Little Mix star Jade Thirlwall recalls racism growing up in South Shields that left ‘mam fuming’

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Little Mix star Jade Thirlwall is proud of her North Eastern roots but it wasn’t always easy growing up

Little Mix star Jade Thirlwall has opened up about her experience growing up as a mixed-race girl in South Shields.

Thirlwall will return to the North East this weekend alongside fellow South Shields local Perrie Edwards and bandmate Leigh-Anne Pinnock as the group bring the Confetti Tour to the Utilita Arena in Newcastle.

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It's set to be the girl group's last homecoming show as a trio and an emotional three performances are on the cards for the Geordie crowd.

Thirlwall is outspoken about her pride in being from the region and is often involved in local initiatives - even owning her own bar in South Tyneside.

However, growing up in South Shields wasn't always plain sailing for the singer.

Speaking on BBC Sounds' No Country For Young Women podcast last year, the star opened up on her experiences.

She told the tale of bullying she received at school.

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Jade was bullied at school (Image: Getty Images)Jade was bullied at school (Image: Getty Images)
Jade was bullied at school (Image: Getty Images)

Thirlwall said: "If you weren’t evidently black you were called the P-word or called ‘half-caste’.

"I would get so confused because I’m not from Pakistan.

"One time I got pinned down in the toilets and they put a bindi spot on my forehead – my mam was fuming!"

The singer's grandfather, Mohamed, was a Muslim man from Yemen and her grandmother was an Egyptian woman.

Thirlwall never met her grandmother, who died before she was born, but was close with her grandfather.

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Speaking on the podcast, Thirlwall recalled how Mohamed "really wanted me to be Muslim" and how she attended "Muslim school on Saturdays, next to the local mosque where my grandfather went".

The Little Mix star remembered learning Arabic and said she wished she had stuck at it, as she tried to re-learn the language now.

Looking back, Thirlwall said: "Now I’m grown up and have more of an education about what racism and prejudice are, I see how crazy some of the things that happened to me growing up actually are.

"On top of that, my grandfather’s death really affected my mental health because he was one of my best friends.

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"I’d identify myself as mixed-race; if I delved deeper, I’d say of Arab heritage, I guess.

"I’ve had an inner battle of not knowing where I fit in or what larger community I fit into.”

Little Mix have embarked on their Confetti Tour (Image: Twitter @youngjaeloml)Little Mix have embarked on their Confetti Tour (Image: Twitter @youngjaeloml)
Little Mix have embarked on their Confetti Tour (Image: Twitter @youngjaeloml)

Little Mix will play three headline shows at Newcastle's Utilita Arena this weekend.

As well as evening performances on Friday, April 15 and Saturday, April 16, Little Mix will take to the stage for a matinee show on the Saturday.

Tickets are still available for the dates and can be purchased here.

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