligence, start to address the hurt that that little girl and that teenager experienced and start to kind of tell her really through the process of writing it, that then that, you know, you’re safe now.”
The award-winning businesswoman and ultrarunner, who co-founded Black Trail Runners, admitted her personal tipping point was the barbaric murder of black man George Floyd: “The reason I wrote the book is that I stood up at Stroud’s first-ever Black Lives Matter protest outside the Stroud Subscription Rooms. It wasn’t planned and was very off the cuff. But I had kept the experiences of racism that I encountered living in Stroud very much to myself, locked away in my Pandora’s box for 20 to 42 years.”
Her speech at the rally went viral, but what followed was a setback as Sabrina fell foul of online trolls, she explained: “ I didn’t even know that my speech was being filmed at Black Lives Matter. And I had to make a decision as to whether I went back into the shadows or whether I potentially used my voice as a way to amplify what it is to be a person of colour living in rural spaces. I have been trolled, I have been attacked. I have been called a black person who hates Stroud – that is so far from the truth, I love my town. And the reason that I wanted to write this book is that I want our town, rural towns, to be places of safety and sanctuary for all colours, for all people.”
Stroud was voted the best place to live in the country last year, but Sabrina feels this judgment is flawed: “I think that a town should be judged on whether it is the best place to live for more than shopping and arts. It should be about what it is to live here across the board.”
Sabrina insists the book will act as a springboard for her crusade against racism, she added: “All I wanted for the book was that if one person read it that lived in a rural place and is an ethnic minority, that they would feel not so alone because for so many years I felt alone.”
To buy the book, click HERE
You can listen to Sabrina reading and discussing her book at the Three Storeys in Nailsworth on July 21. For further details, click HERE