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.
This week’s post is a straight forward book review of a novel that was anything but. “Such a Fun Age” by Kiley Reid was a fun read. It was more than that too. It posed some important questions and held the mirror up to some common truths about the world we live in.
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…..
By now I think you all know that I’m only reading books written by Black authors for a year. I celebrate it almost every day on Instagram and do a little dance every time I discover a writer of colour I wouldn’t have otherwise heard of. I’ve read some brilliant books and have at least three on the go at any one time nowadays.
Well, it’s got me thinking about other areas of my life, where I’ve followed the crowd, and the crowd has followed the norm, and the norm has been White. There are plenty of areas that could do with a little Black equity.
When I’m in the mood to treat myself, there are two shopping categories I gravitate towards. Number one, books (no surprise there) and number two, fashion.
How many items of clothing do you think I’ve bought from Black fashion designers? Please, please, please don’t let this be true……but I have a horrible feeling it might be none.
“Me and White Supremacy” has been without doubt the most important book and I’ve read this year. It’s helped me make sense of how we’ve got to where we are in the world. Importantly for me, it’s put a name to experiences and conditions that people of colour find themselves in every day. The simple act of reading about a particular, uncomfortable feeling and confirming that it’s actually “a thing” is empowering. It’s opened up real conversations.
I’ve wanted to write a review of this book from the moment I finished it, but it’s a daunting task, because it’s so important, and so fundamental to my person growth. I would hate to do it a disservice.
So I’m breaking it down into sections to share my own views on certain elements. Starting with “White Saviourism”.
It’s been a week since I “went public” with my blog and I want to follow up on my “Why So Shy” post, where I explained how uncomfortable it felt to put this out there, but concluded with my understanding that racism was more important that my discomfort.
Well it’s funny, because I don’t feel shy anymore.
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.