From the Back Cover
A mixed-race young woman, the daughter of a white Welsh-speaking mother and black father from Guyana, grows up in a small town on the coast of north Wales. From there she travels to Africa, the Caribbean and finally back to Wales. Sugar & Slate is a story of movement and dislocation in which there is a constant pull of to-ing and fro-ing, going away and coming back with always a sense of being 'half home'. This is both a personal memoir and a story that speaks to the wider experience of mixed-race Britons. It is a story of Welshness and a story of Wales and above all a story for those of us who look over our shoulder across the sea to some other place.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
It would have been so much easier if I had been able to say, "I come from Africa," then maybe added under my breath, "the long way round." Instead, the Africa thing hung about me like a Welsh Not, a heavy encumbrance on my soul; a Not-identity; an awkward reminder of what I was or what I wasn't.
Once at a seminar, one of those occasions when the word Diaspora crops up too many times and where there aren't too many of us present, the only other Diaspora-person sought me out. His eyes caught mine in recognition of something I can't say I could name, yet I must have responded because later as we chatted over fizzy water and conference packs, he offered quite uninvited and with all the authority of an African: "People like you? You gotta get digging and if you dig deep enough you're gonna find Africa."
I wondered if my name badge carried some information lost to me or whether it was just the way I looked. I felt as if I had entered the realm of some kind of half people, doomed to roam the endless road to elsewhere looking for somewhere called Roots. I was annoyed. Maybe Alex Hayley had committed us all to the pilgrimage. I found myself thinking about all those African-Americans straight off the Pan-Am in their shades and khaki shorts treading the trail to the slave forts on the beaches of Ghana. And then I thought about all those who couldn't afford the trip.
I thought about Suzanne. We were sitting drinking tea by the coal fire at home. "I has this friend see," she was saying in her strong south Walian accent, "with red hair and eyes as green as anything. She passes herself as white but Mam told her straight - you're black you is, BLACK! I know your mam and she's black as well so don't go putting on any airs and graces round 'ere." She had a way of talking over her shoulder in conversation with her imaginary Mam. She paused a little and then turned to Mam and said in a lowered voice, "Well I'm not wearing African robes for nobody, Uh-uh, not me." Mam didn't respond and we fell silent. That's the Africa thing. It just pops up again and again like a shadow.