Myleene Klass recalls the racist abuse she suffered as a child

Myleene Klass has detailed the abuse she suffered as a child because of her Filipino background.

The musician and presenter, who was born in Norfolk to an Austrian father and Filipino mother, shared a lengthy message on Instagram alongside a photo of herself as a child.

The mother-of-three, 42, said she was struggling to explain racism to her children following the death of George Floyd.

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Chink Slit eye Number 69, Fried rice Mongrel Ping pong Slut. All Thai brides are sluts. Banana * * I’m trying so hard to explain the complexities of racism to my children. How it happens. How whilst I don’t understand the struggles a black person living in America might be experiencing, how I do understand and know my own experience of being a mixed race Filipino girl growing up in Norfolk. I had those words thrown at me. On other occasions, it wasn’t just words, it was rock filled snowballs by a group of boys as I walked home, I had my hair cut in the school cloakrooms by some girls, later they threatened a lighter. There was spitting. Why does your mum speak like that? Why don’t you have an accent? ‘I was born here. Yeah, but you don’t belong here’. *I also remember the pride and relief I felt when a bus of school children, aged 10 pulled up next to my own bus and the children opposite all started making ‘Chinese eyes and buck teeth’ to then have my own bus retaliate with fist signs and fingers. It was small ‘victory’, I felt embarrassed, hot, shamed but I remember it so well because for the first time, I didn’t feel alone, I had a small token of solidarity that gave me courage. * *At college, I walked into the canteen only to have a group of students hand me their trays loaded up with dirty plates. You’re Filipino, you’re all cleaners right? Then the laughter. * * In the area I live now, ‘get a Filipino’ is bandied around so easily when referring to getting a nanny, they don’t even realise they’re talking about a person, an actual person. A woman who will likely have sacrificed being with her own children for years to raise your snotty kids. Another popular quote… ‘We love our Filipino nanny (still no name), she’s like family, we send her home every year for Xmas’. Not doing a sister out of a job, but she’s not your pet and she has a name. The world looks different now. I am mixed race and I am so proud of that. Growing up in Norfolk, there wasn’t much visibility as to what a girl like me could aspire to be but I was surrounded by incredible, selfless nurses and those in service, the same who are tending our covid patients and dropping like flies.

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Mr Floyd, who was African-American, died last week after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes, sparking unrest across the US.

Klass began her post by listing a number of racial slurs, writing: “Chink, Slit eye, Number 69, Fried rice, Mongrel, Ping pong, Slut. All Thai brides are sluts. Banana.”

She added: “I’m trying so hard to explain the complexities of racism to my children.

“How it happens. How whilst I don’t understand the struggles a black person living in America might be experiencing, how I do understand and know my own experience of being a mixed race Filipino girl growing up in Norfolk. I had those words thrown at me.”

Klass went on to list the ways in which she had been bullied by other children because of her background, including having rock-filled snowballs thrown at her and being spat at.

She also recalled feeling “pride and relief” when, aged 10, some of the children from her school stood up for her when she suffered abuse.

The Fashion Awards 2018 – London
Myleene Klass (Ian West/PA)

She said: “I also remember the pride and relief I felt when a bus of school children, aged 10 pulled up next to my own bus and the children opposite all started making ‘Chinese eyes and buck teeth’ to then have my own bus retaliate with fist signs and fingers.

“It was small ‘victory’, I felt embarrassed, hot, shamed but I remember it so well because for the first time, I didn’t feel alone, I had a small token of solidarity that gave me courage.”

The presenter also challenged people’s perceptions of Filipino nannies.

She added: “In the area I live now, ‘get a Filipino’ is bandied around so easily when referring to getting a nanny, they don’t even realise they’re talking about a person, an actual person.

“A woman who will likely have sacrificed being with her own children for years to raise your snotty kids.

“Another popular quote … ‘We love our Filipino nanny (still no name), she’s like family, we send her home every year for Xmas’.

“Not doing a sister out of a job, but she’s not your pet and she has a name.”

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#blackouttuesday

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Praising the women working on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic, she continued: “The world looks different now. I am mixed race and I am so proud of that.

“Growing up in Norfolk, there wasn’t much visibility as to what a girl like me could aspire to be but I was surrounded by incredible, selfless nurses and those in service, the same who are tending our Covid patients and dropping like flies.”

Klass took part in Blackout Tuesday this week, to protest against the death of Mr Floyd, by sharing a black square on her social media platforms.

The “blackout” movement was initially aimed solely at the music industry, with organisers behind #TheShowMustBePaused calling for a day of reflection.

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