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.
The second read for my ‘Are You Read-Y for This’ book club, chosen by an inspirational friend and colleague, was Dominicana, by Angie Cruz. Thank goodness for book club, because I’m ashamed to say I would never have known about it otherwise.
I have never read this author before – but I suspect I would have picked it off a shelf if I’d seen it, purely because the woman on the front cover looks like me. (I’m a narcissist, clearly.)
When I started reading and learning more about racial inequalities and the issues that need to be addressed across society, I purposely started reading more novels and non-fiction books by Black authors. I committed to a Summer of authors of colour. That soon extended to a year because I’m getting so much out of it. Maybe I’ll never stop!
A space for openness, honesty, discussion and learning. A space where no subject is taboo and no question’s a stupid question. Where I, as a British, mixed race woman in her 40s, explore some of the subjects whizzing around my head, at a time when I’ve never known so much discourse and discovery about race.