Angela Smith: Hating Myself

Angela was born in 1962 in London. Her parents came to England from Guyana and settled in Walthamstow where Angela lived with her eight brothers and sisters. At age five Angela went to a local special school. Then from the age of ten she attended two residential special schools run by the Spastics Society (now SCOPE), in Lincolnshire and Kent.

Here Angela describes how she was treated as a young black disabled person in her school and the impact that had on her identity.

  • Angela Smith
  • Angela Smith
  • Angela Smith


Even though we were laughing on the outside but we had sadness, I think we were all holding it in, all of us, you could feel it, it's like a conspiracy to not admit how we were all feeling, you know that, yeah? Like a collective sadness and no-one wanted to say it. I hated being disabled, I hated feeling that I felt ugly and really, and when I was twenty-one I tried to kill myself and I nearly succeeded. The worst thing is, they couldn't comb my hair, I was the first ragamuffin, no 'cos my mum showed them, she used straighteners to make it easier, it was before the days of products and there was no black houseparents so I developed a very low self esteem, I hated being black, you see, I was black. And then one day they had a placement, she was black and she made a bee-line for me and another black girl, and she did our hair and everyone goes, 'Wow! You look so different!' We said, 'Yes, well now you know, this is how we're meant to look, not the way you've got us, like no-one loves us.'

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