Would anyone like to join me in reading and thinking about current writing on racism, the history of white privilege and what being an ally might involve in retirement?
I am white, was brought up in Dorset, living and working in social care and health in London for 40+ years where understanding diversity, race and power has been of critical importance personally and professionally.
Now retired, I’d like us to explore some of the new writing by black authors and discuss how their knowledge and experience can deepen our understanding of racism now and how we can contribute to change.
Mostly non-fiction – such as Reni Eddo-Lodge, Afua Hirsch, Jeffrey Boakye, and maybe fiction like Colston Whitehead, but open to ideas …
Group Convener : Rebecca Harrington
The Group meets on the last Wednesday of the month, 10.30 a.m. – 12 noon, initially via Zoom
Our Book list so far:
Afua Hirsch : Brit(ish)
A British lawyer and journalist (Guardian and BBC) of Ghanaian and German Jewish heritage brought up in Wimbledon, well educated and privileged in many ways, yet with complex experiences and sense of identity because of her skin colour and parentage. (“You’re British. Your parents are British. Your partner, your children and most of your friends are British. So why do people keep asking where you’re from?”)
Renni Eddo-Lodge : Why I no longer talk to white people people about race
Started as a blog, this young Haringey woman’s account of how impossible it can be to engage in discussion with White People who cannot, or will not, accept that there is structural racism in our society, and work out ways to mitigate the harm it causes. She sets out a synopsis of black British history, having arrived in her second year at University without any education on it and took a module in colonial Britain and the slave trade. (Her white friend took a few tutorials, and left – ‘it’s just not for me’ – this is not something to opt out of.)
Robin Di Angelo : White fragility – why it’s so hard for White People to talk about racism.
Written by a white US equality trainer, this uses examples from training courses to illustrate race and white racism as social constructs, how ideas of racial inferiority were created to justify unequal treatment, and the discomfort which can arise for white people when talking about their/our privilege. (“Did you often have teachers of the same race as your own?”)
Akala : Natives – race and class in the ruins of Empire.
Also local, from Kentish Town, the musician Akala is one of two very bright and successful mixed race children of a poor, white single parent – that’s a start to a vivid depiction of his experiences in school and in our London streets, and his analysis and commentary on contemporary life. Chapter titles include – ‘The day I realised my Mum was White’, ‘Linford’s lunchbox’, ‘The Ku Klux Klan stopped crime by killing black people’. (As mother of two white Haringey boys who were never ‘stopped and searched’, this book made me realise how high my anxiety would have been if this had been an everyday occurrence for them and their friends).
David Olusoga : Black and British – a forgotten history
There’s a BBC series from this award winning Black British history from Roman times, and there is also a shorter ‘essential history’ suitable for young people – just in time for the festive season. He’s a great writer and educator across a vast canvas and crucial issues.