Out of the echo chamber

I’m still buzzing as I write today’s blog. I’ve just put down the phone to Alan Clifford, the BBC Radio Nottingham presenter. I had a really healthy, challenging chat with him today as I reviewed the news for his Sunday morning show (available on BBC Sounds if you’d like to listen).

I chose three news stories from this last week and what I loved about it, was that they opened up conversations about race, division, representation and equality. Alan asked some questions that I think a lot of people would probably ask too. Is literacy on the decline because of “text speak”? Doesn’t all this talk of race on social media bring more division? Isn’t it hard to keep up with the ever changing language about racial identity?

It made me realise how much I often luxuriate in my own echo chamber. So many of the people I speak to are joining me in educating themselves about race and diversity and are on the same page as me in terms of recognising the injustices and ways society needs to improve. Alan gave me the chance to publicly challenge the perceptions of many people who don’t agree, or aren’t aware, or aren’t interested. And that’s what Oo! That’s A Bit Racey! is all about – sparking conversation, debate, and, ultimately, change.

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Sisterhood – inspired by Chimamada Ngoze Adichie

A fortnight ago, I disrupted my Sunday evening writing routine to celebrate one of my very favourite authors, Chimamada Ngozi Adiche. She, deservedly, won the Women’s Prize for Fiction’s Winner of Winners Prize for her stunning novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, and gave a live interview, from Lagos, to thousands of admirers via Zoom.

On top of the glorious readings of some of her passages, and her captivating descriptions of Nigeria, where her inspiration, research, and personal experiences come from, I was touched by some of the other messages she had for us.

Female relationships, were a special element to Chimamanda’s interview and this is what I would like to reflect on for this week’s blog.

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Trustee Me

So this week was a great week! I was appointed as Trustee for Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature for Equality and Diversity.

Myself and two fellow new Trustees, inspirational women who I can’t wait to meet, are bringing new perspectives to this charity that has already achieved so much as it celebrates its fifth anniversary. It’s a time when Nottingham is bursting with creativity, and also a time that the world needs a little more help to stay positive, inspired and empowered.

I’ve been following The Nottingham City Of Literature for a while. It’s an organistion I admire, for many reasons, all very meaningful to me. Focused on inspiring and supporting the people of my home town, its aim is to “build a better world with words”. I couldn’t think of a more praise worthy goal. It’s one I truly believe in and one I genuinely feel is possible.

This week’s blog is in celebration of this excellent organisation and what “building a better world with words” means to me.

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See It to Be It

To celebrate the first female, mixed heritage, Asian, African Caribbean vice President of the United States being officially in post (three cheers for Kamala Harris!), today’s blog has to be about representation.

Knowing that my daughter will watch the news and see a little of herself in the Vice President of the United States is hard to describe. It’s comforting, reassuring, empowering, exciting and more, because she is represented.

So why is representation so important?

Here are the top five reasons from my point of view…..

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She knew she was trouble….

A review of Darling, by Rachel Edwards

Ooooo this was a goodie! A proper page turning, couldn’t put it down, thriller!

The truth is, I wouldn’t have read anything by Rachel Edwards before I recently committed to a year of reading books written only by authors of colour. The reason is simply because I’d never heard of her. (Which is a tragedy, by the way, because she’s awesome.) It makes me think, even as an English graduate and dedicated bookworm…….how many Black, British authors do I know? How many can I name off the top of my head? How many did I study at school or university? I’m ashamed of myself for this, not least because I didn’t even notice the white centrism in my own reading.

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