From flipping society completely on its head by changing the ‘roles’ assigned to us, to providing the tools and answers for your own understanding of the race discussion; this selection of books tackle race and class struggles, female oppression and what to say when you don’t know what to say.
From understanding a history that has shaped today, to inspirational stories of triumph and self discovery, these books provide a thought-provoking look into misconceptions, prejudice and diversity. Each recommendation has been written by a BAME (black, asian, minority ethnic), some sharing their experiences of growing up in white Britain, others exploring how segregation continues to, even now, form the basis of the structure of today’s society.
Diversify: Six Degrees of Integration by June Sarpong
Have you ever stopped and thought seriously about your own prejudice? Or how stereotypes you hold or that are held against you affect your daily life and social interactions? We’re all guilty of judging people in some way or another, and this book teaches you to be aware of and to understand your own bias, as well as encouraging you to make a change. June Sarpong offers six steps to a new approach at tackling diversity and inclusion across marginalised groups including: ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ community and those living with a disability. Diversify is ditching the old ways and making room for change; the road to overcoming unconscious bias starts with you.
Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
If you haven’t already heard of this book then it’s time you added it to your reading list. What started as a blog post expressing her frustrations quickly turned viral and soon became the title for one of the most talked about books of 2017. Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race is the debut book from one of the most important voices of our time. When it comes to the discussion of race, Reni Eddo-Lodge is uncompromising, determined, and articulates perfectly the issues black British people come up against in the fight to true equality.
No matter what your race, this book is an imperative read. An education in white fragility, institutionalised racism, and class and oppression to name a few, the seven topics that make up this book are an uncomfortable reminder that there are still many people unwilling to accept that racism is still an issue in our society. Each subject is an exploration of how an eradicated black British history has shaped today’s society. Most importantly it is a compelling journey from start to finish that will leave you both alarmed and enlightened.
The title itself sparks conversation and debate and yet it echoes the thoughts of many, this book will change your perspective on modern day race relations and make you question everything you know.
Richie Brave In Conversation With Reni Eddo-Lodge | Lush Showcase 2018
Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging by Afua Hirsch
'You’re British. Your parents are British. You were raised in Britain. Your partner, your children and most of your friends are British. So why do people keep asking you where you are from?’
Would you ask a white person where they were really from after they had told you they were British? There is a high chance that the colour of your skin will determine how your ethnicity is perceived, whether you have a British accent or not. ‘But where are you actually from?’ will likely be a question commonly posed, usually during a conversation about the weather. This personal yet provocative book investigates how we as a nation define Britishness and asks the question, what does Britishness mean to you?
Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
Sephy is a Cross, dark skinned and from a wealthy background, while Callum is a Nought, white and a lower class citizen, from a community that were once slaves to the Crosses. Their friendship is challenged in this journey that sees two friends quickly realise the harsh realities of living in segregation.
It’s rare to see a world depicted in the way that Malorie Blackman has in her most well known book to date. Originally written as teen fiction, Noughts & Crosses, the first in a four part series, is a must read for both teenagers and adults. Why? As one of the first books to present an alternative reality that questions everything we know about race and society, this book continues to stay relevant almost 20 years after its release. With race relations constantly at boiling point, especially now as new leaders and new laws come in to action across the world, this book tackles issues that are present in today’s fractured society by forcing you to look at society from an entirely different perspective. Imagine just for a second going to school and learning only about black history? Or shopping on the high street to find only makeup shades suited for dark skin and hair products for afro hair only?
Although Malorie Blackman is a children’s fiction writer, she never shies away from addressing racial and social issues in her books, topics that enable her to educate the generation of the future through literature.
The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla
Brits moving abroad to start a new life are expatriates, people of colour moving to Britain for a better life are immigrants, so how does that work? It’s easy to judge immigrants based on what you might see on the news but have you ever thought why it is so many people choose to uproot themselves from their homes to start a new life in Britain? Nikesh Shukla’s anthology brings together emerging BAME voices to share exactly what it means to be a first or second generation immigrant in Britain.
The first step to understanding a person’s lived experience is to listen to their story. The Good Immigrant is filled with raw, honest, funny and heartwarming stories told by the people that lived them. Reading this book will give you an insight into growing up in a multicultural society that hasn’t quite worked out whether it has fully accepted you yet. It questions what defines a ‘good’ immigrant and why the word has so many negative connotations.
In order to publish this book Nikesh set up a crowdfunding page, as well as contacting numerous people of colour to contribute. After being shortlisted for the Book of The Year at the British Book Awards, it’s clear it has made its mark.
What If I Say The Wrong Thing? 25 Habits for Culturally Effective People by Vernā A. Myers
This simple guide has become a toolkit for organisations working towards greater diversity in the workplace. With real life scenarios as examples, Verna Myers toolkit helps you to speak up against racism and any other ‘isms’ you may encounter. Knowing what to say can make all the difference, when it comes to supporting friends or colleagues and this book is set to equip you with what you need to do just that. As an inclusion strategist Verna Myers continues to prep businesses with the language and know how when tackling equality.
Already read these ones? Why not take a look at some poetry and further reading…
Still I Rise by Maya Angelou
Black Girl Magic by Mahogany L Browne
The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House by Audre Lorde
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Swing by Zadie Smith
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde